Ulysse Collin Champagne is killer sparkling juice made as naturally as possible by Olivier Collin, who interned secretly under Anselme Selosse from 2001, a biodynamic pioneer in Champagne who many claim is having a profound effect in changing Champagne for the better. He was also simultaneously studying law in Nancy and viticulture in Bordeaux, and didn't know if he'd ever be vigneron.
Although the Collin family had been involved in vineyards since 1812, their vineyards had been rented to a negociant (Pommery) by his father until 2003. With the help of his legal studies, Olivier was able to reclaim 4.5 hectares of vines in 2003 and another 4.2 in 2005 for a total on 8.7 hectares of vines, in Congy in the Sézannais, south of the Côte des Blancs.
Mother nature wasn't agreeable with a nasty frost April 11th, 2003; the crop yields were halfed and he had to sell off the remaining grapes to keep from going broke. His first wine was a Blanc de blancs from a 1.2 hectare plot of 30 year old wines called Les Perrières. He hopes to make a Blanc de blancs from this plot every year.
He also started making a Blanc de Noirs in 2006 from a plot called Les Maillons near Sézanne. I have yet to try this one.
"I create nothing. I accompany the forces of nature" - Olivier Collin
Everything is done as naturally as is practical yet pragmatic. He seems to be moving in a direction of full biodynamic. No herbicides and only powdered sulphur is used against odium (a powdery mildew), organic insecticide for "ver de la grappe" which is a small caterpillar. He does use chemical compounds to combat mildew when necessary. Plowing and organic fertilizer are used as needed. He never plows after harvest as he feels any grass growing helps to detoxify the soil.
Alcoholic fermentation takes as long as nature intends it to take, 6 months in 2004 for example, and is followed by malolactic fermentation. There is no fining or filtering and a minimal amount of dosage (added sugar) is used. Both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation are done in three to six+ year old barriques (oak barrels).
Incidentally, he likes to drink Chablis and Red Burgundy, namely Vosne-Romanée and Volnay.
Tasting Note: Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut
A light straw color with a continuous stream of very small and fine bubbles.
Nose: fresh bread, orange citrus, perhaps flan or custard, and chalk and other minerals, especially with air.
Quite full flavored for a Blanc de blancs and it immediately gives the impression of a Grand or better Premier Cru White Burgundy. Lots of spicy orange citrus tones. Definite tangerines. A bit of apple cider. A complexity and fullness more like a Dom Perignon Rose or La Grand Dame Rose than a typical BdB, perhaps due to the aging in oak cask.
This will improve with a couple years in the cellar no doubt, and is a candidate for decanting before serving.