Champagne Maxime-Blin On Capturing The Essence Of Trigny In Every Bottle
8th February 2024
And Thrusting The Massif De Saint-thierry Into The Limelight
… In The “Blin” Of An Eye!
For a region rich in nature and in history, there’s not nearly enough attention given to the Massif de Saint-Thierry. Located in the northernmost part of Champagne, the Massif de Saint-Thierry boasts magnificent forests and vineyards that together form a spectacular green oasis within which some 15 villages are sheltered.
There is a copious amount of history in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, but the one defining event that singlehandedly put the area on the Champagne map is when succeeding his baptism in 496, Clovis famously donated the region to bishop Saint Rémi.
And as labor-intensive as it might seem to enumerate the many crown jewels that await in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, there is an exceptional gem worth taking the time to single out.
Sitting in the village of Trigny is the family-owned and operated Champagne house Maxime Blin. Like most independent Maisons, Champagne Maxime-Blin is a story of family and patrimony, but here, above it all, it is also a story of love and marriage. At the heart of Champagne Maxime-Blin is transmission and the heritage, values and savoir-faire passed on from one generation of husband/wife duo to the next, all sharing a long history of grape growing and winemaking.
A family affair for three generations, first came Juliette and Robert, whose longing for business and creativity saw them plant the winery’s first vines after World War II. Then came Gilles, who joined forces with his wife Madeleine. Together they built the press and vat room and ventured into the world of sales.
Today, Maxime and Claire Blin, the husband-wife winemaking team behind this effervescent Champagne label, are writing their own story and drawing greater attention to the passed-over province. Soaking in Champagne culture, Maxime and Claire combine their respect for the time-honored tradition of fine winemaking and a strong commitment to innovative technology with their passion for nature as terroir and ecologically driven Champagne producers.
Champagne Maxime-Blin brings its a-game to the region’s notable red grape varieties namely Meunier and Pinot Noir; yet not entirely dismissing Champagne’s most prized white grape, Chardonnay. The result is a range of mono-crus cuvées and vintages that each serve one common goal: to express the uniqueness and singularity of Trigny, their one and only terroir, distinguished for its uncommonly sandy soil.
What has become de rigueur for the dynamic couple is to remain lifelong students of their natural environment – their ‘playground’ – adhering to a low-interventionist approach while simultaneously fine-tuning their ancestral farming methods and winemaking experience to positively impact their region in a significant way. The resulting wines are fantastically gushing with elegance, delicacy, minerality and freshness.
Upholding the responsible stewardship of their 12-hectare domain, the two dedicated artisan growers and producers exemplify the soul and grace of their exclusive terroir and unwavering commitment to handcrafting exceptional Champagnes.
40 plots, 25 lieux-dits, and 11 vintages that all unequivocally stand as a beautiful love letter to Trigny.
Why the existence of this Champagne house has somehow eluded the attention of the media in their hyped-up coverage of the Grower Champagne movement is a mystery to me.
This award-winning winemaking pair is irrefutably among the most exciting teams to keep an eye on in the Massif de Saint-Thierry. I couldn’t be more elated to have had the opportunity to uncork all of the Champagne Maxime-Blin magic by chatting with Claire Blin, one-half of this captivating duo.
How did your Champagne adventure begin?
I grew up in that universe. My parents were farmers and winegrowers. My paternal grandparents were farmers as well and my grandparents on my mother’s side were vegetable farmers. When I was about 10 years old, I would always say that I wanted to become an oenologist! At fourteen years old I went into the hospitality industry and the sommelier field. But something was always missing – that connection with the earth and the land. I simply pursued my studies at the viticulture school and a few years later became a winemaker.
Can you tell us more about the history of Champagne Maxime-Blin?
The Maxime-Blin estate is historically the family domain of my husband Maxime (whom I met at school!). The estate was founded by his grandparents, Robert and Juliette, who planted the first vineyards right after World War II. They were animated by their desire to become entrepreneurs. In fact, Robert was the founding father and winemaker of the first cooperative in Trigny. Then followed Gilles who partnered with his wife Madeleine. Together they did an unexpected 180 degree turn and quit the cooperative to launch their own enterprise. They started to vinify their own grapes and by 1999, successfully released 140,000 bottles on the market. 2005 was marked by Maxime’s return. Soaking up the essence of each lieux-dits, he started the laborious work on our soil including the implementation of an herbicide free policy, the use of an in-row weeder, and the utilization of good old-fashioned hoes to encourage the vine roots to grow deeper in the ground.
He founded the label Champagne Maxime-Blin and introduced barrel vinification.
Our Champagnes are aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, and casks.
