top of page

Champagne Marc Hebrart 23

SHL1416602_0SHL-1365201933_edited.png

Marc Hebrart Blanc de Blancs Brut 1er Cru, N.V.                           ++

Deg. 11/24/21, usually majority Mareuil with lots from Oiry and Chouilly. It’s a cuvée of 2019-2018.

This is one of the greatest NV Blanc de Blancs in Champagne, and it gets insufficient attention because it’s not the basic wine from a Côte des Blancs producer. It’s just beginning to show a tertiary mid-palate, but this could derive from its 18 months on the cork.

Whatever it derives from, the wine is absolutely impeccable, perhaps the tiniest bit drier than its forbears. If it carried one of those fanciful names it could be something like Explication de Chardonnay. 

The nearest style-cognate in (what was) my portfolio, improbable though it may sound, is Péters NV, and it’s also in the texture-family with (among others) Suenen. It’s more leafy and savory than discretely “fruity” and I’m amazed how a wine this precise manages to avoid being bloodless. It’s also deliciously mineral.  Here’s another name for it: Craies sous un microscope. Or basmati & bay leaf. The empty glass smells like meyer lemon zest. In the Juhlin 2.0 it makes me think of Sicilian lemon blossom honey.

Lest that sound pretentious, there’s a producer called Solmielato who produce the finest honeys I’ve ever tasted, and whose lemon blossom is the finest of them all. Now back to the matter at hand….

With the third tasting (four days later) it was even crisper and more pointed; streamlined, immaculate, and articulate. That said, it’s best when freshly opened.

s1-3922716306_edited.png

Marc Hebrart Selection Brut 1er Cru N.V.                                        ++

Deg 18/10/21, from Mareuil, Avenay and Bisseuil, 70/30 PN/CH. Based on 2019, with reserve wines from 2018 and 2016.

And because of all that I’ll hazard a guess that this is the new “NV Brut” and that the old “Sélection Vielle Vignes” either is no more (having probably been placed in another cuvée) or still exists but wasn’t included.

Assuming I’m right, can there possibly be a better NV Brut in all of Champagne? It is, again, a superbly delicious and careful explication of Pinot Noir, combined perfectly with the uniquely fruity Bisseuil Chardonnay, dosaged to perfection and full of length, charm and focus. While it shows the particularity of grower Champagne it also shows the class of a negoç such as Roederer.

It’s broader and more chalky in the original Juhlin and spicier and more gripping in the “2.0.” An orange blossom (or even mandarin) quality grows in the glass, as does the white-peach Chardonnay element, all of them floating blissfully atop the chalky backbone. And we, too, are invited to float in its opiate bliss, unless we are happily trapped into studying the wine’s lunatic clarity.

By my third tasting some of its fleshier elements were chiseled away, which revealed an even classier wine than first appeared. In its echelon – in most any echelon – this is amazing Champagne.

MHBrutRose-2186611846_edited.png

Marc Hebrart Rosé 1er Cru Brut, N.V.                                         ++

Deg 24/11/21, 100% Mareuil, 55/45 CH/PN. The CH is 2019, the PN is 2018, and there’s still PN from ’18 also.

As such this is a glimpse into the ethereal higher octave of Mareuil Pinot – and by the way, this remarkable terroir is one that imposes itself over variety, such that both/either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay taste first of Mareuil before tasting of themselves.

Often among the finest and classiest Rosés in Champagne, this one’s happily funky as first poured and sniffed. I don’t mean “funky” as any kind of flaw or (perish the thought) any of the “natural-wine” flavors, but rather the innately earthy profile of PN, the one that’s sometimes just a little rude.

I wrote an email to our local restaurant reviewer to compliment her on writing an elegant piece of praise. It’s hard to write praise! It’s much easier to pick nits and critique, but when something is really good and you’re really taken over with happiness and gratitude, you risk gushing. I’m standing there now. I mean, you get to a point where you just want to say “Okay, nobody needs to make Champagne any more; it’s been done to perfection.” And of course that’s entirely foolish.

 

But name any element by which we seek to judge a wine, and you’ll be stymied. Length – yup, plenty of that. Fruit? As much as you could ever want without it spiling over into plumpness. Richness and definition? Certainly! The highest common denominator of those two things.  Sense of place? If you know Mareuil, yes, quite, and if you don’t know it this wine will make you want to know it. Balanced? Ha, don’t even make me laugh, though I suspect there’s some ghoul out there who’d think it’s “too sweet.” (This person should be permanently banished from wine.)

And god help me, I’m about to taste the top-3 cuvées….Have I run out of affect???

Thankfully, I have not. On the fourth encounter it had done nothing but improve, and now I wonder if I underrated it. I may well have….

