2019 Champagne Laherte Frères Les Longues Voyes Blanc de Noirs (Disg. Nov 2022)

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Technical Attributes
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Tasting Notes

Disgorged November 2022. Les Longues Voyes translates as ‘the long way’, referring not only to the 25 kilometres that you need to travel from the Laherte estate to arrive at the vineyard but also to the wine’s extended aging: 18 months in barrel and a further 18-20 months in bottle. The fruit is sourced from a single hectare of biodynamic vines in Chamery, Montagne de Reims, owned by a good friend of Aurélien Laherte’s. The 35-year-old vines are rooted in clay and silt over a limestone base. The wine was made from a single four-tonne press of grapes, which fermented naturally and matured in old Clos des Epeneaux and Leroux barrels. There was no malolactic conversion, and the dosage was 4 g/L. So, the estate now has two vintage Blanc de Noirs released at the same time: Les Vignes d’Autrefois from Meunier and Les Longues Voyes from Pinot Noir. The first comes from a chalky subsoil and the second from limestone, and it is fascinating to compare the different structures that result. Fans of Pinot Noir on limestone should move to the front of the queue.

Winemakers Note

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.

Delivery Details

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