Champagne Clandestin Grandes Lignes Brut Nature

Champagne Clandestin Grandes Lignes Brut Nature

Appellation: Champagne
Country: France
William Kelley 93
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From south-facing Kimmeridgian soils planted with Chardonnay comes the NV Brut Nature Les Grandes Lignes, derived in this case entirely from the 2019 vintage. Offering up notes of citrus oil, green apple, white flowers and blanched almonds, it's medium to full-bodied, fleshy and satiny, with racy acids and a long, saline finish.  William Kelley 93

Les Grandes Lignes comes from a single 0.5 HA vineyard of Chardonnay planted on a gentle slope of Portlandian limestone soils with full southern exposure. Like everything at Clandestin, it is harvested by hand and fermented by natural yeasts in a French oak demi-muid. After 10 months it is bottled and aged sur latte for 15 months. To retain the purity of the terroir, Les Grandes Lignes is bottled without dosage.

Champagne Clandestin is a new joint project between Bertrand Gautherot of Vouette & Sorbée and his righthand man, the young, energetic, Meursault-trained Benoit Doussot. Needless to say, both Bertrand and Benoit have a lot of experience with the terroirs of the northern edge of the Côte des Bar, so much so that their neighbors in Buxières-sur-Acre have been turning to them for assistance in setting their vineyards to rights after years of neglect. Clandestin means hidden or secret and it refers to the source of this Champagne: tiny, overlooked vineyards surrounded by woods and often having conventionally ideal orientation. Many are west-facing parcels of Pinot Noir on Kimmeridgian soils and Chardonnay on Portlandian soils all in rhw hills above Buxières-sur-Acre.

Bertrand farms all of these sites organically and Champagne Clandestin is certified by ECOCERT. Having worked alongside Bertrand for many years, Benoît employs the same exacting standards for which Vouette & Sorbée has been praised. After pressing the wine is aged in French oak barrels following closely the training in Meursault that Benoit received before moving north to Champagne. The Champagnes appeal to purists with lovely minerality, cut, and precision.

When Clandestin started just a few years ago, the wines were incredibly sharp and racy. With time and experimentation, Benoît has arrived at a place where his brut nature wines can be mineral and textured. He picks later than almost anyone in Champagne, for starters. This later harvest pushes down the acid levels a bit, allowing more room for the elevage to step into view. He also focus on barrel work, including experimenting with barrel size and duration to achieve harmony without dosage. Judging from his success, this works for him but doesn’t work for everyone. Zero dosage is risky and, in our view, very hard to pull off.

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