TN: Thierry Triolet Champagne Brut NV

Thierry Triolet’s 11 hectares of vines are located near the villages of Béthon, Montgenost, and Villenauxe-la-Grande, in an area widely regarded to be the best in the Côtes de Sézanne, which extends to the southwest of Épernay. Geologically, this narrow band of hills is a continuation of the more massive Côtes des Blancs. The soil is a bed of chalk, covered by a few inches of topsoil, a composition that produces Chardonnay of great character (just as it does in in the Côtes des Blancs, and in Chablis, for that matter). Which is why vineyards here have long been a source of excellent Chardonnay grapes for the large négociant-manipulant houses to the north. Triolet has one gigantic neighbor, the Le Brun de Neuville cooperative, whose 26 growers control 370 acres. For those who care, Triolet sells some of his lesser fruit to Krug!

Triolet was an early Récoltant Manipulant practitioner, long enough ago that what he did was called “estate-bottling” his wine. He practices La lutte raisonnée, meaning he is not organic but does use a lighter hand with various chemical treatments than conventional growers. One of his best ingredients is time: To make even the Brut NV, his assemblage uses mature wines from three different vintages. He leaves the wine on the lees for two or three years before disgorgement, rather than the 15-month legal minimum.

Thierry Triolet Champagne Brut NV: Typically made from a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, although apparently small amounts of Pinot Meunier are sometimes included. On the nose: Orange creamsicle (Did somebody sneak some Viognier into this?), crème brûlée, tart lemon, and yeasty, floral notes. In the mouth: Green apple, toast, lots of citrus, and, at the very end, a touch of sweetness. Really creamy mouthfeel, yet also quite lively. Overall, a lovely balance of bright and rich sensations. Paired well with Chinese takeout! At $35/bottle in my neighborhood, this is a sensational value. Imported by Wine Traditions.