Champagne-Marc-Hebrart.png-53805177.png

Marc Hebrart “Mes Favorites” Vielle Vignes 1er Cru, N.V. Brut +++

Deg 24/11/21, it is a cuvée of his favorite parcels in Mareuil. 75/25 PN/CH. A diam cork, by the way – first one yet. This combines 2018/2016.

A portrait of Mareuil at its most serious, this has a similar facial expression to the Clos de Goisses. It’s Champagne at its most earnestly profound, yet it avoids self-seriousness simply because it’s so gripping and muscular. Champagne as serious-business.

I’m in thrall to its ferrous darkness, and to its clear profundity in the absence of anything ingratiating. When Champagne’s like this, it shows a paradoxical mass in the face of its typical buoyancy; it has the crazy lift of a missile in the shape of a ballpoint pen. The engines thunder and then this scraggy string-beany thing leaves the earth behind. I’ve been drinking wine for 45 damn years and I’m still sitting here thinking “How does something like this even happen?”

It’s like a vinous archeology where the most delicate digging reveals a huge ancient city. All those big strong buildings and yet, exquisitely preserved, the skeleton of a grasshopper.

Power with clarity, profundity without solemnity, seriousness with deliciousness, length with transparency – that’s what awaits you.

The sites: Faubourg d’Enfer, Pruches, Haut Virile, Croix Blanche, Maldrie, Beauregard, Ramonette, Buisson-St-Loup, Côtes, and Sente des demoiselles. (I suspect the haut virile might come in handy as one cruises the path of the demoiselles…)

uwmKYVjiRBy8FAgrO1Jb3Q_pb_x600-2503775863.png

Marc Hebrart Noces de Craie, Aÿ Grand Cru, 2015 Extra Brut  ++

Deg. 21/11/21, 100% Aÿ (I’ll ID the parcels at the bottom) and 100% PN.

I’ll have to dig back in notes to see if I tasted the 2016 when I visited them. ’15, as you know, can be “challenged by grass.” (This could be said of my high school career, come to think of it.)

Whatever issues ’15 may have had are present but not remotely bothersome. The other huge surprise is the wine tastes less dry than the previous one though it is actually drier. Pinot Noir “carries” sweetness in its own different way.

I do suppose this vintage has been superceded by now, so this note is intended for those who own the wine – and lucky you if so. It is, in effect, about as marvelous as Blanc de Noirs can be (notwithstanding that Ambonnay from Krug and the several thousand Dollars it will cost you) and also a superb portrait of the particularity of Aÿ, which I’ve always described as malt and blueberries. And if you thought – as I do – that Blanc de Noir was a matter of weight and vinosity, this wine is like turning the pages of an entire book of flavors, page by page, feeling it accumulate into the weight you anticipated, delivered page by reedy page, little pictures adding up along your palate.

That said, it is more luscious than the preceding wines, and while this doesn’t encroach upon its sublimity one does notice its seductiveness. Something tells me the ’16 will be stunning. (It was when I tasted a pre-disgorgement sample at the estate last May.)

This was the most unchanged of all the bottles over the days, and it remains both a fine study-in-Champagne and a splendid drink.

(Parcels: Cheuzelles, Longchamps, Pruche, Chauflour, and Pierre-Robert.)

Marc-Hebrart-Special-Club-1er-Cru-Brut-Millesime-w_1024x1024-1449873799.png

Marc Hebrart 2016 Special Club 1er Cru Brut                           ++

Deg 15/09/2020, from Aÿ, Chouilly and Mareuil, 61/39 PN/CH. 

There must be another vintage available now? But even if, I’d be in no hurry to usher this masterpiece off the stage. I love ’16. I love the mirabelle flavor, I love the crispness and I even love the edge of austerity because what follows it is a fantastically attractive bready note you don’t often taste in Champagne – despite the clichés.

JP’s Clubs have become more and more ethereal since 2012 – though I suspect if he made 17, 18 or 19 these would be more definitively fruit-driven. This ’16 reminds me of the (great) ’13, which had a sort of far away peal that was less tangible than the stunning fruit of the ’12. I seem to respond to the spectral Champagnes….

This completes the loop and ties the knot begun all the way at the beginning with the Blanc de Blancs. It’s a greater wine by any objective standard, but it’s also a more studied experience, and right now it’s in a puberty between its youthful vigor and its mature depths – at least this bottle. The aromas start to recall certain Chablis – Vaillon maybe, or Vaudesir. There’s also a lovely “Dragonwell” sort of grassy sweetness, but this doesn’t help you unless you know the great Chinese green teas.

Overall the wine has a tension that stands out as an unbound energy. I wonder what time will bring.

Well, a little time (four days, three exposures) brought out a slim green edge, just a little sweet-fern to go with the mirabelles. A gain, and a loss. The whittlings at the corners of these wines works best with the opulent ones, whereas the ones already streamlined can flirt with skinniness if you wait too long to finish the bottle. And yet! This sample is just screaming in the Juhlin 2.0, so what do I know?

bottom of page