On my end, I had chosen to go work with my family on their own domain. There I initiated the installation of a winemaking tool and pioneered the launch of a range made up of distinctive cuvées. In 2013, I started to work alongside Maxime on his estate – a new challenge! Then in 2018 we proceeded to work towards becoming certified organic, a task we proudly accomplished in 2021.
You’ve worked in the vineyards of Cognac and Bordeaux before making the Massif de Saint-Thierry your home and workplace. How are these past professional experiences informing your decisions today?
I work in perfect osmosis with Maxime who also has his own past experiences having worked in various vineyards in Australia and Burgundy. We both feed onto each other and share our experiences and desires. We’re both Epicureans! And thanks to my year in the hospitality business, I have this natural inclination to look for and create formidable food pairings. It takes us on a wonderful journey!
As I mentioned in my intro, Maxime-Blin’s DNA is composed of a single terroir: Trigny;
40 plots, 25 Lieux-Dits and 11 Cuvées. How do you personally define the identity of your Champagne house?
A sandy, generous, diversified, and singular terroir.
Speaking about terroir, how do you manage to evoke an authentic interpretation of your terroir in your Champagnes?
We offer a wide range of Champagnes.
‘Les Fondamentales’: these are our historic cuvées, our fundamentals so to speak.
They are long-standing vintages, very much entrenched into our winery’s DNA.
They are composed of 4 cuvées that put forth the different characteristics of our terroir and showcase one of our three grape varieties.
Here we seek to impart a simple pleasure and offer a moment of conviviality.
A preciously shared instant with friends and/or family.
‘Les Poétiques’: we also call them our gastronomic cuvées. These are complex wines that are either vinified in oak barrels or have purposefully been aged extensively.
They are born out of our desires, our journey, and our union.
This collection is made of 5 cuvées crafted and conceptualized as 5 propositions with 5 distinctive typicities. They convey Claire and Maxime’s passion for their terroir, the art of vinification and for the joys of gastronomy and culinary pleasures.
Also, new single-vineyard vintages will soon be released.
Of all the Champagnes Maxime-Blin produces which one has shaped your understanding of the spirit of your Champagne House?
The spirit of our Maison is manifested with each harvest because every single one of them is atypical. But if I had to choose one, I would pick ‘Cuvée Ailes de Psyché Millésimé’.
This is a Blanc de Noirs composed of 100% Pinot Noir planted on a terroir historically known to be Meunier-centric and a vintage which every year splendidly retraces past years.
What legacy do you hope to leave to Champagne and Maxime-Blin?
The legacy we’re leaving is the respect of nature. Today, there’s a substantial number of winegrowers in Champagne engaged in and committed to organic and sustainable viticulture. Our estate has been certified organic since 2021. Not so long ago there weren’t a lot of winegrowers in Champagne that were certified organic, but fortunately today there’s more and more jumping on the green bandwagon.
Champagne Maxime-Blin is a family heritage. Do you hope one day to see your daughters take on the reins of the business?
What we wish for our daughters is first and foremost their happiness and fulfillment both on a personal and professional level. Whatever career they choose is fine with us; we just want them to be happy. We’re putting absolutely no pressure on them to follow in our footsteps.
Maxime-Blin was certified organic in 2021. What measures are you taking to produce Champagne more sustainably?
We consciously made the decision to use a wrapping paper that is 100% recycled and recyclable. We also utilize natural ink and glue.
Do you foresee any other challenges beyond the environment?
More than challenges per se, we have objectives.
Our goal is to adapt to climate change accordingly, to remain patient while waiting for the release of our new cuvées and to develop and grow our sales. We’re grateful for the extraordinary team of people working by our side every day and we want to keep them.
What does the ‘Fa’bulleuses’ represent for you? Why is it an important association?
It’s a second family to me. Like a sorority, there is a strong feeling of sisterhood among us.
All seven of us share and advise each other, and we bring a genuine and authentic legitimacy to our common projects. Together we have created very strong friendship bonds and launched a beautiful professional project. We elaborated together the cuvée ISOS which is a blend of our 7 terroirs – all equally featured. We also crafted a Coteaux Champenois Blanc.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to have a career in the wine/Champagne industry?
Be passionate and patient. And take the time to soak it all in and draw on the experience and knowledge of others.
What is your most memorable Champagne moment?
There are so many! But the sensation I felt when I had my first sip of Champagne after the birth of my twin daughters was such a solemn moment.
For more information go to: https://www.champagne-maxime-blin.com/en/
Founder of ILDK Media, a boutique Public Relations and Digital Communications agency. Champagne specialist, educator, writer & consultant. She has WSET Level 2 Award in Wines certified and also Champagne Master Level by the Wine Scholar Guild.