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Today The Aube/Côtes des Bar has become one of Champagne’s most dynamic regions where small grower producers like Cèdric Bouchard, Maríe-Courtin, and Jacques Lassaigne have risen to global prominence. Yet this southernmost region of Champagne still remains something of a backwater as it lies closer to the city of Beaune in Burgundy than it does to Reims. Another factor is that the region lacks a large, glamourous Champagne house to draw in visitors and generate publicity. The good news is that, especially in these inflationary times, the Côtes des Bar’s under the radar status makes it a great hunting ground for bargain shoppers. Even the Champagnes of Drappier, the Aube’s best-known producer, are shockingly underpriced as our featured trio (below) attests. Founded in 1808 in the hamlet of Urville, the Drappier family sold all their grapes to négociants in the department of the Marne until the early twentieth century. In the 1930’s Georges Collot, the maternal grandfather of Champagne master Michel Drappier, first planted Pinot Noir in the area earning him the moniker “Father Pinot” from his skeptical neighbors. The Pinot Noir vines Georges planted thrived in the region’s Jurassic Kimmeridgian soils and formed the basis for the firm’s first prestige cuvee in 1952. Michael Drappier took over the winemaking duties in 1979 while his father Andre still watches over the family’s 250 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards. In the cellar Michel strives to maintain very low levels of dosage and sulfites. He finds that these practices work to bring out the subtle flavors of vine stock, yeast, and the minerality of the area’s limestone infused soil.

If you, like us, believe that what this country needs is a good hundred-dollar tête de cuvée, this iconic creation from Drappier is the answer to your prayers. Grande Sendrée is sourced from an archipelago of selected parcels with limestone soil situated on an east-facing slope in Urville. On the Sendrée hillside frost is rare and its old vines consistently achieve optimum ripeness. Note the name; Sendrée is derived from the French word cendrée (ash), as a fire in the 19th Century burnt much of Urville and the surrounding forest. This 2010 is an assemblage of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay and is a real triumph that blows away more famous luxury bubbles selling for twice its price.

WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The 2010 Brut Grande Sendrée has turned out very well indeed, unwinding in the glass with youthful aromas of citrus oil, white flowers, white peach and fresh bread. Medium to full-bodied, bright and concentrated, it's youthfully tightly wound, with a racy spine of acidity, an elegant pinpoint mousse and a penetrating, chalky finish. This can't quite match the plenitude of the 2009, but it may outpace it with time, as this is an impressively vibrant, structured young Grande Sendrée."

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "A quietly elegant Champagne, with a lovely soft, laciness to texture, and a minerally underpinning of smoke and saline accents. It displays a creamy mesh of crushed black cherry, grilled nut, kumquat and dried apricot and a refine, subtle finish. Drink now through 2030."

The Grande Sendrée Cuvée takes its name from a parcel of land covered by cinders after the fire which ravaged Urville in 1838. A spelling error having slipped through in a new version of the land register, it is with an “s” that this cuvée is designated today. A reproduction of an 18th century bottle found in the Urville cellars is used and the Grande Sendrée undergoes remuage entirely by hand.
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  • 5

    20th Jan 2022

    David Clarke

    Mindblowing Bubby!

    This wine is just layered and with awesome complexity. (there is a "must see" excellent U-Tube video review on the 2008 version) This 2010 Grand Sandree far and easily surpasses (in my opinion) such overly vaunted luxury cuvees such as Dom Perignon, Cristal and vintage Krug. -Thanks to a far less complected (and less greedy) distribution system it enjoys a much more favorable price point as well. Drappier is not as well known in the USA as those other famous brands yet, definably wins as my choice here!