Wine: This month Xavier Bostem talks to Rodolphe Leroy about an exceptional Belgian vineyard.
Tell us about the background to Les Agaises: The vineyard is located in Haulchin (Estinnes), near Binche, at a place called Les Agaises, on a hillside very rich in limestone and facing due south, over which Lord Ruffus reigned in the 12th century. Fruit of the association of a wine merchant (Raymond Leroy), a farmer (Etienne Delbeke), a Champagne winemaker (Thierry Gobillard) and two entrepreneurs (Michel Wanty and Joël Hugé), the Agaises vineyard was born in 2002.
The 285,000 feet of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier spread over 28.5 ha make our estate the largest wine producer in Belgium. We only produce sparkling wines according to the traditional method, that is to say with a second fermentation in the bottle, and on slats for a minimum 12 months. All the vintages have already won gold in the biggest international competitions, and the Vineyard was honoured with the title of Chevalier du Mérite Wallon in 2015.
And the vintages? Chardonnay Brut is our best known and best-selling “classic” vintage. This grape takes advantage of the exceptional limestone richness of our hillside to express all its minerality and the palette of aromas that are specific to it (white flowers, hazelnuts, almonds, brioches and citrus fruits).
The Brut Sauvage is not dosed, that is to say that we do not add sugar to the shipping liqueur, so we end up in the plain brut category. Shorter on the palate, Brut Sauvage can however express all its minerality.
Obtained by maceration of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Brut Rosé (6g of sugar / l) will develop aromas of small red fruits. More “vinous” than our other 100% Chardonnay cuvées, the Brut Rosé is suitable as an aperitif but can also accompany your appetizers.
When the vintage is exceptional, we select the best grape juices to produce 4,000 bottles of our Grande Cuvée. Designed by Franco Dragone, this cuvée is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and follows a light aging in barrels. Developed according to the traditional method, the bottles will age minimum 24 months on slats. www.ruffus.be