Laherte Freres, Champagne, Les Empreintes, Extra Brut 2017

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Disgorgment Date: October 2022; dosage: 2-4 gr./l.

The Laherte family has a long history in the region. Founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte, the estate was originally made up of vines primarily in the village of Chavot. Fourth generation vigneron Michel Laherte expanded the family estate which then covered about five hectares. With his wife Cécile, the two young vignerons modernized the press and tanks, but soon realized that too much modernity such as the use of herbicides and pesticides would prevent full terroir expression in the wines. They began working the soils, gently vinifying the juices, and remaining humble and patient as the wines developed. This philosophy is the foundation of the estate and has endured through the generations.

Today, under the direction of Aurélien Laherte who took over in 2005, the estate has become one of the most progressive and dynamic rising stars in the appellation. Like many of Champagne's top practitioners, the estate has begun to produce a series of tiny production, single-vineyard, single vintage cuvees (around 3,000 bottles each) from some of their most unique and expressive biodynamically-farmed parcels. These wines are all vinified in used Burgundy barrels, without malolactic fermentation, and are bottled without fining and filtration. They are then finished with little or no dosage so as to not mask the individuality of the underlying terroirs.

The Laherte vineyards are situated largely in the Côteaux Sud D'Epernay, an interesting sub-region sandwiched between the Cotes des Blancs and the Vallee de la Marne, with pockets of soils that greatly resemble these two fine and geologically diverse regions. The vineyards themselves total 10.5 hectares (over 75 separate parcels), seven of which are farmed biodynamically and certified organic, with the rest farmed either 'uncertified organic' or at least sustainably. Because the family property has been parcelled out among aunts, uncles and cousins throughout the 20th and now the 21st century, Aurélien and his parents decided to register as a negotiant so Aurélien could incorporate all family fruit into his blends. This was the best way to contend with complicated French inheritance laws and keep the estate whole. 

As you can see, the Quality-to-Price Ratio of this bottle of bubbles is pretty outstanding. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BUY FOR ANY OCCASION

Les Empreintes

Blend of 50% Chardonnay (1/3 Chardonnay Muscaté) from Chavot parcel of Les Chemins d’Epernay planted in 1957, and 50% Pinot Noir from Chavot parcel of Les Rouge Maisons planted in 1983.  Primary fermentation in neutral barrels from Burgundy, aged 6 months with regular lees stirring, no malo, minimum of 3 years aging in bottle, dosage of 2-4 gr/l. Les Empreintes is the quintessential expression of Chavot terroir with its flinty clay topsoils and chalky subsoils.

93 points Antonio Galloni (Vinous)

The 2016 Extra Brut Les Empreintes is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a portion of which is Chardonnay Muscatel. Lemon drops, mint, white pepper and exotic floral notes all grace this intensely aromatic, beguiling Champagne. The 2016 possesses captivating inner sweetness and impeccable balance, not to mention a truly distinctive personality. Quite simply, it is really unlike anything I have ever tasted. Dosage is 4 grams per liter. Disgorged: November, 2021. Drink: 2022-2030. (May 2022)

93 points James Suckling

Nectarines, dried apricots, tobacco, lemon peel and orange tart on the nose. Fruity and vibrant with bright acidity and silky bubbles. Zesty and flavorful finish. 50% pinot noir and 50% chardonnay. Dosage 1 to 4g/L. Disgorged in November 2021. Drink now. (8/8/22)

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