Vouette & Sorbée wasn’t necessarily Bertrand Gautherot’s plan when he took over his family’s vineyards in Buxières-sur-Acre. Initially he was going to farm his parcels conventionally and sell his grapes to large Champagne houses in the north. With an evolving respect for his terroir and concern for his young family, Bertrand set about declaring independence from the outdated echelle system and the negative pressure it places on growers. Inspired by friends Jérôme Prévost and Pierre Larmandier, he converted his vineyards to biodynamics, and he received certification from Demeter in 1998 and released his first Champagne in 2001.
Located in the Côte des Bar, Bertrand’s estate is named after two of his lieu-dits: Vouette & Sorbée. Unlike the vineyards in the north of Champagne with their fine chalky soils, the Côte des Bar is more like Chablis – dense, rocky, Kimmeridgian, and Portlandian limestone clay soils. Historically Pinot Noir was the dominant variety in this region, but Bertrand is slowly expanding his Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc holdings. If asked, Bertrand will say that he is a farmer first and foremost, and in addition to vines, he raises chickens and cattle and operates a nearly self-sustaining enclosed ecosystem. Bertrand’s range is made entirely from hand-harvested grapes and fermented with indigenous yeasts in French oak barrels. Nothing is chaptalized, filtered, or acidified. There are no cold macerations, and a small amount of SO2 is added right after the grapes are pressed. Bertrand prefers to make wines as transparent as possible, so he doesn’t use liqueur de l’expedition.