De Sousa Champagne Tradition
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Taken alone, any aspect of today’s wine would make it an anomaly in the Champagne landscape. Biodynamic farming? Exceedingly uncommon, yet De Sousa’s been practicing it for 20+ years. Vine holdings that are largely over 45 years old? Hard to come by in a region where young, high-yielding raw material dominates. A modest $60 price tag? Well below most elite growers’ cost of entry. Put them all together, and Champagne De Sousa’s Brut Tradition starts to look like a rare bird indeed.
And yes, they are most definitely elite: There’s a reason Erick De Sousa has been hailed as one of Champagne most iconic winemakers and viticulturists by various French publications, or that his wines can be found lining the lists of top restaurants—these are richly layered, terroir-expressive treasures that deliver incredible value!
Manuel De Sousa was a Portuguese soldier who fought with France in World War I. After the war, Manuel, his wife, and baby son settled in the region of Champagne, the town of Avize. Sadly, Manuel died at the age of 29. His young son, Antoine, grew up to marry Zoémie Bonville, the daughter of Avize grape growers, and the De Sousa estate was born. Today, Antoine and Zoémie’s son Erick oversees Champagne DeSousa.
The De Sousa house resembles the old vineyards of the family’s estate, which they’ve cared for for over half a century. Erick has 11 hectares across 42 plots, including vines in the Grands Crus of Avize, Cramant, and Oger of the Cotes de Blanc. Three quarters of Erick’s vines are as old as the De Sousa estate. Many more are older.
Three years after inheriting the family vineyards, Erick began converting them to organic viticulture. Ten years later, he began making their viticulture biodynamic. Erick tills the soil of his vineyards manually, carefully, allowing the roots of their vines to descend up to 12 meters into the soil.
These deep roots extract the richest of minerals from the soil’s chalky structure, which the grapes impart to his glorious Champagnes.
In the cellar, Erick follows the practices his father taught him. He regulates his chalk cellar temperature to 18°C, which preserves the aroma of his wines. He ferments his Champagne using indigenous yeasts. And, astonishingly, Erick still has his Champagne riddled by hand.
Champagne De Sousa Tradition Brut is 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. The Champagne’s roundness owes to the Pinot Noir, its freshness to the Chardonnay, and its vinosity to the Pinot Meunier. Its mousse is thick and tight. Its perlage is long and graceful. The Champagne smells like elegant bouquets of summer flowers, followed by ripe stone and orchard fruits. Its flavors begin with Valencia orange and Meyer lemon and end with clover honey.
I can drink a bottle of it easily, but my love for it makes me think I could drink twenty.