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Vouette et Sorbée ‘Blanc d'Argile’ NV Champagne

“One of the great producers of the Aube, Bertrand Gautherot farms his vineyards biodynamically, preserving the intensity of fruit from his steep, cool hillside. Indeed his cuvée Fidèle, made from Pinot Noir on Kimmeridgian soil, may remind as much of Chablis as of Champagne.” Rajat Parr, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste

Parting ways with his local co-op due to his decision to embrace organics in 1993 (certified biodynamic since 1998), Bertrand Gautherot’s approach has always been at the cutting edge for his region. His wines all come from a single harvest (noted by the ‘R’ and number on the back label), with the exception of the Fidèlecuvée, which sees a small addition of between five and 10% reserve wine from a perpetual blend started in 2001. Even this wine would be eligible to be called a vintage wine in any other region. These are all complex, textural, yet incredibly mineral wines made with low (or no) sulphur and without a drop of dosage. They are wines that result from low-yielding hillside vineyards, from intense, ripe fruit, from limestone-rich soils, and from a farmer whose heart lies in his vineyards.

Located in the hamlet of Buxières-sur-Arce, in the Aube’s Côte des Bar, Gautherot’s Estate is named after two of his key lieux-dits: Vouetteand Sorbée. The vineyards lie closer to Chablis than to Épernay, both in distance and geology, with soils dominated by the same Kimmeridgian limestone for which Chablis is famed. Gautherot’s wines take their deep and powerful personalities from these soils and the (relatively) sunnier climate of the southern Aube.

Blanc d'Argile R17, disgorged May 2020 (magnums R18, disgorged Jan 2021). Within the cold, west-facing, Kimmeridgian limestone-rich lieu-dit ofBiaunes, there is a small plot of Chardonnay that Gautherot planted wild: without preparing the soils, amongst the native vegetation (a totally crazy idea). The Côte des Bar is overwhelmingly planted to Pinot Noir, but in 2000 Gautherot chose Chardonnay. He used massale cuttings from Anselme Selosse’s vines (in Avize) and Vincent Dauvissat’s Valmur Grand Cru vineyard. This plot has become the base of what Antonio Galloni calls one of the most beautiful and distinctive wines in Champagne.”