Another of our distinguished grower champagne houses, Serge Mathieu is located two hours from Epernay in the Aube, rubbing neighbourly shoulders with the likes of Drappier and Moutard. This small family house do everything themselves, from viticulture to wine-making to marketing. The Mathieus have been growers in the Aube since at least 1760, seven generations selling their grapes to négociant houses and, plot by plot, accumulating an estate that now covers around 12 hectares.
In 1970 Serge Mathieu took the family business to the next level, creating the first champagne bottled under the family name and producing an initial modest run of 5,000 bottles a year. His daughter Isabelle and her husband, Michel Jacob, now run the business, but you'll still find Serge tinkering away in the cellars. Annual production is now at 110,000 bottles, with a concerted effort to extend the Serge Mathieu brand beyond French borders resulting in a large percentage being exported.
The wines themselves are delightful, low filtration, low sulphur and gentle handling delivering beautifully balanced and approachable expressions that are predominantly Pinot Noir, that varietal responding favourably to the Aube's clay-rich soils. Malolactic is carried out with great delicacy, endowing these supremely elegant champagnes with a creamy richness.
The very charming Isabelle and Michel are making many changes, the most significant of them – a greater regard for environmentally sustainable practices – no longer a unique story in the Champagne region, with many of the current generation eschewing the ways of their immediate forbears, who were frequently operating with scant regard for soil, environment or the future. At Serge Mathieu, Michel is practising as close to a biodynamic programme as the region will sustain; the amount of moisture does mean they are very susceptible to mildew. Over the last 10 years, the couple have been planting more trees, and the birds and bees are returning.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay