Stéphanie and Olivier Waris are the fourth generation of this family to make Champagne at the Waris-Hubert estate in Avize (Grand Cru) in the Côte des Blancs. Their vineyard range across the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Oger, Cramant, Chouilly, and Ay, as well as the fine communes of Grauves, Bisseuil and Sézanne. Each plot is separately vinified in stainless steel vats. Every cuvée is cold settled for 72 hours and given a low-temperature fermentation. After the alcoholic fermentation, the base wines are aged on lees for another month before racking and malolactic fermentation.
WARIS-HUBERT Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Champagne, NV ($49.99)
Estate-bottled 100% Chardonnay from 25-year-old (average age) vines in the Grand Cru villages of Cramant and Avize (Calcareous clay soil). 80% from the 2011 harvest and 20% reserve wine from 2010. Cold settled for 72 hours and vinified in stainless steel tanks with a full 6 months of tank aging before champenization and aged en tirage (on the yeasts) for 3 years. Finished with a brut dosage of 7 grams-per-liter of sugar. Straw in color; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and minimal but present phenolics. Focused, vivid, fresh. Laser beam pure and precise with mostly lemony citrus fruit and clean chalk minerality but there is enough richness from the yeast and development to balance it. The pure Chardonnay fruit is stunning. BearScore: 94. (My score has increased from 92+ to 94 over that last two times I tasted it including the Houston Chronicle’s Champagne panel).