From: Verzy, Champagne, France
Blend: 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay
Taste: The NV Champagne Mouzon-Leroux L'Atavique Extra Brut Grand Cru is a stunning example of a pure expression of Verzy Grand Cru terroir. It pours a pale gold color in the glass with a fine and persistent mousse. The nose is intense and complex, with notes of baked white cherry, raspberry coulis, and pickled ginger, along with hints of lime blossoms and graphite. On the palate, it is crisp and taut, with a saline minerality that underscores the fruit. The mouthfeel is firm and mouthwatering, with a fine and creamy mousse that softens the impression, bringing overall harmony. The finish is long and satisfying, with lingering notes of anise.
Pairing: This beautifully elegant champangne is an excellent wine to pair with seafood and shellfish dishes. Its crisp and taut acidity will cut through the richness of dishes like grilled lobster or crab cakes, while its minerality will complement the brininess of oysters and clams. For a classic pairing, try it with smoked salmon (or caviar) and blinis or a seafood tower (check out a twist on this below!). Its finesse and tension also make it a good match for delicate dishes like ceviche or sushi. The wine's restrained, mineral character means it won't overpower lighter dishes, but will instead enhance their flavors and textures.
Smoked Salmon, Fennel and Herbed Mascarpone Tart
By Melissa Clark
About. Mouzon-Leroux's L'Atavique Extra Brut Grand Cru is a champagne that embodies the spirit of the grower-producer movement that has taken Champagne by storm in the past two decades. Sébastien Mouzon, the ninth-generation vigneron, took over the family estate in 2008 and has since produced certified organic and biodynamically farmed wines that showcase the unique terroir of Verzy, one of the most interesting and diverse terroirs in the Montagne de Reims.
Verzy, along with Mailly and Verzenay, is part of the trio of Grand Crus that form the heart of the Montagne de Reims. Unlike the powerful, south-facing Montagne Grand Crus of Ambonnay or Bouzy, Verzy faces northeast, producing wines with finesse, tension, and a higher register. Mouzon's wines are mineral and quieter than their more powerful counterparts in Verzenay, with Sébastien describing Verzy as a place where "the fruit is inside the minerality.”
Mouzon's approach to winemaking is a reflection of his deep connection to the land. He farms his vineyards biodynamically, using tinctures of horsetail, dandelion, wicker, nettle, yarrow, and oak in addition to the biodynamic horn manure 500 preparation. Horses are used for ploughing, and sheep are used to control cover crops. Grapes are harvested with high physiological ripeness, with biodynamic viticulture allowing for balanced sugar ripeness.
The estate is just over 7 hectares, almost all in Verzy, split over 50 different plots. Almost sixty percent of the vineyards are planted to Pinot Noir, while Chardonnay makes up just under 40 percent with four percent Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Mouzon uses a pied de cuve method to ferment his wines, collecting a small pre-harvest and fermenting that small amount of wine naturally as a "starter" for inoculating the different tanks with indigenous yeast. The secondary fermentation is done with "Quartz," the selected yeast from Fleury, the biodynamic producer in the Aube.
The NV Champagne Mouzon-Leroux L'Atavique Extra Brut Grand Cru is a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. The wine is aged in a mix of steel tanks and 500-liter, 4 to 5-year-old Jadot barrels, the only estate in Burgundy that has its own tonnellerie. Malolactic fermentation is always allowed, as this lets Sébastien use less sulfur. There is no filtration on any of the wines, and the addition of riddling aids in keeping the lees from sticking in the bottle. The amount of sulfur used at the estate is very low, and Sébastien feels that a period of aging after disgorgement is necessary.
The wine is a sculpted Champagne that's firm and mouthwatering, with a fine and creamy mousse that softens the impression, bringing overall harmony. The baked white cherry, raspberry coulis, pickled ginger, and anise notes are underscored by a streak of salty mineral, and accents of lime blossoms and graphite chime on the finish. Disgorged in April 2020 with zero dosage, the wine has a score of 93 from Wine Spectator and was described as "Champagne that embodies the spirit of the grower-producer movement" by a wine critic.
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