Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2004 Aubry Le Nombre D'Or Millesime Premier Cru

It is nearly a secret, a bit of information which much of the Champagne literature chooses to ignore or hide. Ask the average wine lover and they probably won't know about it. Though it may not be of major significance, it is still an intriguing fact and provides an element of uniqueness to the Champagne region. There is probably no other sparkling wine anywhere in the world which can make the same claim.

It is commonly known that Champagne may be made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. But, much fewer people are aware that four other grapes are permitted as well, including Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, though those grapes constitute less than 0.3% of all plantings. Arbanne? Petit Meslier? Many people probably never even heard of these grapes, let alone knew that they were permitted in Champagne.

Because of their limited availability, very few producers use these additional four grapes and one of them is Domaine Aubry. With roots extending back to 1790, the Aubry estate and one of their vineyards is located in the village of Jouy-les-Reims, while they also own vineyards in Coulommes-la-Montagne, Pargny-les-Reims, and Villedommange. It is a small Grower's winery, producing only about 12,000 cases annually. One and a half hectares are devoted to the four uncommon Champagne grapes, and they produce two different cuvees using these grapes.

I purchased one of these cuvees, the 2004 Aubry Le Nombre D'Or Millesime Premier Cru Jouy, Campaniae Veteres Vites (about $50). The phrase "campaniae veteres vites" means “the old vines of the countryside.” This cuvee is a blend of all seven permitted grapes so it is a very unique cuvee. Most importantly, it is a compelling wine, with delicious flavors and plenty of character and complexity. The melange of flavors I discerned included orange, honey, peach, lemon, and mild herbal notes, minerality and floral accents. It is elegant and intriguing, a Champagne to slowly savor and enjoy rather than guzzling your flute. Like many other Grower's Champagnes, I think this wine is an excellent value for the price, which should easily compete with House Champagnes at twice the price or more.

Go beyond the ordinary and seek our Grower's Champagne.  And when you do, consider the winery Aubry, which is keeping alive some rare Champagne grapes.

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