Domaine Marie Courtin - Côte des Bar

Domaine Marie Courtin fact sheet

With the desire to produce single-vineyard, single-vintage Champagne, Dominique Moreau created her estate in 2001, although she did not bottle her first vintage under the domaine name until 2006. The domaine, tiny by Champagne standards (2.5 hectares), all from a single hillside parcel in her village of Polisot, is located in Champagne’s southern most Côte des Bar, prized for its Pinot Noir. For Champagne, the region’s warmer temperatures and Kimmeridgian, limestone based soils excel at producing fruit which is at once both rich and textured while retaining acidity and freshness.

In recognition of the enormous vineyard effort necessary in order to produce superior wines of any stripe, Dominique named the domaine after her great-grandmother Marie Courtin, whom she describes as a “woman of the earth” and someone who was frequently found working in the vineyard. All of the domaine fruit comes from a single vineyard of massale-selection Pinot Noir, with a small amount of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc scattered about, planted in the 1970s by her father-in law. The parcel is farmed organically and beginning with the 2009 vintage will have completed the transition toward certification. In this regard, having all of her vines within one vineyard is also an advantage in minimizing the undesired affects of neighbors who farm conventionally. The vineyard work for any domaine following sustainable principles is primordial and includes plowing early in the season and a rigorous work of debudding in order to ensure evenly spaced bunches on the vine. Debudding  is at the core of Dominique’s work for several reasons. First, it reduces the risk of rot later in the season, always a risk in Champagne, by increasing aeration on the vine and by limiting the number of buds and superfluous vegetative growth. It also lowers yields, increases concentration, and promotes the ripening process. Ripe fruit is obviously important to make good wine anywhere, but in Champagne, France’s northern most wine growing region, it can be an extreme challenge. Furthermore, a grower who focuses on non-dosé wines, such as Dominique, who does not rely on the final addition of sugar to round out the hard edges, must ensure that their fruit is sufficiently ripe. This combination of diligent vineyard work, low yields, clay-limestone soils and a southern exposure gives these wines both power and precision, with energy and lots of mineral intensity.

The domaine crafts two distinct cuvées, “Résonance” and “Efflorescence”, the former fermented in stainless steel, the latter in older Burgundy barrels. Although Dominique produces a Brut as well as the Extra-Brut version of Résonance, we chose the Extra-Brut because we found that the absence of a finishing sugarBasket Press infusion results in a wine with more pure mineral expression. The wine is 90% Pinot Noir with the balance coming from her Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc vines. Efflorescence is 100% Pinot Noir and the grapes tend to come from further down the hill, where as in the Côte D’Or, one finds a greater proportion of clay-based soils which supply grapes lending greater power and structure than limestone rich soils. At harvest, all the fruit is harvested by hand, returned to the cellar a few steps away and pressed using a traditional wooden basket press. The fruit is fermented with a yeast strain that was cultivated exclusively from her grapes during the 2003 harvest. These native yeasts are used for both primary and secondary fermentations.

The names of the wines carry spiritual significance for Dominique as well. “Résonance” refers to the balancing energies of earth and sky that affect the creation of a wine from its surrounding terroir. For Dominique, “Efflorescence” refers to “something that evolves in perpetuity”. Starting with the evolution encouraged by the small oxygen exchange in barrel, she feels that this wine in particular will show a very different face at each stage of its development in bottle. She recommends that both wines be served in traditional white wine glasses to allow for their development through increased aeration. In 2009 Dominique also produced her first rosé Champagne, which will be called “Intempérance.” We look forward to that and to representing this exciting young estate whose name and reputation is just being discovered in the expanding pallet of artisan, grower Champagne.

Domaine Marie Courtin

2008 RésonanceMade of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, this is a youthful and vivacious wine. Though still a bit tightly wound and nervy…

2006 EfflorescenceWhile this shows the dark, rich ripeness typical of the 2006 vintage, it carries itself with a wonderful elegance and finesse, its subtle red cherry and berry notes feeling silky and refined as well as intensely fragrant.

ÉloquenceA tiny section of the hillside, 16 ares to be exact (16/100 of a hectare), is planted to Chardonnay and exposed to the southeast.

ConcordanceConcordance is 100% Pinot Noir without sulfur, a careful selection of the cleanest Pinot from the harvest, vinified and raised entirely in stainless steel.