François Diligent Champagnes are entirely new wines as of the end of last decade. François Diligent has always been a brand owned by the Moutard-Diligent family, a small grower in La Cote des Bar in the far south who has been growing grapes since the 1600s. The brand historically has been used on and off for their second label lower cost wines, which for example were sold by supermarkets
Not any more: François Diligent led by Boris Politi in partnership with
François Moutard set out "to express the
best of what the the Côte des Bars could express" with a focus on
great wines at a fair price point.
"To express the best of what the the Côte des Bars and specifically Buxeuil and Polisy have to offer"
They use six different grape varieties, including a lot of Pinot Noir (no surprise as The Aube is Pinot Noir territory), and a lot of different techniques and experimentation in their wines.
These include differing malolactic techniques, various dosage levels, aging on the lees under cork, and the use of both steel tanks and oak barrels. Most wines are also from a single vintage although not vintage dated.
Some quick background on La Côte des Bar, with a mention that I am a big fan of this region:
La Côte des Bar is in the far south of Champagne in an area also called The Aube. Grapes there tend to ripen more than the rest of Champagne, making the wines full bodied. I also sometimes get notes of pineapple and bananas from these wines.
Descriptions of their wines, copied verbatim from information they have sent me:
NV Brut – 100% Pinot Noir made in steel with malolactic fermentation; dosage is ~ 7 g/L
NV Trois Pinots – 1/3 each Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc; done in oak, sees malolactic and is dosed at ~ 7 g/L
NV Pinot Blanc – 100% Pinot Blanc in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation; dosage is ~ 7g/L
NV Pinot Zero – 100% Pinot Noir from a single vineyard in Buxeuil; steel fermentation, no malolactic and no dosage
NV Rosé – 100% Pinot Noir Saignée made in steel with malolactic fermentation; dosage is ~ 10 g/L
NV Rosé Zero – 100% Pinot Noir in steel without malolactic fermentation or dosage
NV Epiphanie Rosé – 1/6 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Pinot Blanc with red wine addition from the NV Rosé Zero; This sees oak and malolactic fermentation; dosage is in the Extra Brut range
NV Noir de Seine – 100% Pinot Noir from select plots; this goes through malolactic and is dosed as an Extra Brut
Millésime – 100% Chardonnay done in either steel and/or oak with malolactic fermentation; dosed as an Extra Brut
Millésime Oenothèque – Identical to the above only that the wine is a late released older vintage
Tasting Note: François Diligent Brut - March 2012, rated B+
I was very surprised to find a bottle of the new François Diligent locally at vinodivino, a fascinating wine shop in Brookline and Newton Mass, and so was Boris Politi at François Diligent. Most of the US stocks are the very different older bottlings from before he was in charge.
The nose is crisp apple and chalk. A hint of orange citrus. Lemon as it warms and breathes.
On the palate, green apple and perhaps baked Macintosh apple, a slightly spicy chalk. It's clean and precise. Sweet lemon (Meyer lemon?) emerges after 30 minutes.
Very nice especially for a entry level wine - paid about US$32 so it is a great deal as well.
Tasting Note: François Diligent Pinot Blanc - drank Nov, 2012, London, rated B-
As mentioned above, Pinot Blanc in Champagne is extremely rare and this is the only 100% Pinot Blanc Champagne I have ever heard of!
Light golden color.
The nose had a little pineapple, with minerals - perhaps limestone, and a touch of green apple.
On the palate it is surprisingly sweet yet balanced by tart apple and Chinese bitter melon.
A fascinating wine. I had it with Eel and Rabbit Terrine and fresh sheep’s ricotta gnudi. Certainly not a perfect match, although an enjoyable one, and it may drink better with different foods.