Maxime Blin Champagne
5th December 2023
Some say you can best judge a wine list by the Champagne. It is a wine that denotes history, luxury, and sophistication; even figures such as Bonaparte and Churchill, not to mention royal families. Shrouded by such heavy-handed allusions to greatness and wealth, Champagne is very often misunderstood. The wine of celebration is excellent for a toast (sometimes for spraying), but its relationship with success often pulls the focus away from the properties of the wine itself. At Vitis we take our sparkling very seriously, and look to build a truly delicious and unique Champagne selection. Today we showcase one of our particular favourites: Maxime Blin.
The Coronation City
Champagne is so often tied to royalty. Rumour even has it that the flat bottom of Cristal was a direct request from Tsar Alexander II of Russia, who feared an assassin might hide a grenade in the ‘punt’ of the bottle. The indented bottom of a bottle, or punt, helps the structure to withstand the inside pressure, though one can find many other supposed reasons online for using punts.
Tales such as that of the Tsar helped propagate Champagne as the wine of kings. No surprise then, that one of the two unofficial capitals of Champagne, north-eastern France, is nicknamed: ‘The Coronation City’. Just under 100 miles north-east of Paris, Reims was founded by the Gauls, and was a major city in the Roman Empire.
It has seen the coronation of 33 French kings, and, during the Middle Ages, kings were consecrated in Reims too. The famous Joan of Arc Festival takes place in June every year, celebrating how, in 1429, thanks to Joan’s heroics in The Hundred Years War, Charles VII was crowned in Reims Cathedral, signalling an end to an English claim to the French throne.
Imagine, then, if you will, that you are a squire, and that after the coronation, your lord has sent you on a diplomatic mission a half-day walk out of the city, and into the higher altitude of The Saint-Thierry Massif, with its verdurous forests and sloping vineyards. The locals tell you of their pinot noir and meunier as you stop for a rest in the monastery on Mont d’Hor. Your hike continues westward now, until the sun goes down, and you look for shelter in the village of Trigny: a tiny agricultural spot, with stone houses.
After World War II, Reims and the surrounding areas were almost completely destroyed, and it took the care and passion of the locals to rejuvenate the land. In 1947, in Trigny, a certain Robert Blin began planting vines in the sandy soils of east-facing hillside. These vineyards were left to Robert’s son, Gilles, who, alongside his wife Madeleine, focused on vinification, building a press and vat room. Maxime Blin, third generation for the estate, took over in 2005, bringing a new vision to the wines: one which better respects nature, and experiments with more sustainable farming. Indeed, with the help of his wife and fellow winemaker Claire, Maxime Blin has been certified organic since 2021. The Champagne is hand harvested and filtered with vegetable agents.
Champagne is predominantly made from grapes grown in chalk and marl, making the Blin terroir incredibly unique. Sand makes for porous soil, keeping the vineyards well-hydrated, and they also retain heat rather well. Blin’s wines are all made from the same terroir in Trigny, divided into 40 plots. The area seems to unfurl like the wings of a butterfly, and you can spot this image on many of the Blin labels.
Should you wish to hike the trails around Trigny, you can stay in the Blin farmhouse, built in 1851, now a Gîte for wine lovers to stay in. If, instead, you have something to celebrate, why not sample Maxime Blin a little closer to home?
From the Trigny terroir, Vitis presents:
Maxime Blin, Carte Blanche, ‘Nos Moments’:
Highlighting the local meunier at 80%, this light and fruity Champagne, at 4g dosage, was designed to showcase the spectacular meunier that grows in Trigny; indeed, it was the main varietal planted back in the early days of the estate. The vines are certified organic, with vinification (including malolactic fermentation) in steel, aged 36 months (including bottle).
Maxime Blin, Millésime 2010:
100% pinot noir made during the earlier stages of Maxime’s career with the family estate. This champagne benefits from the nascent sustainable changes to the winery, and we, as modern drinkers, can taste the finesse of a blanc de noir which has spent over a decade in bottle.
We hope you will find a reason to pop open a bottle soon enough.
Ci vediamo presto!
Giancarlo Tocci and Julian Kitsz
Runs the Vitis Wine Blog on behalf of Vitis, a wine bar & bistro in the heart of Kensington & Chelsea, whose owner, Giancarlo Tocci, prides himself on only selling low intervention, artisanal wines that he himself drinks. Vitis is a cosy spot, with a seasonal food menu, focused on sourcing the right ingredients.