It was at 520 in Épernay (the best Grower-Champagne wine shop in the world, bar none) that I was turned on to the minuscule domaine of Etienne Sandrin in Celles-sur-Ource (in the heart of the Aube, Champagne’s southern outpost.) 520 proprietor Pierre-Yves rarely has anything to recommend when I ask “what’s new” - but this time he immediately said “this!” - and thrust a bottle into my hands
Etienne and his wife Anne took over the tiny family estate from Etienne’s father in 2006, and quickly converted to organic, and subsequently Biodynamic viticulture. If you know the wines of Champagne superstar Cédric Bouchard, you know the terroir of Celles-sur-Ource - a magical spot for Pinot Noir as well as a small amount of Pinot Blanc that has traditionally been planted on the village slopes. For generations the Sandrins sold their grapes to the local cooperative, but by 2014 had decided to start bottling some of their production “for themselves and some friends”.
They produced a whopping 1,000 bottles total (that’s 83.33 cases, but who’s counting.) They just released the wine last fall, and have sold it to just two customers - the aforementioned 520 in Épernay, and us. We are their first, and Etienne tells me we will be their only, export customer in the world.
I wasn’t attracted so much by the exclusivity and limited availability. I was attracted to an absolutely stunning wine. It’s a hard to trick to marry ethereal elegance, seductive fruit and bright minerality all together, but this wine is just plain achingly beautiful. A true masterpiece that holds its own against the best - including Laval and Laherte.
We were allocated 72 bottles for the entire United States. Savor every drop! In the coming years there will be two small single-vineyard bottlings from Sandrin to expand the range, and we're looking forward to sharing every precious bottle with you.