Champagne Baron-Fuenté, Millésime 2011, $47
The Baron family has cultivated land in Champagne since the 17th century. In 1961, when Gabriel Baron married Dolores Fuenté, his father gave the couple one hectare of vines as a wedding gift, and from that grew Champagne Baron-Fuenté, founded in 1967.
At first they sold their wines just to restaurants and private customers. As they grew over the years they were joined by their daughter Sophie and son Ignace, the current winemaker. Today the family has over 38 hectares of vineyards near their village of Charly-sur-Marne, in the Marne Valley. This supplies most of the fruit for their wines, but they also source a small amount from trusted growers with whom they have longstanding relationships, hence their négociant status (NM on the label). Their soils are a combination of marl, clay and sand, which is especially suited for growing Pinot Meunier, a grape they like to use as much as possible in their blends for the complex fruit notes it adds to the wine. They only produce vintage wines in excellent years and they are typically a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Pinot Noir, aged around eight years on the lees in their cellars. This 2011 vintage has delicate aromas of white orchard fruit with hints of citrus and fine, elegant bubbles. With eight grams dosage, it is creamy and soft, yet balanced by fresh, lively acidity. The relatively high proportion of Pinot Meunier adds complex notes of red fruit to the toasty, biscuity profile. Now with a decade of age on it, this Champagne is ready to drink anytime and would be delicious on its own or paired with seafood, roast pork, sashimi, or soft, ripe cheeses.