Champagne, France

Domaine Leclaire-Thiéfaine is spearheaded by sixth-generation winemaker Constantin Leclaire, a Champagne native passionate for regional viticultural tradition. After graduating high school, Constantin traveled internationally to Chile and South Africa—specifically with the goal of learning how to vinify the countries’ native varieties—then ultimately returned to France to helm the family’s winery.

Today, Domaine Leclaire-Thiéfaine comprises approximately six hectares of vines, the majority of which are located in the prestigious Côte des Blancs grand crus of Avize, Cramant, and Oger.
“The [philosophy surrounding the] work carried out in the vines is to give them what they need, and to be as respectful to the surrounding life, and above all to preserve them,” Constantin explains, citing that his vision equally extends to respecting the identity of each terroir as much as possible, both with blends and single-vineyard wines. Constantin also credits French winemaker Mathieu Kauffman as one of his mentors. “He provides many answers to my questions and supports me on blending days,” he says.

At Domaine Leclaire-Thiéfaine, all fruit is hand picked, and each cuvée ages for a minimum of four years in the cellar prior to disgorgement. Constantin cites the desire to continue his family’s tradition as one of his greatest inspirations, particularly because his father’s need to work a side job didn’t allow him to be a winemaker full time. (Constantin notes that his father worked as a Champagne broker, thus his cousin handled winemaking from 2003 to 2012, followed by Eric de Sousa from 2013 to 2019.) “This is why I returned for the 2020 harvest—to resume winemaking after my grandfather,” he explains, emphasizing his daily desire to discover the expressions of his family’s terroir, while also pushing the family estate forward.

With regards to recent changes at the estate, Constantin cites his return to the domaine in 2018, though his emphasis at the time was on sorting distribution of the wines with his mother, particularly with regards to the export market (at the time, the wines were not exported at all). “The same year, we started tillage on 1/3 of the farm, and in 2020, moved the entire estate to zero herbicide,” he says. In 2020, Constantin officially did his first vinifications, which brought a new life to the estate. “I decided to create the non-vintage ‘Cuuvée 00 Terre Blanche,’ the “Cuvée 04 Premier Cru de Grauves,’ then other single-vineyard wines, he explains.

Avize has long been deemed one of the top places for Chardonnay in all of the Côtes des Blancs, thus the family’s efforts are fully centered on this quintessential grape variety. Currently, six different wines are produced at Domaine Leclaire-Thiéfaine, each uniquely nuanced in their own right. However, the thread that ties these immaculate Champagnes together are their elegance, vivacity, and chalky minerality.