11 Coteaux Champenois still wines that highlight the region’s range – Robb Report
Produced in small quantities and barely imported to the United States, the still wines of CÃ´teaux Champenois are original and enriching, each one an exciting little discovery. It’s hard to know what to expect other than they won’t have bubbles.
A world far from the sparklers that drive the region’s economy, these wines are never produced by obligation; these are passion projects, and you can taste it. I’ve tried several of the biggest names – some “multi-vintage”, like sparkling champagne, and others from a single year – and I would recommend the 11 below.
CHAMPAGNE LOUIS ROEDERER 2018 CAMILLE VOLIBARTS ($ 180)
This is the first CÃ´teaux blanc from the Hommage Ã Camille de Roederer label, and this Chardonnay may be reminiscent of a fine Chablis with its slightly saline character. It’s a lively combination of ripe apple, toasted almonds and floral notes, a divine marriage for a wide range of cheeses, dancing elegantly around strong flavors.
CHAMPAGNE DRAPPIER CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS TROP M’EN FAUT! ($ 75)
A wine made from a grape variety that the region has not focused on for a few hundred years: Fromenteau, in other words Pinot Gris. (The name of the wine is an enthusiastic pun on the name of the grape variety.) This white does not taste like an Alsatian pinot gris, but rather a case for itself with balanced and alluring flavors of melon and plum. Lobster salad, do you like it?
CHAMPAGNE DOYARD CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS BLANC IN OLD FOMBRÃ‰S ($ 90)
Rich, round and intense like a great white Burgundy, this Chardonnay is as much a question of texture as of taste. The flavors of poached pear that coat the palate linger forever, and it benefits from a decant; left open in the fridge overnight, it tasted even better. A match for any white fish rich in sauce.
MARC HÃ‰BRART 2016 CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS BLANC LE LEON ($ 90)
Chardonnay from a single distinguished Premier Cru vineyard, Hebrart has an ethereal and floral character. The medium-length finish offers flavors of baked apple and lemon curd, and invites pairing with vegetable-based pasta.
EGLY-OURIET 2018 CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS AMBONNAY RED CUVÃ‰E DES GRANDS CTÃ‰S ($ 225)
This broad-shouldered pinot noir has multiple speeds and could use a few years of aging in the cellar to assemble before opening it, but it is a fine example of Coteaux: intensely spicy with a core of ripe cherry and a long finish. When ready, the duck with fruit sauce will accompany it in style.
CHARLES HEIDSIECK CTEAUX CHAMPENOIS AMBONNAY RED ($ 114)
Like Champagne Charlie’s flagship sparkling, it is a well-cut and confident wine, a medium-length Pinot Noir with pretty red fruits and a hint of cinnamon, violet and coffee bean â€” he succeeds on his own terms. Give it an hour of settling and let it open next to a dish of salmon.
TIMOTHÃ‰E STROEBEL 2017 CTEAUX CHAMPENOIS STILL WINE ROSÃ‰ FROM BLEEDING ($ 99)
Wines made from 100% Pinot Meunier, little known apart from its role in Champagne as a blending partner alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, are rare. It’s like finding a unicorn gnawing at a four-leaf clover. This lively wine – technically not a rosÃ© but a clear red – has racy acidity, transporting you to a field of strawberries in June.
FRANÃ‡OISE MARTINOT 2011 CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS RED WINE DE-QUOI-TE-MÃŠLES-TU? BY CHARLES DUFOUR ($ 49)
A light and charming Pinot Noir that will go well with a picnic or go with roasted root vegetables. An earthy touch underpins the strawberry and cherry flavors, perfect for drinkers who love Oregon pinot.
BENOIT RED CHAMPENOIS CÃ”TEAUX DEHU ($ 95)
This 100% Pinot Meunier is cultivated biodynamically with the help of a horse named Violette, so it is a beautiful coincidence that violets are among the aromas of this precocious tannic wine. There are also several spices, as well as hints of ripe plum. Give it a few hours to open and serve it with a squab.
BERECH Et Fils 2018 CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS LES MONTÃ‰ES ($ 100)
Barrel aging gave this deep and rich Pinot Noir an almost coconut touch, but that doesn’t obscure the cherry and plum character. This blend of three quarters of Pinot Noir and a quarter of Pinot Meunier will probably be better in a few years, after which bring out the pork loin.
BOLLINGER 2015 CÃ”TEAUX CHAMPENOIS LA CTE AUX CHILDREN ($ 155)
The nose of this wine – imagine cherries growing in a shady wood – is worth the price of the bottle, incredibly reminiscent of good Pinot Noir and showing the quality of its Grand Cru site in the AÃ¿ region of Champagne. It’s fresh, fruity and classy. Considering a few hours to evolve in a decanter, this would be a great pairing with lamb (normally Bordeaux’s specialty, but give it a try).