Grower Champagne Club – July 2016

Liébart-Régnier, Brut Excélia, 2008
This small grower/producer was founded in 1960 by Lucien Liébart and Georgette Régnier whose marriage brought together two vineyards in different parts of the Marne Valley: in Baslieux-sous-Châtillon and Vauciennes. Their son Lucien and his wife Valerie took over the winery from their parents, and they are now assisted by the third generation, daughters Alexandra and Marion. When Alexandra Liébart was in town recently for a wine dinner at Fresh Bistro, she stopped by the shop to pour several of her Champagnes for us. It was wonderful to meet her and sample her stunning line-up. Liébart-Régnier is one of only about ten producers in Champagne to have received HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale) certification, thanks to their tireless efforts to protect the natural environment and preserve the biodiversity of their vineyards, which are planted on the chalky-clay soil of the Marne Valley. We especially loved their Excelia, their top cuvée which they make only in exceptional vintages. (The next vintage, the 2011, will be released in the fall of 2017.) It is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay and spends six years on lees. It has wonderful richness and complexity, with elegant aromas and flavors that seem to evolve and continue opening up forever. At the Fresh dinner, this Champagne was paired with a seafood boil of Manilla clams, mussels, prawns, Dungeness crab, Andouille sausage, Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet yellow corn. They also poured it with a strawberry and raspberry sorbet with chocolate bark and mint for dessert. A very versatile Champagne, the winery notes you can enjoy it “whatever the hour, day or night, to celebrate a special moment.” Or any moment really since, at $49.75, this is a remarkable value for a vintage Champagne.