There has, however, been a resurgence in the grower Champagne market that has come from a desire to honour the smaller, family-owned plots and their efforts to produce their own vineyard to winery versions of bubbly grown in much smaller quantities.
Enter the wines of Dominique Moreau from the Aube – what used to be referred to irreverently as the backwater of Champagne – located far to the south from the epicentre of Reims, and where most would grow grapes and sell them to the big name companies operating in the north.
This wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes farmed biodynamically at Dominique Moreau’s tiny 2.5 ha Aubois vineyard located on the slopes of the Cote des Bar near the tiny village of Polisot. This is far, far to the southeast of Epernay and actually closer to Chablis than Reims.
There is a not-so-small hint located on the label itself that indicates the importance she places upon biodynamism – ‘élaboré par Dominique Moreau’ – not made by, but enhanced, guided, elaborated upon.
The earth here is pure Kimmeridgian and limestone-laced which affects the grapes’ minerality and freshness. The vines were planted 50 years ago by her father-in-law and the name Marie Courtin is her grandmother’s. And late budding Pinot Noir is well-suited to the region because of the danger of spring frosts.
Moreau started in 2001 and produces only about 15,000 bottles (about 1,250 cases) of wine per year; the Résonance being her ‘basic’ cuvée. Basic, my foot. This is outstanding stuff. Antonio Galloni tasted the 2008 vintage, recognized its excellence and assigned it a 94 in the Wine Advocate.
The Résonance is a single-vineyard, single varietal, single vintage Champagne that has been vinified with indigenous yeasts, no dosage and as little intervention as possible. In fact, it’s hard to go more against the conventional Champagne mindset – which is to farm grapes at extremely high yields and then blend dozens and dozens of parcels of wine to recreate big marque house styles year in and out.
There is no such anonymity with the Résonance which is a shade of medium lemon with multiple chains of finely beaded, long-lasting mousse. The aromas are intense and deep, showing brioche, yellow apple and honeycomb with ripe peach and crushed rock. There’s a tiny bit of dried herb as well.
On the palate, the wine is deliciously dry (extra brut) with refreshing, high acidity and elegantly low alcohol, yet the body is pure Pinot Noir – deep and full. Buoyed by medium intense flavours of yellow apple, more honey, fresh, crusty bread and danish, marked by quince, pear and crushed thyme, the wine’s finish is prolonged and lingers.
WSET Outstanding – balanced Champagne with deeply vibrant flavours and aromas. If you find any in your local specialty wine store, purchase and enjoy. The window on this wine is long; enjoy now or lay down for years to come.