Wine Review: Laherte Frères “Les 7” Extra Brut

Again, she is reviewing Champagne! Yes, I am a sucker for it, and not least due to Champagne taking a turn back to what it was hundreds of years ago. I am a great fan of natural flavors that come from good care of the vines and terroir (and low dosage). You truly taste it in the wine, the land and the soil, and that is why the mass market will never be my thing. I am  not so interested in the wine tasting the same from year to year, I am curious about what each year has to offer.

Laherte Frères is one of my favorite growers. Their philosophy is to offer a taste of the terroir emphasizing the human touch in their winemaking. They are not certified as bio-dynamic, but use as many natural techniques as possible. The priority is the quality, not the quantity.

“Les 7” is a ticket for a ride back in time. It is comprised of a blend of all seven permitted grape varieties in Champagne: Fromenteau, Arbanne, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Petit Meslier and exhibits a taste from 250 years ago. The dosage is low (4g/l) to make sure no characteristics of the wine are hidden. The grapes are grown on a single plot in Chavot. They undergo a natural alcoholic fermentation in old Burgundy barrels and the wine is a Solera, a blending of several years (this specific bottle 2005-2011).

The amazing Les 7 ancient variety champagne from Laherte Freres
The amazing Les 7 ancient variety champagne from Laherte Freres

The nose is has light toastiness, lemon peel and some flowery notes. Acacia perhaps. The bubbles are persistent but not aggressive. When opened, the taste is quite overpowering with grapefruit acidity. however, after a while it gathers more notes of bread dough and the mouth feel softens. The wine has a long and classy finish and is absolutely lovely with the matured Comte cheese we have chosen as an appetizer. The characteristics of the wine remind me of another favorite bubbly, the Five Sens from Olivier Horiot. I could imagine this a white wine, just with lovely bubbles and acidity.

This is a bottle we picked up in London over new year. We were browsing around in the Sampler (review here), and I just happened to ask if they know the wine (as they often sell other Laherte Freres wines). The shopkeeper was pleased, as he had one more bottle for sale, under the counter. We paid around 70£ for it, but I did feel that it was a fair price. It is quite unique and looking at the production, I can understand that having a dedicated plot and blending several soleras requires some more investment from the winemaker than an average cuvee. From quality perspective the wine is a 4 (I think its fabulous), however value for money a 3. I would definitely recommend to give it a try, but perhaps have a bottle before you buy the case.

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