CHAMPAGNE OLIVIER HORIOT
MAISON THIÉNOT - REIMS
Most of the Champagne Houses of France have existed for more than three centuries. But Alain Thiénot held tight to his courage and determination and started one from scratch in 1985.
Champagne Thiénot is situated in Taissy near Reims, and has grown to become a family estate, with Alain’s children, Garance and Stanislas, having joined the business in 2003.
Alain spent almost 20 years working as a winebroker in Champagne and so came to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the vineyards. One of his tasks had been to seek out the most rare and exceptional grapes from growers for the major Champagne Houses, and this quest spurred his vision for a modern Champagne House.
Engaging his well-established contacts, Alain was able to seek out the best terroirs and best winegrowers of a cru to supply Maison Thiénot. Two-thirds of the House’s grapes now come from their own vineyards with 6.25 ha from Grands Crus vineyard and 7.01 ha for Premiers Crus.
Alain is uncompromising when it comes to quality and expertise, and has successfully carved out a position in the markets of France and abroad. A respect for tradition and utmost quality meld with passion and creativity to produce the Maison’s outstanding Champagnes.
The Alain Thiénot Group also owns a number of vineyards and brands in Bordeaux like Chateau Rahoul in the Graves area which we have recently added to our wine selection.
This long-running estate originated in the 1600s, and once sold all of its grapes to the local co-operative. When Olivier Horiot took over from his father Serge Horiot in 1999, he decided to begin producing his own wines, including three cuvées and the local signature, rosé de riceys.
Olivier’s grandfather replanted the family estate post-phylloxera, and the vineyard now cultivates seven hectares of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and some Arbanne. Two of these hectares are used for Olivier’s winemaking, while the remaining five hectares are still sold to the co-operative.
Olivier farms following biodynamic principles, ferments on native yeasts, and uses very little sulphur. However, the estate is not certified biodynamic as Olivier does not his wine to be consumed for that reason alone.
The estate is located in Les Riceys in the Côte des Bar, among the southern region of Champagne, where Olivier strives to make intense, complex champagnes, helped along by the vineyard’s exposition to the sun and rich Kimmeridgian soils. He and wife Marie work the vineyard together, driven by passion and a constantly curious mind.
For his first four vintages, Olivier focused on making still wines and the base wines for the Champagnes that were to come. He produced his first Champagne in 2004, with all four of his blends containing low dosages of residual sugar (never above 2 grams/litre). He vinifies each parcel separately to demonstrate the individual terroirs and the different profiles they yield.
The Rosé des Riceys appellation is a relatively new classification for the Champagne region, covering solely rosé made from Pinot Noir—something of an anomaly in the region of Champagne. There are only a handful of vignerons making this wine, and in very small quantities, so its is rarely seen outside France.