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JM Labruyere Brut Prologue Champagne

How a New Champagne Estate Made one of 2018's Top Rated Releases
September 30, 2018


JM Labruyere

Hachette Guide is the Consumer Reports of French wines: their judges taste blind and then retaste wines that pass the first taste with a second pass. They give their highest rated "Exceptional" wines three stars. Some particularly exciting wines also get a heart for a Coup de Coeur, literally "Heart Throb" but more like "Love at first sight."

The current Guide Hachette awarded three stars and a heart to only seven champagnes, one in a hundred of those they recommended. One was JMLabruyere Prologue Brut Grand Cru along with 2005 Dom Perignon Rose, 2006 Taittinger Comte de Champagne, and 2008 Phillipponat Clos des Goisses. (They gave 2009 Dom Perignon 1 star, no heart) They described Prologue:

"Rich correct and clean. The tasters didn't hold back their praise for this brut born of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested in 2012. It was bottled the summer after, then aged on the lees for three years. Lightly dosed (4.8 g per liter) the bottle we tasted was disgorged in August 2016, This date and all information of interest to the consumer are printed on the label. 

"The jurors appreciated its golden color, its effervescence, lively and creamy at the same time, and even more its entrancing nose; seductive, intense, vinous and buttery with nuances of fruit confiture. Finally its palate is dense and fleshy, expressing both ripe and dried fruits, given length by a beautiful saline acidity. A superb champagne to accompany a meal."

How did Labruyere do it?

First there was the vineyardGrand cru Montagne de Reims

It's in Verzenay, one of the 17 grand crus of Champagne. Its grapes had been going into Dom Perignon for years. When its owner retired, Dom wanted to buy the vineyard, they wanted it very much, but they didn't get it. The owner wanted to sell to an artisan, not a conglomerate. The folks at Dom were not happy.

Then came the talent: A Bourguignonne makes champagne

The owner chose Eduard Labruyere to buy the vineyard. He is definitely artisanal.  Starting with his family's a highly regarded estate in Moulin-a-Vent, he has acquired Pomerol's Ch. Rouget, His family has administered the storied Jacques Prieur estate in Meursault since 1988. Nadine Gublin has been making the highly acclaimed wines there since the 1990. In 1998 she became the first woman the RVFnamed Winemaker of the Year in France. Champenoise by birth, with pinot and chardonnay in her blood, she was tasked to make Labruyere.  

Then there was the summer; Glorious 2012

La Bruyere's first harvest was in 2012, an exceptional champagne vintage. Yields were reduced, concentrating the grapes. August and September were beautiful, giving that wonderful and rare combination of mature grapes with good acidities. Because Labruyere is brand new and did not yet have reserve wines, so this edition of Prologue is a true vintage in everything but on the label.

When we tasted it:

Very nice press, but would we think it was good enough? We asked the importer for a bottle. It almost literally exploded in our glass, with that rare combination of rich, creamy texture and vibrant acidity, mouth-filling with weighty richness.

Mike, one of our more wine-interested customers, happened in. We gave him a glass, telling him that we were thinking about it.

"I really hope you guys get this," he reported, "It tastes like fall."

I understand what he meant, but to me it was more like Indian Summer; warm, rich, and full with the bounty of the strawberry-tinged pinot fruit, underlaid by the golden tang of approaching autumn. It seduced us as much as the Hachette judges.

So, Mike, the wine arrives here tomorrow. We'll keep a bottle chilled for you.


Labruyere Brut Prologue 

Regularly $60 per bottle, Special through December, $50

First Arrival Price, through Oct 6 only, 6-bottle case $239.94, (39.99)


Exclusive at Federal Wine


Full Disclosure Department: The bottle we tasted and you will get, was disgorged on May 24 2016. It will have a month or so less time on lees and more in bottle than the Guide Hachette's sample. The difference is minuscule.


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           - Len Rothenberg