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The Magic of Les Houtrants Complantés

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Last weekend, Richard (my husband) and I drove down to Miami to see our friends for a festive wine dinner! What I love about this particular group of wine lovers, is that we gather with BYOB (in my case it is always BYOC- Bring your own champagne) with the added fun of Blind Tasting all the bottles. Since it was a special occasion, and I know this group loves to "geek out", I decided to surprise them with one of the most delicious, yet geeky champagnes I know, Les Houtrants from Champagne Geoffroy. This particular bottle was a gift from the family during my visit back in September 2021.

After enjoying this bottle with the group over the weekend, I can't stop thinking about it. It was evolving beautifully and was just shining on Saturday night. So complex- a beautiful blend of terroir, balance, fruit, freshness, and a touch of age.

Les Houtrants Tasting at Geoffroy Estate, 2022

On April 13th, I had the honor of attending Champagne Geoffroy's Vertical of Les Houtrants Complantés at their domaine in Aÿ, where a small group of us tasted through 13 vintage magnums from 2008-2020 that go into Les Houtrants, along with their 2021 Vin Clair, as well as the completed wines from the Tirage of 2012 and 2014..and.. a blind, 1999 vintage disgorged in 2015. Yes... writing this now reminds me of how incredible that day was....

For those who aren't familiar, Champagne Geoffroy is a rockstar, grower producer in the village of Aÿ, with origins in the Premier Cru village of Cumières. This producer has always been a favorite of mine for years, because not only are their wines outstanding, but they are unique, terroir-driven, and super interesting. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy is a walking encyclopedia of Champagne and a bit of a mad scientist. He knows his terroir intimately, how to work his vines in the best way, yet never settling- with constant forward thinking, and always looking to improve. In the cellars, he always has a new project he is working on, pushing the limits here, and creating unique wines that keep his followers delightfully amazed.

Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy disgorging magnums of Houtrants à la volée (hand disgorging)

Enter Les Houtrants..... This cuvée comes from a single plot in Cumiéres, which is known for its sunny positioning, overlooking the Marne River, and diverse soil. The plot, which is worked by horse, is a field blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Arbanne and Petit Meslier, inspired by Marcel Deiss' co-plantation during a trip Jean-Baptiste made to Alsace back in 2001. What is cool about this is, with every vintage, the percentage of each varietal changes based on their ripeness that particular year. So each vintage has a different percentage of each grape. After picking, the grapes, they are also pressed and fermented together. This made the magnum vertical even more interesting as you could see the strongest grapes shine through with each bottle.

This is a terroir-driven wine at its core, reflecting a silty-clay soil with fragments of Silex and Pierre Meulière. The harvested grapes are vilified using natural yeast of the terroir, without oak, malolactic fermentation, and filtering. The wine is then put into magnums for the second fermentation, at a lower pressure of 3 bars.

The champagne is not a vintage, but rather a blend of several vintages preserved in the magnums, sealed by cork rather than crown cap during the second fermentation (which creates long-term a more stable and reductive state for the wine). There is no dosage (added sugar post-disgorgement) so the champagne is Brut Nature in style.

If this has enticed you to grab a bottle, note that there is very limited production with just over 1000 bottles per year.

On the bottle of each Les Houtrants, you will not see a vintage of course, but you will see a tirage year, meaning that this is when the base wine receives its liqueur de tirage for the second fermentation. For the collectors out there, I encourage you to seek out each tirage, hold on to them (as this one can age beautifully), and maybe one day do a vertical tasting of your own!

For those geeky enough to check out my tasting notes and impressions of each magnum we tasted that day, here you go!

2021- Vin Clair (still wines before second fermentation)

Harvest Date- 9/10

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/17

Alcohol: 11.2

PH: 3.06

fresh, pure, red fruits, high acidity, more stone and citrus on the palate

2020- Magnum

Harvest Date- 8/20

Houtrants Harvest Date- 8/28

Alcohol: 11.15

PH: 3.05

salinity, sunny fruits, pure, mineral, and round

2019- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/10

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/12

Alcohol: 11.6

PH: 2.96

more floral and herbaceous than 2020, but as it warmed up, more fruity, rounder, more citrus, ripe, elegant and fresh

2018- Magnum

Harvest Date- 8/24

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/05

Alcohol: 11.65

PH: 3.09

Houtrants harvest two weeks later than harvest date, possibly due to larger yields that year. pronounced herbal notes on the nose and ripe fruits on the palate

2017- Magnum

Harvest Date- 8/30

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/04

Alcohol: 9.9

PH: 2.95

Nose is more pronounced, more salinity, texture is very different from previous vintages tasted, citrusy, very nice.

2016- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/15

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/21

Alcohol: 10.65

PH: 3.02

More floral, and a slight sweeter feel to this one, a bit closed and shy

2015- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/02

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/08

Alcohol: 10.7

PH: 3.05

lots of minerality, pure with a touch of green apple

2014- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/10

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/19

Alcohol: 11

PH: 3.07

very expressive with yellow fruits, stone and citrus fruits, Malo started spontaneously

2013- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/25

Houtrants Harvest Date- 10/2

Alcohol: 11.3

PH: 3.01

florals and fruity, balanced, starting to feel more tertiary, so interesting and possibly my favorite so far.

2012- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/18

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/20

Alcohol: 11.1

PH: 308

Big, approachable and some real personality on the nose and palate

2011- Magnum

Harvest Date- 8/22

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/28

Alcohol: 9.6

PH: 2.96

Smokey and more unapproachable, and a bit transformative on the palate

2010- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/11

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/15

Alcohol: 9.6

PH: 2.96

finish on this one has such a long and salty finish...

2009- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/10

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/15

Alcohol: 10.7

PH: 2.97

fresh and really showing, savory, ripe fruits, round and open, quite rich.

2008- Magnum

Harvest Date- 9/15

Houtrants Harvest Date- 9/17

Alcohol: 10.7

PH: 2.97

great brightness, lifted acidity, such a salty finish. Under cap rather than cork. The vines were younger at this time and really fighting for attention.

Thank you so much to the Geoffroy Family for the invite to this incredibly interesting deep dive into Les Houtrants! See you next year!

For those wanting to seek out this very special bottle, feel free to email, and we will make sure to help you!




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