Thanks to Peter Liem of Champagneguide.net for the use of his picture.

Pascal Agrapart: Master of his Domaine

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In the first few minutes of a recent visit to Pascal Agrapart, a friend and sommelier described Agrapart as having, “that master of the universe thing going on,” and I knew what he meant. This description is reserved for vignerons who have figured it out - “it” - being the elusive art of making exceptional wine.  Over the course of our tasting with him, we came to realize how truly masterful Pascal Agrapart is. For some time it seemed that this winemaker, though extremely well-regarded in France (the village leader in Avize aside from Selosse), was barely known this side of the pond. Now, however, the secret is out, and for good reason; we find ourselves fighting tooth-and-nail for our allocation of these wines, which will arrive in April, amid much fanfare and excitement at 148 Chambers Street.

Pascal took over the Agrapart Domaine, which dates back to the late 19th century, in 1984. It’s a ten hectare estate that comprises more than 60 small parcels predominantly in the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oiry, and Oger (though the “7 Crus” bottling incorporates three 1er Crus as well). The changes Pascal has wrought at the Domaine include working more naturally in the vineyard and cellar; he works the soil manually and has ceased using chemicals in the vineyards, though he has no plans to become certified in organics as he prefers to retain the right to treat if necessary. In the cellar, all base wines are fermented with native yeast, which is uncommon in Champagne, where many very good growers will resort to cultured yeast if fermentations don’t start spontaneously. Agrapart uses wood in the cellar for his top wines, preferring older barrels that do not impart oaky flavors to the wines. In fact, Agrapart’s base wines (vins clairs) taste very much like finished wines; this is a fantastic harbinger of what’s to come once the second fermentation and lees aging are finished.    

What can we say about the “house style” at Agrapart? The wines are chiseled and impeccably balanced with lots of chalk on the nose, gorgeous, dense Chardonnay fruit on the mid-palate that tapers into a long and extremely chalky finish. These wines taste great. For the first time ever we are thrilled to offer Agrapart’s “Complantée” (read more below…) and for the first time in several years, Agrapart’s fabulous “Cuvée Venus” will grace our shelves (unless you, valued customer, snap the bottles up first…) These wines are extremely limited; we'll do our best to fulfill demand. Salut! -Sophie 

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Agrapart NV Champagne Blanc de Blanc "7 Crus" (08/09 base)

This new disgorgement of Agrapart "7 Crus" is based on the stellar 2008 vintage. The wine comprises all of the terroirs Agrapart farms, Grand and 1er Crus in the Côte des Blancs. We have always loved the 7 Crus botting from Agrapart for its easygoing yet spirited contribution to any party or table, and this version is extra laser-like and delicious due to the large portion of 2008 fruit in the wine. A small percentage of the wine is aged in large oak barrel, the rest in tank and with complete malolactic fermentation. The wine sees 7 grams of dosage, but feels drier. 7 Crus is always an excellent introduction to Agrapart's style, which is fine and creamy in texture yet taut and chiseled in structure. (disgorged December, 2013) MSB

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  • $51.99

Agrapart NV Champagne Blanc de Blanc "7 Crus"

The fruit for this by no means "entry level" yet extremely well-priced Agrapart bottling comes from parcels in each of the seven villages in the Cotes des Blancs. The wine stays on the lees for three years with some stirring; its primary fermentation occurs with native yeast, the second with a pied de cuve. Offers very pretty white fruit and flower character with an appealing creamy lemon curd note. This is a delightful and easy going Champagne that is also a super value. -msb

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  • $37.99

Agrapart NV Champagne Grand Cru Terroirs Extra-Brut Bl de Bl 1

We could not be more enthusiastic about this magnum from Agrapart. A blend of equal parts 2006 and 2007 fruit, the grapes are sourced from several villages in the Côte des Blancs: Avize, Cramant, Oiry, and Oger. from vines that are 20-40 years old. There is some barrel used in the élèvage here, but for the most part the wine is raised in tank and has an easy-going freshness that mingles nicely with its zesty, saline minerality. This bottles seems to show what Agrapart does best: make wines of the utmost complexity that highlight the classic lemon-y, citrusy, chalky flavors of the Côte des Blancs. -msb

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  • $135.99

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  • $149.99

Agrapart NV Avize Grand Cru Extra Brut Complantée

This wine is based on the three classic Champagne varieties with the addition of Arbanne, Pinot Blanc, and Petit Meslier. The vines are planted in the "La Fosse" vineyard, the same vineyard that gives us the fabulous cuvée Vénus. The idea behind this wine is to see if terroir trumps variety, the ancient varieties sort of cancelling each other out to reveal greater expression of minerality. The wine is outstanding with fennel and red fruit notes on the nose, very fine mousse, and a beautiful, chalky finish. In general, these ancient varieties can yield a rustic Champagne, but, as we'd expect from Agrapart, this wine is the soul of refinement. (dosage: 5 grams) -Sophie Barrett

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  • $89.99

Agrapart & Fils 2006 Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs "Mineral"

Agrapart's Minéral comes from vines in Avize and Cramant. The vines are – on average – 40 years old, and the wine receives much the same treatment as Avizoise: the base wine is aged in barrel then left sur lie for six years before disgorgement. The wine is bottled Extra Brut receiving four grams of dosage. If anything Minéral is perhaps more open as a young wine than Avizoise. Tasting it in January revealed absolutely lovely stone fruits and white flowers on the palate culminating in an extremely chalky finish. Just the smallest glass in the tasting room of the winery had quite a knee weakening effect. (disgorged June 2012) -msb

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  • $79.99

Agrapart 2006 Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs L'Avizoise

In our opinion, this is as fine an expression of Avize terroir as you'll find. It's a selection of grapes from Agrapart's best parcels, all from vines at minimum 50 years old. The base wine ferments in barrel with full malo completed, then the wine ages for five years sur lie before disgorgement. The wine is bottled Extra Brut (4 grams dosage).This long period of lees aging before release makes for an increbibly fine and creamy texture complementing the wine's intense concentration and deep, mineral core. Additionally, this wine is aged under cork rather than capsule during its years on the lees.This process, which allows a very slow exchange between wine and air, gives a certain open-ness and concentration to the wine upon release and makes for an even finer mousse. A fantastic choice for the cellar, this wine is superb whether you chose to drink or hold... (disgorged June 2012) -msb

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  • $104.99

Agrapart 2006 Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Vénus

"Venus" – perhaps Agrapart's top wine – takes its name from the horse who plowed the vines on this .3 hectare parcel in the "La Fosse" vineyard in Avize. The vines here were planted in 1959 and have never seen a mechanical harvest; in other words, the parcel has only been worked by hand and horse. In the cellar, the wine is aged sur lie under cork for five years before release. Needless to say this wine has its own very special story and it's a magnificent bottle... and a subtle bottle. The most prominent characteristic is minerality that – as is generally the case with Agrapart's wines – interplays beautifully with wine's creamy texture and overalll zestiness. Whether you propose to cellar or to drink now, this is truly a rare and very vivid bottle of wine. -msb

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  • $145.99

Agrapart 2002 Avize Grand Cru Extra Brut Vieux Millesime

This is a late release from the famed 2002 vintage in Champagne. From Avize and Cramant fruit, the wine aged for seven years on the lees and was disgorged in December 2009... We have not yet had the pleasure of tasting it. -msb

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  • $175.99