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Vouette et Sorbée Blanc d’Argile Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature
Within the cold, west-facing, Kimmeridgian limestone-rich lieu-dit of Biaunes, there is a small plot of Chardonnay that Gautherot planted wild (without preparing the soils) amongst the native vegetation. The Côte des Bar is overwhelmingly planted to Pinot Noir, but nevertheless he did this in 2000, with massale cuttings from Anselme Selosse’s vines (in Avize) and Vincent Dauvissat’s Valmur Grand Cru vineyard. This plot has become the base of what Antonio Galloni calls “one of the most beautiful and distinctive wines in Champagne.” The vines here yield only 15-20 hl/ha each year—one of the keys to the quality and intensity on offer. The 2017 also takes in some Chardonnay from Fonnet (from 2020, upcoming vintages will also take in Chardonnay from the Vouette vineyard, which was previously planted to Pinot Noir and had supplied fruit for Fidèle).
Fermentation for this wine was wild and took place in four- to 10-year-old, 500- and 600-litre barrels, with a small a portion of fruit fermented and raised in Georgian amphora (see Textures). As with the Fidèle, this wine spent roughly 15-18 months in bottle on lees, before being disgorged by hand with zero dosage.
Gautherot was delighted with the 2015 vintage, noting that the Chardonnay from this cool terroir was just perfect: ripe, fresh and pulpy. That assessment plays out in a striking wine of superb intensity and drive, a tightly wound personality that tapers to a long salty finish. Blanc d’Argile has been described as Grand Cru Chablis with bubbles—a comparison that, on this evidence, flatters many a Chablis producer.
“For all its richness, the characteristic Kimmeridgian minerality of the site is amplified as well, feeling forceful and energetic under the velvety fruit, and in its briny, oyster-like salinity, it serves as a poignant reminder that Chablis is just 70 kilometers to the southwest. This is excellent, already so expressive yet potentially even more so with another year or two in the cellar.” Peter Liem, ChampagneGuide.net
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