Henriet-Bazin Champagne Grand Cru Eusèbe 2012 – Practicing organic
Champagne, like Cognac, is a region that revolves around commercial houses whose names (Moet, Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot, Mumm, etc.) are instantly recognizable around the world. Production levels at these houses are huge, and quality levels are extremely consistent. Most of the large houses own minimal vineyards, and the great majority of their base product is purchased from any number of the 12,000 farmers in the region that grow grapes. Large houses work very hard at establishing the name of their houses and getting their products into customers’ hands around the globe.
The past few decades have seen many independent growers bottling their own products. In contrast to the aforementioned houses (also known as NM or Negociants-Manipulants), the growers (RM or Recoltants-Manipulants) grow their own grapes, make the wine, then bottle and commercialize the champagne directly from their properties. In fact on many urban restaurant wine lists, grower champagnes now outsell the big brands.
Champagne Henriet-Bazin traces its origins to two families with deep roots in the Montaigne de Reims. The Bazin family came from the village of Verzenay where they cultivated vineyards and supplied grapes to some of the large houses. The Henriet family grew grapes in a neighboring village. Toward the end of the 19th century, Gaston Henriet married Eugénie Bazin and soon began making his own champagnes, a gutsy move at a time when very few independent Champagne producers existed in the region.
However, it was Gaston’s son Robert and his wife Huguette who really expanded the business. They would travel the country and show their bubblies at fairs and markets, first in the local area, then outside of Champagne. They soon built up sales to 35,000 bottles—quite an achievement for a husband and wife team in those days! In 1968, the family moved to the village of Villers-Marmery. This village, in the eastern part of the Montagne de Reims, is the only village planted with a majority (98%) of Chardonnay in a sea of Pinot Noir. The chalk here is very close to the surface of the soil and has a huge influence on the wines—something that helps make it one of only four villages in the Montagne de Reims that is premier cru for Chardonnay but not for the region’s predominant grape Pinot Noir.
Champagne Henriet-Bazin Grand Cru “Eusebie” 2012 is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the family’s grand cru vineyards. A pale golden color, it has yeasty and nutty aromas overlaid with a beautiful touch of honey. On the palate, it is perfectly balanced, with honeyed and toasty notes alongside bright citrusy flavors. This is a very unique cuvée and a superb food Champagne as well.