Legras & Haas is not one of Champagne’s historic houses. Established only in 1991, it is run today by three brothers: Rémi, Olivier and Jérôme Legras.
Home to the family is the village of Chouilly, the most northern Grand Cru village of the Côte des Blancs. Here they cultivate 18 hectares of vines, with another 12 hectares in Vitry, another Chardonnay stronghold to the south and east. The final parcel of family vines is a 6.5 hectare plot of Pinot Noir in Les Riceys in the Côte des Bar, towards the southern limit of Champagne.
To supplement their own fruit, growers in two villages of the Vallée de la Marne, Aÿ and Leuvrigny, supply the family with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for specific cuvées: generally about 25% for the ‘Intuition’ and rosé bottlings, and between 40% and 50% for the cuvée ‘Exigence’.
A Family Affair
This is very much a family story, father François Legras looking after the vineyards (“he never fails to read the daily papers in the morning nor does he ever fail to keep up another morning ritual: that of tirelessly inspecting the family vineyards.”).
François’ wife Brigitte arrived in Champagne from Alsace in the 1960s. She purchased her first vineyard in 1974, in Epernay, and opened her own domaine in 1983 before founding Legras & Haas in 1991. Both are pictured.
All three of the brothers are fully involved in running the vineyards, blending, and managing the business. Jérôme’s specific responsibility is vinification, working with oenologist Maxime Palgé. Maxime grew up on a large Lebanese wine estate and has been working with Legras & Haas since 2022, following an internship there in 2020.
It was Jérôme who contacted me asking if I would like to taste their wines, and I am very glad that he did. The house style is very precise, with the creaminess of Chardonnay dominating, but the wines always pin-sharp and refined. Included in my tasting were two special cuvées: part barrel-fermented, Les Sillons is a Blanc de Blancs from a specific vineyard plot which the family says is “the result of twenty years of experimentation in our most unique parcel.” Also, the 2008 ‘L.T.S’ (Long Time Storage), another Blanc de Blancs, aged for a full 12 years before release.
Legras & Haas have two direct importers in the UK: Astrum Wine Cellars and Private Cellar.
(2023) A blend of the three main Champagne grapes, though dominated by Chardonnay, this is a typically fresh and dry wine from Legras & Haas. It is not without fruit, elegance or charm. A fine, foamy mousse reveals plenty of sour lemon and lime, mouthwatering fruit and a long, delicately saline finish. Nice touch of creaminess to the texture.
(2023) A blend of Grand Cru Pinot Noir grown in Aÿ and Chardonnay from Chouilly. There's lots of ripe, upfront fruit here, tethered by an umami meatiness and savour. Based on a perpetual reserve started in 1996, this release was bottled in 2017 and the extensive time under cork has allowed it to settle into a harmonious but intense wine. There is such sweetness here, super-ripeness to the fruit, but acidity flashing through the long finish.
(2023) All Chardonnay, from the family's Grand Cru vineyards in Chouilly, this has a really elegant, bright and attractive nose. As well as plenty of verve and freshness there is almond and biscuit, hints of breadth too. The mousse is not too aggressive, and that lovely combination of floral and mineral clarity, backed up by creaminess and a little toast, makes for charming and delicious drinking.
(2023) This Extra Brut cuvée with only around 2g/l dosage is 100% Chardonnay, again from the family's Grand Cru vineyards in Chouilly. All Legras & Haas wines have a linear, very decisive line, but here that mineral and lemon zip is enhanced by the low dosage, but crucially not at the expense of fruit. The juiciness of the mid-palate, layered with just a little creaminess developing, results in a refined aperitif style of great quality.
(2023) With base wines fermented and aged in barrel, this was put into bottle in April 2014 and disgorged exactly five years later, with an Extra Brut 4g/l dosage. Some warmth to the colour and a lovely nose, with meaty umami and truffle depth and lots of toast underpinning lemon fruit. In the mouth there's lots of layered complexity here, a mouth-filling mousse and striking, pithy acidity, some apricot and lemon fruit, again hints of truffle and light earthiness. Finishing with a sour lemon squeeze of acidity, it's a delicious Extra Brut.
(2023) L.T.S stands for 'Long Term Storage', this having spent 12 years maturing in the Legras & Haas cellars. Disgorged December 2020, only 1000 bottles were released of this Blanc de Blancs from Grand Cru vineyards in Chouilly, the dosage being 3.5g/l. It has a golden hue and attractive, developed aromas of bruised pear and apple, a honeyed note, moving into preserved lemon and a certain meatiness. In the mouth it is quite full and sapid, but the streaking citrus maintains a very fine line into the finish. No UK stockists listed at time of review.