Vouette & Sorbee Blanc d'Argile NV
Within the cold, west-facing Biaunes lieu-dit there is a small parcel of Chardonnay (the Côtes des Bar is overwhelmingly planted to Pinot Noir) that Gautherot planted wild, without preparing the soils, amongst the native vegetation. Established in 2000, with massale cuttings from Anselme Selosse and from Dauvissat’s Valmur grand cru vineyard, this portion of the vineyard is now the origin of what Antonio Galloni calls "one of the most beautiful and distinctive wines in Champagne.” The vines here yield only 15-20 hl/ha each year – one of the keys to the quality and intensity on offer. Fermentation is wild and takes place a mix of Burgundian pièce and 400-litre fût, purchased from vigneron friends in Burgundy. As with the Fidèle, this wines spent 15 months in bottle, sur latte, before being disgorged by hand in October 2015. It’s a super mineral, nutty wine with crunchy stone fruits and, surprisingly, some rhubarb notes. It is often quite salty too and there is lovely texture as well and terrific length, and a twist of pleasant astringency. It takes you (the 60 miles) to grand cru Chablis and back again. The R13 magnums have spent a little more time on lees and were disgorged in February this year. 2013 was one of the latest Champagne harvests in 20 years, and Gautherot’s wines from this year lay bare the gripping crystalline intensity and balance on offer from Champagne’s most meticulous growers.