Champagne Francis Boulard et Fille Les Murgiers Extra Brut
65% Pinot Meunier/25% Pinot Noir/10% Chardonnay. Les Murgiers is the beginning of the Boulard range. Though the tiny home estate of Boulard lies in the far north of the Montagne de Reims in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, Francis and Delphine also rent and organically farm some plots in the Vallée de la Marne. The fruit for Les Murgiers comes from a cluster of three villages--Cuchery, La Neuville-aux-Larris, Paradis--on the Right Bank, or north, of the Marne River, west of Cumière, in a small valley carved out by a stream called Belval which flows south into the Marne. The name murgiers is a reference to the low stone walls (alternatively spelled murgets, murgers, meurgers, meurgiers) outlining the Boulard parcels, walls which were historically common in Champagne (as well as the Jura) but have mostly disappeared, originally built out of the huge, flat river stones dug out of the ground to make way for planting.
This is prime Pinot Meunier country: Meunier thrives in the clay-rich, marly, sandy soils of this zone of Champagne and is currently about 2/3 of the Murgiers blend (moving eventually toward being 100% Meunier), completed with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The base wine is 2013 with 30% of 2010, 2011 and 2012 in the mix. As for all Boulard wines, the grapes are harvested by hand and pressed gently; only first-press juice (la cuvée) is used. It is fermented spontaneously in well-used, neutral oak vessels ranging from 20-hectoliter vats down to 5-hectoliter half-hogsheads to smaller Burgundy and Champagne barrels. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and remains on its lees with regular stirring (bâtonnage) but only on fruit and flower days per the lunar calendar; it is bottled without fining and with a minimal amount of sulfur. The wine was disgorged by hand in January 2017 and finished with a 5-gram/liter dosage. Les Murgiers is always bottled in both no-dosage Brut Nature and Extra Brut versions.