For several years I have visited the Trait d’Union tasting and tried the wines of Roger Coulon. It houses the likes of Selosse, Jacquesson and Jerome Prevost, among others. It sits among many other tastings in what has become ‘Champagne week’ in April of each year. These tastings are usually quite rushed affairs and don’t allow you to get a true understanding of what a producer can do and I often find myself overlooking wines like Roger Coulon.
So it was to this year that the doors of Trait d’Union were opened and I found myself in front of Isabelle Coulon and the wines of Roger Coulon. Too often had I ignored them. Not this time! She spent 15-20 minutes discussing the terroir of the village of Vrigny in the North-Western part of the Montaigne de Reims whilst I tasted Esprit de Vrigny and it suddenly all clicked. The blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier all on different soils and vinified in oak creates this wonderfully layered palate. You get everything from it. A kaleidoscope of a wine. I had to make a visit to discover more…
Isabelle and Eric Coulon are 8th generation growers in Vrigny working 11 hectares split into 100 parcels. The exposition of the village is interestingly East, similar Isabelle tells me to the Cote de Blancs. They work more with nature but are not organic. In the winery they try to press each parcel separately and use natural yeast for the first fermentation. Sulphites are being reduced throughout the range. Old oak barrels are used throughout, some kept from the time of Eric’s grandfather. Pressure is reduced in the bottle, down to 4.5 bar and alcohol reduced to 11.5.
Their collection is split into two:
Reference; a knowledge of previous generations.
Reserve de L’Hommee refers to the unit of measurement that denotes the amount of land one person can work in one day, 3.3 acres. It was abolished in the time of Napolean as the area differed throughout the various different wine regions. The cuvee is a blend of all three grapes from the oldest terroirs of Vrigny. The Chardonnay is vinified in oak, although this is year dependent. In the blend tried, 2010/11 you notice this lovely delicate oak weight on the nose along with grapefruit and peach. The palate is delightfully creamy, due to the reduced pressure, and wonderfully sweet. It is an elegant style. The finish is all about the minerality and sugar. So well balanced.
The vintage on show at present is 2007. It is a blanc de noirs made up of a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Meunier. Sweet toffee and hazelnut hit you on the nose and you given one of the most beautiful introductions on the palate. So clean and crisp. Perfect. The fruit is delivered at the end of the palate. The wine has not undergone malolactic or filtration and you feel this of the finish. Minerality is impressive along with a touch of brioche.
The wine of the range for me though has to be Esprit de Vrigny. A blend of all three in Vrigny, Chardonnay on Chalk, Pinot Noir on Clay and Meunier on Sand. All vinified in oak. No sugar. The nose is a smorgasbord of tropical and farm fruits. The palate lifts beautifully with an impressive mineral drive. Peach, apricot and red apple then hints of fig and then it leaps to orange. I love the play between freshness and oxidative note. So well done.
The very old barrels are used to produce a wine that is an homage to Eric’s grandfather. Heritage is an 80/20 blend of Chardonnay and Meunier. The wine tasted was 2004/05 which made it 11 years young! The nose is all fig and brioche. The palate superbly fresh and again that delicate mousse. There is a touch of tobacco and more forest fruit notes with air. A delightful oxidative style that again has that perfect balance of freshness.
These are wines that make you think. So well made that you can lose yourself in them easily but also superbly fruity and drinkable that you can just find that you’ve finished your glass before you know it. What a great find!
Region: La Montagne de Reims
Contact: Isabelle Coulon
Cuvée De Prestige:
Bottles produced: 95000
Style: Fruity, complex, oxidative.
Vinification: Presses each parcel seperately, uses natural yeast, reducing sulphites throughout range, old barrels some kept from grandfather, 4.5 bar, decreased alcohol 11.5 degrees.
Viticulture: Not organic, no chemicals.
Recent Tasting Notes from Roger Coulon