Grower Champagne Club – June 2021

R.H. Coutier, Brut Millisime, Grand Cru, 2011, $65
The Coutier family has been based in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay in the Montagne de Reims since 1619. Today the estate is led by fifth generation vigneron Antoine Coutier who farms nine hectares of vineyards, in 40 separate plots, planted about two-thirds to Pinot Noir and one-third to Chardonnay. Pinot Noir has always been the predominant grape in the region and Antoine’s grandfather was actually the first in the village to plant Chardonnay, back in the 1940s. (We put their fabulous 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs—a rarity for the region—in our club back in 2015). The vineyards of the Montagne de Reims develop a more southerly exposure at Ambonnay, providing a warmer micro-climate. That, plus a bit more clay in the otherwise mostly chalky limestone soil, tends to produce richer, more sumptuous wines. The Coutier house style balances that richness and opulence with their signature purity and raciness. After years of practicing “lutte raisonée,” using no pesticides or herbicides in their vineyards, they began organic conversion in 2019. This Champagne is from the 2011 vintage and is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, all from their Grand Cru vineyards in Ambonnay. It goes through malolactic fermentation, and is aged all a minimum of three years in bottle. This vintage has lovely toasty, biscuity notes and supple richness and complexity, balanced by fresh, bracing acidity. The dosage is on the low end of brut (5 grams per liter). Drinking it less cold will emphasize the softer notes—the more chilled it is the more the fresh acidity will shine through. Enjoy it anytime over the next few years with rich seafood, such as crab or lobster.