Bea, our sommelier was lucky enough to be invited to visit Hatt et Söner in Champagne. Do have a read of what sounds like the most wonderful weekend.
Pictured above: winemaker, Kristofer Ruscon.
We arrived in Epernay on Thursday 2nd May, late afternoon. Awaiting the next day, we decided to dine in a little spot in Epernay, La Cave à Champagne, a family-run restaurant. We thought we deserved a little “warm up” at the start of the trip so we ordered a bottle of Champagne (naturally), fois gras, Canard à Orange, and a selection of the cheeses of the region, Langres and Chaource. As I’m sure you’ll agree, we were off to a fantastic start…
On Friday morning the team from Hatt et Söner picked us up from Epernay, and we arrived at Bergères-les-Vertus, where the winery is based. After teas and coffees, we began with an introduction on the history of the region and on the winery. Following on from this fantastic welcome to the Champagne house, we moved outside to the vines, so we could finally meet the founder, Kristofer Ruscon.
To help us understand the potential of the oldest plot of Chardonnay in Bergères, Kristofer shared some bottles of the ’99 vintage, still on lees. We discourged them with his help – this was the one of the best experiences I have ever had. We enjoyed the unbeatable view, with the bottles we opened paired with some caviar. A real treat.
We then moved back to the winery, where we had two different tastings. The first with all the Cuvées produced. We tasted:
• 2013 Quattor Blanc des Blancs (6g/l)
• 2014 Les Matines Brut nature (1g/l)
• Rosé Brut (10g/l)
• 2009 Le Grand Pére Dignitas (4g/l)
• 2007 Signum Est (1g/l)
• 2013 Le Grand Pére Omnes (6g/l)
All the cuvées except the rosé are made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. The cuvée Quattor is the Blanc de Blancs blend of different vineyards, originating from the villages of Vertus, Oger, Les Mesnil sur Oger and Bergères. The vines are older, most of them planted in the 1970s. This cuvée shows citrus, refreshing characters, with lovely hints of chamomile and white blossom. Le Matines, a single vineyard cuvée, shows beautiful, crunchy red apple and smoked almond characters – typical notes of a champagne with longer ageing on the lees (6 years).
The Brut Rosé has a highly appealing nose and a palate full of fresh raspberries, strawberries, mint and basil. The last three, the rarest cuvées, have a very small production of less than 1000 bottles each. These were then revealed to the group with great excitement…
Le Grand Pére Dignitas, in honour of Kristofer’s grandfather, comes from the 2 best plots of Chardonnay from Oger and Bergères and shows complexity and ripeness, with candied lemon, apricot, saffron and elderflower, boasting vibrant acidity.
Signum Est and Omnes, the newest projects, are only released in certain vintages. Both showing a never-ending mouthfeel, Omnes is actually the only one made with one year-used oak barrels, from a plot of vines planted in 1955. The complexity of the cuvée is a delicious surprise, with lime and lemon peel, golden apples, sweet almond, vanilla, gingerbread and brioche on the nose and palate.
We then got dressed up for the Gala dinner that took place in a 13th-century Abbey, where the atmosphere, fine food and the Hatt et Söner team made the experience unique and perfect, with some famous opera songs being performed during every course.
They made my first wine trip in Champagne one of the best wine trips I have ever embarked on, and here’s to many more…