Antonin Michel is the scion of well-known grower and Spécial Club member José Michel (7ha), and on his maternal side, a smaller domaine called Wirth-Michel. Wirth-Michel was started by Antonin’s great-great grandfather, as Wirth et Fils. His grandfather, Alain, decided to stop making wine in 1999. Alain and told Antonin’s mother, Nathalie, a Biology professor at the university in Reims, that she could take over the four-hectare family domaine, or he could sell it off to one of his employees. She decided to preserve the family business and made her first wine in 2000, changing the name to Wirth-Michel. Her son, Antonin, was born in 1994 and was interested in the wine business from a young age. His paternal grandfather was José Michel and while his father didn’t follow in the same footsteps (a pharmacist by trade), Antonin had winemaking in his blood from both branches of his family tree.

Antonin graduated from University in Reims with a degree in wine business before spending a few years in Mexico, working for Importaciones Interamericana, developing sales for Roederer. In 2016 he returned to France to further his studies in wine business in Dijon. The program was intensive, with monthly trips to visit growers all over France and Italy. These studies also required practical work with a winery and Antonin took an internship with Leclerc Briant. Antonin spent as much time as he could with Hérve Justin, the pioneering biodynamic leader and chef de cave at Leclerc. In 2018, after his studies, Antonin realized he needed more contact with winemaking and grape growing and decided to stay in Burgundy.  He joined Olivier Lamy, in St. Aubin as a trainee.

Just a few months after his time with Lamy came to an end, his mother Nathalie, was diagnosed with cancer and Antonin returned home in January of 2019, to take over the Wirth-Michel domaine. Simultaneously, he began working with his paternal grandfather and his eponymous estate, José Michel. José Michel was a pioneering Meunier producer, Club member and one of the deepest cellars in Champagne. “My grandfather had such a deep knowledge, of Champagne, it was incredibly lucky for me to work with him” Antonin said.  In November of that same year, his Grandfather José passed away, leaving the future of both domaines to Antonin.

Wirth-Michel is 4 hectares, in the Côteaux sud d’Epernay, in four villages in this area: Moussy, Vinay, Brugny-Vaudancourt, Saint-Martin d´Ablois.  “The CIVC notified that there are 27 subsoils in Champagne and 15 in this area, so a wide range and a lot of complexity” across a small area, Antonin notes you find chalk, clay, silex, composite soils and different chalky marls. Viticulture is the same for both estates, organic viticulture, with biodynamic influences, horse plowing but also pragmatism. Seventy percent of the vineyards are massal and the average yield is very low due to this old genetic material. For now, the estate is very small, producing only 10,000 bottles, with the rest of the fruit being sold to his friends Aurelien Laherte and Jean-Marc Sélèque. The vinification at Wirth-Michel differs from José Michel in that the vintage wines are raised in 600-liter barrels and non-vintage wines in steel and concrete. The winemaking is very hands off, and Antonin intends to keep this style. “In fact, the wines of José Michel will change to be a bit more like Wirth-Michel in the future, rather than the other way around” he notes.