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Tasting notes: This equal part Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend exhibits extraordinary depth and inimitable character—and leaves a deeply embedded crushed-mineral footprint. And while it is incredibly vinous and powerfully structured, there is always a pulsing elegance to the wine: Rainier cherry, acacia, plums, redcurrant, dried black raspberry, and honeysuckle glide out of the glass, followed by crushed stones, oyster shell, hazelnut, and subtle notes of exotic spice.
Eric Coulon is the eighth generation of a family of vignerons that has cultivated vineyards in the premier cru village of Vrigny, Montagne de Reims, since 1806. To pay tribute, the domaine kept the name of Eric's father, Roger Coulon, who died when Eric was 14 years old. Today, Eric and his wife, Isabelle, farm more than 100 parcels of vineyards, which add up to 11 hectares and are spread across six communes, including the Côte des Blancs. "It's a mosaic of plots and parcels, but they virtually all face east, which is important for me because it's the best exposition and the exposition of most of the grand crus," Eric says. He cultivates mainly Pinot Meunier (40%) as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in equal parts and keeps the yields very low.
There are two main things that are important to understand the light, discreet, delicate and harmonious style of Roger Coulon.
First, there is no chaptalization, as Eric prefers lower alcohol wines and tends to find Champagnes imbalanced when they exceed 12% alcohol.
Second, he prefers a moderate and elegant spume and pressure. That's why he adds less sugar to start the second fermentation and keeps the pressure at five rather than six atmospheres. "It's the style my grandfather used to cultivate rather than my father," Eric says. In fact, it was his grandfather who trained him to handcraft Champagne like it was done 100 years ago. "Just the dosage is much lower today than it used to be in the old days..." After the press, the must is fermented with indigenous yeasts, and the best wines are aged in tonneaux for up to 24 months before the bottling. There is no stirring of the lees and no fining. After the disgorgement, the cuvées are kept for another six months in the domaine before they are shipped into the different markets.
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