From the Vine

Yoko’s Staff Picks: Grower Champagne!

The Urban Grape | Champagne Lahere Aurelien

The Urban Grape | Champagne Lahere Aurelien

Yoko’s monthly sparkling wine tastings have become the hit of the South End. For those of you that can’t make the tastings, she’s on the blog today sharing some information about her passion – Grower Champagne.

The Urban Grape | Champagne Laherte

“Champagne – Grower POWER!” is what Aurelien of Champagne Laherte wrote on his Instagram post and also on the store’s kitchen door when he visited us last week. He is the 6th generation of the Laherte family and considered to be one of the rising stars of the Champagne region. Although the label indicates NM (or Negociant-Manipulant, producers who use purchased grapes as well as their own grapes to make Champagne), the majority of grapes for Champagne Laherte come from their own 10-hectare-vineyard. In order to respect and treasure the special terroir (or where the wine come from), the philosophy is to work in the most traditional and natural way as possible in both vineyard and cellar. I absolutely loved how each one of his wines expressed personality and identity, and here are 2 very unique wines newly joined in our Champagne collection.

“Les 7”

Traditional Champagne grapes are 3 varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier but also permitted are 4 varieties of Fromenteau, Albanne, Pinot Blanc, and Petit Meslier. And you get all 7 varieties in this Les 7! Aurelien’s father found these lost varieties in their old vineyard site and it was re-established in 2003. Chosen as 2nd top from a tasting of 100 grower Champagnes from Decanter magazine, here is your chance to taste what Champagne tasted like back 250 years ago. Made from a blend of vintages from 2005 to 2012, this rare and energetic Champagne’s got fresh stone and exotic fruits, warm toasty and nutty notes, great minerality, hints of spring flowers, smokiness, and the list goes on… It is one of those wines, which make you want to keep coming back to the glass because it is so complex and intriguing.

Rose de Saignee “Les Beaudiers”

Another exceptional cuvee made from 100% Pinot Meunier from old vines. While the majority of rose Champagnes are made from blending red wine to white wine to achieve its pink color, this wine is made from Saignee method (maceration of grape skins) Beautiful garnet ruby color of this wine is attractive to the eyes, followed by delicious scent of juicy ripe red fruits and red flowers, along with hints of warm spices and outstanding texture on the palate, which reminds me of elegant Burgundy. I became speechless for a second because it was just stunning…

Today the market share of grower Champagne here in the US is 5%, which is still not a large number but I have noticed an increased interest and demand in the recent years. I believe wines like these two I wrote here demonstrate how interesting and diverse Champagne can be, and also the potential and power of grower Champagne. During the visit, Aurelien said to me “You know 20 years ago, it was not like this (meaning Champagne growers did not get a kind of attention they started to get today) but maybe 20 years from now, it might change…” I replied, “I think it will. I know it will.”