Caveau

A personally culled collection of the best of Burgundy & Grower Champagne, delivered to your door.

Caveau Selections -  from winemaker-importer Scott Paul Wright. We're specialists in the best of Burgundy and Grower Champagne, delivered to your door. Join our mailing list, sign-up for our Burgundy and Champagne Clubs, and take advantage of our exclusive pre-arrival offers. Start drinking hand-selected wines from the top artisanal producers at direct-import prices!

The importer, on the ground in Champagne...

Had a great tasting and lunch today with Clotilde and Nicolas Chauvet at Marc Chauvet in Rilly-la-Montagne. They’re the first producer we started importing from Champagne when we expanded our portfolio several years ago, after four years of looking for the right fit. I’ll have a knockout pre-arrival offer from Chauvet in the next few days – stay tuned.

Lunch was at Le Coquet in the neighboring village of Ludes – an old place that had been abandoned for several years and recently renovated and re-opened by a high-school classmate of Clo’s. Simple, excellent bistro fare that I heartily recommend. (If they have the rabbit with chorizo, go for it. And get the fries!)

At le Coquet with Nico and Clo...

At le Coquet with Nico and Clo...

The news from Chauvet is that they’ve decided on a name for their tête du cuvée bottling. Starting with the launch of the 2008 vintage this fall, it will be called “Initiales”. It’s the same wine they would have released as their Special Club bottling, but as we’ve mentioned before here they decided back in 2007 to leave the Club (over a dislike for the label and packaging they were required to use for the Special Club, among other things.) I tasted the 2008 Initiales from a bottle that was disgorged just minutes before tasting, with no dosage added. It was absolutely stunning – Clo thinks it’s the favorite wine she’s ever made. She hasn’t done the dosage trials yet. I thought it was gorgeous as a Brut Nature and could stand on its own naked. She will likely add just a gram or two, but the wine truly needs very little.

2008 Initiales - Not yet the final label...

2008 Initiales - Not yet the final label...

If you’d like to get your hands on the last of the Chauvet Special Club –  the magnificent 2006 is the last vintage, and they will be disgorging the remaining bottles next week for release in the fall. Watch your email for all the details. (Our Champagne Club members got a bottle of this in the spring shipment. God, it’s good.)

The Chauvet 2009 Millésime has just been released. I tasted it for the first time a few years back and knew it had promise. Now that it’s ready for the world, it is in full bloom – a really expressive Pinot-nose of soft fruits and white flowers, and great richness and body. It’s a 60-40 Pinot-Chardonnay cuvée, and I’ve secured a good supply for our forthcoming pre-arrival offer. Details in your in-box shortly…

Tasting with Clotilde Chauvet in Rilly-la-Montagne...

Tasting with Clotilde Chauvet in Rilly-la-Montagne...

Flowering is about a week away throughout the region here, which is “normal”. It’s been a slightly cooler than average spring, and they would like a bit more rain, but for the moment everything looks very healthy in the vineyards. I toured around Hautvillers, Cumiéres, Rilly-la-Montagne, Ludes, Verzy, Verzenay, Cramant, Avize, and Chavot-Courcourt today, walked a few rows here and there, and all looks good so far.

There are tastings, and then there are tastings. 23 wines at Laherte Frères this afternoon - I am a trained professional, don’t try this at home...

Thierry Laherte and his son Aurélien continue to push the envelope in search of greatness and truth in the expression of terroir in Champagne. In my opinion, nobody is doing it any better. There are a few others at their level, but very few indeed. Their willingness to experiment, to listen to the wines, to listen to their vines, to find the best expressions of terroir they can put into a bottle year after year – it is quite extraordinary. They certainly don’t rest on their laurels. They seemingly don’t rest, period. Theirs is a relentless quest for excellence.

Laherte Père...

Laherte Père...

We tasted mini-verticals of most of the wines in their fascinating range, each one a study in terroir and character. They are constantly learning, understanding their parcels (70 different pieces in 10 different villages), and refining their approach. One gets the impression these guys would never be the ones to say – “OK, now, we’ve got it!” – there is always more to learn, always a different set of circumstances form vintage to vintage added to the mix. Never a dull moment indeed.

... et Laherte fils - the terroir rockstar Aurélien Laherte.

... et Laherte fils - the terroir rockstar Aurélien Laherte.

New stuff chez Laherte includes some Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs they’ve picked up in Cramant, Oger and Le Mesnil sur Oger, some killer Pinot in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy, and a new Extra-Brut version of their basic Brut Ultradition – the same base wine, but at 4 grams dosage rather than 6 or 7. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but the wines are absolute worlds apart. Fascinating stuff. There will also be a new Blanc de Noirs bottling, from two new parcels that saw 20 months of elevage in barrel. That one is a year or more away, but should be fascinating…

Had a nice dinner with Thierry and his wife Laurence at le Bois Joli, on the road between Épernay and Reims. Good food, lousy wine list, poor value, but tremendous company. I am still blown away by the energy and spirit of the 2009 les Vignes d’Autrefois – the old-vine 100% Pinot Meunier bottling that never ceases to amaze me. Alive, complete, captivating – this is what great winemaking is all about.

I’m off to see Sophie Cossy and do the final dosage trials for our Caveau Extra-Brut – should be a great day! More as it happens…