Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy

Champagne Geoffroy

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Novels start not with a decision, as so many people think, ‘Why did you decide to write?’. That sounds to me like a description of writer’s block, when you have to decide to write something. It comes in the form of a throb or a shiver . . . I could never, sort of, disobey that feeling.  – Martin Amis

 

Many growers, even in regions that have built their reputations on traditional ideas of terroir, would not bother with the kinds of viticultural challenges that arise from a co-planted vineyard. In Champagne, Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy is certainly a man apart because he’s put in the work to farm and field blend Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Meunier, Petit Meslier, Arbanne, Fromenteau, among others, from a single parcel of old vines in the village of Cumières, Les Houtrantes (shaded in light blue, directly below the left corner of the legend below).

At a recent tasting, attended by other Champagne growers and a number of avid Champagne enthusiasts, Jean-Baptiste’s Les Houtrantes Complantés ushered in an exquisite moment of silence followed by resounding praise. The emblematic mineral edges of Petit Meslier and Arbanne had been masterfully rounded out by conducting primary fermentation in ex-Colin-Morey barrels and by blending several vintages of of vins clairs. The resulting Champagne entrances with wistfully subtle floral, citrus, and smoky tones at the edges of the aromatic register and rewards the adventurous with a crackling, briney, and elegantly mercurial palate.

Like all of Geoffroy’s Champagnes, Les Houtrantes does not undergo malolactic fermentation, a traditional and thoughtful cellar decision, since Cumières, where Jean-Baptiste (JB) has 11 of his 14 hectares of vineyards, is one of the warmest and earliest-ripening villages in Champagne.

Sourced in their majority from choice, chalky sites, with great exposition, all of JB’s cuvées benefit from his care, discernment, and fastidious attention to detail.

Beginning with the Geoffroy’s premier cuvée, the Expression is a blend of Meunier (35%), Pinot Noir (35%), and Chardonnay (30%) from several parcels. Plot-by-plot vinification in individual steel tanks makes the Expression a zippy and nuanced aperitif. JB’s 2008 Empreinte is a concentrated and powerful, majority Pinot Noir blend; sourced from three Premier Cru parcels that are just north of Cumières. Primary vinification for the Empreinte is done in demi-muids and barrels, giving the Empreinte structure, richness, and length.

Selected from the old vines in Geoffroy’s best plots in Cumieres, 1995 saw the estate’s first vintage Champagne. Although the current release is 2005, we’re pleased to have some of the last remaining 2004 bottlings, a lean and finely focused blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Almost ten years of lees aging, under cork instead of capsule, has given JB’s 2004 a burnished golden color, aromatic complexity, and a rich, savory palate.

Finally, Geoffroy’s Rosé de Saignée deserves particular attention for its bold and brilliantly ruby-pink color and mouth-wateringly delicious palate. Elegance and drinkability are rarely held in such harmony in rosés made by the saignée method, but a finely timed and guided maceration have yielded a complex and seductive rosé Champagne.

The strength of Champagne’s image could lead many a grower to conformity, if not complacency, but the restless, although not always rewarded, are always easily seen.

- David Salinas

 

 

 

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Rene Geoffroy NV Champagne Brut 'Expression'

Sourced from several plots in the villages of Cumières and Hautvillers, the vins clairs for this Champagne are vinified separately in enameled steel vats. The final blend is 35% Meunier, 35% Pinot Noir, and 30% Chardonnay. As an exception to JB's default approach in the cellar, 17% of the Expression did undergo malolactic fermentation, although this wine remains lithe and zippy. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass and is punctuated by a slightly understated mousse. The nose opens with grassy tones followed by aromas of citrus, hay, and chestnuts. The palate is fairly broad with a certain heft that is underwritten by a lively minerality with floral and lemon sorbet notes before a savory, toasty finish. (Disgorged : 5/2014)  - David Salinas

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Rene Geoffroy 2008 Champagne Brut 'Empriente'

