Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Champagne Vouette et Sorbeé “Saignée de Sorbée”

Bertrand Gautherot is one of a very few Champagne producers who is Demeter-certified biodynamic. Here is an excellent essay by Peter Liem on Gautherot, what he does, and why he does it. He is out to prove that terroir counts in Champagne just as it does in Burgundy or any other appellation. Quoted in a NY Times story that ran on July 13, Gautheron said: “A big problem in Champagne is that wines are easy to make by recipe. It’s much harder to learn the taste of your vineyards. That’s why it’s called Vouette & Sorbée rather than Bertrand Gautherot.”

Champagne Vouette et Sorbeé “Saignée de Sorbée” Extra-Brut NV: Disgorged January 17, 2009 (There's the disgorgement date, right on the label. How hard can this be, O Mighty Bollinger?). "Vouette" and "Sorbeé," as alluded to above, are the names of Gautherot's vineyards in the village of Buxières-sur-Arce. In the glass, it shows a dusty rose color, definitely not star-bright. The nose is powerful, with a seemingly endless series of notes: Ripe strawberry, espresso, bitter chocolate, minerals, balsamic, grilled orange, and that ain't the half of it. In the mouth, amazingly persistent, tiny bubbles, fascinating spicy and rich red berry notes, and some sherry-like character that anchors itself toward the back of the tongue. I would put this up against the very best the Grande Marque houses have to offer. It lacks the power/finesse combination that marks a top-of-the-line vintage Champagne, but in my opinion it yields to none of them in terms of complexity of flavor and the sheer pleasure of tasting something extraordinary. Formerly available in Asheville at Vinsite, and perhaps one day to be available again. At about a hundred and fifteen bucks, it's priced better than Dom, and twice as much fun to drink.

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