MCF Rare Wine

Champagne Ruppert-Leroy Delivers

The beauty of the 'grower' Champagne movement is that there is now so much great Champagne on the market at such a range of prices that we're no longer stuck choosing from a dozen or so ho-hum mainstream labels. 

On the other side of that coin, if one could say there's a downside to the grower Champagne movement, it's the fact that there are so many great Champagnes in the market now that, even for someone like me, whose job it is to keep up with these kinds of things, it's...awfully hard to keep up with things.

As soon as you fancy yourself on top of it, the next craze is ignited and...well...that's another discussion entirely...

But, from my tiny, marginally important view of things, two producers I've tasted lately have really forced me to consider them the next ascendant ones, destined for the big time...

The first is Roger Pouillon (who we'll discuss soon) and the other is today's producer, Ruppert-Leroy.

The latest round of wines I tasted from R-L were true knock-outs, the kind of bubblies that can shock you into the moment and remind you of all that is beautiful about life...and they do it all at pricing that, in the realm of Champagne, what with all it's luxury-driven mania, are really very fair.

My friend Mike, who distributes these wines, is probably reading this thinking 'Well it's about time!'

I say that because I've been circling around them for years now, but when push came to shove I always ended up buying his other producers.

But I can unequivocally say that this is the finest lineup of Ruppert-Leroy wines yet.

So without any more blathering...


Brut Nature '11,12,13'  $45
As one may expect from the name, this gem is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the 2011/2012/2013 vintages and, for under $50, it's a bleepin' delicious glass of broad, bready, nuttiness.  It's very oxidative in nature (thanks to the perpetual solera process) for what is essentially their baseline wine, but that oxidative quality is what gives it its chutzpah.  No joke, this drinks like a bottle that's been nestled snugly in your cellar for a decade instead of something that just hit the market.  This is a contender for Champagne of the Year in terms of Pound-for-Pound value, in my book.

Brut Nature Papillon 2014 $63 (limited)
Here we have another really delicious wine made in the oxidative style, but from the single-vintage/single-varietal/single-vineyard category, which is really all the rage among the small growers these days, because they see it as the only true way to express 'terroir' in Champagne.  R-L's most well-known/regarded wine up to this point has probably been the Fosse-Grely bottling which comes from a vineyard of the same same that is planted with both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  The Papillon is a special bottling made exclusively from Fosse-Greley Pinot Noir.  Here we have the rich, brighter fruit associated with a 'black grape' wine, but with a much more savory undertone.  The tension here between the berry-ish fruit and the deep, almost blue-cheesy savory nuance is quite incredible.  If you're one who likes to tackle an entire meal with Champagne, this is a perfect candidate.  

Brut Nature Martin Fontaine 2013 $68
In contrast to the broad, nutty richness of the first two, this Martin Fontaine is a Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) and it shows.  Not only that, but when you couple its Chadonnay-ness with the amazingly linear, mineral and fiercely structured 2013 vintage, what you get is one hell of a palate-piercing (and rather breathtaking) glass of bubbly.  It's all precision, aromatics and minerals with a screaming backbone.  Right now, it's got oysters written all over it, but it's really a vin de garde and, should you have the ability, this one should be tucked away for a few years at least, so the lovely Chardonnay character can blossom.  It's as good an example of a 2013 that I've had so far and indicates just how much there is to look forward to in this classic vintage.


They are all available by the bottle/case, but see below for the 'Combo Pack' pricing, all of which, I might add, would make for lovely gifts!

Matt Franco