Grower Champagne Club – January 2018

Baron-Fuenté, Millésime, 2006, $46.50
The Baron family have been farmers in the Champagne region since the 17th century. In 1961, when Gabriel Baron married Dolorès Fuenté, his father presented them with one hectare (about two-and-a-half acres) of vineyards. With that, the couple was able to establish their Champagne house, Baron-Fuenté, in 1967 in Charly-sur-Marne, west of Epernay. Today their son Ignace and daughter Sophie manage the estate, which has grown to just over 90 acres. The marl, clay, and sandy soils of the Marne Valley give their wines their unique terrior-driven character and are especially suited for growing Pinot Meunier, the grape which they say gives their Champagne its fruitiness, delicacy and refreshing style. Baron-Fuenté is technically a négociant, since they purchase some fruit from vineyards other than their own. But it is from vines they help oversee and which they pick themselves, giving them utmost control over the quality (as opposed to buying the juice in bulk or already bottled as is the case with some négociants). This wine is an amazing value for a vintage Champagne. When we poured it at our annual grower Champagne tasting this year, everyone was surprised at the distinctive, complex, briochy, notes of the wine. Baron-Fuenté produces vintage wines only in excellent vintages and 2006 provided a warm, ripe growing season. This offering is 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Pinot Noir. It went through full malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and was aged an astonishing seven years on its lees, giving it its wonderful structure and texture. Sourced from their best selection of grapes, it is fresh, yet rich and expressive, with a bit of spice and notes of dried fruit. Enjoy it anytime over the next five or six years, on its own, or with seafood, white meat dishes, or Asian food.