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Champagne Lahaye, Blanc de Noirs, Brut
Scores and Reviews
Benoit and Valérie Lahaye registered their property as fully biodynamic in 2003, quite a big decision in such a marginal climate. Their vines are located over 4.5 hectares in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy in Champagne, nearby Tauxières, and further south in Vertus.
The seriousness of their intent is demonstrated in their champagnes; real vins de terroir of astonishing complexity and depth, their power enhanced by part vinification in oak, their provenance underlined by a regime which combines low dosage and no malolactic fermentation. Despite this, the wines are rich and perfectly balanced, their good levels of acidity harmoniously matched by impressive extract and maturity of fruit.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Blanc de Noirs describes a wine produced entirely from black grapes. In Champagne, Blanc de Noirs cuvée can be made from the two black grapes permitted within the appellation, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Bollinger's prestige cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises, from ungrafted, old Pinot Noir vines, has set the yardstick in a style that is now produced by a number of other Champagne houses.A typical Blanc de Noirs cuvée has a deep golden colour, and can be more intensely flavoured than the classic non-vintage, multi-grape blend.
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