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Champagne Laherte Frères

Champagne Laherte Frères

“Burgundy Comes to Champagne”: The Continued Rise of Aurélien Laherte

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is hard to understate how far the wines of this producer have come over the years. Aurélien Laherte’s terroir-centric wines are now at a level that bears comparison with many of the best grower wines in Champagne—and let’s not forget that we are talking about a vigneron barely into his forties.

The wines of Laherte Frères bring something unique and delicious to our suite of grower Champagnes. This is our first grower from the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay (slopes to the south of Épernay) where they are certainly the benchmark. They are based in Chavot, where most of their vines are situated, but they also have some parcels in other villages of the Côteaux Sud area as well as some tiny holdings in the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley. This domaine’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 large 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 Burgundian-style diversity has given rise to a series of limited bottlings, sometimes comprised of just a single barrel’s worth of Champagne. 

The focus on terroir expression and meticulous viticulture, along with the unique terroir of the Coteaux d’Épernay, are the keys to understanding these expressive and delicious wines.

The distinctive, geologically complex terroir of Chavot and the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay in general is very different to the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims areas where our other growers are based, and the style of wine is creamier and with more fruit generosity (to generalise). It’s a deliciously textured, yet racy style of Champagne that adds another impressive string to our Champagne bow.

The vineyard practices at Laherte Frères are impressive. Most of the estate is biodynamically farmed except for those vineyards that are too far away to do so (mainly those in the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley). These latter sites are still managed organically, with the soils cultivated and no herbicides or pesticides used. The high standards continue in the cellar. Aurèlien uses the traditional Coquard wooden Champagne presses. He has two of these (very unusual for an estate of this small size), which allows him to press more quickly and to keep small parcels separate. The wines are moved only by gravity. Fermentation occurs with natural yeast, and more than 80 percent of the wine is fermented and matured in large foudres and old barriques (as all Champagne once was pre the 1950s). Interestingly, Aurèlien buys barrels from Benjamin Leroux and the Liger-Belair family (of la Romanée fame).

We took on this grower because we could see the potential taking shape—in his terroirs, his work in the vines and in the wines we tasted from barrel. Since that time, the tireless level of viticulture practiced here has become ever-more intensive and meticulous. In the cellar, the amplified use of reserve wine, longer time on lees and lower dosage have also played a crucial role in raising Laherte’s wines to yet another level. They are very different from anything else in our portfolio and are bound to be enjoyed.

Region

Champagne, France

Wine Maker

Aurélien Laherte

“Aurélien Laherte produces full-bodied yet pure, refined and vibrantly fresh cuvées that need a certain amount of time after disgorgement to reveal their true class and depth. In any case, these are authentic, expressive terroir wines with style, thanks to sustainable viticulture with biodynamic methods.” Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate

What They Are Saying

“…A model of what can be achieved in less well-known terroirs by careful study of the soil, a viticulture of the highest order, and precepts of winemaking that are the best sort of evolved tradition … Burgundy comes to Champagne, and the true identity of the vine is revealed.” Michael Edwards, The Finest Wines of Champagne

“In Thierry Laherte and son Aurélien, the term "Champagne de terroir" makes perfects sense in a range that will delight lovers of authentic and tasty wines. The disgorgement date is mentioned on each bottle. An address in great shape.” La Revue du vins de France

“Aurélien Laherte produces full-bodied yet pure, refined and vibrantly fresh cuvées that need a certain amount of time after disgorgement to reveal their true class and depth. In any case, these are authentic, expressive terroir wines with style, thanks to sustainable viticulture with biodynamic methods.” Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate

Champagne Laherte Frères

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