On the Trail at Louis Brochet

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Today in Champagne, everyone was a little bit surprised by how much it snowed. Spring was supposed to be coming, but winter was not ready to quit. We headed over the mountain of Reims and west to the petite montagne to visit Louis Brochet in the beautiful little village of Ecueil.

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The snow and the cold can’t stop the work that needs to be done in Champagne, and while we were visiting the different plots that the Brochet family owns in the village, we met up with Louis’ vineyard cru, talking for about ten minutes to give them a break from tying the vines to the wires after pruning. Even though I had a thick wool scarf, a heavy coat, a sweater and wool socks I was shivering—they were going to stay outside all day doing this work! The Champenois are tough!

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Louis Brochet has a few old plots of a special massal selection of Pinot Noir called Pinot d’Ecuiel after the village. He uses these as the anchor for his vintage wine, and to make his exceptional Extra Noir, which is an all Pinot blanc de noirs. He is in the process of propagating this old massal for new plantations, and I am eager to follow the progress. From what we tasted, this selection is capable of making wine that is at once full of dark cherry fruit and complexity, but also refreshing and mineral.

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We tasted in his gorgeous atrium like tasting room, just as the sun came out and shined on the snow. I was happy to be back in a heated room, and doubly happy to be able to see the snow from a safe distance. We started by tasting the Louis Brochet 1er Cru Brut Champagne, which I feel is a steal at just $29.99. We bought this with a dollar that was 20% stronger than the current exchange rate, and it is probably the last time we will be able to offer it under $30. The current batch is based on 2014, with 50% reserves going back to 2011. It is an all estate blend of 80% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 5% Meunier. It is a great aperitif, as it is clean, refreshing and bright, despite the huge amount of Pinot Noir. It has baguette like aromas from three years of ageing on the lees as well as subtle cherry fruit and is backed up by quite a long chalky finish.

I am happy to say that we secured the last of the 2012 vintage that he had for sale, which should be coming in another few months. This powerhouse is named after Alain, Louis father, as it was his last harvest before retiring. It is composed of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay from older, mid-slope vines on the estate. I loved the leesy, nut bread nose of this wine, and was again impressed with how much Pinot Noir presence and importance the wine had without losing its ability to refresh or its virile minerality. Don’t miss this when it come in.

We also secured 30 bottles each of the Extra Noir and Extra Blanc, his special old vine cuvee’s from his massal plots. These will also arrive in three months or so. These are monumental food Champagnes with exquisite concentration… More on these later!

 A toast to you!

-Gary Westby

Gary Westby