Olivier Horiot Coteaux Champenois 'En Valingrain' Les Riceys Blanc 2019
We met with Oliver in October 2022 - tasted and held an extended field tour through his various terroirs/vineyards. We were also shown his bespoke beef/milk project that plays a pivotal role in his bio-dynamic program (not certified). A tremendous human being who was so generous with his time (5 hours...) and knowledge!
A still blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc from the south-facing hillside of the same name and lieu dit. Fermentation and elevage in oak barrels. Approx 980 bottles produced. Exhilarating and precise, posed and penetrating!
The Finer Details
Variety - Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc
Country - France
Region - Champagne
Sub Region - Aube, Les Riceys
Vintage - NV
Extra - Cork
Volume - 750ml
In the southern-most part of the Champagne region, the Côte des Bar in the Aube department, there is the town of Les Riceys, where the slopes are blessed with the portlandian formation of Kimmeridgian chalk, that same great material that is the foundation of the finest Chablis and Sancerre. Except here the idea was to plant Pinot Noir on these chalky slopes, do a long maceration, often using whole bunches, and then age it at least years before its release.
This long-running estate originated in the 1600s, and once sold all of its grapes to the local co-operative. When Olivier Horiot took over from his father Serge Horiot in 1999, he decided to begin producing his own wines, including three cuvees and the local signature, Rose des Riceys. Olivierês grandfather replanted the family estate post-phylloxera, and the vineyard now cultivates seven hectares of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and some Arbanne.
Olivier farms following biodynamic principles, ferments on native yeasts, and uses very little sulphur. However, the estate is not certified biodynamic as Olivier does not want his wine to be consumed for that reason alone. The estate is located in Les Riceys in the Céte des Bar, among the southern region of Champagne, where Olivier strives to make intense, complex champagnes, helped along by the vineyard's exposition to the sun and rich Kimmeridgian soils.
He and wife Marie work the vineyard together, driven by passion and a constantly curious mind. For his first four vintages, Olivier focused on making still wines and the base wines for the Champagnes that were to come. He produced his first Champagne in 2004, with all four of his blends containing low dosages of residual sugar (never above 2 grams/litre). He vinifies each parcel separately to demonstrate the individual terroirs and the different profiles they yield. The Rose des Riceys appellation is a relatively new classification for the Champagne region, covering solely rose made from Pinot Noir, something of an anomaly in the region of Champagne. There are only a handful of vignerons making this wine, and in very small quantities, so it is rarely seen outside France.