An Obscure Region & Ancient Grape Varieties: Meet Olivier and Marie Horiôt

Southern Champagne is seldom spoken of in the hushed tones reserved for the fabled terroirs of the Marne of the Cote des Blancs but by our estimation, some of the most compelling developments in Champagne are coming from the Aube. The area has a long history with fame derived from its still red wines and even a game-changing rosé grown in the marls and Kimmeridgian limestone soils, which have more in common with Chablis than the Marne or Montagne de Reims.  The Aube is also home to some of my favorite vignerons; Vouette & Sorbée, Ruppert Leroy & Marie Courtin, and of course Olivier Horiôt, whom of which this email is about
The finest growers in Riceys are Olivier and Marie Horiôt, who not only produce luminous Champagnes, but two single-vineyard Rosé des Riceys, and a startlingly mineral Coteaux Champenois white. With family roots in vine growing dating to the 1600s and a father and grandfather who sold their grapes to the cave cooperative, Olivier Horiôt decided to vinify independently as well as work organically with some biodynamic methods. Blessed with established vines in distinctive terroir, Olivier initially decided to make only Rosé des Riceys and Coteaux Champenois before complimenting the still wines with sparkling wines in 2004. With 8 parcels of different terroirs, Olivier decided to bottle some separately: south-facing En Valingrain’s lighter marl lends more precision and finesse, while the heavier clays and eastern and southeastern exposure of En Barmont contribute more richness and generosity. And though Rosé des Riceys is already a somewhat esoteric wine, bottling two different cuvées shows the Horiôt’s commitment to terroir.
While the Rosé des Riceys and Coteaux Champenois are not available for this offer, their Champagne is deserving of the same praise.  This is an opportunity to explore grapes like Arbanne, Meslier, or Champagne made from Pinot Blanc.  When was the last time you drank Champagne produced from all seven of the permitted grape varieties?  You better believe I have stashed away a bottle of each for myself.  Shop  Horiôt.

5 Sens Brut Nature 2016 Base

The 5 Sens is comprised of biodynamically farmed Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Blanc (a particularly successful variety in the Aube. Boasting suave fruit and a fine bead and deft mineral cut, this will shimmer at the holiday table. 

Rosé des Riceys En Barmont

Though there are fewer than 20 growers of Rosé des Riceys, we tend to think of the wines as a coming from a single terroir. By separately vinifying two different lieux-dits, Olivier Horiot shows the possibilities of expression within the appellation. En Barmont is a warm site, whose southerly exposure and marls interspersed with Kimmeridgian limestone produce a ripe Pinot Noir with a broader, more generous character than that of nearby En Valingrain. Red fruits and roses define the nose and a supple succulence mark the palate. 

Sève Rosé de Saignée 

With every release we grow fonder of the the quietly elegant and vinous Sève Rosé from Olivier and Marie Horiot. The Sève is a Rosé de Saignée, from the warm, single vineyard site of en Barmont, where the ripeness of the exposure is balanced by the limestone marl soils.  Four days of semi-carbonic maceration highlight fruit and floral aromas and lend lift to this particularly ebullient Champagne. 

NV Champagne "Métisse" Brut Nature (2018 base)

Comprised of organically farmed Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc from 8 different vineyards in Les Ricey. The varieties are fermented separately with native yeasts in barrel and bottled with Zero dosage. Métisse is perfumed in the glass with lovely aromas of apple blossoms, pear skin, wet stone and rainwater. The palate is supple and lithe, with ripe stone fruit and beeswax notes astride a firm, decidedly mineral core.

 NV Champagne 'Soléra' 7 Cépages

Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbanne, Meslier farmed biodynamically and fermented separately in barrel and aged on its lees before blending in a perpetual soléra. This bottling shows perfect balance between fine-grained minerality and burnished character from the reserve wines that make up the perpetual cuvée. We love the tension here and the the nose keeps beckoning us back to the glass.

2017 Champagne Envol' 

Is the inaugural release from the Horiots.  100% Pinot Noir vinified without sulfites in a single concrete egg.

Happy Sipping.