Grower Champagne Club – April 2012

Roger Coulon, Grande Tradition, Premier Cru
Eric and Isabelle Coulon represent the eighth generation of Coulons to produce Champagne under the family label. Their vineyards consist of over 70 parcels, spread throughout five different villages in and around Vrigny, in the northwest corner of the Montagne de Reims. They grow all three grapes there, on the chalky, clay soil, and the average age of their vines is around 38 years, relatively old for Champagne. When they do need to replant, they use what is called masalle selection. This is the practice of propagating new vines from healthy mother vines already in the vineyard, as opposed to planting modern clones. They feel that this preserves the integrity of their vineyard and retains the original character of the fruit. Eric Coulon is not only meticulous about his own winemaking and vineyard management, he is also very committed to the continued success of the region and, as head of the Vrigny wine growers, he works with his neighbors to help improve the quality of all of their vineyards. What about his wine? This one is a blend of 50% Pinot Meunier, and 25% each, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, all from his Premier Cru vineyards, where he limits yield more than most growers in order to add to the concentration of flavors. During fermentation Eric uses only natural yeast, which he feels brings out more subtlety and expression of the terroir. And he leaves the wine on the lees for up to seven months, and ages them beyond the minimum required, further adding to their remarkable structure and body. We love this wine for its amazing nose, and charming and seductive expressiveness. It is fresh and floral, with great balance and nice, fine bubbles. The Pinot Meunier adds wonderful mushroomy tones to the notes of butter and brioche and white fruit. It is $56 and only 250 cases came into the country, of which our distributor got seven, so it’s pretty limited around here.