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New Kids On The Block: Demarne-Frison

Less than 20 years ago in 1997, Thierry DeMarne took over the six acres of his family’s vineyards in the tiny village of Ville-Sur-Arce in the Champagne-Ardenne region in north eastern France. At the outset, Thierry and his wife, Valerie, began by selling their grapes to the local cooperative. A decade later in 2007, they began to make their own wines, their enthusiasm for doing so kindled by the success of their friend Bertrand Gautherot.

But when they went to release the first vintage in 2010, they ran into a bureaucratic snafu having to do with Thierry’s name. The C.I.V.C (Comite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne) decided that should the domaine be known as DeMarne, people would assume that it was from the Marne River as opposed the Aube River near to which the vineyard is based. This, of course, would, according to them result in a marketing mess.

After much hand-wringing in the hallways of the Comite, Thierry found a way to soothe ruffled feathers: he combined his and his wife’s last names: DeMarne-Frison.

The first wine they put on the market was Goustan, a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay fermented in barrique and bottled without dosage, followed by a blanc de blancs called Lalore.

In the short time that they have been producing their own champagne, DeMarne-Frison is certainly making a mark. Their first couple of years were impressive as have the cuvees that followed.

Completely organic, the wines are most definitively terroir-driven: in keeping with wines from the Aube, they are expressive and abundant with an all-around lively energetic character.

DeMarne-Frison is definitely worth a try. Grab it quickly because production remains small. Whilst they have substantially reduced what they sell to the cooperative, some of the grapes still go there. “My sister-in-law is the president. We can’t pull out completely,” Thierry says.

DeMarne-Frison -- $67