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Please join us to taste the superb Champagnes from Domaine André Beaufort on Thursday, March 16th from 5 till 7pm at the store, along with the owners of Ai Valloni who will pour their Nebbiolo-based wines from Boca in Piedmont. A double bill of extraordinary wines! And for an in-depth discussion and tasting of Champagne Beaufort, we are hosting an intimate dinner with Réol Beaufort at Racines NY, Wednesday, March 15th at 7pm, limited seating.
We visited the Beaufort vineyards in Polisy on a bitterly cold day in January. The 4.5 hectares are on hillsides of Kimmeridgian limestone with clay and calcareous rocks studded with shells, with the beautiful organic farming evident even in winter. Planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay (as are their grand cru vineyards in Ambonnay), the living soils give dense, crystalline, very mineral flavored wines. Tasted from barrel, the 2016s, which were harvested very early, showed beautifully with great purity, structure and minerality. The Beaufort wines stay in barrel for two years (10 months is the norm in Champagne) and go through the malolactic fermentation, still finishing with firm acidity. Fermentations here are with wild yeasts and in "normal" vintages there is no addition of SO2. Disgorgements for vintage wines are usually on command - "We keep our wines sur-lie as long as possible before release, so one can taste a Champagne of ten years of age with mature aromas, having conserved some traits of youth - thus, disgorgement is always recent, with the date inscribed on the label." Amaury Beaufort disgorged a 1996 Polisy for us "à la volée," which was aromatically beautiful and fabulously complex - a wonderful moment to taste Champagne!
After converting to organic agriculture in 1971, the Beauforts only became certified in 1994. "Having been among the pioneers of organic viticulture, we protested against the payment for certification - it seems paradoxical to pay to not pollute!" The Beauforts also avoid the use of copper sulfate in the vineyard, an organically-approved treatment which is harmful to soil fauna, preferring to use essential oils and homeopathic preparations of their own creation.
Direction of the family estate founded by André Beaufort was passed on to his son Jacques, and in 2007 to Jacques' son Amaury, with the participation of his brothers Réol, Quentin, Constant and Joachim. The domain is technically an NM, negociant, since grapes belonging to the brothers are sold to the family corporation, SARL Saint Jean Baptiste. The outstanding organic farming and natural winemaking continues with the new generation, with perhaps a diminution of the dosage and the availability of Brut Nature cuvées in some vintages.
Untreated soils, long aging, no additives/corrections and minimal (if any) use of sulfites gives wines that are unusual and quite "old-fashioned." Quoting the French review, Bettane and Desseauve: “Here is a grower out of the ordinary. With Beaufort you get not neutrality but an exalted, aromatic Pinot Noir, whether from Ambonnay or the l’Aube. The natural expression of his wines will remind older fans of the incomparable Champagne that prevailed before the adoption of industrial agriculture…”
Offered today are some of the Champagnes arriving in our next shipment at Pre-Arrival pricing. Wines arrive in about three weeks, prices go up on April 1st.
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort from the superb 2002 vintage - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical yet laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium-bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in Sept 2019 after 16+ years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines.
The 1998 Ambonnay Brut has long been a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brulée transition to notes of Jonagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! (Disgorged for this order in Jan, 2021)
Tasted in January 2017 at the estate. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length. A great vintage in Champagne yielding firmly structured wines for long-term cellaring. We'd love to re-taste this wine but it keeps selling out before we can get to it! (Disgorged for this order in January 2021 after 24+ years on the lees).
The new Beaufort Polisy Reserve Brut Nature NV is from the 2014 vintage and was disgorged in November of 2017. (Organic farming since 1971, wild yeast fermentations, minimal SO2.) This lovely Champagne shows a pale gold/bronze color with aromas of brioche, pear, lime flower, apricot and vanilla with a bit of brown spice and anise. Full, soft mousse on the palate with creamy pear, citrus, stone and herbal flavors, with hints of raspberry and red currant emerging. A bit soft and ripe for a Brut Nature, at 12% alcohol, but well balanced with refreshing acidity in the finish. Serve with a ceviche of squid or scallop, fish in sauce, goat cheeses or perhaps with berry or citrus desserts. David Lillie
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse but persistent, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear, mineral and herbal notes, with a vibrant firm stony finish. Lovely now and should cellar beautifully. This lot was disgorged in February of 2017 - it's a beautiful, elegant young Champagne and is highly recommended. DL
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..." (Current stock disgorged June, 2017)
This 2009 is 100% Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit and this really comes across, in the form of stately minerality and structure. It shines a vibrant golden yellow in the glass and sports a finely-beaded mousse. Aromas of spearmint, peppermint, lillies, hazelnuts, and spiced apple custard float up from the glass. The palate is both round, weighty, and alive with minerality with notes of yellow plums and Cortland apples that continue through to an elegant finish.
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious..." Anonymous notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017 (Disgorged April, 2017)
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, harvested early at 9% alcohol from NE-facing parcels. Elegant white fruit aromas. The palate is very expressive with white fruits, minerals and herbal notes, rich but balanced. (Tasted with 5 grams dosage, our disgorgement is Brut Nature.)
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “The aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...") (new inventory disgorged June 2017)