A brief intro to the history. It all began when eight winegrowing families joined forces in Vertus around 1950 and founded the small cooperative La Goutte d’Or. Thanks to the remarkable quality of its sites, it became an early supplier to houses such as Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger, and Charles Heidsieck. But it was only after investments in the early 1980s that they produced outstanding champagnes themselves. In 1984, the Paul Goerg brand started. In 2005, the Ch. & A. Prieur Champagne house in Vertus, founded in 1825, was taken over by the cooperative. Paul Goerg was then affiliated to it in 2010. This gave it the status of négociant manipulant (NM). Incidentally, in 2007 La Goutte d’Or began producing Champagnes for the newly established Barons de Rothschild house. In 2018, a new high-tech wine cellar was installed.
Chardonnays from Vertus
The house has 120 hectares of vines, 85 percent planted with Chardonnay, in the commune of Vertus (and arguably Bergères-les-Vertus), classified as Premier Cru, at the southern end of the Côte des Blancs. The correct harvest time of each parcel is centrally coordinated with each individual winemaker. Thanks to the new cellar, with 48 different temperature-regulated small inox tanks ranging from 25 to 65 hectoliters capacity, 15 selected sites with old Chardonnay vines are also vinified on a parcel-by-parcel basis. Malolactic fermentation is complete, there is no fining, and bottle aging lasts significantly longer than the minimum required by law. The dosage is moderate throughout.
Until 2022, the house has followed the classic Grandes Marques in the portfolio. With the notable difference that, since the simple Réserve is no longer produced, all wines are mono crus from Vertus. Thus, all Paul Goerg Champagnes carry the status of Premier Cru. The entry level is a vintageless Tradition Brut Premier Cru (also as Sec and Demi Sec) and a Rosé Brut Premier Cru. At the next level, the two cuvées Blanc de Blancs Brut Premier Cru and Absolu Extra Brut Premier Cru with minimal dosage play the great trump card of the Chardonnays from the southern Côte des Blancs. The Vintage Premier Cru, on the other hand, again contains 15 percent Pinot Noir. By 2022, the Prestige Cuvée Lady Premier Cru Millésimé completed the range upwards. It contains 100 percent Chardonnay from Vertus and, with 4 grams of dosage per liter, is technically an Extra Brut.
This year, the first two single-vineyard champagnes from Paul Goerg were then presented as far as I know. An occasion to also taste the remaining champagnes of the portfolio – the BdB Vintage and Lady excluded. The prelude already succeeds magnificently. The Brut Tradition (60% Ch and 40% PN from Vertus) comes 65 percent from the difficult year 2017 and contains 35 percent reserve wines. The long ripening has done it decidedly well, and the dosage of 8 grams is well integrated. With good structure and plenty of freshness, it is an excellent all-rounder and very noteworthy as an entry in the portfolio. 90 points. The Rosé Brut (90% Ch, 10% PN) is somewhat younger and comes primarily from the heat year of 2018. Although it has won many awards, it is too direct for me and too one-dimensional in its soft and somewhat forward berry aromatics. 87 points.
The next trio forms the core program of the house. The vintage-less Blanc de Blancs (60% from 2016, 40% reserves) presents itself well developed with notes ranging from ripe apple to quince. Soft mouthfeel with medium complexity and some chalkiness. Dosage is still a bit too noticeable. 91 points. The Absolu Extra-Brut contains only 2 grams of dosage and is essentially from the 2014 vintage. The Champagne presents more angular and almost austere, with notes of stone fruits, tangerines, and creamy lactic aromas. Somewhat one-dimensional at first, the wine becomes more complex with increasing exposure to air. 90 points. Vintage 2012 was vinified from 85 percent Chardonnay and 15 percent Pinot Noir, with a dosage of 5 grams. After nine years of yeast aging, it presents itself perfectly matured. Beautiful aromatic richness with notes between honey, brioche and almonds, then animating saltiness on the palate. A first highlight. 94 points.
With the help of the new wine cellar and its small stainless steel tanks, Paul Goerg has been separately elaborating about 15 selected sites with old Chardonnay vines such as the neighboring La Croix Saint-Ladre and Le Pas de Cheval (in the very south of Vertus) or Les Faucherêts in the east. With La Justice (the southern neighbor of Les Faucherêts) as well as Les Monts Ferrés (its extension north to the border with Le Mesnil-sur-Oger), the first Parcellaires were then also bottled separately in 2022 in an edition of 1,500 bottles. These are only available in a gift box as a double pack. Both are Vintage Champagnes from 2018, even if the label does not say so.
Les Monts Ferrés Extra-Brut comes from a 0.94 hectare site planted between 1966 and 1975. The grapes of Blanc de Blancs were harvested on September 3, 2018. The wine aged on its lees for three years and was bottled with 5 grams of dosage. At tasting, the Champagne presented as dense and with good length, but aromatically not quite up to the mark. Perhaps a problem with this bottle? Again, oxygen helped, and the next day the wine unfolded noticeably. Nevertheless, in this form only 91 points. The La Justice Extra-Brut from a Lieu-dix of 1.7 hectares planted between 1955 and 1965, on the other hand, showed itself in top form. With a very broad aromatic spectrum, a phenomenal freshness, especially for the vintage, and intense salinity. 95 points
Read more about Champagne Paul Goerg in my book about Champagne.
(c) of photos: Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images