Fun Fuel visits supplier Secondé-Simon!
Last weekend of September, Fun Fuel travelled to Reims and Ambonnay, to visit Secondé-Simon; get to know the wine house better, the Ambonnay wineyard and the range of cuvées produced by Secondé-Simon, in addition to the people working there and the processes they follow to make those extraordinary Cuvées.
The story behind Secondé-Simon
Ambonnay is located only a short drive from Reims, a little more than 30 minutes south-east, and a 2 hour drive east from Charles de Gaulle. Ambonnay is one of 17 villages with Grand Cru status. Less than 9% of all the planted vineyard in Champagne have a received 100% Grand Cru rating.
The story of Secondé-Simon began in 1983, when Jean-Luc Secondé, the son of a winegrower from the Champagne region, decided to create a wine domaine in the village of Ambonnay in the heart of the Montagne de Reims vineyards.
He has good help from his wife Catherine, and the domaine initially had 50 ares
of vines as well as a further 1.3 hectares on a sharecropping basis. The wine
domaine has since grown considerably and now covers 6 hectares of exclusively
Grand Cru vineyards which give birth to champagnes with a very powerful
The reins at Secondé-Simon have now been passed on to Jérôme Bôle, Jean-Luc and Catherine Secondé's son-in-law, who is assisted in the vinification work by his son, Nicolas Secondé, who is also an oenologist.
Nicolas Secondé is an expert in sparkling wines, and works for numerous wine domaines in France and abroad. His valuable expertise ensures the preservation of the unique style of champagnes produced by Secondé-Simon.
Fun Fuel visits the Secondé-Simon
The visit started in the production section, where the grapes are collected and weighed, before they immediately are transferred to the pressing centre. They have a modern pressing machine - computer-controlled, using a technique of gentle but gradually increasing pressure, separate the juice into fractions (the first press is the most delicate). They could happily describe this year's vintage as an extraordinary year; both in quality and quantity - looking forward to trying it!
At the time we were there, the harvest was done, also the pressing, and alcoholic fermentation was ongoing in large, temperature controlled, stainless steel vats. Secondé-Simon is allowing malolactic fermentation to happen, at 21-22 degrees. This 'softens' the wine, and making it rounder with a fuller mouthfeel.
A closer look at Champagne
The legal base yield in Champagne is fixed by the INAO (Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité) and defined as 10,400kg of grapes per hectare of which juice extraction is limited to 66.5 hectolitres per hectare. This is revisable up or down on the advice of the Comité Champagne. Yield, therefore, becomes a two-step process defined initially by weight at picking and then by volume at press. These rules make actual yield just 64% of the bunch weight harvested. This is reduced again when separating the 'cuvée' (first pressing) from the 'taille' (second pressing).
In the Norwegian market, the following Secondé-Simon Cuvées are available, imported by Fun Fuel: