Daughter of winemakers in the village of Villers-Marmery, Manon Boutillez-Guer initially trained to become a nurse. After several years of working in Emergency Response, in 2018 she decided to go back to school to study winemaking in Avize and launched her first micro cuvees in 2020. In 2021 she was selected as the winner of the Jeunes Talents de Champagne in the Chardonnay category, and her first collection of 5,000 bottles sold out in a flash. Her second collection launched in October 2022 and is now sold only on allocation. A limited quantity of her wines are now available in the UK through newly appointed McCarthy & Mitchell Artisan Wines.
Here are a few words of wisdom from one of the rising stars of Champagne
Do you remember your first taste of Champagne?
I tasted my first sip of Champagne when I was a little girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old. My father used to make me taste with my little finger the different wines he was making at that time, like a Champagne “first flight”!
Can you tell us about the creation of Champagne Manon Boutillez-Guer? And what makes it stand out from other wines of the region?
I started Champagne Manon Boutillez-Guer because I feel so fortunate to work in such a rich, varied and complex culture like Champagne. I deeply wanted to highlight all the different facets of our vineyard and winemaking process.
In our small village of Villers-Marmery wines can be vastly different through various vintages, blendings, dosages, plots, age of the vineyard, different soils.. and the list goes on.
This is what I want to be able to represent through my collections and micro cuvees.
The premier cru village of Villers-Marmery is known as an island of Chardonnay in a sea of Pinot Noir. Can you explain the terroir of your vineyards, and how it effects the wine you make?
We are located in the Montagne de Reims which is known for its Pinot Noir, but in my village over 95% of the vines are Chardonnay. Our vines are over 80% Chardonnay. These particular Chardonnays are the result of a major clay-limestone soil and a global East/South-East orientation, creating wines with mineral and citrus fruits aromas. But inside this small village, there are many other different plot identities: for instance, I have a plot planted on a red soil, which creates more “structured” mineral wines. Other differences come from the sun orientation of our plots: I feel like the east-west exposed ones have stronger and more powerful aromas. The combination of all these items make each plot unique.
What are your thoughts on the changing taste of Champagne and lowering dosage?
We can note a global lowered dosage in Champagne, but in my opinion, the only main goal must be finding the right balance for each wine. With each disgorgement I trial various levels and types of dosage to see which one will let the wine express itself and its terroir best. Wines are a living and surprising matter, so the dosage should be the icing on the cake that highlights the final bottle. I have sometimes found this balance with brut nature or extra brut. The Rayon de Lumiere was a small cuvee which was disgorged as brut nature. It sold out so quickly that I don’t have a single bottle left of the 410 bottles made.
What are your first impressions on the wines of 2022?
2022 has been a sunny and dry year, creating more concentrated wines. For the moment, the 2022 wines are very diverse, with different identities and some beautiful surprises full of promises, like a black grape one I tasted 2 weeks ago with interesting tangy aromas of blackcurrant and raspberry.
What can we expect from Champagne Manon Boutillez-Guer in the future?
My collections are composed for the moment of limited-edition cuvees in small and sometimes minute quantities. For the moment I release about 5,000 bottles in each collection, which includes three very different wines. In the future I would love to create larger quantities of each wine, but my vision has been to represent very specific elements of my terroir. Therefore, my releases will always be very limited in quantity. A single vineyard wine cannot contain more grapes than wine, and quality will always trump quantity for me.
I have been very lucky to find a fantastic importer in the UK who understands these challenges and sees the beauty of our special terroir. McCarthy & Mitchell Artisan Wines are now sharing my wines with the trade, and I hope to be able to share my wines through them with England’s passionate Champagne lovers.
Closer to home, I know that I hope I will be working with my Villers-Marmery playground for many years to come, and I will continually be surprised by the beauty and diversity it can offer!
If you want to follow Manon’s journey, you can find her on Instagram and Facebook. Should you wish to taste her wines, a limited quantity is available at: https://www.mccarthymitchell.com/shop/champagne-manon-boutillez-guer