HISTORY AND FAMILY
Champagne Sadi Malot is a family affair, now entering its fifth generation of Malot ownership. Viticulture and winemaking was begun in Villers-Marmery by Socrate Malot in 1883, but the modern history kicked off in 1920 when the family estate was named Sadi Malot in honour of Socrate’s younger brother who died in the trenches of WW1. Socrate’s son, also named Sadi, took over the business in 1920, also the year they began to bottle their own wines.
The original Sadi Malot was named after the French president Sadi Carnot, who was assassinated on the same day he was born in 1894!
The estate is now in the youthful hands of Socrate’s great-great granddaughter Cindy, and her partner Florian Villiere, who officially took the reins from Cindy’s father Franck in 2018 (though Franck is still very much involved). Florian, whose family comes from Strasbourg, met Cindy at the Lycée Viticole in Avize. As he approaches ten years working in Champagne, only now does he begin to feel some acceptance as a local…
VINEYARDS, VITICULTURE & WINEMAKING
The family estate extends over approx 11 hectares of vines – approx 8ha of Chardonnay in Villers-Marmery, and 3ha of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Verzy. In 2004 they began to change their viticultural philosophy, reducing mechanical vineyard impact, cultivating undervine and adopting organic and sustainable methods. In 2017 the Verzy vineyards began the process of organic certification, followed by the Villers-Marmery sites in 2018. From 2022 all their vineyards were being managed organically. They are awaiting organic certification which is on track to be awarded in 2024.
Their oak barrels are predominantly sourced from the local oak Argonne forest. Steel tanks and concrete eggs can also be found in the winery along an ‘eternal reserve’ solera started back in 1982 that is housed in one large 92 hectolitre tank. This aged material is used across their non-vintage releases, and has 20-25% new vintage wine added each year.
Florian and Cindy are young generation vignerons, captivated by the natural wine world, and together they are easing Champagne Sadi Malot from the traditional to the progressive. Under the cautious eye of his father Franck this is a step-by-step process, with a gradual move towards only using natural yeasts, biodynamic preparations in the vineyards, and very low sulphur usage. There have been experiments with zero sulphur wines, with more to come. Sheep and goats now roam their vineyards, and heavy, soil-compacting machinery is longer welcome.
Villers-Marmery and the Montagne de Reims.
The Montagne de Reims region is acclaimed for the dominance of Pinot Noir, a counterpoint to the Chardonnay-centric Cote des Blancs. This is due in no small part due to the famous Grand Cru villages such of Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay, and their spectacular Blanc de Noirs releases.
However, Chardonnay makes up over 25% of the vineyard area, and is highlighted by the ‘Perle Blanche’, the white pearl – a group of four villages in the east of the region that champion Chardonnay, namely Villers-Marmery, Billy-le-Grand, Trépail and Vaudemange. All these villages were elevated to Premier Cru status in 1985.
Villers-Marmery, and the other villages in the Perle Blanche, share the same south-eastern exposure as the vineyards of the Cote des Blancs, and revel in the chalkiest soils and the thinnest top soil in the Montagne de Reims, compared to the more silty-clay soils that favour Pinot Noir cultivation.