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  • Writer's pictureMona Elyafi

Excelling In The Art Of Vintage …Meet Delphine Brulez,

THE “FaBULLEuse” WOMAN BEHIND CHAMPAGNE LOUISE-BRISON


At the helm of the family-owned champagne house since 2016, Delphine Brulez, is leading the way through passion and heritage one vintage at a time. The fourth generation vigneronne proudly perpetuates the female legacy of Champagne Louise Brison.


The legacy of Champagne Louise Brison started in 1900 when Louise Brison amassed a few vines and in a gutsy move proceeded to make wine at a time when most of the Champagne region was plagued with setbacks and misfortune in the face of phylloxera infestation.

Not one to give up, Louise against all odds forged a bright future for the family in Champagne that endures today over four generations.

Champagne Louise-Brison takes its historical roots in Noé- les-Mallets in the Cote des Bars, land of Pinot Noir. Crafting Champagne wines from Kimmeridgian soils, the estate, composed of 15 hectares of vines, is planted 70% Pinot Noir, and 30% Chardonnay. The vineyards (on a south-south-east exposure) are under organic viticulture with zero chemicals or pesticides / insecticides used to encourage the natural biodiversity to flourish.

Since 1900, the house has carried on the traditions and the unique savoir-faire that have defined the success of the house and fame of its cuvées. A family affair, each generation has brought advancements and innovations to the Champagne House starting with Francis Brulez, Delphine’s father, who in 1991 made a 180-degree turn when he switched the direction of the house giving it its acclaimed signature style by solely elaborating Vintage Champagnes.

Today, Delphine Brulez, agronomist engineer and oenologist, upholds her father’s convictions continuing to not only master the art of the vintage but also ameliorate the quality of the work in the vineyards and the cellar. Connecting the past with the present Delphine is fearlessly moving her small independent Champagne House into the future committing to rise to the challenge of climate change with a conscious and natural evolution towards an organic viticulture.


She only elaborates vintage champagne - “an accurate photography of the passing of time” as she reminds us of - vinifies all her wines in oak barrels, and religiously lets every bottle go through a 5-year minimum maturation process on slats.


Delphine is also part of the first association of Champagne “Vigneronnes” (winemakers) dubbed “Les Fa’bulleuses” - a powerhouse group of 7 inspirational young women fueling the success of some of the most exciting grower champagnes. Together, these independent female winemakers share their passion for their craft, respect of nature and the environment, and travail to promote their champagnes, their region, and their know-how as winemakers.


Suffice to say, Delphine’s accomplishments are a formidable and encouraging reflection of the positive changes brewing in this traditionally male-dominated bubbly world.

I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to chat with her.




Champagne Louise Brison is a family-owned champagne house that owes its auspicious beginnings to a strong and hardworking woman, Louise Brison, who at the commencement of the 20th century, acquired vines and began making wine. Can you briefly retrace the story of your family and the Champagne house?


Louise brison (born Staer )was originally from a small village in Germany. Her family used to be shepherds and arrived in France at the end of the 19th century. Before the First World War, they had to choose between the 2 countries, and they became French to be authorized to stay in France. She lived through a troubled century, but she stayed where the estate still is. She had 3 daughters, and my grandmothers was the youngest. My grandparents came back in Noe Les Mallets in 1947, to be growers. My grandfather planted vines and they followed the evolution of the champagne appellation until my father took over in 1977. He decided to replant the vines to have the vineyard he wanted in terms of grape variety, rootstock, and plants. He waited 10 years to create his first vintage in 1991. The center of his philosophy was making only vintage champagne with a strong personality that translated as honestly as possible the vintage. I came back in 2006 to work for 10 years with my father until I took over in 2016 .



Can you share with us how your "wine" journey began? You were born in Troyes (once the capital of Champagne), studied in Dijon, and worked in Bordeaux & Burgundy before returning to the Cote des Bars in 2006. Wine is very much in your DNA. Was it a natural choice to take over the family business?


