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NEW RELEASES : A trio of outstanding Champagnes from de Sousa

February 2022

A trio of outstanding Champagnes from de Sousa

2012 Umami Grand Cru - £650 per 6 in bond
NV 'Mycorhize' Grand Cru - £260 per 6 in bond
NV '3A' Grand Cru - £220 per 6 in bond

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Cellar racking

Global demand for top quality vintage Champagne has shot up over the last 12 to 18 months and this has even started to spread to grower Champagnes. Stocks with some of the producers we deal with have come under considerable pressure, everything has been exacerbated by a few vintages with lower yields and lower volumes of even non-vintage Champagnes from the major houses. Fortunately, we enjoy strong relationships with a handful of outstanding growers, and it is here that we have focused our attention since Atlas was founded in 2010, over and above the wines produced by the Grande Marques.
To say the Champagnes of de Sousa are avidly followed by Atlas clients might be understatement. Two cuvées in particular have developed something of a cult-like following with our clients, namely the Mycorhize and the 3A – both invariably sell out almost as soon as we have offered them. Newer to the range is the Umami Extra Brut from the highly rated 2012 vintage, which again sold out in a matter of hours when we first offered it back in November last year. For this offer, we have managed to secure a few more cases of the stunning 2012 Umami, as well as the new releases of the ever-popular Mycorhize and 3A.
Some background
Champagne critic Peter Liem once commented; ‘It’s no accident that De Sousa is found in many of France’s best restaurants'...indeed it was at a restaurant that I was first introduced to this estate. More recently, William Kelley commented on, when praising the first release of Umami, that ‘this is a brilliant effort from a producer that deserves to be much better known among Anglophone wine lovers.’
The de Sousa family (of Portuguese descent) have been in Avize for three generations and the house of de Sousa & Fils was founded in 1986 by Erick and Michelle. The scale is modest; there are just 9.5 hectares, and production barely exceeds 6,000 cases from their 42 different vineyard parcels across the villages of Avize, Aÿ, Cramant, Chouilly, Le Mesnil sur Oger and Oger. The vast majority of their vines are low yielding, given they were planted more than 45 years ago, and they have cultivated their vineyards organically since 1989. In 1999, De Sousa converted to biodynamic viticulture which – if anything – has lowered yields even further. You quickly get the impression that everything at de Sousa is about quality over quantity.
These three Champagnes are truly exceptional and should easily displace non-vintage Grande Marques from your cellar, portfolio, Eurocaves and fridges. I know this is one of my stock phrases, but  I struggle to understand why there is a need to pay up for a lesser Champagne, made in near industrial quantities, sourced from Premier rather than Grand Cru vineyards, when such great growers Champagnes are available. I am pleased to say a good number of our clients have woken up to this and follow the wines of several of the growers with whom we work, having been convinced by the quality in the bottle.

2012 Umami Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne de Sousa
£650 per 6 bottle case in bond

This cuvée comprises 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir – the base wines were vinified in oak. The fruit comes from old vines across a selection of de Sousa’s Grand Cru vineyards, all farmed biodynamically. De Sousa believe that biodynamics enhances the quality of the fruit and thereby the resultant wine, just as is the case with their Mycorhize. The first vintage of the Umami was the 2009.

This cuvée reveals ripe fruit nuances that we have come to associate with de Sousa’s Champagnes, characters of stone-fruit and a nutty, biscuity note emerge from the glass. This is richer and fuller than most other de Sousa cuvées, making quite a statement, but it retains that elegance and refinement. This is a very textural, layered style with a typically bright acidity lending direction. Those saline, savoury nuances come to the fore on a long, persistent finish that captures that mineral signature that is typical of de Sousa Champagnes. Drink: 2024 to 2034. (SL)


NV ‘Mycorhize’, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne de Sousa
£260 per 6 bottle case in bond

Taken from old Grand Cru plots of Chardonnay across De Sousa’s holdings, this wine is aged sur latte for three years before being disgorged. The base wine is fermented in 225-litre French oak barriques and the dosage is just 3 grams per litre. The new release is based on the 2017 vintage and was disgorged in 2021.

Mycorhize is always a complex Champagne, which captures characters of freshly baked patisserie, white flowers, and a hint of creamy vanilla. I always admire the texture of this particular cuvée – a soft-layered accent to the juicy, fleshy fruits with notes of pear and stone fruit. Harmony and elegance feature in my tasting notes each release – this is invariably a full-bodied style of Champagne, but there is a lightness of touch and an overriding sense of finesse. That hallmark citrussy nuance builds to the finish, ensuring it finishes bright with fine length. Simply great. (SL) Drink 2022-2032

NV ‘3A’, Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne de Sousa
£220 per 6 bottle case in bond

This aptly named cuvée comprises a blend of 50% Grand Cru Chardonnay from Avize, raised in oak, 25% Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Ay and 25% from Ambonnay. These are three of finest terroirs in Champagne. The dosage is 3 grams per litre. The new release is based on the 2017 vintage and was disgorged in 2021.

As you would expect, this is quite a contrast to the Mycorhize, and yet is equally successful. The pinot noir is clear in the wine’s profile. The aromas pick up notes of ripe orchard fruit, with hints of red berry and the merest hint of something floral. A racy, chalkier/mineral-nuanced cuvée than the Mycorhize, this captures a smoky note to its mouth-watering fruit, with a hint of the lees contact from bottle-age. The clarity and poise of 3A never ceases to impress – something that is common to all de Sousa champagnes. The 3A finishes precise and lively with fine length. Certainly capable of ageing in bottle for five years or more, indeed re-visiting earlier releases shows a reward for patience. (SL) Drink 2022-2028.

There is huge demand for these wines, so my advice is not to delay if you are interested in placing an order.
All the best,

3A - Copy
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To request a wine, please feel free to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299, or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis. 

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

Blackwell House, Guildhall Yard
London, EC2V 5AE
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
F: +44 (0) 20 3017 2290