Champagne: A Motley Crew.

6/17/14 -

(Icy Chalk in Vertus.)

We have a crop of wonderful new Champagnes in stock in a variety of styles and pricepoints! We have fresh faces, and we have new releases from growers we’ve loved for years. We have rich, shell-y Blanc de Blancs, and we have burnished, vinous Blanc de Noirs. There’s something for everyone! See below for a brief overview of this month’s growers to watch.

Doquet: Pascal Doquet is obsessed with the life of the soil, and to be sure he finds it amusing that many of his neighbors in Vertus and Mesnil believe they can bring chalky minerality to their wines by applying chalk to the top of their vineyards like fondant on a birthday cake. Don’t they know that minerality comes from vine roots planted in healthy soils? Apparently not judging by the dead earth on display in much of the region. An affable, exceedingly generous, and energetic winemaker, Doquet began to convert his 9 hectare Domaine to organics in the early 2000s, and has reaped the benefits of meticulous vineyard work since then. He farms many small parcels in Vertus, Mesnil, Mont-Aimé and the Côte de Perthois, specializing in clawed-from-the-earth, age-worthy Champagnes made from Chardonnay. Today we feature Pascal Doquet’s Blanc de Blancs “Horizon,” an elegant and well priced Champagne that gives a lovely introduction to Pascal’s style, as well as his 2004 1er Cru Vertus, long lees-aged and recently disgorged, offering the drinker a rich, yet chiseled picture of the chalk and clay soils of this superb 1er Cru.  

Mouzon-Leroux: When Sébastien Mouzon took the reigns at his 7 hectare family Domaine in Verzy, he decided to learn from the masters: Benoït Lahaye, and Vincent Laval. He’s now certified organic, and going after biodynamic certification at the brisk clip of a young, passionate winemaker dedicated to making soulful, terroir-driven Champagnes. These wines are new to us, but we like what we’ve tried so far! Today we highlight Sébastian’s cuvée “L’Ineffable” a fascinating effort from a vigneron we know will go far. We’re can’t wait to watch (and taste) his progress!  

Ruppert-Leroy: We have friends who think that the terroir of the Aube is no match for the terroir of the Montagne de Reims, but we could not disagree more. Heavy in limestone rather than chalk, the terroir of the Aube is just now beginning to reveal itself in the hands of a group of innovative winemakers. Domaine Ruppert-Leroy began as a four hectare sheep farm gradually planted to vines in the ‘80s and ‘90s when sheep farming ceased to be economically viable for the family. In the model of Aube poster-child Cédric Bouchard, Ruppert-Leroy’s wines are all single vintage, single vineyard, single cépage Champagnes that are bottled non-dosé. These are vinous and unapologetically dry Champagnes that show a heavy presence of limestone; we encourage you to begin with the intensely rhubarb-red-fruited Fosse-Grély, arguably the most delicious of the lot and the least expensive.  

The list goes on to include new releases from Emmanuel Brochet, Ulysses Collin, and Benoït Lahaye, as well as the return of Benoït Marguet’s show-stopping 2008 Ambonnay “Les Crayères.” As usual, if you require help navigating the roster, don’t hesistate to ask. Santé! -Sophie

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