Friday, September 5, 2008

Wine of the Week: Vouette et Sorbée Extra Brut Blanc d’Argile 2005

Last weekend I had the privilege of dining with brooklynguy and brooklynlady in their beautiful brooklynhome. Brooklynguy, if you haven’t noticed from reading his blog, is a fantastic cook, and it was wonderful to spend some time with them out on their patio on a cool summer evening.

We drank many lovely bottles that night, among them the 2005 Blanc d’Argile by Bertrand Gautherot, of Vouette et Sorbée. One of Champagne’s hottest cult producers at the moment, Vouette et Sorbée is named for two vineyards on the property (Vouette and Sorbée, appropriately). Gautherot farms the entire estate biodynamically, ferments with natural yeasts and vinifies all of his wines in barrel, creating wines of intense purity and expression. He makes three different wines: Fidèle, which is the main cuvée, made from pinot noir grown on Kimmeridgian soils; Saignée de Sorbée, which is a saignée of pinot noir from the Portlandian soils of the Sorbée vineyard; and this chardonnay called Blanc d’Argile, which actually doesn’t come from either Vouette or Sorbée but another vineyard called Bas des Biaunes, which also lies on Kimmeridgian clay.

The wines are not vintage-dated, as they don’t spend enough time on their lees to qualify, but there’s a code on the label that reads R05, indicating the year of harvest. The Blanc d’Argile is a rich, powerfully vinous wine, needing decanting to open up its flavors and bring the components into balance. It’s full and ample in body yet it also feels energetic and tense, as if coiled and ready to pounce at any moment. There are some notes of fresh caramel and torrefaction on the nose that give way to more primary aromas of stone fruit and fresh apple as this opens up, and the virile richness is firmly underlined by an intense minerality that’s very unlike the Côte des Blancs — Gautherot lives in Buxières-sur-Arce in the Aube, and the Kimmeridgian soils here bear more of a resemblance to Chablis than to the Marne. I would love to see this wine with more bottle age, but unfortunately this was my last bottle: I’ll have to remember to put away more bottles of the next vintage.

Vouette et Sorbée is not currently available in the United States, but there are a few importers who will be working with his wines starting with the next release, including Domaine Select Wine Estates, New York, NY and Triage Wines, Seattle, WA.


Brooklynguy said...

That was utterly gorgeous wine, and thanks again for bringing it. safe travels-

Ian Black said...

Have you by any chance sampled the Saignée de Sorbée? Looking at their website, it seems that the saignée part is done under carbonic maceration, and I'm wondering what sort of flavour it carries. Especially as I have the opportunity to acquire a couple of bottles in 2 weeks time. Any insights welcome!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter . . . how is the Saignee de Sorbee?

Peter Liem said...

The 2005 Saignée de Sorbée is still a little bit closed, although it's delicious anyway. The 2004 is drinking really well. Saignée de Sorbée is one of the weirdest champagnes there is, but it's a terrific wine. Extremely vinous, with a ton of concentrated red fruit flavor. I actually wrote about it in this post.

Thomas said...

Hi Peter,

Off course there is a TN of this Champagne here – where else.

I have only tasted the Champagnes from Vouette et Sorbee once; Fidéle and the Rosé. They are slow starters as you say – maybe a bit rustic on the palate. I can easily see, as you point out that they will benefit from cellaring.

Anyway – I will taste the Blanc d’Argile 2004 tonight.

Have a happy X-mas and a happy New Year. I hope very much that I will have time to come to Champagne in 2009 with my wine club.

Best from,


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