Never a Wrong Time to Enjoy Laherte Frères' Ultradition Extra Brut
They say "don't judge a book by its cover," but in this case, honestly, go ahead. It's a beautiful, hand-drawn label on a beautiful, handmade wine. Looking for a wine that is as bright and complex but as coherent as the image? This is your wine.
But it actually goes deeper than that. The eye-catching label feels a bit like the drawings recently favored by many of the new wave of natural winemakers. And sure, this wine is pretty natural — farmed organically, made with minimal interventions.
But really, it is traditional. It just so happens that the tradition here has, for a long time, been to make pure and focused wines of terroir. Laherte has been a pathbreaking grower since before grower champagnes were the thing they are today.
Of course, that's not the whole story. It doesn't tell you that the family legacy is being carried on by the seventh generation Aurélien Laherte. It doesn't tell you that Aurélien has pushed the focus on conscientious winemaking forward by co-founding (with his childhood buddy, Raphaël Bérèche) Terres et Vins de Champagne, a sort of elite club for growers to focus on Champagne as wine through vins clairs tastings. It doesn't tell you that Laherte has long-championed Pinot Meunier, making age-worthy Champagnes from what was, until very lately, the third wheel of the region's varietal triumvirate.
It also doesn't tell you anything about this particular bottling, based on the 2019 vintage which is both full of ripe fruit and incredible freshness, a great tasting vintage and also one that we expect to age well. Finally, it doesn't tell you anything about the international context: that demand for Champagne, especially for top quality but tiny growers like Laherte, has exploded around the world. Or that wines like this, which we used to keep on the shelf most or all of the year, now come in and go out more like collectibles than staples. But you don't need anyone to draw you a picture to get that: it's been in the news for years now.
Laherte Frères, Champagne Ultradition Extra Brut [Base 2019], NV $51.99
Bright nose with hints of toasty depth, palate is similarly vivid with lemony fruit, mineral freshness that makes it perfect with a meal (roast chicken last Sunday in at least one house) and enough breadth to make the whole thing a seamless pleasure while you're preparing dinner dinner or after dinner, whether you're cleaning up (or catching Succession).
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