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It's going to be a wild Autumn and holiday season for Champagne. Wines are going to arrive thick and fast after weeks and months of shipping delays and yet somehow there just isn't going to be enough to go around. Like in Burgundy, the cumulative difficulty of the last few years (and particularly 2021) has led growers to reduce allocations for their importers as a way of protecting stock and ensuring that there is wine in the cellar to sell. As a result, wines that in the past were often in open inventory are now being doled out and when they're gone, well...
The first of three oustanding producers on the docket today is the estimable Pouillon et Fils. Helmed today by Fabrice Pouillon (the eponymous fils), these wines have been pretty exceptional for some time now and don't quite get the attention they deserve. Based in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in the Marne Valley, Fabrice oversees just shy of seven hectares, all farmed organically with some biodynamic methods. They are rigorous about maintaining a vibrant cover crop and avoid plowing too often (when they do it's done by horse rather than tractor). The soils in their vineyards in Mareuil, and some other surrounding hamlets, are quite classic-they range from deep clay to basically pure chalk. The wines produced here are often based with Pinot Noir and can feel quite powerful and rich.
The wines that Fabrice makes, though certainly rich, never feel heavy or overwrought. If anything, he has spent recent years dialing back, making more elastic and transparent wines, including a series of outstanding single-vineyard and single-variety wines. Most unusually, he also makes a bottling of equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from a solera begun in 1997. This is one of my very favorite Champagnes, what I like to call a before-and-after wine. Years ago when I was really just starting to study wine in a serious way, I was the guest of a friend's family at a very fancy restaurant for dinner and a bottle of this wine was ordered. At the time, this restaurant purchased the entire New York allocation of this wine for their by-the-glass program and I was so moved that the same week I corraled a couple of my colleagues to return with me to sit at the bar and have another bottle. At the time I don't think I'd ever had a Champagne that felt so distinctly vinous and serious. I'm excited that there are at least a few bottles of this available today.
Next up on today's offer is the single Blanc de Blancs bottling from Champagne Oudiette x Filles. The domaine established only recently, in 2014, by Margot Laurent with her sister Charlotte and mother Florence. They had been farming grapes in the Coteaux du Morin for three generations, selling the fruit to Champagne Pommery. The Petits Coteaux du Morin is an off-the-beaten-path part of Champagne located southwest of the Côtes des Blancs and northeast of the Côtes de Sézanne. There are no Grand or 1er Crus in the region and far from being a seeming monoculture, there are forests and fields breaking up the vines. The region is perhaps most famously represented by the dynamic domaine Ulysse Collin in Congy. The Oudiettes' inaugural release offers a finely knit combination of white and citrus peel fruit character on a broad and supple palate with a taut mineral core. And one senses the ripeness and power imbued by the terroir and microclimate.
At Oudiette x Filles viticulture is practicing organic (in conversion) with plowing, cover crops, and grass between the rows. Only the coeur de cuvée from the pressing is used. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts in a combination of barrel and steel tanks, with the vins clairs spending 10 months in barrel and undergoing malo before aging sur latte for 36 months before disgorgement with 2 grams dosage.
Lastly, there is the outstanding 2018 cuvée "Shaman," from our friend Benoit Marguet. Benoît Marguet is one of our favorite Champagne producers for many reasons. First, it's fascinating to see someone's wines improve with every vintage as his dedication to biodynamics bears fruit. Second, while some vignerons embrace biodynamics to improve their wines, one gets the sense Benoît believes that embracing biodynamics improves his life, while the farming and wines follow suit. Blessed with old vines in Ambonnay and Bouzy his wines are detailed and stony, as well as powerful, though never top-heavy. His work in the vines, as well as fermenting and aging in barrel, produces wines of richness and class expressing the character of the terroir, quite deftly.
Please do note that the single vineyard wines from Pouillon are available in absolutely miniscule quantities and are limited to a bottle of each cuvee per customer. Sorry about that! So to make it up to you, we are offering a six pack today, with two bottles each of the flagship wines from these outstanding domaines. This includes a ten percent discount built into the price!!!
100% Chardonnay from a pair of lieux-dits in Beaunay in the Petis Coteaux du Morin, located southwest of Épernay. The soils are comprised of clay and silts over chalk and sandy clay. The vins clairs are fermented with indigenous yeasts half in oak, half in tank. The wines are aged for 36 months before disgorgement and bottled with 2 grams dosage. This jumps right out of the gate with lemon curd, fresh white flowers and a bit of guava. There is plenty of weight in the mid-palate and a lovely creamy finish. We will be continuing to follow the ladies of Oudiette x Filles for years to come, mark these words.
The blend of Pinot and Chardonnay changes year to year based on the release but what doesn't change is how delicious the wine is. A wonderfully savory wine, with lime and little red fruit notes dancing around the edges, but the core of this is all dill and sour cream and saltiness. If there were ever a wine for smoked salmon!!! No sulfur here at all and still so precise. A fabulous Shaman. Sam Ehrlich
From a particularly chalky vein of soil along the east side of Mareuil, this is 100% Pinot Noir. 36 months on the lees and less than 2 grams of dosage. 1 btl per customer!!
From a particularly chalky vein of soil along the east side of Mareuil, this is 100% Pinot Noir. 36 months on the lees and less than 2 grams of dosage.
1 btl per customer!!
Equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from clay-limestone soils that are emblematic of Mareuil. 12 months in barrel, then five years on the lees before disgorgement. No dosage. 1 btl per customer!!
Equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from clay-limestone soils that are emblematic of Mareuil. 12 months in barrel, then five years on the lees before disgorgement. No dosage.
1 btl per customer!!
A single parcel of Pinot Noir in Mareuil, the second fermentation begins here with the addition of a small percentage of reserved juice from the same harvest that is held unfermented. No dosage and five years on the lees.