2012 R.H. Coutier, Champagne Extra Brut Millésime Grand Cru
2012 R.H. Coutier, Champagne Extra Brut Millésime Grand Cru

2012 R.H. Coutier, Champagne Extra Brut Millésime Grand Cru

Champagne, France 2012 (750mL)
Regular price$95.00

2012 R.H. Coutier, Champagne Extra Brut Millésime Grand Cru

We don’t need a fancy lead-in for R.H. Coutier’s 2012 Grand Cru Millisime. We just need to run through the facts to make clear just how much magic is contained within. 100% estate fruit from maybe the greatest Pinot Noir village in Champagne, Grand Cru Ambonnay. No less than seven years aging en tirage and over four years in bottle. One of the best vintages of the 21st century. All of it crafted by maybe the most historically important grower-producer family in the region. And a bottle doesn’t even come with a triple-digit price tag. In the almost decade since we’ve been doing this, rarely have we seen a Champagne that so effortlessly achieves the trifecta of gravitas, value, and sheer deliciousness in Coutier’s Millisime. A surefire slam dunk like this comes around but a few times in a region as hallowed as Champagne. We’re stocking our cellars to the brim with this and suggest you do the same!

The Coutier family is synonymous with Ambonnay. Their wines capture the fruit-laden, fleshy stylings that make this Grand Cru village ground zero for Pinot Noir-based Champagne. They’ve been here since 1614, and have for five generations vinified and bottled the fruit they grow. But they’re not just bound to tradition. In 1948, the Coutier family was the very first to plant Chardonnay in the village. It was thought of as a risky decision at the time, but they knew what they were doing. Since then, Chardonnay plantings have risen to almost 20% of the village’s acreage, and increase every year. With ever-warmer vintages, the tension Chardonnay brings has proven essential to the village’s plush stylings. Now headed up by the young Antoine Coutier, the estate continues to push forward, achieving organic certification and moving toward lower sulfur levels in their finished wines. A bottle of Coutier is a marvel of balance, the richness of Ambonnay Pinot paired to the racy, mineral purity you can only get from Chardonnay.   

A vintage-designated Coutier bottling is frankly a rare sight. The family only produces the wine in the best years, and 2012 will go down as a landmark for the region. It was a vintage of contrasts. Frost and hail damage converged in spring, reducing yields from the get-go. Then rainy conditions during flowering meant increased disease pressure and even less fruit than expected. But midsummer saw a turnaround; warm, dry, sunny days followed by cool nights made for perfect ripening, and the blessed conditions continued all through harvest. The very low yields combined with ideal late-season weather for small quantities of blissfully concentrated fruit. 

The Coutier’s 2012 Grand Cru is 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. It was fermented in stainless steel, then aged for a year in used barrels before going into bottle for seven years of tirage. This is most certainly a Champagne you’ll want to drink in a white wine glass so you can appreciate the full spectrum of aromas on display. The nose leads with cherry pit, white strawberry, and rose petal backed by creamy apple, toasted brioche, hazelnuts, and honey. The Chardonnay elements come through in full force, with an enlivening zap of lemon peel and crushed rocks. And while the throwback front label says “Brut,” this is technically an Extra Brut (they haven’t changed up labels in a long time), having received only 2 g/l dosage. As a result, the palate is beautifully unadorned, just a masterclass in fully ripe textural density, opulent fruit tones, and scintillating structure. More pink and red fruits come to the fore, quickly carried away by chalky minerality and a minutes-long, nutty, toasty finish. It’s a masterpiece of poise, a marriage of richness and tension you can only get from long-aged Grand Cru Pinot. Do not miss this; it might be another decade before we get to offer something so epic again.

2012 R.H. Coutier, Champagne Extra Brut Millésime Grand Cru

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