Aurélien Laherte is part of a dynamic, young generation of vignerons making waves in Champagne and producing a fine array of terroir-driven Champagnes using a natural approach to viticulture and winemaking. Along with his high school friend Raphael Bereche – another rising star in the region – Aurélien founded the “Terres et Vins” group of Champenois producers in 2009. This group taps some of Champagne’s more progressive and like-minded producers, including Agrapart and Marie-Courtin, among others. Each spring, the group holds a tasting in Champagne to showcase both the vins clairs of the previous harvest as well as their actual bubbly versions.
The notion of holding a tasting of Champagne vins clairs would have been unheard of 10 or 15 years ago, as these raw, screechy-acid wines can often be a teeth-chattering experience. But the progress in viticulture and winemaking has resulted in a new school of “Vinous Champagnes” as well as a sea change in how the beverage itself is perceived. Alas, Champagne is, first and foremost, a wine!