Laherte Frères was founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte, although the Laherte family sold grapes to the local cooperative for many years. Michel Laherte, the father of current proprietors Thierry and Christian Laherte, began to bottle champagne under his own label, and when brothers Thierry and Christian took over the estate, they appropriately changed the name back to Laherte Frères. Since 2002, they have been assisted by Thierry’s son Aurélien, who represents the seventh generation of his family to grow vines in this area.
The Lahertes own ten hectares of vines, spread over an astonishing 75 parcels in ten different villages. Needless to say, some of these parcels are quite small, and fortunately much of the estate’s holdings lie in areas not too far away, in communes such as Chavot, Courcourt, Moussy, Vaudancourt, Mancy and Epernay. Aurélien Laherte is particularly interested in natural viticulture, and since 2005, five hectares of the estate have been farmed biodynamically. The other five are essentially organic, worked without any chemical pesticides or herbicides, and while Laherte would like to expand his biodynamic treatments to include more parcels, the main difficulty right now is distance, as some plots, such as those in Vertus or Voipreux, for example, are simply too far away from Chavot to effectively manage the intense labor required for biodynamic viticulture.
The Wine: 90% organically grown grapes with a small portion coming from a non-certified but practicing organic grower. This bottling is a blend of 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir grown around the estate in Chavot and from sourced vineyards in the Vallée de la Marne. Clay and chalky clay top soils over limestone chalk bedrock. This is a blend of 60% current vintage and 40% reserve wines from the two previous harvests. Hand harvested and pressed in traditional vertical Champagne press. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in a combination of vats and burgundy barrels according to grape variety and vineyard provenance. Partial malolactic fermentation is the norm but varies with harvest. Aged 6 months prior to bottling and prise de mousse in the springtime following harvest. Dosage is 4.5g/L or Extra Brut.
Although a great value, this is serious wine with excellent mineral cut, showing a chalky texture coated with lovely citrus, apricot, floral and honeyed pear aromatics. Very persistent showing nice tension and breed.
Vinous 92 Points: “The NV Brut Ultradition is similar to the Extra Brut bottling, but with a bit more reserve wines and naturally higher dosage. Interestingly, that mix results in a wine with more tension and brightness than the Extra Brut version. White flowers, mint and orchard fruit are some of the notes that take shape in the glass. Finely sculpted and full of energy, the Ultradition Brut is flat-out delicious. The blend is 60% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, 50% 2016 and 50% reserve wines from 2015 and 2014.”
Robert Parker 91 Points: “Based on the 2016 vintage—complemented by reserve wines from 2015 and 2014—and disgorged in April 2019 with five grams per liter dosage, the NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Ultradition unwinds in the glass with notes of warm bread, green apple, citrus oil and peach. Medium to full-bodied, bright and incisive, with a fleshy core of lively fruit, a pinpoint mousse and racy spine of acidity, it’s already drinking well.”