Friday, April 18, 2008

Wine of the Week: Moutard Père & Fils Brut Cuvée des 6 Cépages 2002

Ask most people how many grape varieties grow in Champagne and the knee-jerk response is likely to be three: pinot noir, chardonnay and meunier. There are, however, several more to be found, even if only in miniscule quantities.

One of the houses still growing some of the old, obscure varieties is Moutard-Diligent, located in the village of Buxeuil in the Aube. (Moutard Père & Fils is the main label under which they sell their champagne.) While they do make perfectly traditional champagnes, they’ve gained particular notoriety for two unusual wines: a champagne made entirely from old vines of arbanne, a white grape that produces rich, honeyed flavors (unusually, Moutard spells it “arbane”); and the Cuvée des 6 Cépages, which blends arbanne, petit meslier and pinot blanc with the three more familiar grapes of Champagne.

The Cuvée des 6 Cépages is vintage-dated, and the current release is the 2002. Aged on its lees for four years, it’s full in body but not weighty, supported by a fine streak of acidity. It’s unusually pungent in fragrance on both the nose and the palate, and while its texture and body make it feel obviously champenois, the array of flavors is anything but classic, ranging from exotic citrus and beeswax to apple jelly and quince marmalade. It’s delicious and quirky, offering a completely different perspective on the idea of champagne. Moutard Père & Fils is imported into the United States by Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY, and the suggested retail price for the Cuvée des 6 Cépages is $56.


Brooklynguy said...

hi Peter - off on another trip, making all of us jealous is not fair play on a friday morning. anyway, i had the chance to taste the 2003 VV Arbane at the Polaner tasting the other day, and I was quite impressed. A very creamy wine, but still with good acidity. Is this a popular wine in France, or what is the market for this wine? Happy travels-

Peter Liem said...

Well, you see you're already ahead of me, as you've got the 2003! This wine is a rarity even in Champagne, although Moutard is always one of the first names that comes up when thinking about "other" varieties. I think that this wine, and others incorporating these varieties (such as Aubry), are terrifically interesting to taste -- they'll never be in the mainstream, but they do make you think.

David McDuff said...

Hello Peter,
I see you've already beat me to the punch with your last comment but I immediately thought of Aubry when reading about the Moutard. I can't claim to have much experience with these wines though I did recently taste Aubry's “La Nombre d’Or Sablé” Blanc de Blancs 2003. Any comments you can make as to how it compares to the Moutard would be much appreciated.

Peter Liem said...

Hello David,

If I were to compare Aubry and Moutard, I'd say that Moutard's wines are a little more "mainstream" (if anything with arbanne and petit meslier in it could be considered mainstream) in profile -- a little closer to a classical champagne as defined by the current hegemony, to be extremely vague and general. Aubry's wines are more individual, more quirky, have more of an unusual personality. When you taste an Aubry wine you know it couldn't have been made by anyone else. You might like it or not (I love Aubry's wines), but that's not the point. Even when the Aubrys make champagne from "normal" grapes, they always bear a strong stamp of personality, one that definitely deviates from that of the average champagne.

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