This month as part of our Grower Champagne Month celebrations, we were lucky enough to taste the full range of Marie Courtin Champagnes. This small Champagne producer is owned and run by Dominique Moreau, granddaughter of Marie Courtin who tended the vines herself when the men in the family were fighting in World War I, while many other families abandoned their vines altogether.
Dominique farms a tiny 2.5ha in the village of Polisot in the Cotes des Bar region of Champagne. After many years of being somewhat overlooked, these southerly terroirs (Polisot is closer to Chablis than to Reims, for example) are home to some of the most exciting Champagne growers of all. The Marie Courtin vineyards are planted almost entirely to Pinot Noir, with a miniscule 0.5ha of Chardonnay. The vines are farmed according to fully organic and biodynamic principles, an approach which – although on the rise – is still very rare in the region. The philosophy here has always been ‘one grape variety, one vineyard, one vintage’, in stark contrast to the emphasis placed on blending by the vast majority of producers in the region. The yields are kept very low in order to ensure perfectly ripe fruit and Dominque adds no sugar at bottling – all the Champagnes are Extra Brut.
These wines have a pure and uniquely vibrant character which has to be tasted to be truly understood and bear little relation to the mass-produced, heavily worked Champagnes one often encounters.
From a vineyard with younger vines, this Pinot Noir is full of sweet spice character and bruised apples. The tension between generous texture, laser-like acidity, and stoney minerality creates an extremely moreish yet cerebral Champagne.
100% Chardonnay from Dominique’s tiny parcel. This shows more delicate structure than the Pinot-based wines, and some slightly more exotic notes of ginger. Driven by ripe green apples and citrus fruit, there is a refreshing, chalky texture here.
Efflorescence is in many ways the flagship cuvee here. This is made from Pinot Noir vines that are around 40 years of age. Smoky and intensely flavoured, Efflorescence shows an intense red fruit character that is reinforced by the fuller body of the wine. The breadth of flavours and aromas here is impressive.
Concordance is made from a special selection of grapes from the same vineyard as Efflorescence, and uses no additions of Sulphur at any point in the winemaking process. There is a real ethereal quality here, which is somehow more intense aromatically than the Efflorescence but also more elegantly structured on the palate. The same could be said about all the Champagnes from this address, but Concordance really feels like a living, breathing organism, changing slightly with every sip!