Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NV Laherte Fréres "Les Clos", Champagne

You might not be so Champagne addicted as me. Even if you are – we can agree that Champagne is a very traditional wine composed of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or even a blend, right? But what about a Champagne with 18% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Meunier (so far so good) 8% arbanne, 15% petit meslier,17% Pinot Blanc and 10% fromenteau? Sounds like science fiction. But it’s not and the thing even have a name – “Les Clos”, produced by Laherte Fréres in Chavot.

I have written about this wine 2 times before, but this is the first time I have the whole bottle to myself….or almost…think my wife sneaked 2-3 glasses of this stuff. First time I tasted this Champagne was @ the estate with young winemaker Aurélien Laherte and I can still recall how incredible high the acidity was, even if it was from vins clairs in 2008 Vintage. I believe the Champagne in hand is a mixture of 2005/2006 Vintage and besides being a debut release, 2005 is also the starting point for this wine as it’s based on the Solera principal.

It’s important for me to highlight that the last time I had Champagne in my blood – the week before, names like, 1985 Krug Collection, 1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil, 1996 / 1982 Cristal, 1982 Billecart Salmon BdB was spinning in the glasses. So when sticking your nose into a thing like this, it’s almost like you have landed on a different planet.

This Champagne is incredible vinous and it’s exceptional fresh, to a point where it’s pure energy running through your veins. Freshness is one thing and a good thing, but the grape mixture is seriously interesting as there are so many fruit aromas colliding. How often does citrus, flowers, black tea, black cherry, limejuice, herbs, baby banana (bio trademark) and the most insane note of mint leafs appear in a single glass of Champagne? Rarely if you ask me. Everything is incredible slim – embalmed in a tight, very precise fruit core with beautiful balance and complexity. The taste has a frightful high pitched acidity and personally, being more a Riesling person, that a brought up in Chardonnay land – I love this and all the young and fresh fruit components are being crystallized on the palate making it a unique long acidity smack taste. Evolving constantly in the glass and putting on in weight. Fantastic Champagne.

Bonus: No Dosage and biodynamic made.

Glass: You have to drink it out of a white wine glass - I used Spiegelau Adina.


Voodoo Child said...

Hi Thomas,
Nice note, but no dosage according to the web its 4g/l not much but still.

I´ll get some.

Anonymous said...

Non-dosagebottles do indeed exist.

Thomas said...

Ebbe – I should have been more specific about the dosage

There are two versions of ”Les Clos”. One with 4g/l of Dosage and one with No dosage. I actually have both in my cellar – but most with No dosage.

I asked Aurélien Laherte about this – why have two different versions?

His answer was something like – “well my mood changes, the days changes, the occasion for drinking Champagnes changes so I have made 2 different versions”.

I think you can guess which one will arrive @ our local Champagne shop ;-).

Voodoo Child said...

Thanx Thomas,
I´m convinced /-)

Anonymous said...

Also, champagne with dosage will age longer. So, if you like your champagne with some time on the cork you'll probably want to stock up on the dosage version. I tasted the newer disgorgement yesterday and liked it very much, but honestly it needed a couple grams more dosage - but to be fair I'm not sure which version or how much dosage it had.

Thomas said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this great Champagne.

I actually have Les Clos both with and without dosage. I have been wanted to taste the two in a small duel, but I have been waiting to share them with my wine club, as only few of them have ever had this fun opportunity.
I have to say, that I don’t buy Champagne from the level of dosage – it just happens, that those I like best, often is without any dosage at all. However – I remember a frightful high dosed 1982 Cristal, which ended up being an out of this word bottle, when it was matched against a dish of scallops.

So the story goes – that dosed Champagnes will age better than Non-dosage, according to Tom Stevenson. I don’t hold any evidence, which proves he is incorrect – but I believe that he doesn’t hold any either to prove the opposite. Today we are seeing new Champagne producers raw material like never before. I wonder if Mr. Stevenson’s conclusions are up to date? What attributes does a dosed Champagne gain vs a Non dose and who says those notes are preferable to every palate? And why is a longer lived Champagne necessarily better – if the faster evolving bottle just reveals it beauties faster? I think some of the old and dusty generalizing conclusions in the world of wine are somewhat ridiculous as they can be very individual interpreted– and thank God for that.

I will update, when I have the chance to taste the two versions of Les Clos against each other.