Marc Hébrart, “Mes Favorites,” Vieilles Vignes, Brut Premier Cru, $80
Champagne Marc Hébrart is based in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in the Marne Valley. Today it is run by Jean-Paul Hébrart who took over from his father in 1997. He currently has 16 hectares of vines divided into 68 parcels in six Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages, in both the Marne Valley and the Côte des Blancs. This cuvée is sourced from vineyards in Mareuil, the highest classified of all the Premier Cru villages in Champagne, and considered by most to be worthy of Grand Cru status, having chalky limestone soil as characterful and complex as that of Aÿ. As the name “Mes Favorites” implies, Jean-Paul sourced fruit for this wine from his favorite parcels in Mareuil and intends it to be a tribute to its terroir. It is 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from older, massale selection vines (referring to the practice of replanting new vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines on the same property, thus preserving the clonal variation in the vineyard). It gets lovely texture from the Pinot Noir and has beautiful aromas and flavors of bright fruit, along with rich notes of brioche, pear, and a hint of ginger. The deep roots of the older vines are able to extract excellent minerality from the chalky soil in the vineyard, adding freshness, and the almost ethereal texture is perfectly balanced by its rich concentration and weight. Of Hébrart’s wines, the highly respected Champagne writer and expert Peter Liem writes: “if you like to think about your wines, they’re intellectually engaging enough to satisfy you; on the other hand, if you’re just looking to drink, they’re simply delicious. The wines are full and generous without being weighty, complex and soil-driven without being demanding.” Enjoy this one anytime over the next few years, perhaps with scallops, oysters, or light chicken dishes. You could even pair it with weightier fare, like duck or goose.