Jean-Paul Morel from Champagne Jean-Paul Morel

Champagne Jean-Paul Morel

Jean-Paul Morel probably has one of the widest smiles in Champagne and the warmest of hugs. His smile is infectious and it’s difficult not to feel ebullient in his presence.

The epitomy of  ‘grower’ champagne

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Jean-Paul first and foremost describes himself as a farmer. On one visit he shows us the vines coming into bud, fossils on the ground, demonstrates how to train the vines along the wires as they grow and then gets onto his favourite topic… sexual confusion.

Caterpillars from moths can potentially cause huge damage to the budding vines and then the grapes themselves. Instead of using pesticides most villages now use pellets which contain pheromones from the female moth which confuse the males, rendering them unable to mate. J-P clearly thinks this is wonderful! Intermittently, cars trundle past on the chalky tracks between the vines and J-P raises his hand in greeting…”that’s the cellar master from Bollinger” he informs us. It’s all very convivial and friendly. At the end of our time in the vines J-P bends over and takes a handful of grass that he examines carefully and then takes with a deep breath. “Is the appearance of the grass and its smell significant to the vineyard?” asks Helen (the geek of the team). J-P throws back his head and chuckles: “No! I just love smelling fresh grass…”

Champagne Morel is based in Verzenay and with some advance notice Jean-Paul can show you around. The cargo lift is central to the house and when J-P pulls open the doors you’re never sure what delights might be in store.

In his cellar he has his range of champagnes quietly ageing and at the other end a stash of ‘special bottles’, some of which were bottled in the 1980’s by J-P’s father. (The 1981 was exquisite!)
The lift then travels to the top of the house to J-P’s tasting room and sun terrace – which affords great views over Verzenay. J-P takes position behind the bar and we willingly enjoy a couple of flutes of whatever it is he suggests we taste. We discuss football at home (Jean-Paul still plays for Verzenay FC) and in the UK and also Rugby Union which he follows avidly. His tasting room is home to lots of Champagne paraphernalia, vineyard and cellar equipment, now redundant.

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J-P sells most of his grapes to the big houses and only makes a small amount of champagne himself. The champagne he does make is for the product and the love of creating it rather than any serious financial gain.

Champagnes from Jean-Paul Morel are rich in style with great balance between red fruit notes and toastiness. The outside of the bottle may not be particularly stylish in appearance but this belies the delightfulness of the contents.