Damien and Angelique Coutelas are eighth generation growers with seventeen and one half acres spread from Villers-Sous-Chantillon to Trepail in Champagne. While their heritage goes back to 1809 and the family has been making Champagne since the 1920’s, they are not traditionalists at all and each year I see them pushing the boundaries in the cellar further. This year they purchased some amphora, clay vessels used in antiquity to ferment and age wine. Amphora have been steadily making their way back into the most progressive cellars in the region. They are believers in old wood, and have a fine collection of barriques, foudres and demi-muids in their cellars in Dizy and Villers-Sous-Chantillon.
I think the most exciting work they are doing is with fractional blending. They have a 7500 liter Foudre that they first filled in 2007, and every year they pull 2500 bottles (one quarter) for a bottling that they call the Louis Victor. I have been following these blends as vin-clair for many years now, and I have to say that the Krug like richness that they are achieving from this novel method is astounding. This is a Champagne that anyone with enough interest to be reading this should follow… Especially given the very fair price that the Coutelas offer this wine for!
The wine from this foudre is called the Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne ($34.99) and I had a bottle of it on Halloween with Cinnamon’s gougers. This bottling is a blend of 2007 through 2011 vintages with three years of ageing on the lees. It is a brassy gold color and has a generous nose of fresh forest aromas and brioche toast. In the mouth it has a round, rich, seamless texture and an amazing array of flavors… It is easily one of the most complex Champagnes that we have on the shelf. The truly amazing thing to me is the focus of the wine. It stays completely refreshing, vibrant and mineral on the long finish, which makes the 750ml format seem to small! With only 2500 bottles being produced a year, this is a very limited item. We only received ten cases on the past shipment, but I am angling to get more for the next one!
Their 2006 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne $34.99 is a blend of even parts Meunier and Pinot Noir from 70 year old vines. This is mostly stainless steel fermented Champagne and shows the power and ripeness of the vintage. It is a very full-bodied wine, with super power in the middle, yet refreshing on the finish- a characteristic that runs through their range of Champagnes. We only received five cases of this, and it is dosed at just six grams per liter.
If you like dark, nearly red, full powered roses, you have to try the Amaury Coutelas "Elixr" Brut Rosé Champagne ($34.99). This is composed of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay but assembled in a completely unique way. Half of the Pinot Noir, sourced from very old vines is macerated into red wine, giving this Champagne strong vinous power and a tremendous amount of savory black cherry fruit. This is a great choice for game birds or turkey. A real powerhouse!
We have already sold 1/3 of their top of the line wine, the Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) from the waiting lists that the last batch generated. This stunning all barrel fermented blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir is all 2008 and has the length and finesse to compete with the finest Champagne in the store. Angelique Coutelas ties the top of every one of the 3000 bottles they produce of this with twine- a rewind to the methods of 200 years ago in Champagne. She is one of only three of four people left in the region that knows the technique and has one of the ancient machines for this process! The Champagne is subtle, compelling and loaded with the long mineral driven drive that the great 2008 harvest is famous for.
The Coutelas’ are making great Champagne, and from the vin clair that I have tasted with them it is only getting better. This is a producer that you will want to know if you like richness and complexity in your Champagne.
A toast to you!