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The Champagne Society October 2021 Selection

Champagne Laherte Frères
‘Cuvées Terroir Fundamentals’

Special price for members of the Champagne Society is $79. (SOLD-OUT)


‘Progressive’ is not a word one traditionally sees affixed to Champagne producers, because, well… tradition. But shifting dynamics in consumer tastes and perhaps more significantly, changes in global climate patterns, have invigorated a new generation of vignerons to rethink some Champagne parameters. Aurélien Laherte is among them.

The Laherte family is by no means a regional upstart; Champagne Laherte Frères was founded in 1889, made up primarily of vines in the village of Chavot-Courcourt. The 25 acres estate from which the estate sources across 75 parcels in 10 nearby villages have been passed down through the generations, and all are still owned and tended by members of the immediate family. Fourth generation vigneron Michel Laherte expanded the holding and began working the soil organically and patiently, extracting the full terroir expression in the wines—a philosophy which endures today.

Aurélien took the reins in 2005, and has embraced the idea of producing a series of tiny production, single-vineyard, single vintage cuvées (around 3,000 bottles each) from some of the estates most unique and expressive parcels.

An ecological approach is taken, with half the vineyard holdings managed biodynamically, and the rest essentially organically, ‘to facilitate the natural expression of the vine and increase its aromatic potential,’ Aurélien explains.

’More than anything, my father and I are trying to respect the soil, expressing the style of the clay and limestone,’ says the young Laherte. This is the soil of the historic little village of Chavot-Courcourt, on the border of the Côte de Blancs, and the Vallée de la Marne. ‘The clay gives us Chardonnay that is fruitier than the Côte des Blancs, and the limestone Meunier that is finer than the Vallée de la Marne,’ he says.

Villages, crus and varieties are separated. The majority of the parcels are fermented and aged in oak, as has been the tradition for more than 25 years. Barrels vary from four to 40 years of age, and include several large 100-year-old foudres from Alsace. Five small barrels are purchase each year from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti where they have aged Le Montrachet, no less. Some lees stirring is performed to build richness. Malolactic fermentation is blocked in most cuvées, but may proceed spontaneously or by design for particular years and varieties. For a total production of 120,000 bottles, Laherte Frères boasts of 11 cuvées that preserve the detail of its terroirs in wines of taut, linear persistence, and at times assertive structure.

Due to the small quantities of each of the several cuvées Aurélien is allocating to us, I have selected three equally priced cuvées to assign to the members at random.

Winemaker Notes …

Surprising & Delicate: A Tribute to Our Ancestors
Les Vignes d’Autrefois 2016
Vieilles Vignes de Pinot Meunier (Côteaux Sud d’Épernay – Villages Chavot & Mancy) Extra-Brut

“100% Pinot Meunier. The selected plots have been planted by our forefathers between 1947 and 1953. (Terroir of Village Chavot – ‘Les Rouges Maisons’, ‘Les Monts Bougies’: Clay and silty soil with a presence of flint and little stones, chalky subsoils. Terroir of Village Mancy – ‘Les Hautes Norgeailles’: Clay soils with a little silt, stratum in surface, halky subsoil.) Many generations followed one another in order to preserve this patrimony and keep all the qualities of these old vine stocks, some have been planted on franc de Pied). Grapes harvested by hand. Traditional press. Alcoholic fermentation in barrels. Aging in barrels on lees with no malolactic fermentation. 3277 bottles produced.”

Dosage: 2 to 4 grams per liter
Disgorgement: January 2020 by hand

Tasting Notes
“Bright and vibrant in the glass, the 2016 offers a compelling interplay of Meunier richness with striking layers of intense minerality that open over time. Sweet floral notes add inner perfume and the closing flourishes of finesse.” Vinous


Delicate & Structured: Terroir and Variety Interplay
Les Grandes Crayères 2016
Blanc de Blancs Millésime (Côteaux Sud d’Épernay – Village Chavot) Extra-Brut

“100% Chardonnay. Selection Massale and blend of new and old rootstocks. Born of the particular and complex Terroir of Les Coteaux Sud d’Épernay, a few plots have soft soils and the campanian chalk is present at 20 cm. In 2014, we decided to vinify separately and create a new single vineyard cuvée to present Chardonnay with finesse and relief. Grapes harvested by hand. Traditional press. Alcoholic fermentation in barrels. Aging in barrels on lees with no malolactic fermentation. 3893 bottles produced.”

Dosage: 3 to 4 grams per liter
Disgorgement: January 2020 by hand

Tasting Notes
“Bright and finely sculpted, the 2016 possess dazzling energy to match its mid-weight personality. I very much admire the wine’s drive and precision.” Vinous


Intense & Straight: Pure Pinot Noir, Perfect Finesse
Les Longues Voyes 2016
Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru (Montagne de Reims – Village Chamery) Extra-Brut

“‘Les Longues Voyes’ (‘The long way’) is 100% Pinot Noir from Village Chamery, situated 30 km from our estate, with clay and silts soil and limestone subsoil. These fine Pinot Noir always take time to achieve optimal maturity. Grapes harvested by hand. Traditional press. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrels. Extended ageing in barrels on lees for 18 months brings richness and complexity. 2991 bottles produced.”

Dosage: 4 grams per liter
Disgorgement: January 2020 by hand

Tasting Notes
“The dark, brooding side of Pinot emerges as the Longues Voyes starts to open in the glass. There is a real sense of gravitas here. Pear, white flowers, spice and almond are all nicely woven together. Even with all of that intensity, the 2016 retains gorgeous aromatic lift and freshness.” Vinous

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Posted on 2021.11.14 in France, The Champagne Society, Champagne


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