The Goutorbe family has been producing estate-bottled champagne in Aÿ since the late 1940s, but even before that they were already established as nurserymen for propagating vine cuttings. Emile Goutorbe established the nursery business just after the First World War, while he was the vineyard manager for Perrier-Jouët, and the success of this business eventually allowed him to purchase some parcels of vines in the area. His son Henri created the Goutorbe label, bottling and selling some champagne while continuing the nursery business.
In 1970, Henri’s son René took over the estate, expanding the vineyard holdings and enlarging and modernizing the winery. Today they own 25 hectares, a considerable quantity for a champagne grower, planted with 70 percent Pinot Noir, 27 percent Chardonnay and three percent Meunier. The jewel of Goutorbe’s vineyard holdings is their six hectares of Aÿ Grand Cru, although they also own vines in several other villages, including Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Bisseuil, Avenay Val d’Or and Hautvillers.
All parcels are vinified separately, to allow for maximum flexibility in blending. The wines are all fermented in stainless steel, and in Goutorbe’s deep cellars, no thermo-regulation is required. Malolactic is performed for all of the wines, and blending and bottling generally take place in March, before the season of heavy pépiniériste (nursery) work. In addition, Goutorbe is one of the few houses that make mathusalems with the second fermentation in bottle—naturally there aren’t a lot of these produced, but they are interesting nevertheless.