We met the Coutier family through mutual friends and have been proudly representing their wines since 2008. Rene’ Coutier, this generation’s vigneron, makes Grand Cru grower Champagne from parcels of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a nine hectare parcel. Ambonnay is known as a Pinot Noir village, much like Ay and Bouzy, but Rene’s father had the foresight to mix in plantings of Chardonnay (about 1/3), and that flexibility shows in the wines that are made. Coutier is certainly a house favorite among the RVWC family.
The Coutiers have been making wine since 1619. The village of Ambonnay is famous for its southern exposure in the Montagne de Reims region, and with the extra heat plus the higher quantity of clay in the soil (and as a result, not as much limestone), the wines can be quite opulent. It has been Rene’s goal, however, to produce racier wines with more finesse, and Chardonnay helps with that. He does stainless steel ferments and little aging, and only half the wine goes through malolactic fermentation. The bottles are all hand riddled (rare in Champagne nowadays) and the dosage is quite low, adding to the goal of making racy, lively, elegant Champagne.
Eighty percent of Coutier grapes are sold to the Grandes Marques houses, which leaves production for the Coutier recoltant bottling at only 2000 cases each year.