Shaun's Staff Pick for Winter 2021
2011 Pascal Agrapart Venus
La Fosse Plot, Avize, Champagne
It’s safe to say 2020 was a truly unique year so let’s celebrate that it’s over with a truly unique champagne. It’s not very often you come across a single vineyard, single vintage, Champagne. Agrapart's 2011 Brut-Nature Blanc de Blancs Vénus Grand Cru is a dream wine. Deceptively medium in body, the Vénus is all about nuance, sensuality and layers. Vibrant and finely sculpted, the 2011 exudes class. Hints of lemon peel, minerals and flowers add complexity to a rich and brioche undertone of vanilla, dried Chinese plums and poached pear.
The Champagne house of Agrapart et Fils is located in the celebrated village of Avize in the heart of the Côte de Blancs. The estate was established in 1894. It’s unlike many of the smaller grower Champagne houses that have only begun to estate bottle under their own labels in recent decades, the Agrapart family has done so since the inception of the Domaine. The winery was founded by Arthur Agrapart and is now run by the fourth generation of the family. The Agrapart Domaine owns 12 hectares on vines. Pascal Agrapart, who shares ownership with his brother Fabrice, is the quiet force behind this esteemed property. Pascal looks a bit like the actor Russel Crowe, yet his demeanor couldn't be more different than that of a celebrity. He is humble and soft-spoken, with the talents and wisdom of an experienced, impassioned vigneron. While certainly a "man of the earth" who enjoys spending time in the vineyards, Pascal is equally versed in the technical details of the cellar, allowing him to explore and master his craft. He maintains the same commitment to excellence that has earned this fine Domaine, its loyal customer base in France and beyond. While Agrapart wines have long had somewhat of an underground following, in recent years, Pascal has gained an international reputation. He has had to learn to maneuver in the limelight, quietly and humbly, of course. Today, he is looked up to and revered by some of the region's rising stars as sort of a professor emeritus of the region, who blazed the trail of quality and helped to set the stage for Champagne's cutting-edge revolution. The down-to-earth, shy and sympathetic Pascal Agrapart and his brother Fabrice focus on terroir while making wines very naturally even though they are not certified organic. They aim to make vintage wines every single year and their tireless efforts in the vineyards give excellent results.
This champagne comes from a 0.3hectare vineyard called the La Fosse Plot. It was planted with chardonnay vines in 1959, and has never been worked with mechanical methods. This vineyard is exclusively harvested by the man and plowed by the Boulonnais Mare, Venus. Raised exclusively in old demi-muid oak barrels, unfiltered and bottled directly on cork. This wine sees zero dosage, has rested on its lees for 6 years and was riddled manually.
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