Grower Champagne Club – April 2011

2006 Laherte Frères, Extra-Brut, Les Vignes d’Autrefois
The Champagne house of Laherte Frères is truly a family affair. It was founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte, although they had been selling fruit to the local cooperative for years before that. Today it is run by brothers Thierry and Christian as well as Thierry’s son, Aurélien (who owns his own vineyards, which he farms bio-dynamically), and his wife, Laurence (who brought her own vineyards to the family by marriage). Altogether the family now owns ten hectares of vines, representing a whopping 75 different parcels in ten different villages, including Chavot, Moussy, and Epernay. The variety of soil types and the diversity of terroir in their different holdings offers them much creative opportunity in blending their Champagnes. But it also accounts for their official registration as a négociant-manipulant. Even though all of the wines come from their own estate-grown fruit, since each family member owns their own portion of vines, and the company of Laherte Frères “purchases” the grapes from them, their bottles carry the NM designation. (Today, such a business plan would be registered SR, for société de récoltant, which didn’t exist at the time). What about this wine, you ask? Fruit for their Vignes d’Autrefois (“vines of olden times”) comes from plots planted by the Laherte family between 1947 and 1953 (the autrefois). It is all 2006 vintage and is 100% Pinot Meunier, which gives it a nice, warm, earthy profile. It is $60 and very elegant, with a long finish, and wonderful minerality. Try it with sushi!