Whilst Champagne Doyard can trace its ancestors back to the 17th century, it was not until 1927, when Maurice Doyard, grandfather of Yannick Doyard, first made Champagne in Vertus that the estate became a widely recognised producer. Maurice became a key figure in the region, both as leader of the growers movement and in 1941 one of the two founding members of the powerful regional body, the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionel des Vins de Champagne). Today Yannick’s son Charles runs this small RM (Récoltant Manipulant) house.
The house is based in Vertus at the southern tip of the Côte des Blancs; Vertus has the second biggest vineyard area in Champagne (over 500 hectares) only Les Riceys in the Aube is bigger. Although once a Pinot Noir village, it was replanted after the Second World War and now has about 90% of the vineyards planted with Chardonnay. Doyard owns and farms 11 hectares; mostly in Vertus, but there are also holdings in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize and Cramant. All of the Côte des Blancs holdings are planted with Chardonnay; there is also a 1 hectare parcel of Pinot Noir in Aÿ; a special block, highly rated, in the mid-slope, called Les Bonnes Hottes.
Doyard sells about 50% of its crop as juice, this is the portion of the crop Charles would rather not use for his own wines. It is a solid indication of the quality of the raw materials which are used to construct Doyard’s Champagnes. A strict selection of the pressings is employed, with only the best, usually first and second pressings, selected; being superior in texture and concentration of flavour. About half the volume of the vins clairs are barrel-fermented in French oak barrels, each parcel fermented separately; no chaptalisation is employed and the wines are cold-stabilised naturally to preserve the aromatics.
The finished Champagnes exhibit a soft, delicate and sophisticated mousse; this is a deliberate style choice by Charles: the bottle pressure usually falls in the range of 4.5 to 5 bar. Charles has a strong vision of the wines he looks to produce, stating, ‘My aim is to maintain our house’s tradition and offer, as my elders, an authentic and prestigious range of Champagne wines.’
They practice a ‘non-dogmatic’ biodynamic viticultural regime using no herbicides or pesticides in the vineyards. Rather than be held to account on any one particular aspect of a fully biodynamic approach, they prefer to select the best practices that produce exceptionally high-quality fruit. This usually includes many hours spent in the vineyard tending the vines.