The NV Brut Tradition Grand Cru is positively stellar. Rich, ample and explosive, the Brut Tradition possesses fabulous energy and resonance from start to finish. The balance of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay works so well here. More than anything else, though, the Brut Tradition offers superb quality, value and personality in its price range, which, once again, makes it one of the most compelling wines budget-conscious readers will find in all of Champagne. Dosage: 6.5 gr/L. Disgorged: July, 2019. Vinous, 91 pt.
The current release of Coutier non-vintage Brut is from the base year of 2013 and composed of a blend of its customary eighty percent pinot noir and twenty percent chardonnay. Forty percent of the cuvée is composed of reserve wines. It was disgorged in September 2019, after more than five years on its fine lees and finished with a dosage of 6.5 grams per liter. The wine is classic Ambonnay, offering up a complex bouquet of white peach, bread dough, superb minerality, a touch of hazelnut and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is crisp, fullbodied and soil-driven, with an excellent core of fruit, frothy mousse and superb focus and grip on the long and complex finish. This will age very nicely, and though it is already tasty, it will be even better with some further time in the cellar. 2020-2040+. 91+. View from the Cellar, John Gilman.
AT A GLANCE
The Coutier family has been in the village of Ambonnay since 1619, with fifth generation vigneron Antoine Coutier at the helm.
While Ambonnay is thought of as Pinot Country, Coutier's nine hectares are made up of 1/3 Chardonnay. Antoine's grandfather took the daring step of planting Chardonnay in 1948 - unheard of at the time - and today Coutier is lauded as the premier grower of Chardonnay in the village.
The Coutier house style is accentuated by vinification and cellar techniques that seek to marry the traditional richness of Ambonnay fruit with the racy and pure style that the family cherishes. Coutier Champagnes are a "go-to" for Polanerites and beloved by clients seeking Champagnes that overdeliver on all counts.
Champagne R. H. Coutier is located in the grand cru village of Ambonnay, one of the top wine-producing sectors of the Montagne de Reims. The Coutier family has been in the village of Ambonnay since 1619, with fifth gneration vigneron Antoine Coutier currently at the helm. While Ambonnay is generally regarded as Pinot country, the family's nine hectares of vineyards are planted with one-third Chardonnay and two-thirds Pinot Noir. In fact, in 1948 Antoine Coutier’s grandfather was the first vigneron in Ambonnay to plant Chardonnay in the village, a daring step at the time, which has flourished ever since and is now as highly regarded as the Pinot Noir from this grand cru village.
The family vineyards consist of 40 different plots located exclusively in Ambonnay, with an average vine age of 38 years. In 2019, the Coutiers began organic conversion, which felt like a logical step after years of working with great respect for nature, including never using herbicides and focusing only on organic fertilizers.
The vineyards on the Montagne de Reims shift exposure as one arrives in the village of Ambonnay, facing south and southeast, and producing a warmer microclimate for the grapes. There is also a bit more clay, coupled with the strong influence of the chalky limestone, which gives Coutier's sumptuous wines both richness and freshness. This is not a large domaine by any stretch of the imagination, only producing 60,000 bottles in any given year.
The Coutier house style is accentuated by vinification and cellar techniques that seek to marry the traditional richness of Ambonnay fruit with the racy and pure style that the family cherishes. To that end, two-thirds of the Coutier wines go through malolactic fermentation, as Antoine feels this balances opulence with tension in the finished wines. Barrel fermentation and/or aging is only used for the Cuvée Henri III and the single vineyard cuvée "La Pierre Aux Larrons". A second single vineyard wine, "Le Bout Du Clos," sees ageing in ceramic vessels.
While the family previously sold a portion of their annual harvest to negociant houses, today all fruit is estate bottled. Their blends are more dominated by Chardonnay than one might normally expect from a house based in Ambonnay. The non-vintage Brut Tradition is comprised of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and is among the great values in the region. The Brut Rosé is also a blend of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with the difference being that Pinot is all still red wine! It is a beautifully made rosé that offers up notes of red fruit, brioche and the complex soil tones of Ambonnay fruit. Next in the lineup is a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs that features a remarkable depth and richness. Last in the Coutier hierarchy are their Brut Millésime, a classic vintage-dated bottle of bubbly that rewards cellaring, along with the Cuvée Henri III, which is 100% Pinot Noir aged one year in barrels with no malolactic fermentation. In the spring of 2020, the family released their first single-vineyard wine, the aforemented "La Pierre Aux Larrons", composed of 100% chardonnay from the historic plot planted in 1948 by Henri Coutier, and aged a year in barrels before bottling.
The Champagne house of R. H. Coutier is one of the finest in Ambonnay, and is a wonderful introduction to the magic of grand cru bubbly in the heart of the Montagne de Reims. It has become a "go-to" for Polanerites and is beloved by clients seeking Champagnes that overdeliver on all fronts.