In the southern-most part of the Champagne region, the Côte des Bar in the Aube department, there is the town of Les Riceys, where the slopes are blessed with the portlandian formation of Kimmeridgian chalk, that same great material that is the foundation of the finest Chablis and Sancerre. Except here the idea was to plant Pinot Noir on these chalky slopes, do a long maceration, often using whole bunches, and then age it at least years before its release. Olivier Horiot took over the estate of his father Serge in 1999; though it bares his name due to inheritance, his wife Marie is essential to day-to-day operations and runs the cellar. They immediately started using organic and some biodynamic practices, as well as highlighting specific parcels in the effort of being more terroir-focused.
The villages of Les Riceys, at the southernmost edge of the borders between Champagne and Burgundy, offer Kimmeridgian soils where Pinot Noir reigns supreme, but where the overlooked cultivars, like Arbane and Petite Meslier, are still to be found. Predominantly based on the 2010 vintage with an assist from Horiot’s reserve wine, Métisse is 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc from all six of Olivier’s terroirs. Delicate, playful, exotic, and delicious, the nose seduces with notes of Meyer lemon, candied quince, and licorice. On the palate, the blending is masterful and the finish is admirably long.