Champagne R. H. Coutier is located in the grand cru village of Ambonnay, one of the top wine-producing sectors of the Montagne de Reims. The Coutier family has been in the village of Ambonnay since 1619, with Antoine Coutier currently at the helm. While Ambonnay is generally regarded as Pinot country, the family's nine hectares of vineyards are planted with one-third Chardonnay and two-thirds Pinot Noir. In fact, in 1946 Antoine Coutier’s grandfather father was the first vigneron in Ambonnay to plant Chardonnay in the village, which has flourished ever since and is now as highly regarded as the Pinot Noir from this grand cru village.
The vineyards on the Montagne de Reims shift exposure as one arrives in the village of Ambonnay, facing due south and producing a warmer microclimate for the grapes. There is also a bit more clay and a bit less limestone in the soils of Ambonnay than is typical throughout the region, which tends to produce more sumptuous styles in the wines, such as Coutier’s, which rely solely on Ambonnay fruit. This is not a large domaine by any stretch of the imagination, only producing 25,000 bottles in any given year.
The Coutier house style is accentuated by vinification and cellar techniques that seek to marry the traditional richness of Ambonnay fruit with the racy and pure style that the family cherishes. In this regard, only half of the Coutier wines go through malolactic fermentation, as Antoine feels this balances opulence with raciness in the finished wines. Barrel fermentation and/or aging is not used for any of the wines with the exception of the Cuvée Henri III.
The family still sells off approximately eighty percent of their production to other houses, and their own bottlings are a bit more dominated by Chardonnay in the blends than one might normally expect from a house based in Ambonnay. The non-vintage Brut Tradition is comprised of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, and is among the great values in the region. The Brut Rosé is a deeply colored example, as it is made from the same varietal percentages as the Brut Tradition, but with the difference being that all sixty percent of the Pinot Noir in the blend is still wine! It is a beautifully made rosé that offers up notes of red fruit, brioche and the complex soil tones of Ambonnay fruit. Next in the lineiup is a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs that features a high percentage of old vine fruit in the blend, including all of the original 1946 plantations from a single vineyard. Last in the Coutier hierarchy is their Brut Millésime, a classic vintage-dated bottle of bubbly that rewards cellaring, and the Cuvée Henri III, which is 100% Pinot Noir and the only wine to see wood in elevage.
The Champagne house of R. H. Coutier is one of the finest in Ambonnay, and is a wonderful introduction to the magic of grand cru bubbly in the heart of the Montagne de Reims. It has become a "go-to" for Polanerites and is beloved by clients seeking Champagnes that overdeliver on all counts.