Word’s out about Gimonnet-Oger — despite the vigneron’s best efforts.
From the start, fatcork has gone gaga for the golden, shimmering Champagne of Gimonnet-Oger. Vigneron Jean Luc Gimonnet comes from a prolific family of Champagne producers, and while his cousins enjoy recognition in the press and on wine lists at fancy, fine-dining restaurants, Jean Luc prefers a quieter existence in which his meticulously tended chardonnay grapes from the chalky soils of Cuis in Côte Des Blancs speak for themselves.
Jean Luc oversees his family estate, Gimonnet-Oger, in the heart of the Côte des Blancs subregion of Champagne. A master of the vines, he is known throughout the area, particularly, for the world-class chardonnay grapes he cultivates in his chalky vineyards in the Premier Cru village of Cuis. Despite his humble demeanor, other vignerons in the region have taken notice of Jean Luc’s skill and know-how, and many have hired him to consult on, troubleshoot and even plant their own vineyards.
Back at his own domaine, Jean Luc prefers an “old-school” approach to Champagne-making and does very little to manipulate his grapes after the harvest. Instead of steel tanks, he uses very old, wood barrels for which he doesn’t control the temperature. These vessels are porous to oxygen, which allows the wine to “breath” and become fully expressive during the fermentation process.
Once fermentation is complete, he lets his wines age for years (sometimes even decades) before disgorgement. For example, his current non-vintage blanc de blancs has a base year of 2014 — that makes it almost eight years old! And rumor has it he has a 1996 vintage sitting in his cellar that has yet to be disgorged. He would rather age his Champagne perfectly at the winery and disgorge them on demand for fatcork than disgorge them early and ship them off before they’re ready. This patient, reserved methodology results in perfectly aged cuvées that are expressive, rich, classic and very dry.
Jean Luc may sidestep the spotlight (you won’t find him on the internet or on social media), but his Champagne is legendary in the region and highly coveted by those in the know. As is his nature, Jean Luc discreetly tucks every bottle he produces away in his private cellar, releasing them only to friends and family. But lucky for us (and for our club members and customers), fatcork founders Bryan and Abby Maletis long ago wiggled their way into Jean Luc’s inner circle.
“Jean Luc of Gimmonet-Oger is one of the original growers producers in the fatcork portfolio. Abby and I met him at his tasting cave in Cuis in the spring of 2009. I’ll never forget how he insisted that we drive out to his vineyards with him in his Volvo station wagon*. Of course, it didn’t take much to convince us. It’s gorgeous there, and though there was (and still is) a substantial language barrier between us, he instantly came across as sincere and endearing. We were completely taken with him and the delicious bubbles we sipped in his cave, and we ended up importing his Champagne with the fatcork shipment No. 1 that arrived later that fall. Like with each of the growers we choose to work with, our relationship is not strictly business; there’s a shared love of Champagne, of course — and a friendship, too. Jean Luc is a person who, like us, values long-term relationships and family. We’re not technically family, but after working with him for 12 years, I’d say we’re pretty close!” — Bryan Maletis, Founder of fatcork
*I mean I really loved that Volvo — so much so that I bought my own when my eldest son was born.