Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Thursday, December 18, 2008

R. H. Coutier

R.H. Coutier Champagne seems to be getting lots of buzz; from the internet chatboards (someone called it, "baby Krug", although I'm sure that there are lots of wines from Ambonnay that are called "baby Krug" and none are actually like Krug at all), a customer called me out of the blue and asked for it (having had two customers of hers bring the wine to her at her restaurant) and, not to be taken lightly, Allen Meadows of Burghound seems to love this little raccoltant - manipulant (RM) house, too.

"Champagne R. H. Coutier is located in the grand cru village of Ambonnay, one of the top wine-producing towns on the Montagne de Reims. The Coutier family has been in the village of Ambonnay since 1619, with the current head of the family estate René Coutier. The Coutiers own nine hectares of vineyards in Ambonnay, and interestingly, although Ambonnay is generally regarded as pinot noir country, the Coutiers’ vineyards are planted with one-third chardonnay and two-thirds pinot noir. In fact, in 1946 René Coutier’s father was the first vigneron in Ambonnay to plant chardonnay in the village, which has done well over the ensuing decades and now is as highly regarded as the pinot noir from this grand cru village. The vineyards on the Montagne de Reims shift exposure as one arrives in the village of Ambonnay, facing due south and producing a rather warmer microclimate for the grapes. There is also a bit more clay and a bit less limestone in the soils of Ambonnay than is typical throughout the region, which tends to produce more sumptuous styles in the wines, such as Coutier’s, that rely solely on Ambonnay fruit.

This is not a large domaine by any stretch of the imagination, only producing 25,000 bottles in any given year. The Coutier house style is accentuated by René’s vinification and cellar techniques that seek to marry the traditional richness of Ambonnay fruit with the racy and pure style that Monsieur Coutier cherishes. In this regard, only half of the Coutier wines go through malolactic fermentation, as René feels that this perfectly balances opulence with raciness in the finished wines. Barrel fermentation and/or aging is not used for any of the wines with the exception of the Cuvée Henri III. As Monsieur Coutier still sells off fully eighty percent of his production to other houses, his own bottlings are a bit more dominated by chardonnay in the blends than one might normally expect from a house based in Ambonnay.

The non-vintage brut, called Brut Tradition, is comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, and is an excellent and racy bottle. The Champagne house of R. H. Coutier is one of the finest in Ambonnay, and is a wonderful introduction to the magic of grand cru bubbly in the heart of the Montagne de Reims." - Beaune Imports

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...