2011 Vouette et Sorbee Extrait Champagne
Bertrand Gautherot has been quietly working away in the hamlet of Buxières-sur-Arce, in the Aube’s Côte des Bar region of Champagne, yet his wines have not escaped the attention of the top restaurants and retailers of the world. Each year Vouette & Sorbee allocations are eagerly awaited, and these exceptionally fine wines are consistently some of the best and most unique expressions from the area.
The vineyards here lie closer to Chablis than to Épernay, both in distance and geology, with soils dominated by the same Kimmeridgian limestone for which Chablis is famed. Gautherot’s wines take their deep and powerful personalities from these soils and the (relatively) sunnier climate of the southern Aube. His wines all come from a single harvest—noted by the “R” number on the back label—with the exception of the Fidèle cuvée, which sees a small addition of 5-10% reserve wine from a perpetual blend started in 2001. His winemaking abhors any kind of manipulation in the cellar. Gautherot uses the traditional Coquard press and the juice is transferred into oak or amphorae via gravity rather than being pumped. Primary fermentations are always carried out with natural yeasts and riddling and disgorgement are all done entirely by hand. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration and without dosage. The results are some of Champagne’s most original and delicious wines: wines of distinctive personality, energy and sense of place.
Extrait takes its name from the French for extract, which is exactly what it is—a barrel’s worth of wine extracted from a single vintage. In fact, this is a blend drawn from the Domaine’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay barrels with the composition following the percentage of each variety harvested that year. So, while it generally comes in around 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, the final blend depends on the harvest. Furthermore, the terroirs that supply this cuvée are not set in stone; Gautherot simply selects his favourite parcels by taste, although the Chardonnay almost always comes from Biaunes and the Pinot Noir often comes from the Portlandian Sorbée vineyard. The wine spends between eight and nine years on lees before being disgorged by hand.