Agrapart & Fils

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Though only recently rising to prominence, the Agrapart family has not only grown grapes in the village of Avize, but has been one of exceedingly few to bottle champagne since the inception of the estate in 1894.

Today, brothers Pascal and Fabrice Agrapart create wines of mindfulness and complexity, limiting production to what they can craft by hand rather than risking a loss of quality for monetary gain - no more than 5400 cases a year. As their family has grown vines in Avize for more than a century, Pascal - whose name now graces the label - has access to some of Champagne’s oldest vines, which allow his Champagnes to carry their trademark intensity, which is paramount as he never seeks overt richness in his wines. Chardonnay rules here, as it of course holds Grand Cru status in Avize. The family formerly had some red grapes, though Pascal has admitted that he never liked to work with macerations, preferring the whites as they were more to his palate. Throughout the family’s vineyards, one can get a sense for the breadth of Avize’s slope, and the Agrapart cuvées reflect the many facets of the village, ranging from high on the slope where the clay atop the soil is at its deepest, surprisingly, to the bottom of the slope where the chalk is more prominent. At its midpoint lies the family’s oldest vineyard, plowed by a horse who gave the resulting wine its name, Venus - perhaps the most intense wine of the range.

7 Crus starts the range, a Chardonnay drawn from seven different sections of the Côte des Blancs, blended to be complex but approachable, a wine of good ripeness and balance. Terroirs and every cuvée following consists solely of Grand Cru fruit, this cuvée sourced mainly from Avize, with fruit also sourced from Oger, Cramant and Oiry, stunning in its precision, showcasing both citrus and orchard fruit with a hint of a sweet green tone that adds a layer of aromatic sweetness. Complantée is a model from which several other producers have found the freedom to explore the historic grapes of the region that have fallen out of favor - here, not only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, but also Pinot Blanc, Arbane and Petit Meslier, all from a single vineyard in Avize. Wildly complex, this field blend reminds many of the great Marcel Deiss’s blends in Alsace.

Venus comes from only 0.3 hectares on the Avize midslope, where both chalk and clay dominate. This allows for the resulting wine to show the most richness of the entire range, but also carry the Avize trademark spicy zest of acidity. Avizoise comes from Les Robards and La Vote d’Epernay, two of the oldest parcels of the estate, both at the top of the hillside of Avize. Here, with clay dominating, there is great weight (for the house), and a gorgeous bouquet of dried fruit and spice.

Experience has been controversial and was quite an ordeal for Pascal to produce. He sought to create a wine using nothing but grapes; that is to say that to spark both primary and secondary fermentations, he would use nothing outside of his own grape material - no sugar or yeast from outside sources. First performed with the 2007 harvest, Pascal would allow the first vintage to ferment naturally (without inoculation), then during the following harvest, use the unfermented grape juice as the starter for the secondary (in-bottle) fermentation. Previously unheard of, the governing boards had trouble understanding his process. So far only produced twice, as rarely have two consecutive vintages allowed for the perfect conditions needed to create this natural winemaking miracle. Understandably bearing lower atmospheric pressure, it is a wine to meditate on, as it is an incredibly pure example of Chardonnay made by one of the more thoughtful men in all of the world of wine.

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