The name ‘Solemme’ derives from the first three letters of the French word for sun ‘Soleil’ and the last four letters for woman ‘femme’
Once Oliver obtained the vineyards, he started the conversion from the conventional farming to organic. Challenge was to keep the clients and develop own brand. In 2009 the farm turned into an EARL (Agriculture Enterprise Limited) and invested in a cellar.
Today Olivier cultivates over 6 hectares of vineyards spread in 5 different villages in Premier Cru of Montagne de Reims (4ha 70 ares) and one small vineyard 25km away in Vallee de l’Ardre (1 ha 41 ares). The soils are geologically varied (chalk, clay and limestone, silt, sand), the exposures are dominated by the plain and the mid-hills.
They have 3 ha 85 ares of Meunier vines, 1 ha 80 ares of Chardonnay and small parcel 0 ha 46 ares of Pinot Noir planted in 2019 with vines coming from Vignoble Guillaume in Charcenne close to Burgundy. Planting density is about 9,000 vines per hectare. Total production volume is about 25,000 bottles per year.
Started the conversion with Chardonnay (2011 is the first certified vintage) followed with Meunier. Starting from 2018 all the vineyards are «Certification Biologique».
Olivier implements biodynamic principles. He learned a lot from Pierre Masson, a biodynamic farmer and later consultant on biodynamics, who founded BioDynamie Services which provides advice on and materials for Biodynamic farming.
He is using “cow-horn manure” and “Horn silica”. Being very curious by nature, he takes the vine and soil and examines with microscope. He is doing lots of tests and experiments with preparing own teas.
Olivier is very much focused on the soil and the vineyard. The idea is to create a favourable environment to the development of the vine and to ensure its protection against the diseases. Vineyards already show good biodiversity with cover crops, lots of flowers, trees, birds nests, hares.
Winemaking approach is very natural and to have no manipulation in the cellar. No filtration, no chaptalization, no dosage. Champagne Solemme don’t have own press yet, so using the cooperative or sometimes the one of his friend and neighbor Emmanuel Brochet.
Using no oak, only temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Olivier blocks malolactic fermentation for all his cuvees. That is done with SO2. No oenological products are added during the winemaking. Liqueur de tirage is prepared with organic beet root sugar. Yeasts are organic and come from Champagne Fleury.
The disgorged bottles are topped up with the same champagne. So the total number of bottles is less after disgorgement.
Bottling for the second fermentation and disgorgement dates are chosen according to the Moon calendar. Second fermentation bottling is close to the end of June. They have the company doing that service for them.
Olivier defines his style:
- Reflect the terroir.
- Elegance and finesse.
- Fruit of patience and belief.
Speaking of the terroir he emphasizes the fact that the soil is preserved and allows the wine to express whatever it has in the most natural way.
Always vintage and always no dosage.
Today the portfolio consists of 3 cuvees made under domaine philosophy and 2 heritage cuvees from cooperative times. The idea is to have fully organic portfolio very soon.
Esprit de Solemme Brut Nature 2016
This is the blend of equal parts of Chardonnay and Meunier. It has vivid pink hint in the colour. The newest cuvee in the organic range. Touch of red fruits. Very Meunier driven. Chardonnay is shy and hides behind. The wine feels both chalk and clay. It has the weight an piercing acidity at the same time. Grapes come from chalky soils of Villers-Aux-Noeuds and limestone and clay soils of Chamery.
Only 1700 bottles produced.
Nature de Solemme Brut Nature 2014
Signature cuvee of the domaine. It was the first cuvee produced under Solemme brand.
This is 100% Chardonnay coming from 2 villages (Villers-Aux-Noeuds and Chamery). Very ripe and well balanced wine. Disgorged in September 2019 after it spent more than 4 years on lees. It doesn’t have that much of autolytic character, but rather fruity (green apple) and floral. Clean and lean style.
Half Chalk and half limestone. Feels soft and gentle. Opposite to chalky Cote des Blancs style.
5050 bottles produced.
Ambre de Solemme Brut Nature 2015
It is the 1st release of mono parcel wine. 100% chalk parcel is located just behind the house in Villers-Aux-Noeuds. Expressive, energetic and very red fruit driven. Round and ripe sweet mouthfeel. Stopping malo actually suits its style.
4410 bottles produced.
Comparing with the blend (Esprit) it is now obvious what chardonnay brings.
Terre de Solemme Brut NV
It is the blend end entry level cuvee. This cuvee makes the biggest volume for the house. That is cooperative wine (RC), but the winemaking and disgorgement Olivier does on his own. 5g/l dosage. Blend of 55–60% Meunier, 15–20 Chardonnay, 20–25% Pinot Noir.
Friendly wine. Easy and balanced. Always a success. Good entry to market project. The plan is to replace it with organic version based on Esprit. Play with the blend, add some dosage and make it non vintage.
Douceur de Solemme Brut Rose NVIt is the same blend as Terre + 18% of red wine which is blend of Pinot Noir and bigger part of Meunier. 6g/l dosage. Lovely copper hue. Crowd pleaser. Quite sweet on the palate. Sugar over red berries.
This is the producer to put on your watch list. I am very curious how it will develop with time. Next step is to have fully organic portfolio.
Champagne Solemme got my heart with two mono cepage cuvees: Nature and Ambre. Both wines are very promising and I am keen to see how they both develop with bottle aging and with new vintages to come. 2018 should be fantastic as I learned from Olivier. Magnum version of these two beauties should be released in the market in the near future as well.