Olivier Horiot, Rosé des Riceys En Barmont (2018)

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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 stuff 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 a few years (at least three) before release — not exactly your average deck wine.

Olivier Horiot took over the estate of his father Serge in 1999; though it bears his name due to inheritance, his wife Marie is essential to day to day operations and runs the cellar. Together they work seven hectares of vines and immediately started using organic and biodynamic practices.

From the beginning, the Horiot have championed highlighting specific parcels in the effort of being more terroir-focused. In order to make their Rosé des Riceys, they do a very strict selection of grapes from two separate sites — en Valingrain and en Barmont — vinifying them separately. In the ever dwindling amount of producers making this traditional rosé (it requires lower yield management and is much less profitable than Champagne) they are the only ones making single vineyard expressions to highlight terroir.

The rosés start with about 10% of the grapes foot-trodden at the bottom of the cuve, then whole bunches are added. Macerations usually last 5-6 days, with pumping over twice a day. After the wine is racked into older barrels, it remains there for a few years before being bottled without fining or

En Barmont is a steep slope with heavy clay.