Grower Champagne Club – April 2017

Pierre Gerbais, L’Osmose, $57
Aurélien Gerbais, is the fourth generation to head Champagne Pierre Gerbais and is described by his importer as “a handsome-nerdy-hipster winemaker who is unnervingly self-assured for his age, yet soft-spoken and humble.” We tasted through his wines with him when he was in town recently and were duly impressed with what he is accomplishing at the tender age of 23. He is based in Celles-sur-Ource in the heart of the Côte des Bar, where he tends ten hectares of Pinot Noir, four of Chardonnay and, a relative rarity, four hectares of Pinot Blanc. After Aurélien’s grandmother nearly died from pesticide poisoning, they converted to organic vineyard management and now tend all their vines as naturally as possible. His vineyards are located on both sides of the river Ource. The locals call the northern, south-facing bank, the endroit (or “good side”) and the southern side, which faces north, the envers (the “wrong side”). But Aurélien chooses to use fruit from both sides, finding that fruit from the south-facing plots adds richness while fruit from the north-facing vineyards contributes balancing freshiness. The soil here in the southernmost part of the Champagne region is much more akin to that of Chablis, consisting of Kimmeridgean limestone. Aurélien is as much influenced by Burgundian winemaking as Champenois, and this shows in his wines which have remarkable purity and precision. This 100% Chardonnay is sourced from both south- and north-facing vineyards, from vines averaging over 50 years in age. It goes through malolactic fermentation and is matured on its lees in vats and in bottle for 3 years. At only three to four grams dosage, it is an extra brut, wonderfully fresh and focussed, yet it also has amazing depth and elegance. An excellent Champagne to pair with food, or to enjoy on its own.