Region: Champagne, France
Varietal: 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier
Tasting Notes: "Even parts of chardonnay and pinot noir naturally fermented in a combination of stainless steel and wood, this has a beautifully pure and fresh nose with almonds, brioche, lemon, chalky stony aromas, light rose, vanilla and strawberry. Beautifully nuanced and detailed palate with a super fine thread of acidity that fuses perfectly ripe fruit that is coated in a sheen of very smooth polished tannins. Delicate, seamless and long, crisp apple finish. Drink now." - James Suckling
Pairing: Fried Chicken, oysters, and caviar are all common recommendations, but my personal favorite is a great bag of potato chips to dip in this Caramelized Onion Dip With Frizzled Leeks by Mark Bittman. A tip from this American girl…add bacon!
About: The Champagne appellation d'origine contrôlée, whose perimeter is defined by legislation enacted in 1927, covers some 34,300 hectares and encompasses 319 villages, also called “crus". The region is located 90 miles east of Paris.
The French word brut translates roughly as "raw", and in this sense it indicates a wine sold without a significant addition of sweetness (dosage). In practice, almost all brut Champagnes do receive a small addition of sweetness at the disgorgement stage.
In the vineyards, Alexandre does not follow any certifications; his goal is “to respect the soil populations as much as I can”. His work is followed by Claude and Lydia Bourguignon, the two foremost experts on soil microbiology. “I do not use chemicals, herbicides, insecticides … and plough half of my vineyards with my horses. Most of the work is made by hand, but … no certification.” Sheep and Chickens are used for fertilization and focus is put on the health of the soil as Chartogne believes that the transmission of terroir comes only though careful work in the vineyard. Horses are kept on the property and used for ploughing and a majority of the work in the vineyard is made by hand.
Starting with the very first year back at home, Chartogne was experimenting with special, single parcel bottlings. Today, he produces wines from 8 different parcels: Les Barres, Beaux Sens, Le Coarres, Couarres Château, Heurtebise, Orizeaux, Les Alliées and Chemin de Reims. In each parcel a different variety planted, but Chartogne is adamant about the variety not being important. “It is the soil and the place that is most important. The variety is just the transmission of the feeling of that place” says Alexandre. In addition to the very small production parcelle wines, he produces a Rosé, which he considers to be the wine that carries the biggest imprint of the winemaker, as well as a non-vintage called Saint-Anne, which expresses the different terroirs of Merfy. Ste. Anne is a village wine, and an excellent lesson in just how fine wine from “cru normal” made with expertise and care can be.
92 Points -Wine Spectator
91 Points -Wine & Spirits Magazine
91 Points -Wine Enthusiast
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