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Perhaps January is an odd time to send out an Champagne offer, but some wines are so personally meaningful that one hates for them to get lost in the holiday shuffle. Particularly when it comes to the quietly poetic Champagnes of humble vigneron Hugues Godmé. His domaine is located in the grand cru village of Verzenay on the norther slope of the Montagne de Reims, next to Verzy. Hugues is deeply committed to organic farming (having split with his sister in 2015 over viticultural differences. The vines are farmed biodynamically (certified in 2014), fermentations are with indigenous yeasts in wood, with long elevages in used barrels and the wines are bottled with low sulfur. The Champagnes have great lift, concentration, and specificity. They're powerful but lithe, supple and elegant, soulful and complex. And much like M. Godmé they eschew flash and bombast in favor of depth and nearly pointilistic precision. And in an age of gifted Instagram vignerons and fashionable wines, there's something immensely gratifying to these Champagnes and their frank earthy character and terroir expressiveness. John McIlwain
Hugues Godmé 2009 Les Alouettes Saint Bets Brut is a single vineyard blanc de blancs from Villers-Marmery near the border with Verzy. The soils of this climat are very chalky with little topsoil. The grapes are farmed biodynamically, vinified in neutral oak with native yeasts, with no malolactic fermentation, and bottled with low sulfur. There is an electric sense of chalky minerality to this Champagne. While there is a degree of richness to the wine that hints at Verzy, and a silken quality on the palate derived from its time in wood, ultimately a cool, deft sense of fruit and chalkiness defines the nose and palate. Still a bit taut, there are floral and citrus oil notes on the nose, followed by Meyer lemon and a subtle salinity on the palate. The mousse is fine and the finish long, complex, and supple. This should shine brightly with a bit more time in the bottle. John McIlwain
Comprised of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from biodynamically farmed vines in the Grand Cru village of Verzenay on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims. Aged for 5 years on the lees. Disgorged January 2018, bottled with 4g/l dosage. Vintage base year is 2013 with approximately 60% reserve wine from the previous four vintages. The wine has pale salmon pink robe and a fine bead. The nose is expressive with pretty aromas of dusty rose petals, sour cherry, plum skin, crushed herbs and a hint of brioche. Distinctly savory on the palate with cool-toned vibrant fruit, nervy acidity, and impressive mineral depth on a long, mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
I have a not-so-secret love for Champagnes made from Pinot Meunier. Godmé's single vineyard expression, Les Romaines 1er cru, is an especially stunning example. The biodynamically farmed vineyard located in Villedommange has calcareous soils which lend a particularly savory minerality to the wine, offsetting the sometimes over-generous nature of the variety. The 2009 Les Romaines is particularly vibrant example with effusive notes of wild strawberry, salted plum, and blood orange on the nose. The palate is broad but lithe and energetic, with a deep pitch of salty earthiness vying with stone fruit flavors for attention giving way to a long, detailed rising finish. There is impeccable balance here, with the ripeness of the vintage seemingly lending gravitas to the firm mineral core. John McIlwain
From the eponymous lieu-dit located in the grand cru village of Verzenay on the norther slope of the Montagne de Reims. The organically farmed vines date from 1986 are grown in shallow clay soils over chalk. Juice from the coeur de cuvée, fermented with native yeasts, aged in oak barrels. The 2010 boasts a fine bead and soft mousse. The nose offer aromas of wet stone, red apple skin, spice, and apple blossom. The rich palate is broad and supple, yet suffused with a bright, incisive minerality and a lean cut to the long, detailed, rising, finish. There is a fine interplay between ripe red fruit flavors and a firm core of savory minerality. There is real class and complexity here with a fine upside for aging. Godmé’s parcellaires have real verve and depth and are not to be missed! John McIlwain