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Barrat-Masson’s special cuvée, “Les Voilées,” has everything we love to find in top-notch Grower Champagne and absolutely nothing we don’t. That starts with meticulous vineyard work that is Certified Organic and continues in the cellar, where everything is exceedingly gentle and nothing is added or taken away, save for a bit of SO2. The pristine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes that go into this sparkling stunner are perfectly ripe, which is why no dosage is needed
It’s got zero sugar, a true Brut Nature, but it is perfectly balanced by crunchy fruit, elegant acidity, and complex minerality. New Champagne discoveries that offer this much wow factor are exceedingly rare, which is why I’m so thrilled to share it with you today. We were able to secure the last small amounts of this release, and what’s better is that we can offer it at an amazing price of $79. What few retailers still have some are selling it for $100, so there’s really no reason not to grab a bottle (or six). Such are the perks of being an early adopter!
It’s no small feat to establish a new winery in France, but it is particularly difficult to do so in Champagne. But that is exactly what Aurélie Barrat and her husband Loïc Masson did a little over a decade ago, and their talent and hard work has resulted in the type of “beating the odds” success that most only dream of. When Loïc took over his family’s small farm in 2005, they were selling the bulk of their production to large Champagne houses. But with Aurélie’s help, he immediately began to update and modernize the winery with the goal of bottling everything under their own label. Of course, it helped that Aurélie is a trained oenologist, and it was her expertise that really allowed them to realize the dream of creating their own winery. Step one was converting their seven hectares to organic farming, and they were certified by 2009. Step two was finishing the winery upgrades and step three was…making killer Champagne. And they did, finally creating the Barrat-Masson label in 2010.
Their small estate is located in the Côte de Sézanne, which is officially the southernmost extension of the Côte de Blancs—though it is remote enough to get its own subregion designation. Just like the famous villages of Mesnil, Oger, and Chouilly, the geology here is dominated by soft, chalky limestone, and as such, Chardonnay is the focus. But, in vintages where both Chardonnay and their small amount of Pinot Noir both do exceptionally well, Aurélie produces her special cuvée “Les Voilées.” Every parcel is vinified separately using only the coeur de cuvée, or first press juice, and then racked into neutral, 600-liter barrels for aging. After the secondary fermentation in bottle, the Champagne is aged for at least 36 months on the lees before disgorgement.
That long, gentle approach in the cellar renders a supremely elegant and racy wine with a very fine mousse and delicate texture. Subtle aromas of red berries and green apples give way to crushed herbs, roasted almonds, lemon-lime zest and hints of sourdough and baked parmesan. In the glass it shows as a sparkly, white-gold and flavors of orchard fruit and Meyer lemon are balanced by tingly acidity and chalky, saline minerals. Serve it at around 40 degrees with all sorts of pairings, from oysters on the half shell to fried chicken. But given that it is grilling season, I think it would be perfect with whole grilled mackerel. Only a few hundred cases were produced, and as I said above, only a handful of those cases are still available. Grab some before it’s gone!
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