Les Rachais Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature
100% Chardonnay. Les Rachais is the pinnacle of the Boulard wines, coming as it does from the original family estate parcel planted with selection massale cuttings in 1967. Francis first started making this zero-dosage vintage Blanc de Blancs in 2002, at the time under the Raymond Boulard label. The Les Rachais plot was the subject of Francis’s first experiment with biodynamic farming; so successful was the experiment that Francis and his daughter Delphine split over it with the rest of the family in 2009, taking their rights to 60 ares of Les Rachais with them. It is now certified biodynamic.
The soils here are notably sandy, with 2 meters of sand over limestone mother rock, Interestingly, the legal name of the vineyard is L'Heurtebise. Because this name is not unique in Champagne, Francis decided to call the wine "Rachet" in order to distinguish this special parcel. But besides being a pruning term, “Rachet” is also the name of a lieu-dit in the Aube region of Champagne, so the government wouldn’t allow it for the Boulard bottling. The compromise was the phonetically identical "Rachais".
The fruit is harvested at high ripeness in order to achieve balance with little to no dosage. The hand-harvested bunches are gently pressed, and only first-press juice is used. It is fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts, exclusively in small, old oak barrels for Les Rachais. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and remains on its lees in barrel for a full year, with periodic batônnage carried out in accordance with the lunar calendar. It is then bottled with must from the new vintage—rather than with the traditional liqueur di tirage concoction normally used in Champagne—on a biodynamic “fruit day”, with no fining or filtering and with minimal sulfur. Les Rachais is aged for an extended period: the 2011 was manually disgorged in 2017 and finished with a 3-gram dosage. It is typically the most powerful, complex and richly saline of the Boulard line-up.