Franck Pascal is a wine maker who stands out in the mythical landscape of Champagne. He can undoubtedly be counted among those who confer all the richness of their specific terroir to each bottle of bubbly crafted on site. Quickly becoming aware of the damaging effects that chemical products can have on plants, Franck has been committed to biodynamic cultivation techniques for around twenty years now; a strong position to take in a region that depends quite heavily on synthetic products…
Franck Pascal didn’t take a route into viticulture that many would recognise. Initially training as an engineer, he returned to the estate in 1994, aged just 23, after the tragic death of his brother, an event that caused him to profoundly reconsider the path he would take in life. The idea of producing authentic wine stems from a lightbulb moment early in Franck’s career when he learnt more about chemical products. During a short course in vine growing, he learnt that certain pesticides function in the same way as the gas used by soldiers…and he started asking questions about his own methods.
It was in 1998, then, that the real work began, a huge project to overhaul the domain by abandoning insecticides, pesticides, and anti-botrytis treatments as a first step towards biodynamics. A real precursor for this movement in the Champagne region, Franck saw promising results before too long. His first test subjects were the Pinot noir vines on a parcel often ravaged by mildew. He thought that if biodynamic methods worked on these plants, they’d work anywhere! A risk that turned out to b worth taking. He thus expanded these methods to the rest of his vineyard, making the full conversion to biodynamics in 2002.
For this vintner, biodynamics aren’t just a method, though, but rather an overall guiding principle that affects every aspect of work in the vineyard and the winery. In a world moving quickly towards the homogenisation of traditional crafts, the work of Franck Pascal is a reminder of the real graft of a vigneron. This gives meaning to the work, the wine, and those who enjoy it! The production of this champagne is founded on a strong sense of moral values in that it is propelled by the idea of protecting the world’s flora and fauna. It is a recognition of the ways in which man has destroyed the earth, and it is one man’s way of taking a stand against that via his own careful craft. By working with nature, rather than against it, Franck manages to produce excellent cuvées that respect the balances of the earth.
The seven-hectare, clay-rich domain is now run using innovative methods of natural vinification that engage with ideas of spiritual energy. Work on the vines is carried out by hand (with some help from the estate’s horse!), grass is allowed to grow, homemade preparations and compost are used on the plants, and the whole process follows the lunar calendar. The three kinds of grape cultivated here – Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay – are thus cultivated carefully enough to not need acidity correction or any kind of added dosage (as can often be the case with champagne, depending on its style). The result speaks for itself: characterful champagnes that charm wine lovers in search of meaningful produce.