Champagne Mailly – one of the very best cooperatives in Champagne

The facilities of Champagne Maill at dusk. The picture borrowed from their website.

Champagne Mailly is one of the very best cooperatives in Champagne, if not the very best, and is located in the village of Mailly-Champagne. Yes, “Champagne” is a part of the name of the village and of the cooperative, and the two only differ by the order in which the two words appear. Mailly-Champagne, that’s the village, is one of the 17 villages of Champagne that are classified as grand cru. It is located on the northern side of Montagne de Reims, having the grand cru village Verzenzy as a neighbour to the east and the premier cru village Ludes as neighbour to the west.

The location of Mailly-Champagne can be seen in the map below; I borrowed it from Wikimedia Commons. The geographical information has its origin from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards.

Mailly 20131006 Tomas och Pinot

Me and a bunch of Pinot Noir in a vineyard just west of the village. (That’s me to the right and Pinot Noir to the left.)

Pinot Noir is very dominant here, with 89% in the village at large and 75% in the vineyards of the cooperative. Here, north-facing slopes dominate which means that Pinot Noir from here don’t quite have the same powerful and vinous character as those from south-facing slopes in e.g. Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. On the other hand, this means that freshness and elegance can be easier had without blending in too much Chardonnay. When I characterise the Champagnes from these north-facing slopes as less powerful than those from south-facing slopes that absolutely doesn’t mean that they are “light-weight” compared to an average Champagne blended from grapes across the region: they definitely show the red berry and spice notes expected from a Pinot-dominated Champagne and the weight and concentration expected from a grand cru.

The cooperative was founded in 1929 and has 80 members that together control 70 hectares (173 acres) of vineyards out of the grand total of 282 ha (697 acres) in the village, or 28%. 70 hectares of grand cru vineyards in the hands of one Champagne producer is quite a lot. Many reasonably well known Champagne houses – most of them operate with a mixture of their own vineyards and bought-in grape – own much less than this, irrespective of the level of cru. Off-hand, I can’t recall that any of the other 16 grand cru villages has an independent cooperative of the same size. Many of the other village cooperatives in grand cru villages are members of Union Champagne, which is a larger cooperative that sells its own Champagnes under the brand De Saint Gall, as well as supplies Champagnes houses with raw materials. Champagne Mailly and Union Champagne/De Saint Gall are the only two main contenders for the title of best Champagne cooperative.

Mailly 20131006 Pinot Noir-klasar

Pinot Noir bunches next to the road just west of Mailly-Champagne, on 6 October 2013. These bunches looked fully ripe, and harvest was in progress in many vineyards on that day. I hope that these grapes were harvested soon after the photo was taken, since many bunches showed some signs of being attacked by mold (early stages of gray rot?), which wasn’t too surprising since the weather was quite moist.

Champagne Mailly has a very modern facility just where the village gives way to vineyards, with large glass surfaces in their shop and tasting room. It is located along the road going through the main villages of the Montagne de Reims, the D26, at the entrance of the village from the Ludes direction as well as the direction of the D9/D26 intersection. It’s impossible to miss also without a GPS. Although Mailly-Champagne itself is a small and somewhat sleepy village, the cooperative is open for tasting and purchase seven days a week. During opening hours, no booking is necessary, it’s just to drop in. They do charge for tasting, though, but not if you then buy a reasonable amount. This policy is probably necessary for a producer that is well visible to passers-by, has generous opening hours, and offers the whole range for tasting without booking. I recommend a visit to anyone passing by, with the possible exception of those whose only aim is to taste for free.

I notice that Richard Juhlin has increased his producer rating of Champagne Mailly from *** to **** in his latest book (the one from 2014). It is the first time he has rated any cooperative at this level.

My most recent visit was in October 2013, and then I tasted the following Champagnes:

Mailly Brut Réserve NV
75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay

Apple, some pear, rather good acidity, a hint of bitterness. Rather ready to drink, 86 p.

2007 L’Intemporelle
60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay

Nose with yellow apple, white flowers, rather elegant. Palate with good acidity, green and yellow apples, noticeable minerality. Rather young, 89(+) p.

Clearly shows more Chardonnay notes than the other wines, and produced in a style that emphasises the elegance.

Mailly Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes NV
100% Pinot Noir.

Nose of yellow and red apples. Palate of red apples, slightly spicy, rather good acidity. Quite apple-dominated, rather foody style. 88 p

Definitely a step up from their regular Brut Réserve, and it is obvious that better Pinot Noir grapes have been used for this wine.

2006 Mailly Millésime
75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay

Nose of ripe apple and some apple compote. Palate of yellow apple, noticeable minerality, and good acidity. Rather young, 89(+) p.

By the way, Mailly is one of few producers to sell vintage Champagnes in half bottles.

2004 Les Échansons
75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay

Nose of yellow apple, butterscotch, slightly flowery and rater elegant. Palate of green and yellow apple, good concentration, noticeable minerality, and good acidity. Rather young, 90+ p.

This was the top wine of their range at the time of the visit. The 2002 vintage had just sold out.

Mailly Rosé NV
90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay

Pale pink colour. Some wild strawberries, red apples, some mineral, good acidity, and a hint of bitterness. Not too big concentration and rather ready to drink, 85 p.

Mailly 20131006 Bisty visar

A future vineyard owner in Mailly-Champagne shows the lands to the west of the village.

Swedish version here.

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2 Responses to Champagne Mailly – one of the very best cooperatives in Champagne

  1. Pingback: Champagne village profile: Mailly-Champagne, a grand cru village in the Grande Montagne de Reims | Tomas's wine blog

  2. Pingback: Champagnes from Champagne Mailly, an excellent coop in Mailly-Champagne | Tomas's wine blog

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