Ernest Rapeneau founded his Champagne and wine business in 1901 in the village of Hautvillers, the cradle of Champagne. However, it was not until 1927, when the viticultural boundaries of Champagne were fixed, that Ernest began to specialize in the champagne trade.
The personality of E. Rapeneau House is mainly based on its founder and his descendants: everyone has been able to find their own place within thisfamily business. Christophe joined as soon as he graduated in oenology in 1983 and is now head of the House. But first and foremost, he is passionate about wine-making, constantly monitoring the way the vineyard is evolving.
Christophe joined the family business as soon as he graduated in enology from the University of Reims in 1983. He spent his first few years there modernizing the fermenting room and production system in order to guarantee the authenticity of his work. Christophe’s own character includes the distinctive qualities of the three Champagne grape varieties.
First of all, there’s the structure of Pinot Noir, because the head cellarman has to be well-organized and methodical as he works through the various stages involved in producing his cuvées. Then he’s got the lively spark of Pinot Meunier; he’s a man of the land, constantly wondering about the way the vineyard is changing. Finally, there’s the finesse of Chardonnay - a recognized quality of this particular grape variety – epitomizing the Champagne winemaker’s subtle, precise palate.
For 4 generations, everyone’s aim has been to preserve, perpetuate, adapt and improve a priceless traditional heritage.Out of the 319 villages or crus, the House is now present in 52 of them. This is a considerable advantage for the diversity of soils and assemblages, but also to ensure the authenticity of the house and continuity of the Ernest Rapeneau's style.
At this time of year, the buds appear and then give birth to young sprigs. The winemaker then need to regulate the plant development by means of “green management work”, including bud break (the cotton bud), the debudding (mid-May), tying-up (end of May), and trellising (June and July).
During this summer period, the “green management work” continues with the end of the palissage (trellising) and rognage (thinning) or “summer pruning” which includes écimage (trimming), écoeurage and effeuillage (leaf stripping). This is when the grapes start to mature.
In the Champagne region people feel that optimum maturity is all about a perfect balance between sugar and acidity, and it varies from one year to the next, depending upon the cru and grape variety.
When autumn comes it is time for the grape harvests, although exactly when can vary enormously from one year to the next. There are some years when the grape harvests get underway at the end of August and can stretch right through until mid-October.
Champagne is one of the few winegrowing regions where the picking is still carried out entirely by hand so that the grape bunches can be harvested whole and intact. The grape harvests are the epitome of organization and method, in terms of both the picking and the transportation of the bunches. They take place over two to three weeks and involve almost 100,000 grape-pickers.
Immediately after the grape harvest comes the pressurage champenois pressing, an exclusive extraction method which is subject to rules unlike quite those found anywhere else in the world. The aim is to show respect for the grape, so the bunches are pressed slowly and gradually so that only the juice is extracted from the flesh, which is entirely white (whereas three-quarters of the grapes are red), and which contains the sugar, acids, and aromas which give champagne its finesse.
The winegrower prunes his vines so that he can choose the branch which will bear the new harvest. They prune the vines so that they can regulate their yield deliberately and make sure they are not exhausted - indeed, it is the precision and accuracy of this operation which determines both the quantity and the quality of the grape halves. It takes place from November to mid-December; then the winegrower let the plant take a winter break and start again in mid-January continuing through until the end of March.
The pruning work is carried out following very precise rules; only four kinds of pruning are allowed in the Champagne region, which are Cordon de Royat, Chablis, Guyot, and Vallée de la Marne.
Wine Connection currently carries the following:
ERNEST RAPENEAU - CHAMPAGNE BRUT
Intense and nice straw colour, fine bubbles and persistent mousse. Floral notes of white flowers, fresh lime, peach, and exotic fruits. This wine is fresh and frank, with hints of warm biscuit and nutty aromas. A wonderful Champagne for any special occasion.
It is also available in 1.5L MAGNUM
2007 ERNEST RAPENEAU VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE
Bright and delicate Champagne colour with powerful bubbles, creating a persistent necklace. Frank and powerful honey and spiced bread aromas with dried apricot fruits notes. The palate is fresh and crispy with a very long finish. Well balanced structure; rich and aromatic finish. This Champagne embodies all the know-how of the House and elegance of vintage wines.