Late Summer Elegance: Benoit Lahaye’s Naturessence!

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If two statements were to sum up the views of the Champagne lovers at Chambers Street Wines, they would be the following: “Champagne goes with all meals and all occasions” and “the drier the better,” (within reason, of course, taking into consideration that balance is the chief objective). This summer, we’ve been vigorously trying to convince our dear customers of the versatility of—and variety within— this wonderful category of wines, from the rich and vinous to the airy and light. The more Champagne we taste, the more we come to value drier styles that attain their fruit and mineral flavors through impeccable vineyard work and delicate handling in the cellar. Our thirst for Champagne has thus far not abated and we’re delighted to find a shipment of Benoît Lahaye, freshly arrived to quench our late summer thirst. This time, our shipment contains a wine that is new to our shelves: Naturessence!

A mere four months since our last eulogy to Benoît Lahaye, we’ll spare you regular readers the lengthy details and offer a synopsis of this wonderful grower’s work. Benoît farms five hectares of vines, the majority by horse. By the early 2000s, the Domaine was entirely converted to organic viticulture. By 2007, Benoît was certified; by 2009 Benoît was certified in biodynamics. In the cellar, Benoît uses some tanks and some barrels, some malo-lactic fermentation when he deems it appropriate. His wines generally contain around 25 milligrams of sulfur, which is minimal for Champagne. As organic farming has taken hold at the Domaine, he’s steadily decreased dosages, as he can rely on the naturally occurring ripeness, acidity, and mineral flavors of the grapes to give character to the wines. Based in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy in the southern reaches of the Montagne de Reims, Benoît’s wines are delicate, filigreed, and subtle when compared to the standard-bearers of Bouzy.  

Benoît Layahe’s Blanc de Noirs is an absolutely beautiful expression of Pinot Noir-based Champagne, with its notes of ginger and crushed raspberry. Dosed at three grams of sugar, rich and complex, Benoît’s Rosé de Macération is one of our most beloved Rosé Champagnes. The last time we tasted Benoît’s 2006 vintage offering, it showed superbly, the portion of old-vine Chardonnay in the blend leaving its unmistakable chalky mark on the wine. All things considered, we cannot possibly pick a favorite amongst these wines as each brings something unique to the glass. It is with great pleasure that we welcome Benoît’s Naturessence to our collection. Made entirely without dosage, it should suffice to curb our thirst for bone-dry deliciousness… at least until October. Limited quantities—further details below. Salut! Sophie

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Lahaye, Benoît NV Champagne Brut Naturessence

Equal parts Chardonnay from Tauxières and Voipreux and Pinot Noir from Ambonnay and Bouzy from 45-60 year old vines, vinified in barrels from biodynamic master Benoît Lahaye?!? Yes, please! Sign us up. This is the kind of Champagne that we love: vinous, complex, and deserving of time to open up as well as ample contemplation. This rendition of Naturessence shows both roundness of texture from barrel maturation and intense cut from low dosage and absence of malo-lactic fermentation. At a loss for our own words, we'll add a brief note from Champagne expert Peter Liem: "This is a wine of uncommonly subtle refinement and expression, and also one that is easily overlooked—spend some time with it and allow it to reveal its full potential." We certainly could not have said it better ourselves. (Disgorged 4/2014) MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
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  • no discount
  • $82.99

Lahaye, Benoît NV Champagne Blanc de Noirs

The first thing I noticed about this wine when I poured it in the glass was how incredibly fine the bubbles are. Certified biodynamic since 2009 and organic since 2007, Lahaye's Champagnes are a testament to what good vineyard work can do for a bottle of bubbly. On the nose, there's an initial burst of tangy yellow fruit such as mirabelle plum. Further nosing reveals a floral, raspberry note. More ethereal than rich, the wine maintains a certain level of vinosity while also being quite airy, lacy, and delicate. Constantly changing in the glass, this wine over-delivers for its price and offers a lot to contemplate. Dosed at 5 grams/liter. MSB

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  • white sparkling
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  • $69.99

Lahaye, Benoît 2006 Champagne Brut

This vintage wine from Lahaye is truly singing right now. The wine hails from parcels of old vines in Bouzy, including some Chardonnay (30%) planted on chalk, and there's a chalkiness to the wine's finish that adds to its overall complexity. The nose shows the Pinot Noir in the blend (70%), offering vinosity and a touch of oxidation; the midpalate is powerful, sappy, and resonant with acid and mineral. Dosed at between 3 and 4 grams, the wine feels very well-balanced; one doesn't want for a gram more or a gram less of sugar. I'd encourage all Champagne lovers to try a bottle of this outstanding wine today. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
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  • $67.99