It was definitely a natural choice. I am immersed in this world since I am child, and I had this passion communicated by my father. I think that I took this path first because I was in awed with what my father was building, and his way of making wine and sharing it. But the more I discovered this incredible wine world, the more I got addicted. I am still learning every day, every season, and trough every wine I taste.



You're the 4th generation of the family in the Cote des Bars. How important is it to perpetuate the family tradition and passion? And how do you hope future generations carry on that reputation and heritage?


Tradition, passion, and experience are everything for our job. We completely live our passion, so our most treasured wish is to pass this passion on to the next generation. Nonetheless, we have to be very careful with balancing a really demanding job and still be present for our children. One of my worst fears would be to wake up in 15 years with my children saying: "we saw that mom was passionate about her job, but she was never there". Balance is the most difficult thing to maintain because it is always evolving.



In 1991, you father, Francis Brulez, radically changed the direction of the house giving it its acclaimed signature style: strictly producing Vintage Champagnes aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 5 years. What motivated this move and is it difficult to solely stick to the crafting of vintage Champagnes as not every year commands a vintage cuvee?


It is not difficult at all. It is just not what the champagne world is used to. Making a vintage is really natural to me. If you want to reveal your terroir, making a vintage is a necessity. It is always a new challenge. It makes me question myself each season, but to be honest, I would get bored by just making a blend to produce the same wine year after year. Through our vintage champagnes, we have a good image of the climate evolution.



Less than 1% of all 16,000 Champagne grape growers are certified organic.

Your vineyard is part of that 1% officially earning its organic certification in 2020.

What are some of the environmentally friendly practices you adhere to in the vineyard and in the cellar? How is it affecting the quality of the grapes and the wine?


Actually since 2022, almost 6% of the surface in champagne are certified organic. It doubled in the last 3 years. It is a huge improvement, but there is still so much to do. The organic philosophy is all about balance. We work to improve all the things that are alive in the soil to help the plant to be more resilient. This resilience is the key for the future adaptation of our vineyard. Our job is to have the least impact on the soil, to create a natural regeneration. Thinking about the yield we are asking the vines to produce is the number one rule! To maintain the physiological balance in the plant (between the reserve and thus the energy and its need for producing grapes). As for the winemaking part, it is evident to say that if the grapes are well balanced, the wine will have great potential. But is through our method that we will reveal its potential. To my mind, time is everything when we think about the type of wine we want to produce. Of course with as few manipulation as possible.



Can you talk to us about the terroirs on your estate. The Cote des Bars makes up the southernmost corner of Champagne, accounting for nearly 23 percent of the appellation's total area. It is a region known for its Kimmeridgian marl and for being Pi not Noir dominant. How does your range of champagnes express the character, complexities & personality of the area?

Our type of soil is very unique in France. It goes from the south of Sancerre to the east of la Cote des Bar. This type of Terroir brings us closer to Chablis than the Epernay/Reims area. This is a really good soil to grow vines. It helps to reach a high level of concentration in our grapes. The depth is relative to the situation on the hill. It can be really superficial at the top and varies a lot when you go down. Once the roots are firmly in place, the water in the soil is charged with lots of minerals that comes from the mineralization of the humus. Those minerals are absorbed by the plant and are a key point for the complexity and the salinity that characterize our wines. Contrary to many growers around us, we have 30 % of chardonnay. In my opinion, this is the

variety that brings the purity of our terroir the best.



Speaking about the Cote des Bars, it is one the most exciting regions when it comes to the grower champagne movement. There's a palpable energy around the progressive concept of conscientious viticulture as a means of producing the highest quality wine that is terroir-driven and authentic. Is this a bittersweet glory when the Aube was for a while rejected from the Champagne Appellation, then labeled "Second Zone" before finally being recognized and rightfully included in the Champagne AOC?


