Henri Goutorbe Spécial Club Champagne | 2012
Nothing is as thrilling and sublime as effervescent Pinot Noir from Aÿ. One of Champagne’s most prestigious Grand Crus in the Marne Valley, the vineyards are located along steep, chalky slopes along the banks of the Marne River. Other famous estates in Aÿ include Bollinger, Henri Giraud, Deutz, and Lallier. The Goutorbes were nursey owners in the early 20th century and provided thousands of vine cuttings to top estates. Henri started bottling his family grapes and launched the Goutorbe label in the 1940s. He later passed on his craft to his son, René, who expanded the family’s real estate, claiming six precious hectares in Aÿ.
The Spécial Club formed in 1971 as a group of twelve growers whose mission was to promote the concept of terroir-driven, estate-bottled wines from families who own, farm, and tend the land. This concept is widely recognized as “Grower Champagne.” Today, the Spécial Club has twenty-nine growers, and every February they convene to taste the wines from the previous harvest to agree if the wines, collectively, are worthy of a vintage bottling. A “Spécial Club” label must pass two strict blind tastings (one conducted by an internal group, the other an external one) to be awarded status, and it’s not a “shoe in.” Wines are regularly rejected, and the demanding process truly upholds the integrity of the iconic Spécial Club bottle: the very best wine, in that worthy year, made by the grower.
For its price bracket, the 2012 Goutorbe Spécial Club is one of the most underrated wines in Champagne. 70% Pinot Noir with 30% Chardonnay, it is a pure expression of Grand Cru terroir. Aged sixty months on the lees without any traces of oak, Goutorbe’s signature is exuberant, but not flashy. I’ve always loved these wines for their buoyant aromas: the white cherries and white stones, flakes of pastry and pink rose. In classic Aÿ style, the minerality feels luxurious on the palate, and the finish connects all the dots of sensory. After fifty years, Spécial Club continues to lead in a class of its own with guaranteed excellence from Henri Goutorbe. ~Allegra A
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