Grower Champagne Club – March 2012

Cédric Bouchard, Roses de Jeanne, Les Ursules, Blanc de Noirs
Even within the world of grower Champagnes, Cédric Bouchard is a fanatic. His winemaking approach is: single vineyard, single varietal, single vintage. One of the fastest rising stars in Champagne, the influential French restaurant guide, Gault Millau, named him Champagne’s finest winemaker for the year 2008, a mere eight years after he began making wines under his own label. His fanaticism is apparent, even before you get to the bottle: each one is carefully wrapped in a map of the region, showing in great detail, exactly where the parcel for this wine, Les Ursules, is located. It’s that important to him. This tiny, 0.9 hectare vineyard is in the village of Celles-sur-Ource, in the southern Côte des Bars region, where the soil is actually part of the Kimmeridgean chain (as in Sancerre and Chablis), and thus more limestone than chalk based, contributing to the unique profile of the wines. (It is not far from his father’s vineyard, Val Vilaine, from which Cédric makes wines under the Inflorescence label.) A purist from start to finish, Cédric maintains low yields, hand harvests, crushes the grapes by foot, and uses only the first press juice in his wines, which are fermented with native yeasts. He also uses little to no dosage, no oak, and no filtration. What you get is a pure expression of the fruit, 100% Pinot Noir, and the terroir. Also the vintage: although not noted on the bottle, this wine is all from the 2009 harvest. It is a Champagne of amazing depth and concentration, yet light and minerally on the palate. Complex, elegant, and poised, with very fine bubbles, it’s as much a wine for the table as it is for a toast. Astonishingly, Cédric makes less than three hundred cases of Les Ursules a year. We got two of the four that came into the market, and it is $90 a bottle. We have a few more available, plus a magnum (2007 vintage), at $350 (one of two in the market).