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By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne Master Level
Celebrating Grower Champagne | Laherte Frères
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” Mark Twain
It’s true. While too much champagne may be just right, too much grower Champagne is never enough.
Unfamiliar with grower Champagne? You’re not alone.
While major Champagne houses like Krug, Louis Roederer, Taittinger, and Veuve Clicquot constitute 68% of sales worldwide, vignerons (the french term for grower), accounts for 23% – with 91% of this niche market sold in France. Furthermore, of Champagne’s 15,240 vignerons, 4,760 fall under the rubric recoltants/manipulants, or growers who sell their own wine, designated ‘RM’ on the label. Which means that few consumers beyond the borders of France enjoy exposure to the delight of grower champagne.
Indeed, grower Champagne represents a testament to the human spirit. No easy task, growing and selling champagne in a region steeped in brooding weather, chalk-pocked soil and the blood of countless battles, including two world wars and Napoleon’s follies. Yet despite these sorrows, Champagne remains the wine of celebration. And while Champagne may speak to the heart, grower champagne speaks to the soul.
Grower champagne producers often push boundaries not available to larger houses locked into a particular style, including a drive towards more individual expressions of terroir. They also often play with Pinot Meunier, one of three major approved varietals in Champagne, which grows especially well in the frost-prone Marne Valley. Considered more floral and fruit-forward than the other two varietals Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, it is often used to round out a blend, but deemed not age-worthy.
This dismissive attitude may be changing, thanks to artisan grower/sellers like Laherte Frères www.champagne-laherte.com of Chavot, a village in Coteaux Sud d’Épernay, a sub-region of Vallée de la Marne. Laherte Frères dates back to 1889, with seventh-generation vigneron Aurélien Laherte currently at the helm. A proponent of biodynamic farming, his family’s holdings include 25 acres of vines comprised dispersed among ten different villages. These sites include many old-vine parcels, including two planted in 1947 and 1953, respectively. From these, he makes three different wines, including this little gem, Laherte Frères Rosé de Meunier.
Robe: Gorgeous, dusty rose robe.
Bead/Mousse: Pinpoint pearls, diaphanous mousse.
Nose: Lush floral, red fruit aromatics.
Palate: A delightful mélange of marsh rose, rhubarb and strawberry.
Finish: Gloriously bone dry.
- Fermented in used, ~4-year old Burgundy barrels.
- Maceration: ~12 hours prior to fermentation.
- Malolactic fermentation – blocked.
- Aged 6 months in barrel post-fermentation; occasional bâtonnage.
- Aged an additional 3 years on the lees in bottle.
- Extra-Brut – Dosage 3 g/l – Disgorged November 2015
- 300 cases produced.
Available through Caveau Selections
Nothing says celebration more than Champagne – except maybe grower champagne.
You can learn more about Champagne’s biodynamic and organic wine producers by reading Caroline Henry’s book Terroir Champagne.
For more on French Fizz, join the French Winophles on Saturday December 17th at 10:00 am central time on twitter, hashtag #Winophiles to chat about all things French Fizz…from any country, any method, any grape.
Gwendolyn of Wine Predator: French Fizz #Winophiles: In the Pink with Fresh Seafood Crepes, Bisque
Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog: Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey Cerdon Rosé #Winophiles
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Crisps, Caviar, and Crémant de Limoux
Jeff from FoodWineClick!: Master the Saber with French Fizz
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm: Creme Brulee paired with some French Fizz
Michelle from Rockin Red Blog: How About Some French Fizz this Holiday Season?
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