n.v. R.H. Coutier, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, Brut Champagne, Ambonnay, France.
The Champagne house of R.H. Coutier has a long history with the Coutier family having been a fixture in the famous village of Ambonnay since 1619, with fifth generation vigneron Antoine Coutier, who is working under his father Rene, now leading this artisan estate and making wonderfully distinctive bubblies. The Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is a lively, but richly flavored grower fizz with racy citrus and pure apple fruits driving the profile here along with subtle leesy brioche and hazelnut notes adding a sense of luxurious feel to go with the creamy mousse. There is an impression of power and electric energy, which almost gives you reason to think this is an Extra Brut or a non dosage, though when it opens it gets denser and more complex, it fills out to what you’d expect from a top notch Grand Cru 100% Chardonnay Champagne and is sublime with food. This Blanc de Blancs Brut was mostly based the 2016 vintage at close to 60%, a very nice year and with about 40% reserve wines, seeing a low dosage, at just 6.5 grams of sugar per liter and it was disgorged this last February of 2020. I was highly entertained and impressed by this edition of Coutier’s Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs and it was delicious with the Christmas meal and graceful on its own by the fire.

The Coutier team hand farms nine hectares, all in Grand Cru vineyards, all sustainably with mostly organic methods, but keep their own production very small, in fact they sell close to 80% of their fruit to the local cooperative, while only selecting the very best grape bunches to craft a maximum of 2,000 cases for their own label. R.H. Coutier is a real grower Champagne house that focuses on freshness of character with almost all of the wines here fermented and aged in stainless with edgy acidity playing a key role with only about half of the Coutier juice going through malolactic fermentation, depending on the vintage and as mentioned a low dosage is used to keep all the vitality in the bottle. While this is beautiful terroir driven Chardonnay, interesting as Coutier was the first to plant it in the village, has a spectacular set of Pinot Noir vines, for which Ambonnay is most famous for, as well and their basic cuvee tradition, 70% Pinot and 30% is a firmly structured and wonderfully complex wine that should not be missed either. The more clay based limestone soils and warm exposure give these Champagnes an appealing ripe nature and depth, which comes through here, this is a great value and its very expressive, I highly recommend this elegant stuff for any celebration and what’s left of the holiday meals.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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