2016 Geoffroy, Champagne Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs 1er Cru "Empreinte"
2016 Geoffroy, Champagne Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs 1er Cru "Empreinte"

2016 Geoffroy, Champagne Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs 1er Cru "Empreinte"

Champagne, France 2016
Regular price$82.00

2016 Geoffroy, Champagne Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs 1er Cru "Empreinte"

Let’s get right to the point: Tonight’s Friday Champagne bonus is not for the faint of heart. Jean-Baptiste–a fifth generation winemaker in the Montagne de Reims–puts all of his talent and experience with Pinot Noir into this special vintage cuvée that he calls “Empreinte,” which loosely translates to “footprint,” but in effect this is the Geoffroy stamp, or perhaps the virtual family seal–in other words it’s a guarantee of the utmost quality. Like all the great Champagnes there is balance and finesse, but what stands out most is power. Robust and structured, with an explosive aromatic quality, this is sparkling wine that simply cannot be ignored. I appreciate delicacy, but when the moment calls for an unabashedly impactful Champagne that isn’t afraid to flex, I’m reaching for Geoffroy’s 2016 “Empreinte,” and you should too!

Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy is one of the most thoughtful and warm people, let alone winemakers, that I’ve met in the wine business. He’s a fifth generation grower-producer whose family has been specializing in farming the Premier Cru vineyard of Cumières since 1900. Like many growers in Champagne they begin bottling their own wine during the economic depression following two world wars, when the big brands didn’t buy many grapes, and in the 1970’s Jean-Baptiste’s father stopped selling grapes entirely and became one of the original “Recoltant-Manipulant” producers in the region. 

Though Cumières remains the largest and most important of the Geoffroy vineyard holdings, about a decade ago Jean-Baptiste was able to purchase an estate in Aÿ, a couple miles down the road, along the main winery tasting route outside Épernay that wine tourists from around the globe flock to. The property included a very large cellar which has expanded even further, and a perfect location for a modern tasting room. But, perhaps the main reason for the move was to provide a bit more space for his wife and five (yes five!) daughters (and likely a bit of breathing room for himself too). It’s a perfect spot for crafting the most exquisite range of wines, and a bit of liqueur too, and it allows J-B to do everything according to his own timing and preferences. 

“Empreinte” is made from 100% Pinot Noir, sourced entirely from 30 plus year old vines on the upper slopes of Cumières, where they can achieve full ripeness without losing any structure or sense of terroir. The fruit is harvested and sorted entirely by hand (still a rarity in Champagne) and only the first press juice is then racked, plot by plot, into casks and barrels of various sizes (according to the amount of juice each parcel produced). Malolactic fermentation is avoided, and secondary fermentation and aging on the lees takes place over four to five years before disgorgement and bottling with a miniscule dosage of one gram per liter.

Since power and vinous complexity are the focus I would serve this towering Champagne from the terrific 2016 vintage in all-purpose or even Burgundy stems at a not too cold 48-50 degrees. The aromatics are textbook Blanc de Noirs–wild strawberries, red currants, orange zest, peonies, rose petals, and wet rocks–but the terroir of Cumières adds a bit of savory white pepper and a hint of smoke (there’s tiny amounts of flint in the otherwise limestone dominant soil). Given the robust structure and almost bone dry palate this is Champagne that really shines with food, especially fatty fishes or roast chicken. It’s also built for cellaring, so if you can grab enough to enjoy it now and again over the next five plus years that would be the wisest move. Santé!

2016 Geoffroy, Champagne Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs 1er Cru "Empreinte"

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