Grower Champagne Club – September 2012

Domaine Agrapart & Fils, NV Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Terroirs
In 1894 Arthur Agrapart began growing and producing Champagne in his home town of Avize. The business suffered during the disruption of the Great Depression and World War II, but in the mid 1950s Arthur’s grandson, Pierre, set out to revive the estate and make it better than ever. He soon became known for his utter commitment to making wines of exceptional quality, during a time when most producers were focused on mass, commercial production. Today, fourth generation, Pascal and Fabrice are in charge, and oversee everything on their 10 hectares of vines, in Avize and in several neighboring villages in the Côtes des Blancs. They do all of their work, both in the vineyard and in the winery, according to natural rhythms and cycles, using no chemicals or artificial yeasts. They have received much attention (at first bemused, and later quite serious) for their use of a workhorse, named Venus, to plow some of their fields. Unlike a tractor, the horse does not compact the soil, which compromises the microbial life that promotes healthy roots. They even have a special cuvée named “Venus.”

Their Grand Cru Terroirs Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay, of course) is always a blend of two consecutive vintages, in this case 2006 and 2007, and is sourced from their vineyards in the villages of Avize, Oger, Cramant, and Oiry. The older of the two vintages is aged in oak for one year before bottling, and the wine is aged on its lees for at least four years in the bottle. Like all of their wines, it goes through full malo-lactic fermentation. No surprise then, that this wine has such a soft, creamy texture and depth. It is complex and intriguing, with a lovely sense of purity and, at $55, an amazing value for a Grand Cru of such finesse. Enjoy it now or over the next five years.