(2019) A tiny domaine located in Cramant in the Côte des Blancs, farming grand cru Chardonnay vineyards since 1746, and a very early example of a 'grower Chamagne' house, bottling since 1907. Perlé is a rarely-seen but traditional style, bottled with around 4 bars of pressure rather than the usual 6 bars. This is 2013 base with 35% reserve wines, disgorged autumn 2017 and with only 5g/l of dosage, so Extra Brut. The mousse dissipates quite rapidly to leave a gentle effervesence, the nose pure and driven by clean Chardonnay minerals and white fruits, though there is a sense of creaminess and just a touch of yeastiness. In the mouth it is fresh, light, but concentrated, the acidity driving the wine, but with such lemon and lime juiciness runnning into that salty mineral tang of the finish. Arguably a little on the austere side, but so beautifully made and singing along with some pan-fried seabass.
(2019) I have very fond memories of Paillard's very low dosage 'Nec Plus Ultra' cuvée, which I haven't tasted for a while, so it was intriguing to taste this new zero dosage wine. A lot - 50% - is comprised of reserve wines with vintages going back to 1985 in a solera-style system, and the majority of the blend was fermented in oak barrels. This bottle was disgorged in February 2018 after 36 months on the lees, as stated on the back label.
The mousse is fine and racy, the nose yeasty and bready, a touch of coffee, but a pure citrus and ripe pear and apple fruitiness too. On the palate this is a smooth and sophisticated glass of Champagne, the fruit cool and slick, the absence of sugar nicely balanced by ripe fruit and that weight and creaminess of autolysis. Quite full, even touching on peachy on the mid-palate, it is long and has a salty, moreish finish that is long and elegant.
(2019) All-Chardonnay from the villages of Chouilly and Cuis in the Côte des Blancs, Steve describes 2010 as "An "ordinary" vintage, but the Chardonnays are surprisingly good," and indeed I thought this wine was excellent. Nice fine bead and pale in colour, the nose has that authentic Champagne autolytic character, yeasty and very slightly cheesy, but bursting with ripe fruit on the palate, before a crunching lemony acidity sweeps through. Quite a chewy mid-palate feel to this, a pretty substantial style, that I really enjoyed on its own, and with a creamy fish pie. The vintage Blanc de Blancs from Diebolt-Vallois appears not to have UK distribution, though at time of review a couple of vintages were available via Fine+Rare wines 'marketplace' service, the price around £40 per bottle.
(2018) It's been several years since I tasted this 'Sec' Champagne from Taittinger, meaning it has more residual sugar that Brut wine, probably around double at 17.5g/l. That's rarely my favourite style of Champagne to be honest, but this wine proves what a good house Taittinger is, the hint of sweetness adding no more than a carressing, creamy softness on the finish. Such is the striking limey acid balance of the wine, its structural integrity due to that and a firm, firm core of fruit, that along with long ageing to add a savoury, bready body, it feels light and fresh until the last drop of the long finish. A lovely post-dinner pick-me-up or perhaps a match with the lightest desserts. On offer until 31st December 2018 in Tesco at just £25, that's a helluva bargain. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) From a low-yielding vintage, this is a fabulous wine from Taittinger, a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 9g/l of residual sugar. Chardonnay is sourced primarily from the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs, and Pinot Noir primarily from those of the Montagne de Reims. Fabulously toasty and nutty on the nose, there's an all-encompassing feeling of luxurious depth, then the palate bursts through with a deal of sweetness - fruit rather than sugar, and electrifying acidity, a gorgeous, fleshy plum fruitiness and lovely weight and texture, the finish long with more of those toasty notes to beguile. Use wine-searcher to find plenty of independent stockists, plus big names like Majestic and John Lewis.
(2018) The full five years this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay spends on the lees in bottle offsets and gives richness to the very low dosage of 3g/l, and along with 40% reserve wines results in a wine that is chalk dry, but not aggressive. There's a lovely lick of seashell salinity on the nose, joining fresh lemony fruit but with a developed breadiness beneath. In the mouth it is very keen and crips, the lively mousse carrying more salts and citrus, a dry apple core acidity and just little vestiges of nuttiness and biscuit in quite a complex character, finishing dry but not austere.
(2018) A new cuvée about to hit the market, so not in UK retailers at time of review. Vanilla and toast on the nose, a balanced, linear palate, lightly honeyed with a candied orange peel aroma. Again, the reserve wines add an extra, savoury depth to the ensemble. A great new cuvée! Drink 2019-2024.
(2018) Nicolas Jaegar’s second vintage, and what a monster: Upon release, a wine of remarkable precision, dazzling pear-like fruit with thundering acidity on the palate. This has already mellowed in the last year or so, the pear aromas giving way to something creamier, but still firmly in its 'fruit' phase. Waiting for the nutty aromas, but what a scintillating wine! Currently at 93/100, this will drink from 2020 through to 2030, and should hit 95/100. A real bargain though not yet in stock in the UK at time of writing.
(2018) Based upon the 2013 vintage (Usually 1-2 years older in magnum), this release feels a bit more constricted than normal, and will need a bit of time to reveal its potential. At the moment, enjoy the zesty grapefruit palate and toasty reserve wine complexity. Leave some bottles in your cellar for a year or two to gain that extra roundness and realise the 91/100 potential, drink 2019-2025.
(2018) A wine that is drinking well out of the gate: lush fruit leaning towards the tropical, supported by a baseline of buttery richness. An easy-going Champagne to be enjoyed in the medium term, and although a rated lower than the 2008 overall, a solid effort none-the-less, and still a bargain. Currently scoring 92/100, with a little a bit of upside potential. Drink from 2018 until 2024.
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