Champagne Laherte Freres
Punch: Champagne's Next Revolution is Now
The SOMM Journal: Terroir Laherte Frères
ChampagneNet.com: Laherte Frères
Founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte, this family-run estate has been in the Lahertes’ hands for six generations. Today it is run by the Christian and Thierry Laherte (brothers) and Thierry’s son Auriélien. Their 10-hectare estate, 75 parcels, are situated in 3 distinct areas: the southern slopes of Épernay, the Côte des Blancs, and the Marne Valley.
The family highly prizes their vines, many of which have undergone 70 harvests. They work as naturally as possible with biodynamic and sustainable practices: plant infusions to improve natural defense systems, high foliage so that the photosynthesis ensures a nice maturity, and planning the pruning work and treatments on favorable days in order to strengthen the vine stocks. They feel that it is absolutely essential to manage the soil with great care in order to preserve its balance.
The grapes are pressed at the estate in the village of Chavot, with two 4,000-kilo traditional presses. Their techniques aim to preserve as much of the natural qualities of the grapes as possible. With that in mind, they barrel by gravity, allow for slow and spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, stir the lees depending on the characteristics of the wine, and use a low and precise dosage. They focus on single-parcel fermentation so that they can purely transmit the characteristics of the soil and place. They carefully blend to create a unique personality to each wine they produce. The result is wine that truly reflects the nuance of its place and time.
"These Champagnes reinforce my strongly held view that Aurélien Laherte is one of the most talented vignerons of his generation in Champagne. The range this year is truly stellar. Some of the highlights include the Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs (2014 this year), a wine I often buy for my own cellar, the 2014 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Grandes Crayères, which is new, and the (2014) Extra Brut Rosé de Saignée Les Baudiers. Readers who have not tasted these Champagnes owe it to themselves do so. Aurélien Laherte is young, passionate and humble. It is only a matter of time before he is recognized as one of Champagne's elite vignerons. As for the wines, they are spectacular."
Wine Advocate 8/2018
"Aurélien Laherte produces full-bodied yet pure, refined and vibrantly fresh cuvées that need a certain amount of time after disgorgement to reveal their true class and depth. In any case, these are authentic, expressive terroir wines with style, thanks to sustainable viticulture with biodynamic methods. Massal selection, immediate and delicate pressing, plot-by-plot vinification (there are 75 different plots, and 80% of the estate’s wines are fermented and matured in wooden vessels) and minimal dosage are key elements of Laherte's "hands-off" winemaking approach. The Les 7 remains the primus inter pares, but the Ultradition is an exciting bridge between the delicate, terroir-driven Blanc de Blancs and Les 7. The Rosé de Meunier is a fruity, round and firmly structured Champagne for red wine lovers."
"Laherte Frères draws on a number of vineyards, many of them quite old, mostly on the southern edge of Epernay (the Côteaux Sud d'Epernay) and the Côte des Blancs for these super-distinctive wines. Most of the wines are fermented in barrel, with the malolactic fermentations partly blocked. Meunier plays a leading role in many of the wines. The estate bottles three Rosés, all of them compelling. Readers who have not tasted these wines owe it to themselves to do so, as they are terrific."
Wine Advocate 11/2013
"Thierry and Christian Laherte represent the second of seven generations of Champagne-growing Lahertes to domaine-bottle, though theirs is among the significant and increasing number of Champagne establishments that – despite personally farming all of the vines from which they source – are officially a “négociant-manipulant,” in this instance because their business is structured for each of the principle family members to officially sell the fruit from his or her tiny acreage to Laherte Frères. And those parcels are disparate, numbering 75 spread over ten villages, even though the total Laherte acreage is just 25. Half of these vineyards are farmed biodynamically – notably those most easily accessible from the Lahertes’ home base of Chavot-Courcourt (immediately south of Epernay), a sector that brings considerable chalk to bear on Marne clay. Lahertes have done some experimentation with ungrafted vines and (as a relevant tasting note will testify) with Champagne’s “forgotten” cépages, as well as with a solera-style blend. Most of their wines see barrel; whether they “do malo” is determined case-by-case."