Agrapart Allocation

Posted on: 04/12/18 5:31 PM


What’s truly exciting for me – purist that I am – is that unlike many of the other young Turks in Champagne, Agrapart is not exciting because of his unusual varietals (à la Prévost and his Meunier) or unusual practices (à la Bouchard and his low pressure, single varietal/vineyard/vintage practices). No. Agrapart is a Blanc de Blancs man and these are pure, crystalline, energetic and intense Chardonnay-based Champagnes of balance, minerality and breadth.

Whether it is the “entry-level” Terroirs cuvée or his remarkable têtes de cuvees such as the Vénus, many of his wines simply blow away the competition. Bibendum’s analogy to Coche is apt, as these are intensely nervous and mineral wines, often tending toward the reductive end of the oxidative spectrum. Honestly, these are among the most exciting Champagnes being produced today and you should jump at the opportunity to snap some up.

“I was blown away by the wines I tasted from Pascal Agrapart. The entry-level wines are once again terrific, but this year I was especially impressed by the 2011, which are some of the very best wines I have tasted from this challenging and beleaguered vintage. Impeccable farming and vinifcation in oak are two of the choices that inform these rich, deep Champagnes.” – Antonio Galloni

Agrapart Allocation

NV 7 crus (2014/15) 

From the importer’s website: A superb non-vintage bottling that beautifully synthesizes the pure and opulent fruit of top quality chardonnay vineyards in the Côte de Blancs with a racy, structured minerality that gives the wine superb length and cut. It is delicious out of the blocks, but really will easily keep ten to fifteen years.

NV Terroirs Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (2013/14)

From the importer’s website: Non-vintage blend of têtes de cuvée from terroirs in Avize, Oger, Cramant and Oiry. A fine, elegant, yet powerful Champagne … dare we say a “poor man’s Clos de Mesnil”?

2011 Minéral Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 

From the importer’s website: This is a single vintage blend of téte de cuvée selections from two parcels located at the bottom of the hillside, planted in pure chalk; Les Champboutons in Avize and Les Bionnes in Cramant. These vineyards have 40+ year old vines and produce the most mineral-driven, laser-like wine of the Agrapart lineup.

NV Complantée Extra Brut Grand Cru (2013/14) 

From the importer’s website: Non-vintage blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit Meslier and Chardonnay all from the village of Avize in the vineyard of “La Fosse”.

2011 Avizoise Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 

From the importer’s website: Vintage cuvee made from two of the estate’s oldest Grand Cru parcels, Les Robards and La Voie D’Epernay, each with 50+ year old vines at the top of the hillside near the forest where there is the presence of clay soils over the limestone subsoil. L’Avizoise is the most powerful wine in the lineup.

Antonio Galloni: “The 2011 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs L’Avizoise Grand Cru has more than enough brawn and depth to fill out its frame. The richness of fruit of this clay-rich site, along with the flavor complexity that is gained through aging on the cork results in a rich, vinous Champagne built on layers of flavor and vertical structure. As good as the 2011 is today, I would prefer to drink it on the earlier side given the challenges that 2011 presented. This is a superb wine for the year and a real revelation. Old vines in the Les Robarts and La Voie d’Epernay lieu-dits inform the Avizoise. Disgorged: May 2017. Dosage is 5 grams per liter.” 94 pts.

2011 Vénus Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru

From the importer’s website: Perhaps Agrapart’s top wine – takes its name from the horse who plowed the vines on this .3 hectare parcel in the “La Fosse” vineyard in Avize. The vines here were planted in 1959 and have never seen a mechanical harvest; in other words, the parcel has only been worked by hand and horse. In the cellar, the wine is aged sur lie under cork for five years before release. Needless to say this wine has its own very special story and it’s a magnificent bottle … and a subtle bottle. The most prominent characteristic is minerality that – as is generally the case with Agrapart’s wines – interplays beautifully with wine’s creamy texture and over alll zestiness. Whether you propose to cellar or to drink now, this is truly a rare and very vivid bottle of wine.

Antonio Galloni: “Agrapart’s 2011 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Vénus Grand Cru is a dream wine. Deceptively medium in body, the Vénus is all about nuance, sensuality and layers. Vibrant and finely sculpted, the 2011 exudes class. Hints of lemon peel, minerals and flowers add complexity, but it is the total package here that is most impressive. Today, the Vénus is dazzling. Vénus emerges from the La Fosse lieu-dit, a site that was first planted in 1959, and that, miraculously, has never been worked with mechanical methods. Disgorged: May 2017 and bottled with no dosage.” 95 pts.

More about the Wines:

In some ways, it’s strange that Agrapart and Selosse are often spoken of in the same sentence these days. Neighbors in Avize, the two today are considered the top growers from this remarkable vignoble in the Côte de Blancs, though stylistically they are vastly different. Selosse’s wines are intensely, even Baroquely oxidative, while Agrapart’s retain more mineral reduction.

But what I find odd is that Selosse is often spoken of as the father of the grower movement in Champagne. While it is true that the groundbreaking work that Jacques Selosse undertook in the 1970s influenced generations of young Champenois, it is also true that the Agraparts have been quietly, humbly and artisanally producing Champagnes since the inception of the house in 1894.

With extensive holdings in Avize, as well as small plots in Avize, Oger, Cramant and Oiry, the foundations of the Domaine are very old-vine (most are 60 yrs old and older) Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte de Blancs. At the core of the Domaine’s philosophy is the organic vineyard work; harvesting is manual; ploughing is by horse. All these facts are certainly NOT the norm in Champagne!

On the winemaking side, the same focus on vineyards is at the core of the cuvées. The top wine from the Domaine – the Vénus – is so named for the horse that once ploughed the vineyard. The Complantée is a blend six varieties coplanted in Avize. The idea of this cuvée is that, in time, particularly as the vines get older the terroir will overshadow the varietals and show more “Avize” than six varietals. Even the “entry-level” wines – Les 7 Crus and Terroirs – are both explorations of the various vineyard holding under vine at this spectacular Domaine.

This really is one of those houses that is “worth the hype.” The wines are rare, complex and intensely pure. As such, they more than merit your attention … and the hushed awe that follows them.

Posted in Daily Flash By Ian Halbert