Grape(s): Pinot Blanc
Localization: Côte des Bar, Champagne, France
Tasting notes: The wine is a bit more focused and energetic than the richer Haute-Lemblée thanks to a higher proportion of chalk at this site
94 points Robert Parker
Notes: Pinot blanc is relatively rare in Champagne, and even more so when it's made from 40-year old vines. This is one of the most highly original champagnes that there is. From a 21-acre parcel on chalk called La Bolorée, which contains pinot blanc vines planted in 1960. This south-facing vineyard is technically in the neighboring commune of Merrey-sur-Arce.
The Domain: Cédric Bouchard had a rapid rise to Champagne stardom. Having only started his own label in 2000 after a stint as a sommelier in Paris, he quickly earned a reputation as one of Champagne’s most talented young wine producers and was awarded the title of Champagne’s finest winemaker for the year 2008 by the Gault Millau. Bouchard began with only 1.37 hectares of vines in the village of Celles-sur-Ource in the Côte des Bar, Champagne's southern enclave of Kimmeridgian-centric terroirs. His approach in the vineyards seeks to maximize quality at every step. Additionally, he farms organically, dramatically restricts yields (among the lowest in Champagne), and places extra emphasis on picking at the optimum moment.
Though pensive and reserved in nature, Bouchard embraces a revolutionary philosophy: single-vineyard, single-variety (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc), single-vintage, zero-dosage Champagnes. Rather than blending different vineyards and vintages to make a single cuvée, as is the long-standing norm in Champagne, Bouchard prefers to make a wine that is representative of the vintage and place of origin. He seeks to create individual wines of great character every year from his single-vineyard bottlings. Each wine is made only from juice from the first pressing, fermented only with indigenous yeast, and handled meticulously in the cellar to guarantee the finest wines possible. He believes in a long, slow and cools second fermentation which creates smaller, finer bubbles and helps to enhance the vinosity of the underlying wine. The wines -- all incredibly limited -- are produced with no dosage and with the goal of allowing the unique terroir of each wine to take center stage.
The Domaine continues to grow and evolve. Bouchard increased his holdings by combining 1.37 hectares of vines previously owned by his father, with his own assortment of prime parcels. Although his father's holdings were originally bottled under the Inflorescence label, beginning in 2014 all cuvées were bottled under the Roses de Jeanne label. Cédric's distinct lineup includes the following wines:
Val Vilaine - 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5 hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. 300-500 cases produced annually.
Côte de Béchalin [La Parcelle] - 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5 hectare lieu-dit of Côte de Bachelin. Spends a full three years on the lees, and thus, is always bottled as a vintage cuvée. 150 cases produced annually.
Les Ursules - 100% Pinot Noir from the .9 hectare lieu-dit of Les Ursules. The first vintage bottling of this wine is available in 2014. 250-300 cases produced annually.
Haute-Lemblée - 100% Chardonnay (five different clones) from the .12 hectare lieu-dit of La Haute Lemblée. Extremely limited production.
Bolorée - Very old and rare Pinot Blanc from a 0.217 hectare lieu-dit known as La Boloree. Bouchard was initially uninterested in the parcel, but it landed in his lap after he drew the shorter straw in a dual between growers. Today, it is perhaps his most cherished site. Extremely limited production.
Creux d’Enfer Rosé - 100% Pinot Noir from the .07 hectare lieu-dit of Le Creux d'Enfer. That's just a few rows! Made by the “saignée” method of crushing the Pinot Noir and running off the juice after several hours of skin contact to produce the classic rosé color (rather than adding a bit of still red wine). Extremely limited production.
Bouchard’s wines are characterized by uniquely soil-driven personalities, with the underlying terroir of each parcel jumping from the glass with a purity that is extremely rare in Champagne. These are brilliant wines made from a young, perfectionist vigneron who is likely to completely revolutionize the landscape of Champagne before he writes the last chapter on his career.