Old family, new blood
The Laherte family has deep roots in the village of Chavot, located at the confluence of the Vallée de la Marne and Côtes des Blancs. This means that Aurélien Laherte is fortunate enough to be working with some very fine and diverse terroirs, old vines planted by his grandfather (including some via provignage, or marcottage), and lesser-known, rarer varieties. He brings to this a dedication to vineyard work (some of the land is in biodynamie, and most of the rest is organic) and a thoughtful approach in the cellar (such as the installation of a second press to shorten the harvest process and ensure fresher juice).
The results are impressive right now, but we think the estate’s best years lie ahead as Aurélien builds up the reserve wines which will give his basic Champagnes weight and complexity, and as the vineyards respond to the gentler, more sustainable farming methods.
Most of the production (only 7,500 cases a year) is in two cuvées: the Meunier-dominated non-vintage Brut Tradition and the Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay, of course). Both are fine examples of a drier, racier style of Champagne, and will benefit from some bottle aging, as will the 2004 vintage bottling. In contrast, the current ‘Les Empreintes’ is gloriously fruity and minerally, reflecting the ‘imprint’ of the 2008 vintage which it is based on. On the more exotic side, we enjoyed the stunning ‘Les Clos’, a melange of 7 varieties from the 2005-2007 harvests, and the delightful ‘Les Vignes d’Autrefois’, a chalky, red-fruited Pinot Meunier from very old vines. The 2007 vintage is still young and needs a short decant.