Champagne Roger Brun, Aÿ

30th August 2019

Michael Edwards Philippe Brun 2018

Cradle of Pinot Noir

Vignerons since before the 1789 French Revolution, the Bruns have always been motivated by a deep love of Aÿ their little home town, more a large village, renowned as the cradle of the original 17th century Champagne made purely from Pinot Noir. Head of the family Roger Brun, now semi retired, is admired for his intense yet lightly touched expression of great Pinot, coming from the best Grands Crus on sunny south-facing slopes above the handsome Gothic Church of St. Brice. Philippe Brun, Roger’s son is at the helm since at least the cusp of the 21st century. A larger than life character and the most generous convivial of hosts, he has a hedonistic love of good food & drink. Dig a little deeper and you learn that Philippe has a broader view of the outside world than most vignerons. He worked as a luxury goods creator and engineer in California before returning to the family domaine of 11 hectares.

Philippe also presses the grapes at harvest in the grand valley of the Marne for some of the great Champagne houses. So, as an outspoken candid man, he is the best possible source for what the most recent harvest is really like. A good corrective to the PR spin machine. Champagne lovers who attended the Glass of Bubbly Awards in the last two years will know Philippe well for his French Beret and, more important, his repeated ability to run off with prizes like the Trophy in 2018 for his top cuvée the single vineyard pure Pinot Noir, La Pelle 2013 winner in the ‘Oaky & Toasty’ category not sure I agree with the category, but the wine itself is lovely and the Trophy for ‘Gastronomic’ in 2017 for his Cuvee Des Sires 2011.

Here is an update in Philippe’s own words of his current cuvées.

  • I still produce my Brut Classic based of 50% Meunier 40% Chardonnay 10 % Pinot Noir but less than before. I still need it for clients buying my upper range Champagnes but wanting a cheap Champagne for weddings and parties.”

  • My Grande Reserve is my biggest production. I call it the emergency use Champagne as it matches any thing with anyone. I also produces sweeter version (Sec 20 g g/l) for new markets.”

  • I am now selling my last 2013 La Pelle. it was very good in Aÿ, Late picked into October. I produced a lower volume of La Pelle in 2018 because of a lack of acidity, but I produced lots of my pink, the Romance, 100 % Pinot Noir from Mareuil and Mutigny. I do the Saignée method, crushing the grapes and macerating them with the juice to achieve the right colour, 24 hours in 2013, 48 hours in 2015. A brilliant wine for Asian cuisine.”

Talking of great places to eat, without breaking the bank, last February Philippe took me to the enlarged Rotisserie Henri Quatre Aÿ’s Blvd Charles de Gaulle. It now seats up to several hundred, with a terrace and lawns under shaded trees for alfresco eating, fine grills and excellent steaks and beef, when you want a good follow-on from Champagne, something red from Burgundy or the Rhône. Very popular lunch with locals.

Philippe also has a fine Bed & Breakfast called Logis des Pressureurs in the centre of Aÿ right opposite the Church de St Bruce. Opening times be seen on his Logis Facebook entry. Not available during the harvest period in September. Reopens 18 October.

Michael Edwards

Internationally respected Champagne, Sparkling Wine and food author & journalist. Ex Chief Inspector & Wine Editor for the Egon Ronay 'Restaurant Guide'.