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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Marie-Courtin Efflorescence

France (Champagne)

pinot noir

[no website]

Marie-Courtin Efflorescence 2007

The bottle says “extra brut” and for sure it is the driest champagne I’ve experienced. Dry, but by no means bitter. There’s a fresh, savoury nose, with hints of apple, tarragon, yeast perhaps, and cheese. In the mouth a crisp vegetal and mineral presence. Flavourful and elegant. With a lingering sensory finish. Charming.  $$$

Regular readers of this blog know I have a fondness for small production grower champagne. I could never appreciate all the fuss over champagne, until I encountered this new breed of exceptional single harvest, single vintage, single grower champagne that flies in the face of the big names in the region.

Dominique Moreau cultivates just 2.5 hectares. Hers is, in fact, a single hillside vineyard of 40-50 year old vines, mostly pinot noir. It is located in the village of Polisot, in that other, that less-prized part of Champagne — Aube. Long considered merely a supplier of grapes for the prestigious Marne to the north, the Aube region has recently come into its own, with a host of  vignerons whose grower champagnes are turning the heads of those who thought they knew all there was to know about what makes great champagne.


In the case of Moreau and her domaine Marie-Courtin it starts with the limestone-clay soil, which in many ways is closer to the soils of nearby Chablis than those of Marne. Add immaculate care through the growing season, including debudding and bringing the fruit to its prime ripeness (sometimes a challenge in Champagne, the most northern of France’s wine-growing regions). Continue with hand harvesting and traditional wooden basket pressing, in which the first and last litres of juice are set aside, so only the best is fed by gravity to the tanks on the lower floor. Vinification using only indigenous yeast, and, in the case of Efflorescence, using neutral oak barrels. No added sugar at the time of bottling. Minimal intervention at all stages.

Moreau chose to name her domaine after her great-grandmother, whom she recalls as very much “a woman of the earth.” The domaine was created in 2001, with her first vintage in 2006. Cultivation has been strictly organic from the start, with some biodynamic methods. She will often use pendulums in both the vineyard and the cellar to access the various stages of development from grape to wine. Until recently, she produced only two cuvées. Efflorescence, she notes, refers to “something that evolves in perpetuity.” A decisive step away from the year-to-year sameness of the bottlings from Champagne’s big-name houses. A step rather towards wine that varies with vintage and age. How much more interesting and wine-like.


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