Mon 4 Jan 2010
I was unfamiliar with the small house of Haton & Fils, but having sampled three of its products I wonder what I did with my misspent youth. These are champagnes of finesse and elegance, completely delightful but never frivolous. Located in a picturesque compound in Damery, in the heart of the Marne Valley, Haton & Fils has been run by fathers and sons for four generations.
Here are the Haton champagnes that I tried; they were supplied by William-Harrison Imports, Manassas, Va.
First, the pale gold Haton & Fils Grand Reserve Brut teems with scents of apples and pears infused by hints of biscuits and cookie dough. Engagingly effervescent, with a flurry of glinting bubbles, this champagne is delicate, crisp and svelte; notes of red currants and citrus are infused with cinnamon toast and a subtle touch of roasted hazelnuts, layered with mineral-like elements of steel and limestone. A lovely presence, totally charming and compulsively drinkable. Excellent. About $55.
Next, the Haton et Fils Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut is lovely and charming. Yeasty, bready aromas of pear, quince and ginger seem to drift from an infinite flotilla of tiny bubbles. A hint of sweetness at the entry quickly turns dry amid layers of chalk and limestone that lend some austerity to the finish; that dry character and tingling acidity are nicely balanced by ripe stone-fruit flavors. A few minutes in the glass bring a note of hot steel to the bouquet, implying that this delightful champagne has a serious edge. Very Good+. About $58.
And finally, the masterpiece. The color of the Haton & Fils “Cuvée René Haton” Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is palest platinum blond with a teeming fountain of bubbles. Made completely from chardonnay grapes, this is a champagne that’s ethereal without being fragile; elegant without being delicate; if it were a face, you’d say that it has fine bones. There’s a hint of biscuits and toast in the bouquet, but this is predominately dedicated to permeable layers of crisp minerality and brisk acidity. In fact, this is an unusually fresh and lively champagne, its tendency toward austerity prettily relieved by a weaving of pear and lime through its fabric. An exemplary blanc de blancs. Excellent. About $62.