Monday, May 4, 2009

Champagne Visit - Laherte Fréres

Driving directly from Denmark, with only a few hours of sleep we arrived safely and almost on time @ Laherte Fréres in Chavot on a sunny April morning. We where immediately greeted by the young Aurélien Laherte, which is the new generation of the estate.

After a visit to some of the vineyards we headed for the cellar and had a rather interesting vins clairs tasting of the different cuvee's of the estate - mostly the very promising 2008 vintage. This is the first time I taste vins clairs, from Champagne and it was truly something else. First of all it's of course rather different from the final product as there are no bubbles. Secondly there is an old myth, that the still juice from Champagne is a horrifying sour liquid. I can assure you that were not the case.
Vins clairs is extremely perfumed and an incredible mineral and high acidity drink. Those of more experienced knowledge than me, says the vins clairs is an excellent way of judging the raw material before prise de mousse begins. As I don't have any reference in this category I can only say that it was fascinating and especially the clear differences of; terroir, barrels, acidity level and even the first and second press of the grapes.

After the cellar we headed back to the tasting room and tasted some of the wines. The entry level is Tradition brut (not tasted) and after that follows the Brut Nature Blanc de Blanc. I adore these crisp, sensational fresh and pure offerings and the Brut Nature is just that kind of wine. Even though the wines which followed higher in the Laherte pyramid (2002 Prestige Brut, 2004 Les Vignes d'Autrefois) are more complex wines, I still missed the utterly fresh attack from the Brut Nature. However the other wines clearly have potential to age and evolve more complexity., The 2005 Les Beadiers Extra Brut Rosé de Saignée was incredible interesting with its currant notes, even though it's not a rosé for everyone. But served with the right food it could work magic. The last wine served was also the most interesting - "Les Clos". Les Clos is a debut wine, which is being released as I write these lines. Le Clos is taking it's philosophy from the Solera method and with a rather interesting grape mixture of; 18% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Meunier (so far so good) and 8% arbanne, 15% petit meslier,17% Pinot Blanc and 10% fromenteau (I believe the latter is a cousin of the Pinot gris grape). Apparently over time all of these grapes have been grown in Champagne and in the 250 years of Laherte history. The wine had so many interesting layers, but above all a killer and precise acidity attack - truly something else. I can't wait to see how it will evolve.

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