Grower Champagne Club – November 2013

Chartogne-Taillet, Blanc de Blancs  “Heurtebise”
According to grower Champagne importer and ambassador extraordinaire, Terry Theise, Alexandre Chartogne is the most exciting young producer in Champagne. Indeed, while still just 20-something and having only recently taken over the family estate from his parents, he was listed as a “Discovery of the Year” in the French wine guide, Bettane & Desseauve. But undistracted by the attention, Alexandre, a student of grower Champagne pioneer, Anselme Selosse, keeps his focus solely on his wines and his vineyards, in the little village of Merfy, just north of Reims, where he works with a fanatic, some might say geeky, passion and curiousity. Always seeking to improve, and never complacent, he says, “I do not feel good when I’m sure about something.” So he continues to build on the legacy of his family: introducing horses to work the fields (it is less compacting to the soil than machines) and experimenting with fermentation/storage “eggs,” (the Brownian movement inside helps the lees to be always in contact with the wine). This Champagne is sourced from a single parcel called Heurtebise, and is 100% Chardonnay, unusual for Chartogne-Taillet, as most of their wines include Pinots. Although it is not noted on the label, this wine is from the 2007 vintage and it is aged for an amazing four years on its lees. Our distributor, Cavatappi, has never brought it in before and only got a couple of cases, but we were so blown away by its amazing character we jumped at the chance to take about half of it off their hands. It is labeled brut, but it is made in an extra brut style, with very low dosage, as is evident in its lean, mouthwatering freshness. Its rich, toasty nose is perfectly balanced by the bracing acidity on the palate. Terry Theise noted that Alexandre intended it for oysters (“or to be an oyster”) which seems like a perfect pairing. It is $65.