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There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic (terroir is everything) of vigneron and basketball fanatic Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit and frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009) and deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Blessed by an array of well-situated parcels in the grand cru villages of Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry (the latter of which he bottles as a single village wine), his progress as a grower has been inspiring to watch as he has refined his wine's expression of each terroir. Year after year his wines display greater precision, energy, and verve, even in difficult vintages. The wines are filigreed expressions of the different characters of chalk between Oiry and that of Chouilly and Cramant. Oiry is the brighter and lacier of the two cuvées, displaying brisk acidity, hints of lemon oil, and a crystaline finish, while C & C is equally chalky with more breadth and suppleness to the palate, with flavors of orange peel and salt spreading out on the broad powerful finish. The contrasts between the two is fascinating and a delicious exercise in tasting for lovers of terroir driven Champagnes.
Also it should be noted that Suenen's wines, while true to vintage, manage to avoid the pitfalls of warmer vintages. Case in point his beautiful 2015 La Grande Vigne (100% ungrafted Pinot Meunier from vines planted in sandy soil in Saint Thierry) farmed with assistance from Delphine Boulard and Alexandre Chartogne. Despite the warmth there is great freshness and sapidity here not usually found in the variety. Or the chiseled yet broad bottling of Les Robarts, comprised of 35+ year-old Chardonnay from the clay and limestone soils of the lieu-dit of the same name situated astride Cramant and Avize; 2015 shows less Cistercian and coiled, but more expressive and even a bit longer than previous releases. La Cocluette, a lieu-dit from Oiry is high-toned and filigreed with effusive white flower and white fruit aromas: more white cherries and great palate-staining persistence. Mont-Aigu from Chouilly is decidedly chalky, spicy, ripe and pretty with a touch of herbaceousness on the mid-palate and phenolic bitterness framing the fruit - this also finishes with brio and outperforms the vintage. John McIlwain
Wines arrive week of May 2nd, please allow an additional 5 days for pick-up/shipping.
Aurelien Suenen's wines display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly chalky. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant tends to be richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. Pale yellow robe with fine bead and soft mousse. Nose offers pretty aromas of golden apple skin, orange oil (that’s the Cramant talking) and apple blossom. The palate is concentrated with flavors of stone fruit, preserved lemon, and toast. In the mouth this is broad and expansive, but not lacking for energy or flair on the incisively chalky finish. This could use a bit of time to knit, but it’s certainly delicious now. John McIlwain
Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees. The 2018 was disgorged in June of 2021 and bottled with 3 g/l dosage.
The chiseled yet broad bottling of Les Robarts, comprised of 35+ year-old Chardonnay from the clay and limestone soils of the Lieu-Dit of the same name situated astride Cramant and Avize; 2015 shows less Cistercian and coiled, the previous vintages, but more expressive and even a bit longer than previous releases. Pretty and effusive nose on the nose with lemon drop and green apple aromas. Broad and expressive, some minty notes mingle with flavors of ripe pear and apple peel. Great length.``
La Cocluette, a lieu-dit from Oiry, is high-toned and filigreed with effusive white flower and white fruit aromas: more white cherries than the usual preserve lemon and lacy chalk. Lovely inner mouth perfume and great palate-staining persistence.
Mont-Aigu from Chouilly is decidedly chalky, spicy, ripe, and pretty with a touch of herbaceousness on the mid-palate and phenolic bitterness framing the fruit. This also finishes with brio and outperforms the vintage. Perhaps the most overtly chalky of the parcellaires and should benefit from a bit more time in bottle.
The beautiful 2015 La Grande Vigne (100% ungrafted Pinot Meunier from vines planted in sandy soil in Saint Thierry) is farmed with assistance from Delphine Boulard and Alexandre Chartogne. Despite the warmth of the year, there is great freshness and sapidity here not usually associated with the variety. Lemon oil, preserved lemon, verbena on the nose. Generous on the palate. Juicy, with a fine grain beneath. Good length. Bright lifted finish.