About Champagne Leclaire-Thiefaine
Walking into the expansive future cellar of Constantin Leclaire Thiefaine makes it immediately clear he has big plans for his family’s Domaine. The historic building the cellar is housed in is reminiscent of a mysterious staircase that unveils level upon level. Founded in 1878, Constantin’s family took over the estate in 2003 and worked these 4 hectares of vineyards, in addition to managing their ongoing grape brokerage business. Leclaire-Thiefaine has deep roots in the wine business in Avize, and for Constantin, it was always clear that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and build upon them.
Constantin’s winemaking journey began with his international travels over the course of a year, making wine in Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand. Following these impactful firsthand experiences, Constantin simultaneously attended business school and helped manage the family’s grape brokerage alongside his father. In 2020, he returned to Leclaire-Thiefaine with a clear understanding of his vision for the family Domaine. 2020 is his first vintage, he says, the vintage on which he really left his fingerprint on the wines. Parcellaire was one of those big steps. The estate is 100% focused on Chardonnay. This mono-varietal focus allows for an ambitious deep dive into what this grape can produce in and around Avize.
Working the 4 hectares, which consists of 1 hectare of Avize Grand Cru, 0.20 hectares of Cramant Grand Cru, 2 hectares of Grauves 1er Cru, 0.80 hectares of Monthelon Autre Cru, the idea is to always complete parcel-by-parcel vinification to truly understand the terroir. The real technical work then begins with a focus on blending the parcels to create the best terroir identity, expressing the new style of the Domaine, says Constantin. However, like many of his contemporaries, he believes the “upstream” work takes place in the vineyards trying to bring biodiversity and health into these distinct parcels. One such step that Constantin proudly points to is that for seven years, they have worked the soils of their 3-oldest plots with horse and plough—a step into the past.