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Champagne Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons Extra Brut NV (2017 Base) Wine - Last Bottle

Champagne Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons Extra Brut NV (2017 Base)

Olivier Collin’s Ulysse Collin estate is an outlier in Champagne – a maverick. He single-handedly turned the spotlight to the Coteaux du Petit Morin, a little-known area situated between the Côte des Blancs and the Côte des Sézanne. Based in the village of Congy, where his family has lived and farmed since the 1800s, Georges Collin, Olivier’s father, was an original member of the Club de Viticulteurs Champenois, now known as the Club de Tresors or the Special Club, so the quest for quality is literally in his blood. 

For many years, the Collin family rented out their 8.7 hectares of vines to a negociant. Not really a problem for Collin, since the last thing on his mind was taking over the family business, but an auspicious trip to Burgundy changed his mind. He decided to study winemaking, but his first goal was to eventually retrieve the currently-leased vineyards and then make wines with the distinctive ethos of Burgundian climats in the back of his mind, from his own estate. Olivier went to law school with this specific goal in mind and studied law for eight years. 

Olivier’s efforts paid off. In 2003, he got back a 4.5-hectare parcel and bought a tractor to plow the vineyard, which had fallen into disrepair. In 2005, he retrieved most of the other 4.2 hectares of the parcel, which, at that time, was owned by his grandparents. His first vintage was in 2004. Olivier now makes five different cuvees from four specific sites: Les Maillons, Les Enfers, Les Perrières, and Les Roises. The estate is the only producer in Champagne that releases only single vineyard cuvees of its wines, typically aged for three years on the lees

The base vintage of Les Maillons is 2017, with about 70% reserve wines from 2016. Vintage 2017 was a challenging one, hence the reason why a large portion of Les Maillons comes from a more stable vintage of 2016. After a dry winter, frost set in, affecting 22,000 hectares of vines. It should come as no surprise that the weather yielded uneven conditions across the region. Of note, pinots noir and meunier suffered greatly, but Ulysse Collin embraced the challenge and crafted some of their best wines in recent years – scoring 97 points from The Wine Advocate on this 100% pinot noir Champagne.

During Olivier’s early winemaking journey, he was an Anselme Selosse acolyte. He worked with Selosse for about three months. Since Selosse revolutionized the winemaking and viticulture practices of grower Champagnes, most of his followers adopted similar practices to him: oak aging, low dosage, oxygen control, and organic viticulture. But unlike Selosse and other growers in Champagne, Ulysse Collin does not farm organically because he eschews the use of copper in his vineyards, which he feels thickens the skin of the grapes and makes the wines more astringent. But he does believe in dosage, however, and after years of experimentation, depending on the cuvee, he adds either 1.7 or 2.4 g/L of dosage to his wines for balance and to amplify the wines’ expressiveness. 

Les Maillons has such an interesting history behind it and is such an enigma. With every sip, you can taste the tender care that went into the bottle. I can’t wait to get this delivered to my house and then onto my table. I’ve been waiting for this Ulysse Collin moment for what seems like forever, and it’s finally here, and I finally get to drink it. Those of you who can, I welcome you to join me! 

$319
$525

Retail

39
Flavor Profile: Brioche, honey, vanilla bean, anise, red berries
Time on Lees: 36 months
Dosage: 2.4 g/L
Farming Method: Sustainable Practices
Score: 97

Why We Love It...

Ulysse Collin is one of those cult-y producers who makes a miniscule amount of his single vineyard cuvees every year, so when I see it for less, I freak out. So, I’m freaking out right now. This Champagne has been on my wishlist for quite some time, but the pricing is always exorbitant. That is, until now. 

Olivier Collin’s Ulysse Collin estate is an outlier in Champagne – a maverick. He single-handedly turned the spotlight to the Coteaux du Petit Morin, a little-known area situated between the Côte des Blancs and the Côte des Sézanne. Based in the village of Congy, where his family has lived and farmed since the 1800s, Georges Collin, Olivier’s father, was an original member of the Club de Viticulteurs Champenois, now known as the Club de Tresors or the Special Club, so the quest for quality is literally in his blood. 

For many years, the Collin family rented out their 8.7 hectares of vines to a negociant. Not really a problem for Collin, since the last thing on his mind was taking over the family business, but an auspicious trip to Burgundy changed his mind. He decided to study winemaking, but his first goal was to eventually retrieve the currently-leased vineyards and then make wines with the distinctive ethos of Burgundian climats in the back of his mind, from his own estate. Olivier went to law school with this specific goal in mind and studied law for eight years. 

Olivier’s efforts paid off. In 2003, he got back a 4.5-hectare parcel and bought a tractor to plow the vineyard, which had fallen into disrepair. In 2005, he retrieved most of the other 4.2 hectares of the parcel, which, at that time, was owned by his grandparents. His first vintage was in 2004. Olivier now makes five different cuvees from four specific sites: Les Maillons, Les Enfers, Les Perrières, and Les Roises. The estate is the only producer in Champagne that releases only single vineyard cuvees of its wines, typically aged for three years on the lees

The base vintage of Les Maillons is 2017, with about 70% reserve wines from 2016. Vintage 2017 was a challenging one, hence the reason why a large portion of Les Maillons comes from a more stable vintage of 2016. After a dry winter, frost set in, affecting 22,000 hectares of vines. It should come as no surprise that the weather yielded uneven conditions across the region. Of note, pinots noir and meunier suffered greatly, but Ulysse Collin embraced the challenge and crafted some of their best wines in recent years – scoring 97 points from The Wine Advocate on this 100% pinot noir Champagne.

During Olivier’s early winemaking journey, he was an Anselme Selosse acolyte. He worked with Selosse for about three months. Since Selosse revolutionized the winemaking and viticulture practices of grower Champagnes, most of his followers adopted similar practices to him: oak aging, low dosage, oxygen control, and organic viticulture. But unlike Selosse and other growers in Champagne, Ulysse Collin does not farm organically because he eschews the use of copper in his vineyards, which he feels thickens the skin of the grapes and makes the wines more astringent. But he does believe in dosage, however, and after years of experimentation, depending on the cuvee, he adds either 1.7 or 2.4 g/L of dosage to his wines for balance and to amplify the wines’ expressiveness. 

Les Maillons has such an interesting history behind it and is such an enigma. With every sip, you can taste the tender care that went into the bottle. I can’t wait to get this delivered to my house and then onto my table. I’ve been waiting for this Ulysse Collin moment for what seems like forever, and it’s finally here, and I finally get to drink it. Those of you who can, I welcome you to join me! 

Fizz Meter

Technical Details

Country: France
Region: Champagne
Appellation: Cote des Blancs
Vineyard: Les Maillons
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Olivier Collin
Farming Method: Sustainable Practices
Alcohol: 12.5%

Champagne Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons Extra Brut NV (2017 Base)

$319
$525

Retail

39

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