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Today we are very excited to offer out limited quantities of some beautiful natural Champagnes, from two excellent producers: Vouette et Sorbée, and Ruppert-Leroy!
Every January, the natural wine world descends into the caves below the Château de Brézé for a raucous tasting known as La Dive Bouteille. It is cold and dark and as damp as your imagination allows. At times the crowds heave and it is near impossible to navigate the packed passageways. There are winemakers perched wherever there is a patch of floor space, pouring their wines for sommeliers, cavistes and dedicated amateurs from all over the world. It is generally a mess, but great fun. My first dive was in 2011. I remember comparatively little of it, largely because I was underdressed, a problem I managed with marginal success by drinking too much. But before I tippled over the edge, I tasted with some wonderful producers. Bertrand Gautherot of Champagne Vouette et Sorbée is one who stuck with me. I had tasted them in New York here and there. But tasting the whole range in that afternoon in a frigid cellar the wines struck like lightning and Bertrand's air of calm and soft-spokeness was a balm considering the chaos all around us.
Bertrand Gautherot used to sell grapes to other Champagne producers, but after some convincing by a famous Champagne friend (Anselme Selosse), he started producing Champagne under his own name in 2001, with his first wine released in 2004. Gautherot’s 5 hectares are located in the village of Buxières-sur-Arce in the Aube's Côte des Bar, just 60km northeast of Chablis. His parcels consist of Kimmeridgian marls capped by Portlandian limestone, which have more in common with the soils of Chablis than they do with their counterparts in the Marne. Through fastidious work both in the vineyard and in the cellar, Vouette et Sorbée produces Champagnes faithful to the character of their terroir and vintage. Gautherot farms the estate biodynamically; its vineyards have been Demeter certified since 1998. Bernard manually harvests the grapes, and employs a vertical Coquard press to obtain the juice from the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. In the cellar, he ferments with natural yeasts and employs minimal sulfur before bottling.
Today, we are fortunate to be offering a small parcel of big bottles of Bertrand's Blanc de Blancs, 'Blanc d'Argile.' The base vintage here is 2019 and the magnums were disgorged January 2021. The relatively short lees aging compared to some of his peers tends to intensify the mineral intensity of the wine and in its youth it feels very Chablisien.
I confess to having less familiarity with Ruppert-Leroy over the years and so I will refer to my former colleague John McIlwain who has written eloquently of these wines in the past:
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's wines inhabit this space with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes them naturals for the table. A visit to the vines with Emmanuel Leroy of Ruppert-Leroy in Essoyes in the Côt des Bar is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village. According to Emmanuel, this is especially desirable to biodynamic growers seeking to encourage biodiversity. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard.
One such vineyard is Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in Spring a few years ago was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tisane by Emmanuel and Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.) Such is the committment to biodynamic viticulture that they sell the grapes from the first three rows of each parcel that abuts conventional growers rather than blend potentially sprayed grapes with their untreated fruit. The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The wines are vinified and bottled without SO2.
The quantities listed for today's sale items are definitely all that is available so don't delay!!!
**ALL ITEMS ARE IN PRE-ARRIVAL AND WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PICK-UP/DELIVERY NEXT WEEK**