Champagne Delamotte is not only one of the oldest champagne houses, but also, arguably, one of the most refined in style and pedigree. Established in 1760 in the prestigious village of Le Mesnil, Champagne Delamotte is Chardonnay’s most dedicated advocate. Indeed, most of Delamotte’s vineyards are planted with Chardonnay, all of which enjoy the exalted grand cru status common to the very best Champagnes. Alongside the elegant Delamotte Brut NV (a blend with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier but Chardonnay-dominant nonetheless) and delicate, strawberry-scented rosé, the Blanc de Blancs cuvées (non-vintage and vintage) are the stars of the show, both tantalisingly rich yet delicate. This is hardly surprising, considering Delamotte’s status as sister house of the legendary Salon Champagne, perhaps the world’s finest and rarest Blanc de Blancs Champagne, produced only in exceptional vintages.
Champagne Delamotte's range of Champagnes aims to showcase the unique terroir of Grand Cru-rated village Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Sister-house of the highly-prized Champagne Salon, Delamotte shares Salon’s pursuit of sophistication and elegance, as well as its focus on the Chardonnay grape. The unremitting quality of Delamotte’s champagnes is due in part to its small-scale approach, limiting quantity to just 50,000 cases per year. The Champagne Delamotte range comprises four champagnes: Delamotte Brut NV (Non-Vintage), Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV, Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Vintage (currently 1999) and Delamotte Rosé NV.
Delamotte Brut NV is the house’s take on the ‘classic’ non-vintage Champagne. The relatively high proportion of Chardonnay (50%) befits a specialist Blanc de Blancs house and is crucial to the defining elegance of the Delamotte house style. For softness and richness, Delamotte blends in a proportion of Pinot Noir (30%) and fruit-forward Pinot Meunier (20%), in the tradition of Champagne non-vintage cuvées. The Chardonnay grapes are sourced from grand cru vineyards in Champagne’s top villages of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Oger. The Pinot Noir grapes are also from grand cru vineyards in Bouzy, Tours-sur-Marne and Ambonnay. The Pinot Meunier grapes are sourced from high quality vineyards in the Marne. Delamotte Brut NV is bottle-aged on its lees for 3 years, a key factor to its style and quality – it is worth noting that most Brut NV Champagnes spend just 15 months on the lees, the legal minimum in Champagne.
Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV is considered the quintessence of Delamotte’s distinctive house style. Full-flavoured yet tantalisingly light, this is a precisely-structured Champagne with a delicate, filigree texture. It is made from Chardonnay grapes sourced from 100% grand cru vineyards in the villages of Le Mesnil, Avize and Oger. The wine spends at least 4 to 5 years on its lees, an extended ageing period allowing the Chardonnay to develop full expression. It is worth noting that in vintages where Salon is not made, its grapes are diverted to Delamotte.
Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1999 is made from Chardonnay only, sourced from more mature vines in the prestigious grand cru villages of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Oger. Only 5,000 cases in total were made. The Delamotte style is known for its elegance and textural purity, achieved partly by extended lees ageing (the 1999 vintage spent 6 to 7 years sur lie). Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1999 is often compared for its vinosity and complexity to fine white Burgundy and proves an excellent food partner.
Delamotte Rosé NV is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, sourced in their entirety from grand cru vineyards. Again all the Chardonnay comes from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Delamotte is one of only a handful of champagne houses to uphold the traditional ‘macération’ (sometimes called ‘saignée’) method of making rosé champagne, whereby the juice of the grapes remains in contact with the grape skins for a small period of time at the start of fermentation, extracting colour and flavour while contributing to structure. This ancestral technique, painstaking and therefore followed only by the most discerning of champagne houses, yields a champagne of refined structure and subtlety. Most other pink champagnes these days are made by blending a small percentage of red wine into the blend. Delamotte’s delicate fruit and elegant flavours make an excellent apéritif, as well as a fine match for chicken, oriental dishes, and summer fruit desserts.
Champagne Delamotte – the people
Since its foundation in 1760, Champagne Delamotte has remained largely in family ownership, an important factor that has enabled Delamotte to retain its small-scale ethos and ‘terroir’ focus. Now part of the larger Laurent-Perrier Champagne house, along with sister-house Champagne Salon, Champagne Delamotte is run separately by a small, dynamic team headed by Didier Depond, whose passion, energy and vision have proved pivotal to the success of both Delamotte and Salon in recent years.
Michel Fauconnet is chef de cave, and makes the blends not only at Delamotte but Salon too. He has worked at Delamotte and Salon for over 25 years, 20 years of which were spent under the tutelage of longstanding oenologist Alain Terrier.
Champagne Delamotte’s growers are key to the operation. While Delamotte owns some vineyards, it also sources grapes from grand cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs. Most of these family growers have worked with Delamotte for generations and have long experience of producing their grapes to Delamotte’s exacting standards. This offers Delamotte enormous benefits in terms of quality, style and consistency.
Champagne Delamotte – the place
Champagne Delamotte is located in the exalted village of Le-Mesnil-sur-Oger, one of only seventeen Champagne villages to enjoy 100% Grand Cru status, and one of only 6 such villages in the Côte des Blancs region of Champagne. Chardonnay is the only grape variety grown in Le Mesnil, whose grapes are considered by many to be the highest in quality of the entire Côte des Blancs. This is partly due to soil composition in the vineyards, comprising layered sediment and chalk, fundamental to Delamotte’s mineral style, finesse and delicacy.
Champagne Delamotte – winemaking philosophy
Champagne Delamotte’s style philosophy is based on the small-scale. Quality is achieved by working with small growers and specific vineyards with their own unique terroirs, bringing complexity and character to Delamotte’s champagnes. Growers are long-term partners who understand Delamotte’s quality and style. Fruit is always of the highest quality. Delamotte’s approach requires that vineyard work be carried out by hand. All grapes are picked and then sorted by hand by Delamotte’s experienced staff. A combination of traditional and modern vinification techniques are employed to maximise quality, including the use of gentle Willmes presses. Extended ageing is crucial to the quality and style of Delamotte’s Chardonnay-based champagnes.