Laherte Freres is one of the lesser known Champagne houses to be imported into Australia. But it has a relatively long history, established in 1889 and is currently being run by the 6th generation of Lahertes. They own 75 parcels of vineyards spread across three distinct areas of Champagne: the southern slopes of Épernay, the Côte des Blancs, and the Marne Valley.
Les 7 is made from a single plot in Chavot that was planted by Thierry Laherte with all seven permissible grape varieties of Champagne in 2003. Besides Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, there are also the rare heirloom varietals of Fromenteau, Arbanne and Petit Meslier that were already growing within the family’s oldest vineyard plots. The breakdown is as follows: 10% Fromenteau , 8% Arbanne, 14% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 17% Pinot Blanc, 18% Pinot Meunier and 15% Petit Meslier.
As per Laherte Freres, ‘Our ancestors already cultivated the vine many centuries ago. Working methods and grape varieties were different at that time. However, we found those lost grape varieties again in our old plots and we have decided to recreate a former plot in order to taste a wine of Champagne with the same taste as 250 years ago again.‘
The assembling of this cuvee previously known as ‘Les Clos’ comprises a more complicated approach than the typical base wine blends which many Champagne houses use. Instead, it more closely resembles the solera method of Jerez, although it doesn’t employ the criadera or tiered system. Once the seven varieties are harvested and pressed together, the undergo natural fermentation in 10 year old Burgundian barrels and mature for 6 months with regular stirring of lees. This latest vintage is then blended into the existing ‘perpetual blend’ that resides in seven barriques. After blending in a separate tank, the seven barrels are re-filled, and whatever is left over is bottled. The first vintage was 2005 and at the time of writing this, there will be ten vintages within the ‘perpetual blend’.
AUD$155 from Prince Wine Store. Light straw colour with a fresh citrus nose of lemon spritz and white grapefruit, hint of finely diced baby salad vegetables too. It has got a well-weighted, fine mousse texture. On the first drink, the abundance of acidity becomes well-obvious, and the wine has a sort of edgy feel to it, and crisp on the palate. Rich citrus flavours, mingling with red berries and red apples. An interesting wine that stands out as a more complex Champagne, the long aftertaste leaves the mouth refreshed, with a trace of fine minerality on the finish. Drink now – 2020. 93.
If your heart quickens at the mention of Champagne, the winemaking, the stories behind the label, or merely curious over rare Champagne grapes, then this is a wine you should definitely try!