Avid Vines: You are the Occasion

Sep 19, 2023 at 10:20 am by RMGadmin

Interview by Anna Robertson Ham 
Four generations of owner - growers have brought a beautifully blended collection of champagnes to life. André Tixier, began the art with the grapes he grew on his own property. He then passed on his knowledge to his son, Robert, who passed it down to his son, Patrice, who then passed it down to his son, Julien. Today, Julien Tixier crafts a magical wonder at his precious jewel of a micro-house in the Montagne de Reims.


Produced with environmentally sustainable farming, climate stewardship and protective of the environment, they use zero man-made, chemical herbicides or insecticides, and vineyard treatments include only natural insect repellents, such as garlic oil. Sustainable Viticulture Certification of Champagne is an official recognition of Champagne winemakers’ environmental performance, which Avid Vines has and Andre Tixier & Fils is among the fifteen percent of the Champagne AOC that has Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne certification. They use three varieties of grapes in the composition of their champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.


David Aferiat is Founder and CEO of Avid Vines, a luxury wine importer based in Atlanta, and he founded it after a family visit to the Champagne region of France. He always had a dream to be an importer in his retirement and the plan was accelerated when he met Julien Tixier. Julien is the fourth generation, Owner-Grower of a certified sustainable, organic, Premier Cru Brut Champagne house called: Andre Tixier & Fils. In our interview with David, we learned more about the Premier Cru organic Champagnes offered through Avid Vines. You can shop their bottles and learn more at avidvines.com.


ARH: What makes your champagne stand out from others in the region, in terms of flavor and character?
DA: The region of Champagne is called the Montagne de Reims, known for its chalky soil which provides excellent drainage and a bountiful source of nutrients for the vines.
The tiny hamlet where the vineyards are located is called Chigny les Roses which is in a Premier Cru designated area. Paces away from Andre Tixier is the Domaine of Champagne Cattier. You might recognize the mark as the Ace of Spades which is the champagne Jay-Z is associated with here in the US. What matters most, however, is not the impression on others when buying a bottle at an outrageous price, but rather the coherence and harmony that exists between the winemaker and Mother Nature to produce Champagne unique to where it is grown and made.


ARH: How do you decide on the blend of grape varietals for your Champagnes, and how does each varietal contribute to the final product?
DA: Every Champagne winemaker competes in standard categories to be taken seriously or understand where their results rank when compared: Their Brut Rose, their Pinot Meunier led offering, their vintages and perhaps most importantly, their Blanc de Blanc. When making a blended varietal Champagne, winemakers look to Pinot Meunier for its berry flavors, Pinot


Noir for its body-mouth-feel and structure, and finally Chardonnay for its brightness and acidity.
ARH: What challenges do you face in maintaining consistency and quality across different vintages of your champagne?
DA: Maintaining consistency is a desirable outcome given how many curve balls Mother Nature can throw. Andre Tixier & Fils leverage a quantity of aged reserves from previous harvests that act to reduce the annual volatility. Some of the current production feature reserves that go back as far as 2016 and represent almost fifty percent of each bottle. A challenging situation occurred in 2021 for the Champagne region where the harvest was declared unusable. In other words, no Champagne is permitted to be made. This puts a strain on the previous harvest in 2020 - a stellar harvest that instead of being solely dedicated to a vintage year, must now be stretched to act as a reserve bridge over the missing year.


ARH: Can you talk about any sustainability practices you implement in your vineyard or production process?
DA: Andre Tixier & Fils gives more than lip service to what is an increasing trend toward sustainable farming. Many winemakers in the region choose not to pay for implementing the additional wine making protocols and the necessary audits to obtain agency certifications to add to their labels. Andre Tixier & Fils, however, anchors its brand on these certifications and invests in a ninety-point audit covering air, land and water. 


ARH: Where is your Champagne currently available and where can we expect it to be available in the future?
DA: The wines of Andre Tixier & Fils are allocated due to their small production. Avid Vines brings over specific quantities you can find on avidvines.com. Here you can choose to purchase the bottle(s) one time or join the Avid Vines Wine Club. You’ll get six bottles per quarter and be guaranteed an allocation. You’ll also reliably support one farmer, one family who will welcome you on your next visit to Champagne!