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 fifth gneration vigneron 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 1948 Antoine Coutier’s grandfather was the first vigneron in Ambonnay to plant Chardonnay in the village, a daring step at the time, which has flourished ever since and is now as highly regarded as the Pinot Noir from this grand cru village.
The family vineyards consist of 40 different plots located exclusively in Ambonnay, with an average vine age of 38 years. In 2019, the Coutiers began organic conversion, which felt like a logical step after years of working with great respect for nature, including never using herbicides and focusing only on organic fertilizers. After years of farming organically, the family will earn organic certification of the entire estate in 2023 and their first AgriBio (AB) certified wines will come from the 2023 harvest.
The vineyards on the Montagne de Reims shift exposure as one arrives in the village of Ambonnay, facing south and southeast, and producing a warmer microclimate for the grapes. There is also a bit more clay, coupled with the strong influence of the chalky limestone, which gives Coutier's sumptuous wines both richness and freshness. This is not a large domaine by any stretch of the imagination, only producing 60,000 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. To that end, two-thirds of the Coutier wines go through malolactic fermentation, as Antoine feels this balances opulence with tension in the finished wines. Barrel fermentation and/or aging is only used for the Cuvée Henri III and the single vineyard cuvée "La Pierre Aux Larrons". A second single vineyard wine, "Le Bout Du Clos," sees ageing in ceramic vessels.
While the family previously sold a portion of their annual harvest to negociant houses, today all fruit is estate bottled. Their blends are more dominated by Chardonnay than one might normally expect from a house based in Ambonnay. The non-vintage Brut Tradition is comprised of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and is among the great values in the region. The Brut Rosé is also a blend of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with the difference being that Pinot is all still red 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 lineup is a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs that features a remarkable depth and richness. Last in the Coutier hierarchy are their Brut Millésime, a classic vintage-dated bottle of bubbly that rewards cellaring, along with the Cuvée Henri III, which is 100% Pinot Noir aged one year in barrels with no malolactic fermentation. In the spring of 2020, the family released their first single-vineyard wine, the aforemented "La Pierre Aux Larrons", composed of 100% chardonnay from the historic plot planted in 1948 by Henri Coutier, and aged a year in barrels before bottling.
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 fronts.