N.V. Laherte Freres, Blanc De Blancs Brut Nature Champagne, France.
The Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs by Aurélien Laherte is from his best parcels of Chardonnay from the southern slopes of Epernay and the Côte des Blancs. The Champagne house of Laherte Freres, founded back in 1889 is located in the village of Chavot in the Coteaux Sud d’Epernay, a sub-region sandwiched between the Côtes des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne, and is one of the breakout producers in the region with an amazing set of current releases, including this beautiful Blanc de Blancs. 50% of reserve wine is included in this blend. Primary fermentation takes places in a combination of foudres and barrels with regular lees stirring. This wine uniquely saw partial malolactic fermentation, which adds to the dense and luxurious feel, though zero dosage. This Blanc de Blancs, that Laherte feels is representative of the purity and bracing minerality of Chardonnay found in the chalky soils of the area, really performs in the glass revealing complexity and inner energy along with a lively and elegant mousse. Under the direction of Aurélien Laherte who took over his family’s estate in 2005 prefers Extra Brut and non dosage bottlings with his Champagnes all vinified in used Burgundy barrels, with minimal malolactic fermentations, and are bottled without fining and filtration from his select mostly biodynamic farmed vines.
Aurélien Laherte, according to his importer Polarer Selections, is part of a dynamic, young generation of vignerons making waves in Champagne and producing a fine array of terroir-driven Champagnes using a natural (organic and biodynamic) approach to viticulture and winemaking. I tasted with Aurélien a few years back and was highly impressed by his wines and have followed his progress with great interest, in fact I am convinced he is a star right up there with my grower producer herbs, Laurent Champs of Vilmart and Cedric Mousse of Mousse et Fils to name a few. He, as Polaner adds, along with his high school friend Raphael Bereche – another star in the region – founded the “Terres et Vins” group of like minded Champenois producers in 2009, to promote responsible growing and bounce ideas off each other, this group taps some of Champagne’s more progressive and talented vignerons, including another couple of my favorites Agrapart and Marie-Courtin, as well as others. This Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs intrigues on the nose with stony elements, white flowers and yeasty decadence before expanding on the palate with glorious detail and clarity, it shows apple, pear and peach fruits along with hints of lemon zest, doughy notes, hazelnut, like a fine white Burgundy as well as touch of toasiness and that striking mineral mentioned early, lingering with delightful echos of each flavor. Be sure to look for this one and Laherte’s sexy Rose de Meunier Extra Brut.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive