Grower Champagne Club – June 2012

2008 Vouette et Sorbée, Cuvée Fidèle, Extra Brut
The Côte des Bar (or the Aube) is technically a region of Champagne, but it is much closer, in both proximity and terroir, to Chablis. It has the same Kimmeridgian limestone soil as in that northernmost appellation of Burgundy, in contrast to the generally chalky soils that abound in the heart of Champagne to the north. It is here, in this far-flung outpost of the Champagne region, that Vouette et Sorbée winemaker Bertrand Gautherot makes his unique Champagnes, in the tiny town of Buxières-sur-Arce. He has been farming here since 1986 and is completely biodynamic, receiving Demeter certification in 1998. To him, this strict organic approach is not a fad: he deeply believes that the increased health of the soil and vines produce better and more distinctive wines. His inspiration comes from his mentor, Anselme Selosse, one of the most influential winemakers in Champagne today, to whom much of the credit for the revolution towards terroir-based, grower-produced wines must go. With his focus firmly on the land and the fruit, Gautherot puts the name of his two main vineyards, Vouette and Sorbée, on his label, rather than his own. His Cuvée Fidèle comes primarily from Vouette, and is 100% Pinot Noir. Like all of his wines, it receives no dosage and is vinified entirely in oak. His Champagnes, which he makes in miniscule amounts, are known for having a character all their own; a bit esoteric and earthy, with excellent minerality and acidity, not a surprise, given his close proximity to Chablis. The savory, nutty flavors, make this an ideal wine for food, such as shrimp tempura. Gautherot suggests drinking his wines within two years after disgorgement, the date of which he puts on all of his bottles. He also recommends waiting about 30 minutes after opening to drink them. That might be hard to do, but do give it a chance to open up and evolve. This is a Champagne with a lot going on. It is $68.75.