Bertrand Gautherot used to sell grapes to other Champagne producers, but after some convincing by a famous Champagne friend (Anselme Selosse), he started producing Champagne under his own name in 2001, with his first wine released in 2004. Gautherot’s 5.5 hectares are located in the village of Buxières-sur-Arce in the Aube’s Côte des Bar, just 60km northeast of Chablis. His parcels (Vouette, Sorbée, and Biaunes) consist of Kimmeridgian marls capped by Portlandian limestone, which have more in common with the soils of Chablis’ premier and grand cru vineyards than they do with their counterparts in the Marne.
Although Vouette et Sorbée only started releasing Champagnes about 10 years ago, the domaine has grown in stature, mentioned in the same reverent conversations as rising stars Cédric Bouchard, Dominique Moreau (Marie Courtin), and Pascal Agrapart.
Through fastidious work both in the vineyard and in the cellar, Vouette et Sorbée produces Champagnes faithful to the character of their terroir and vintage. Gautherot farms the estate biodynamically; its vineyards have been Demeter certified since 1998. Average vine age is over 20 years.
Bertrand manually harvests the grapes, and employs a vertical Coquard press to obtain the juice from the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. In the cellar, he ferments with natural yeasts and employs minimal sulfur before bottling. All the base wines are fermented in oak, and all wines are derived from a single year, with less than 10% reserve wine. Bertrand prefers to make wines as transparent as possible so he doesn’t use liqueur d’expedition. Bottles also list disgorgement dates, as well as the year of the base wine. Vouette et Sorbée’s wines aren’t vintage dated since they only spend 20 months on the lees vs. the minimum 36 months mandated, for vintage designation.
The Fidèle (Extra Brut) is the estate’s main cuvée, a blanc de noirs (grown on Kimmeridgian soils) with dried cherry fruit and a savory, herbal intensity. The Blanc d’Argile is a blanc de blancs from younger vines, grown in the west-facing Biaunes vineyard, which produces a wine that combines power with chalky, mineral precision. The Saignée de Sorbée, from the Portlandian soils of the Sorbée vineyard, is one of their most original and individual bottlings. A saignée rosé, this has deep concentrated pomegranate and raspberry fruits and savory, peppery, meaty flavors. With its power and stony, ferrous intensity, it tastes as if Gautherot bled the terroir of this vineyard straight into this idiosyncratic and singular Champagne!
If asked, Bertrand will say that he is a farmer first and foremost and in addition to vines he raises chickens and cattle and operates a nearly self-sustaining enclosed ecosystem. If you’re looking for a Champagne vigneron who embodies the dynamic portion of biodynamic, look no further than Bertrand Gautherot from Vouette et Sorbée.
Before becoming Champagnes, they are fine wines. And their great originality has given them cult status among those who prize wines of singular personality. Richard Juhlin is among their greatest fans, ranking Vouette & Sorbée as “the only 4-star property outside the Marne.”