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Aurélien Laherte

Burgundy Comes to Champagne
Aurélien Laherte

Antonio Galloni’s commentary may not be breaking news for those following this grower. Yet his words neatly underline how Aurélien Laherte is working at a level that bears comparison with many of the best growers in Champagne. Laherte’s 10 hectares of vines are fragmented into no less than 75 parcels spread across 10 different villages. In Laherte’s home village of Chavot itself—not a prominent place by any means—Aurélien has identified no less than 27 distinct terroirs. Many of these parcels are planted to old vines from sélection massale cuttings. Such Burgundy-style diversity has given rise to a series of exceptional and distinctive cuvée parcellaire wines that sometimes comprise just a single barrel of Champagne.

Aurélien has a fine reputation for his work with Meunier, so starting with his tour de force makes sense. Les Vignes d’Autrefois means ‘vines of another time’, so this is Laherte’s tribute to his region’s 1940-era Meunier vines planted around Chavot. It is made from a single four-tonne press of grapes grown on old vines in chalky terroirs: La Potote, Les Rouges Maisons, Les Hautes Norgeailles and Les Bas Putroux. One of Champagne’s great Meunier bottlings, it reflects the best qualities of its variety and place: penetrating, spicy, fleshy red fruit, chalky tension and long, mineral resonance.

Les Grandes Crayères showcases Laherte’s two most chalky-mineral soils in Coteaux Sud d’Épernay. Crayères means chalk, and Aurélien’s 40-plus-year-old mass-selection vines are situated on a west-facing hillside composed of Campanian chalk under just 20 centimetres of topsoil. Vibrating with chalky sensations, it is perhaps Aurélien’s most taut and intensely mineral wine. The soaring Les Longues Voyes is this wine’s counterpoint, a 100% Pinot Noir drawn from a single hectare of biodynamic vines in Chamery in the Montagne de Reims. The name, The Long Way, refers to the 25 kilometres Laherte must travel to work these vines. It’s a profound, rocky Blanc de Noirs, all layered red fruit and delicate spice sculpted by the mouth-watering austerity typical of Pinot Noir grown on limestone in Champagne.

Laherte refers to Les Empreintes as the “quintessence of the Chavot terroir.” It is always a selection of Aurélien’s five best barrels from his two finest Chavot plots: old-vine Chardonnay from Les Chemins d’Épernay. The wines are vinified separately and raised in old Burgundy barrels, giving a Champagne of alluringly vinous substance vibrantly anchored by crystalline freshness and the striking quinine-like minerality of its rocky soils.

Finally, one of Champagne’s most unique (and delicious!) rosé wines, Laherte’s Les Beaudiers is crafted from vines that date back to the 1950s. In Chavot, this powerful limestone terroir can ripen Meunier to full maturity—so much so that Aurélien’s father used to make red wine from this area. Aurélien seeks a vinous and textured rosé de saignée from this potent terroir, but also one with delicacy and lift. Soaked on its skins for half a day to gain colour and structure, it is deeply textured and mouth-filling and marked by smoke and liquorice, yet equally a wine with a great deal of finesse for this style.

View all wines in this blog post. 

The Wines

“What I admire most about these Champagnes is their purity and singularity of expression. Varietal and site character are always front and center. Organic/biodynamic farming and a minimalist approach in the cellar inform these wonderfully distinctive Champagnes. It’s next to impossible to choose favorites in this range.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous

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