Champagne's Southern Edge—A Visit with Lamoureux
This year, I started my trip to Champagne at the region’s southern edge—the village of Les Riceys in the Aube department. It is only three miles from here to Burgundy, and the soil is the same kimmeridgian clay that is found in Chablis. My very first stop was to see Vivien Lamoureux. Here I was greeted by Vivien, along with his dog Noughat, at the entrance of his 18th century cellar. We tasted the entire range from his twelve-hectare estate and caught up with one another.
Like many producers in the Champagne, Vivien was relieved by the good quantity and perfect health of the 2018 harvest. After enduring frost for two years in a row, it is good to have wine in the cellar again. He does not think he will make a vintage bottling however, saying that it is better to focus on rosé and reserve in this lower acid year.
Three wines really stood out in our tasting. The excellent Trilogie, a blend of a third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier and fermented in big foudre. This Champagne is all from the great 2012 harvest, although it is not labeled as such. It is a savory, full-blown Champagne that folks who love Bollinger and Krug should take note of. I loved the rich, brioche nose and the morel cream complexity on the palate. His rosé, made entirely of Pinot Noir and macerated with all the skins and juice, also stood out. This dark rosé had lots of black cherry Pinot Noir power and pastry dough toastiness on its generous nose. The proximity of his vines to Burgundy shows through with this wine; it is a powerhouse, but at the same time his winemaking skill keeps the mousse fine and the wine from being heavy. On our next shipment, we will get a very small allocation of his unique and outstanding Pinot Blanc. I expect it will cost around $50. This is sourced from one tiny ¼ hectare plot that he has only made wine from twice; this batch based on 2015, and the 2018 which we won’t see for a long time. This has big, exotic mango-like fruit, as well as baguette toast on its expressive nose. It has some very nice spice on the palate, which could be attributable to the half that is barrel fermented in 300 liter casks. The wine does not taste of vanilla, but is rather quite mineral on the back end. It is voluminous and rich in the mouth, but still keeps a tight bead of small streamers.
It was a great visit—thank you Vivien!