I think that our history as "second zone" is what is driving us to work hard for our area. Our proximity with burgundy is also a catalyst for the understanding of our Terroir. There are more and more growers that see our area as this unique place. They want to bring this singularity in the wine they produce. Thinking more in terms of precision (one plot, one cuvee, one vintage) than mass production like the big brands. But we have still a lot of work to do. The success of the economy in Champagne also brings the opposite. Growers can earn much more money by just growing grapes and they don't want the trouble of making wine and selling it. They just have a part of the equation that is our terroir. The result is a two-speed appellation ....



Your great-grand mother Louise fought phylloxera at the beginning of the century, the Spanish plague, World War I, lost one of her daughters, and lost her husband to suicide, yet she never gave up and forged a future for the family selling wines for which she was never paid. How does her spirit live on today and how is it manifested in your champagnes?


I am really proud of my ancestors. They lived through a difficult 20th century, but they never stop fighting for what they believe in. In general, I strongly believe that we must know where we are coming from to know where we are going. It is a lesson of humility. The foundation of our brand, our way of seeing the appellation and what we put in place for the future is linked to this family history. I am not saying that we don't have it easier now than in the past. But we still need to be really driven, and hardworking to make it happen. The champagnes we produce today would not be the same if we were just thinking in terms of earning money as quickly as possible. It took 4 generations to build what we have today but we still have our fair share of work to do for the next generations.



I read that some people in your village call you "Louise" instead of "Delphine". I'm sure you see this as the greatest form of compliment knowing who your great grandmother was and what she overcame. If the history of Champagne is famously paved with impressive female figures (like your great grandmother) who have shaped the industry, the field remains heavily male dominated. Yet there's a new wave of women -you included - who are amassing attention and making a lot of noise. In your opinion, what has changed over the years to allow for a more gender-inclusive Champagne?


Yes, I am often joking that I can be diagnosed with schizophrenia, because when they call me Louise I always answer! I can see that it is also a personification of Louise Brison as someone timeless. As for the place of women today, I would say that we are coming to the light naturally. It still is a male- dominating world, but it is changing. I am not for a perfect equity, but I just want for everyone to be able to live his/her passion to the fullest. It helps to be strong headed when you want to be seen for someone and something else than your gender. We talk a lot about it today, that's good, because it is a reality. I really hope we won't talk about it in the near future because the most important thing is not the topic of gender and equity, but how we will still be able to make champagne in the next 30 years. I think about climate change, evolution of our ways of growing, sustainability!



You are part of an association of seven women/winegrowers called "Les Fa'Bulleuses" sharing your common passion for "bubbles.". Can you tell us more about this enterprise - its philosophy and overall mission?


Our group of les Fa'Bulleuses is first a group of friends. We gather around every topic that goes from techniques to family. We don't have any taboo. We share freely, without judgment. It is a breath of fresh air. We decided a couple of years ago to create the ultimate representation of our group by making a cuvee together. ISOS was born for the vintage 2018 released in 2021. It is an equal part of our seven estates that creates our own territory. We released a Coteaux

Champenois Blanc last October. It is better than a psychologist!



What is your most memorable champagne moment?


If you ask me about a champagne that was really incredible, it was a Salon 1997 (blind tested). As for champagne a "moment", I have none specifically. It is all those times we share around a bottle of champagne. That is really what I like about wine; we don't fight around a bottle of wine. It is something that link people instead of separating them.



What is the one question I have not asked you which you wish I had, and why?


We could have talk more about future and sustainability. When I take decisions today, it is always with those questions in mind .... What can we do, or plan today to prepare the future generations. How are we going to adapt to the climate change without creating worst things for tomorrow. The urgency to change is real and should be the first thing we work for in our appellation, which as the means to be an example.




For more information go to: https://louise-brison.fr/


Check out as well Delphine’s blog “Les Millesimes de Louise”: https://www.les-millesimes-de-louise.fr/press-book/


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