Laherte Freres Brut Rose Ultradition NV
Aurélien Laherte is part of a dynamic generation of young vignerons making waves in Champagne and producing a fine array of terroir-driven wines using a natural approach to viticulture and winemaking. Along with his high school friend Raphael Bereche – another star in the region - Aurélien founded the “Terres et Vins” collective of producers back in 2009. This group taps some of Champagne’s more progressive and like-minded producers, including Agrapart, Marie-Courtin, Vincent Laval, Benoit Lahaye, among others. Each spring, the group holds a tasting in Champagne to showcase both the vins clairs of the previous harvest as well as their actual bubbly versions.
The notion of holding a tasting of vins clairs would have been unheard of 10 or 15 years ago, as these raw, screechy-acid wines can often be a teeth-chattering experience. But the progress in viticulture and winemaking has resulted in a new school of "vinous Champagnes” as well as a sea change in how the beverage itself is perceived. Alas, Champagne is, first and foremost, a wine!
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 Founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte, the estate was originally made up of vines primarily in the village of Chavot.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 practicioners, 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.
Aurélien's vineyards are situated largely in the Côteaux Sud D'Epernay, a sub-region sandwiched between the Cotes des Blancs and the Vallee de la Marne. The vineyards total 10.5 hectares, most of which are farmed biodynamically and certified organic. This non-vintage Ultradition Rose de Meunier is an innovative blend of 60% macerated, 30% pressed, and 10% still red Meunier, and it is downright gulpable. Primary fermentation takes place in foudres and the wine goes through partial malolactic fermentation. Dosage is 2.5 gr/l.