Exploring the Exclusive Cattier Clos du Moulin: A Journey Within Its Walls

By | 12 March 2024

The latest release of Cattier’s single-clos, Multi-Vintage Champagne.


Simon Field MW

Simon Field MW enjoys Cattier Clos du Moulin, a Multi-Vintage member of Champagne’s surprisingly small club of single-clos wines that deserves much greater recognition.

There may no longer be a windmill standing, but happily there is still a wall, so Clos du Moulin is not an entirely romantic name. This picturesque northern swath of the appellation, its villages now punctuated by the route touristique de Champagne, used to boast a series of windmills—a quiet acknowledgment, perhaps, of the greater exposure of these vineyards, even if the word Montagne is a little fanciful in describing the terrain of the Montagne de Reims. Now the windmill at Verzenay is the last one remaining, owned by Mumm, which uses it to host corporate lunches. Alexandre Cattier advises that “his” eponymous windmill was first weakened by fire in 1789 (an eventful year), then ravaged and destroyed by the depredation of the two world wars. Now only the wall remains, marking out 2.2ha (5.4 acres) of premier cru vines, pretty much evenly shared by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Clos du Moulin holds membership among around 40 eponymous walled vineyards in the region. It is logical and historic (often monastically so) to suggest that the walled vineyards were the most cherished, most defended—from the likes of phylloxera, wild boar, or even an overambitious neighbor. One might think a Burgundian model would motivate a commercial consideration, yet the list that exists is rather cursory. We have standout gems, including Krug’s Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay, Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Françaises, Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses, and Billecart-Salmon’s Clos St-Hilaire; all highly prized. However, recognition is sparse for the subsequent set, which features several impressive wines deserving of more recognition, including Duval-Leroy’s Clos des Bouveries, Pommery’s Clos Pompadour, Clos Lanson, Clos de Cumières, and Clos Faubourg Notre-Dame. Following these, the less illustrious vineyards are surprising in today’s age of microcosms, a time where even Champagne’s tendency towards broad blends is being assailed by the attraction of single village and single vineyard productions. Plots with historical pedigree offer so much potential—often having a story to impart. Falling within the second category is Clos du Moulin: moderately well-known, but perhaps deserving of more international acclamation.

The Cattiers are no strangers to market approval—they produce the highly popular Armand de Brignac label whose Ace of Spades brand is notorious as the Champagne beloved by party enthusiasts. Beyond this side endeavor, Alexandre, head of the family’s 13th generation, and his father Jean-Jacques cultivate 33ha (82 acres), predominantly premier cru, centered around the villages of Chigny-les-Roses, Rilly-la-Montagne, and Ludes. Situated in the appellation’s northern sector, the terrain is instinctively best suited to Pinot Noir. Nonetheless, the Cattiers evenly apportion their land between Pinot and Chardonnay, reinforcing the genuine potential for the white variety here: Its wines can be significantly different from those grown further south in the Côte des Blancs.

The Cattier family procured the Clos du Moulin, then a “battle-scarred wilderness,” in 1950. The first Multi-Vintage release was launched in 1955 and a commendable Rosé was introduced in 2005. Production is always modest—with only 6,900 bottles of the present bottling. The Champagne is always a blend of three vintages, all matured in stainless steel, with only the dosage (a modest 6g/l) matured in one-year-old casks. The current blend combines offerings from 2016 (warm yet promising), 2015 (a varied vintage, particularly turbulent later in the season), and 2014 (generally cooler with rain and threatened rot). The wine was cellared in 2017 and emerged fresh for disgorgement on June 6, 2023.

Cattier Clos du Moulin (52% Pinot Noir, 48% Chardonnay; dosage 6g/l; disgorged June 6, 2023)

A generous, warm gold, with a steady mousse. The aroma combines semi-tropical elements of mango and guava, with just a faint suggestion of soft pineapple, together with citric notes of verbena and lemongrass. Behind this comes a subtle hint of honeysuckle and gorse, offering a benevolent and somewhat vintage streak to the aromatic profile, reminiscent of a bakery shortly after it opens, or even a pastry shop — quintessential old-school charm. The taste may challenge some, being notably dry but also providing a red-fruit character from the Pinot that recalls mirabelle plum and soft cherry, balanced by the freshness of red apple. Textural complexity suggests potential for future food pairings; at the moment, the wine may seem a bit straightforward and youthful, but its character is certainly generous. 92–93

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