Visiting Coutelas

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Yesterday, Champagne buyer Gary Westby and I donned as many layers as possible and headed into the 18 degree windchill (happy first day of spring!) to visit our good friends and very talented producers, Angelique and Damien Coutelas of Champagne AD Coutelas in Dizy. The champagnes of AD Coutelas have been a staple at K&L for several years now, and after tasting them again yesterday, it was clear that their quality has only improved. We sat down for a tasting of the entire lineup. 

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The Cuvée Eloge Blanc de Blancs comes from premier cru vines planted by Damien’s father over thirty years ago on the eastern face of the Montagne de Reims, vines that are now highly sought after by the big negociants. It is apparent why. The champagne has a rich, pure fruit profile of lemon citrus and granny smith apples with a decadent creamy richness and a pronounced underlying mineral texture. The brisk acidity keeps the overall feel of the wine refreshing and crisp. Dosed at a modest 8 g/L, this is the perfect go-to seafood Champagne. 

The Cuvée Louis Victor is a fascinating and delicious cuvée, and Damien’s personal pride. It is made using a solera system: in 2007, a large barrel was filled with the best wines of the vintage, and each year since then, a quarter of it is emptied and bottled to be aged on the lees for three years, then refilled with the latest vintage. The result is unique and exquisite: a fully integrated blend of red and citrus fruit flavors, subtle sherry-nutty richness, and a pure, balanced, very long finish. This just keeps getting better every year.

The Cuvée 1809 is Coutelas’ prestige cuvée. Made from 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, it spends seven months in barrel, then five years on the lees before being dosed at the relatively low 4 g/L. The magic behind 1809 lies in the balance between rich, creamy texture, delicate toast notes and surprising lift and freshness (the wine sees no malolactic fermentation) that lends incredible length on the back palate. Wow!  The traditional twine cage is tied by hand by Angelique, a tireless job that takes an hour per fifty bottles. At 4,000 bottles tied every year, she is definitely earning her keep!

-Alex Schroeder

Alex Schroeder