Champagnes You Must Drink: New Bouchard, Lahaye, and Lassaigne, and a fresh face in Mesnil: Vergnon!

11/7/12 -


Our friend Paul Grieco at his chain of wine bars called “Terroir,” bills a portion of his snack roster as “Things You Must Eat.” And it’s precisely that: an eclectic little list of assorted tasty morsels. As we look at our Champagne shelf going into the holidays, we see an assortment of new and tasty morsels from our favorite small growers, crying out to be drunk without delay.

Recognized for his particular style of minimalist Champagnes, Cédric Bouchard makes wines that are unlike anyone else’s. His winemaking philosophy is essentially Burgundian: to exactly preserve the character of the vineyard. To that end, all of his wines are from a single parcel, a single vintage, and a single grape. He does his fermentations in steel, believing that wood adds something that wasn’t there before. (To me he described wood as being “like makeup.”) He never adds sugar to the wines, and they are bottled with less pressure than standard Champagnes (4.5 atmospheres versus 6.) While we have the utmost respect or his higher-end bottlings, we’ve always had a soft spot for Cédric’s Inflorescence, the 2010 vintage of which we have just received.

From Benoït Lahaye, subtle genius of Bouzy, we have several wines in stock, but let us draw your attention to a new release of his Brut Prestige Blanc de Noirs based on the stellar 2008 vintage. Benoït farms a tiny, five hectare Domaine in the southern Montagne de Reims. He has been certified biodynamic since 2008 and he ploughs the majority of his vineyards with his horse. His wines are incredibly elegant for Bouzy Grand Cru and, as much as we try, we cannot sufficiently sing their praises. 

From Emmanuel Lassaigne in Montgueux, uniquely positioned between the Côtes des Blancs and the Aube, we have the very last release of Rosé de Montgueux. Lassaigne had a parcel of Pinot Noir planted on chalk, the juice from which he used to make a Blanc de Noirs called “Papilles Insolites,” also to blend with Chardonnay in his Rosé. He recently uprooted his Pinot in order to replant the vineyard with massale selected Chardonnay, which means this is the last of his delicious Rosé, based on the zippy 2010 vintage.

Finally we welcome a new grower in Mesnil-sur-Oger: J-L Vergnon. Peter Liem tipped us off to Vergnon half a year ago, and it’s a delight to see the wines on our shelf. This five hectare Domaine is very much in transition since the arrival of the current winemaker: Christophe Constant, in 2002.  Since Constant’s arrival, there has been an increased emphasis on harvesting ripe grapes, abandoning chaptalization, lowering (if not eliminating) dosages, and avoiding malolactic fermentation. The results are very much to our liking: extremely dry yet richly styled wines that show off the distinct, abundantly chalky minerality of Mesnil. We hope you agree! Salut! -Sophie

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