CHAMPAGNE MARIE COURTIN, DOMINIQUE MOREAU, Côte de Bars – Organic
Champagne Marie Courtin is located in the village of Polisot in the Côte des Bars, in the southern part of the Champagne region. With its slightly warmer temperatures, this area is particularly prized for its Pinot Noir grapes. Combined with the Kimmeridgean limestone sub soils, the champagnes retain a freshness similar to Chablis, which is actually closer to Polisot than Reims! In fact, many of the Grand Marques source their Pinot Noir from the Côte des Bars because of this unique combination of texture and delineation that the sub-zone provides.
Dominique Moreau created the estate in 2005 with a vision to produce a series of single-vineyard, single varietal, single vintage Champagnes from biodynamically-grown grapes that are farmed and elaborated with meticulous care. This philosophy is in stark contrast with the predominant mindset in Champagne which is all about blending grapes, vineyards and vintages (for a consistent product), and with a tendency towards very high yields and full-on chemical treatments.
Dominique named her estate after her grandmother, Marie Courtin, whom she describes as a “woman of the earth”. Most of her wines come from a hillside vineyard of 40-45 year old, massale-selection Pinot Noir in Polisot. The combination of low yields, clay-limestone soils (with bands of Kimmeridgian) and an east/southeast exposure gives the wines both power and cut, with an intense brininess and minerality at their core.
The estate makes several cuvées, the largest of which are called “Résonance” and “Éfflorescence”, the former fermented in stainless steel, the latter in used barriques. The grapes for Efflorescence tend to come from the bottom of the hill, which she says “has greater power and potential”. At harvest, the grapes are all harvested by hand. The wines are fermented with natural yeasts that have been selected from their vineyards and cultivated separately. These native yeasts are used for both the primary and secondary fermentations. Lastly, there is no dosage added upon disgorgement.
The style of all her wines is super-energetic and chiselled, though with an underlying power from both her viticultural practices and the terroirs and varietals that she exploits. These are spectacular wines at the table as they combine multiple vectors of complexity, power and delineation that all play off each other depending on the dishes they are served with.
‘Shining elegance, both singular and captivating, a soft, gentle wave of sensation capable of beauty of such a magnitude that you want to hold your breath all the way to shore, if only to preserve the sensation for a little while longer. Fans of loud, powerful champagnes are advised to look elsewhere.’
For Dominique, Efflorescence refers to “something that evolves in perpetuity”. Starting with the evolution encouraged by the small oxygen exchange in barrel, she feels that this wine in particular will show a very different face at each stage of its development in bottle. She recommends that both wines be served in traditional white wine glasses to allow for their development through increased aeration. Efflorescence is also farmed biodynamically and hand harvested and vinified in used Chablis barriques using natural yeasts (for both fermentations) and aged sur lie for three years and bottled with zero dosage. This bottling is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard at the bottom of the hill, which Dominique believes results in greater power and aging potential.
The Efflorescence has a beautiful depth which exudes tart white cherries and lemon goodness, a racy backbone and seamless melding of tactile chalky minerality, herbs and crisp stone fruit.