With the pool of new talent growing larger and larger in Champagne seemingly every year, how do you stay relevant and how do you maintain your grip of the excitement that the world has shown towards your Domaine, your wines, and your story? Well in the case of Champagne Huré Frères, you innovate, you employ new techniques, you take chances, and you continue to pump out unique, interesting, and absolutely delightful wines that represent their land without question. As I write that line I realize that Huré Freres is still a part of that rather new side of Champagne, with fresh excitement and attention, though I believe that it is still a relevant statement, as their approach to viticulture and winemaking is one that seems to be much more innovative than traditional and certainly more daring than safe. Upon visiting the Domaine, they were in the middle of disgorging a few thousand bottles and yet still found the time to spend showing me around the winery, the caves, and talking me through each wine from vineyard to shelf, and everything in between.
Champagne Huré Freres was established a little over 50 years ago by Georges Huré, grandfather of Pierre and Francois, the brothers that are now at the helm succeeding their father, Raoul, who is still involved at the winery but happily allowing his sons to continue the family legacy and take it to new heights. Both Pierre and Francois spent a number of years travelling and working in vineyards and wineries in Burgundy, The Rhone, New Zealand and Australia. With this kind of exposure to both the new and old world winemaking styles and philosophies, it is no wonder they have brought a fresh way of thinking into their own Domaine and certainly not surprising that they are creating wines with notable personality and a consistently superb quality.
The philosophy of the Domaine is to create wines that represent their terroir in the purest form. This is achieved by the brothers picking, fermenting, and cellaring each parcel separately from start to finish. They believe that this is the best way to guarantee their wines have the desired precision, finesse, and consistency year after year, which also creates fluctuation in quantity due to the constant vintage variation of the region. The second factor in maintaining their quality, consistency, and identity, is their reserve wines. Champagne Huré Freres stores their reserve wines in both oak and stainless using a solara system to preserve wines from every vintage, allowing the finished blend to carry the identity, character, and development of every previous vintage. This is something more common in Champagne than people seem to realize, although, still not necessarily regular. What is absolutely uncommon is the choice that the brothers' made to create a Champagne from 100% Solara wines. The even more astonishing fact is that the solara they decided to use for this wine was started in 1982! The cuvée is aptly named Mémoire, as it carries the memory of some 30 vintages and delivers a tasting experience that absolutely peaks curiosity as to how it achieved such depth, while yet retaining a surprising freshness that I would not expect from a solara of this age. The surprises and curiosity do not stop there. I had another head-shaking experience tasting their Innatendue cuvée, a Blanc des Blancs from the Montagne de Reims, something that is also quite rarely seen since black grapes dominate these slopes. This Blanc des Blancs was a lesson in terroir that I will never forget. Turning my palate dry with a minerality so evident and individual that I had to go back for multiple additional sips to confirm if I was imagining something. I had been spending a lot of time tasting through the Côte des Blancs the days before so I was shocked at how obviously different the character was from one to the other. I expected a difference of course, but this was certainly brow-raising. With all of that being said, the best part of the wine was its electric acidity that quickly cleansed my palate and made me crave another sip. As we came to the end of the tasting we moved on to their 4 Elements line-up. These are a trio of wines each made using one grape varietal, one vineyard plot, one vintage, and one method of vinification. The group consists of Champagne’s three main grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. These three wines all undergo secondary fermentation under cork rather than cap, and each of them spend the same amount of time during each part of the process, hence the “one vision” part of the 4 Elements.