When John McIlwain and I tasted the 2008 Empreinte this past July, the potential, the power, and the value of this Premier Cru Champagne were on full display. The subsequent months have rendered more subtly refined aromas, while the palate has retained its memorable core of minerality and a strikingly long finish. It shines a pale golden yellow, dotted by a finely beaded mousse. The nose teases aromas of lime blossom, lemon blossom, fresh raspberries, and toasted hazelnuts. While the palate shows the weight and the power of Pinot Noir grown in Cumières and all the minerality of the 2008 vintage that carries through to a mouth-puckeringly tart finish. Overlook this Champagne at your sensorial peril!  (Blend : 79% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier, 6% Chardonnay; Disgorged : 7/2015). - David Salinas

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Geoffroy, René 2004 Champagne Premier Cru Extra Brut Millésimé

In the sometimes treacherous passage from grapes to wine, Geoffroy's flagship cuvée has been gifted every advantage. 50-year-old vines, on average, from JB's finest plots are used in the 2004's final blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. At pressing, only the "tête de cuvée" juices, the best juice from the first press, are used. The prise de mousse occurs under cork, not capsule, and the 2004 has aged for almost ten years on it lees to delicious results. It shines a medium golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a discrete mousse. Initial smoky tones, on the nose, give way to aromas of Cortland apples, honeysuckle, Mirabelle plums, and tamarinds. The palate is rich, round, and weighty with notes of green apples, greengages, and vanilla before a tart and smoky finish. (Disgorged 5/2014).  - David Salinas

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Rene Geoffroy NV Champagne Cumieres Saignee Rose 1er Cru

There are some Champagnes that appeal to both the head and the heart for their minerality and for their fruitiness. There are others that will admirably stand in for cranberry sauce. Geoffroy's Rosé de Saignée is all of those. Sourced entirely from Premier Cru Pinot Noir vineyards in the village of Cumières, it shows a gorgeous, electric, red cherry color in the glass and sports a generous mousse. The nose offers a parade of aromas of red cherries, black cherries, red currants, wild strawberries, Graham crackers, and a hint of smokiness. The palate is juicy and refreshing with notes of red cherries, cranberries, red licorice, red plums, raspberries, and Cortland apples through to an herbal and tart finish. This Champagne is juicy, delicious, and seductive! (Base 2012, Disgorged : 4/2015).  -David Salinas

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Rene Geoffroy NV Champagne Cumieres Saignee 1.5L Rose 1er Cru

Although this magnum shares the same base vintage (2012) as the 750ml, the stylistic differences between the two are clear. The magnum offers greater aromatic range, greater minerality, and greater aging potential, while remaining every bit as savory and delicious. It shows a striking ruby-pink in the glass and a finely-beaded mousse. The nose is a parade of black cherries, gooseberries, wild strawberries, thyme, and sage. The palate brings great concentration and focus with a zinging minerality that carries notes of black cherries and perfectly ripe raspberries through to a cranberry and blood orange zest finish. Rosé de Saignéee method Champagne does not come more refined, complex and lip-smacking than this great effort from Geoffroy. (100% Pinot Noir, Disgorged : 7/2014). - David Salinas

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Geoffroy, René Brut Nature 1er cru Les Hourants Complantes

Les Houtrantes Complantés is Geoffroy's most viticulturally ambitious and complex Champagne. Sourced from a field blend of old vines of all the allowed Champagne cultivars, there is not enough juice to make a cuvée each year, so JB stores reserve wine from previous vintages in magnums. This first release is a blend of 25% 2008, 35% 2009, and 40% 2010. Quite simply this is one of our most fascinatingly elegant and aromatically beguiling Champagnes. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass, adorned with a minutely beaded mousse. The nose unpacks an aroma box of linden flowers, sage, hyacinths, fresh mint, followed by Doyenne pears, Reine Claude plums, and a hint of smoky tones. The palate is refreshing stream of minerality, impeccably balanced and ripe for a Brut Nature, that glides and shifts to a saline and savory finish. One can't help but thinking of Rieslings from the great vineyards of Saar Valley. Simply stunning Champagne! (Disgorged 6/2015).

David Salinas

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  • $199.99