(2019) Brut Réserve is hte cornerstone of Taittinger's extremely impressive portfolio: indeed the selection of Grande Marque Champagnes featured in this report includes many of the best and most reliable 'standard' Brut wines from the major houses, and that certainly includes Taittinger. It's also widely available in supermakets and indepedent merchants, and for Christmas many have offers on, bringing the price down to around £27/£28 which is an excellent price for the quality. It's an approachable and crowd-pleasing style with its upfront, fragrant aromas of peachy fruitiness, floral notes and biscuit, the 40% Chardonnay and three years on the lees enhancing that (also 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier). The palate is on the sumptuous side, expansive and creamy, a level of sweetness making it feel rather luxurious, thought that's not at the expensive of excellent acidity and clarity in the finish. On offer in Ocado until the 2nd January 2020, but use the wine-searcher link for many other stockists and plenty of festive discount prices.
(2019) From a fantastic vintage, the Chardonnays for this wine are sourced from villages of the Côte des Blancs, Sézannais, Montgueux and Montagne de Reims. It was aged for eight years in bottle and has a dosage of around 8g/l, so towards the drier end of the Brut scale. The pale gold colour also shows plenty of tiny bubbles, and the nose has biscuit and pastry, and a delicate yeastiness to baked apple pie fruit. There's a lighter touch of floral character in there too. In the mouth it is racy and long, a really good, elegant and dry core of white fruits, a roundness and hint of richness and a long, shimmering finish. A lovely 2008. Apparently this is also in John Lewis in a fancy neoprene carry-bag, but at time of review I saw only the straight vintage (not Blanc de Blancs) on the JL website.
(2019) Arlaux is a Champagne grower, the family having farmed only Premier Cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims since 1852. The Grande Cuvée spends a full three years on the lees (this bottle disgorged 3rd July 2017 according to the label), and is a blend of the three Champagne grapes. It is immediately appealing, the toast and depth of nutty autolysis melting into a deep orange fruitiness, a little spice and the zest of lemon completing a very alluring picture. The palate does not disappoint, both ripe and relatively full-bodied, creamy and toasty depths of flavour shot through with fine salt and lime freshness of acidity. Long and very beautifully balanced, this is my first experience of Alaux, and most impressive it is too.
(2019) Famously the oldest house in Champagne, founded in 1584, Gosset is a small, premium house and their Grande Reserve spends a full four years on the lees - way beyond the legal requirement. A blend of 46% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier the blend has 12% of reserve wines from previous vintages. It's a fruity, bright and vinous style, miniscule bubbles leading on to a creamy mousse and flavours of spiced orange and fig. Some biscuity, toasty and smoky notes develop, but it maintains its fresh, zesty and cool elegance into a long finish.
(2019) With 40% of reserve wines in the blend, from harvests up to 15 years old, this is always one of the most complex of the Grande Marque Brut NVs. The wine is also unusual in that the 60% of the base vintage is made from one-third each of the three main Champagne grapes. It has a sumptuous nose, creamy, toasty, with fig and hazelnut, a hint of ripe peach then onto the palate where that toastiness is alluring, but the sweet nectarine of the fruit fills the mid-palate before excellent, shimmering acidity gives great accuracy to the finish.
(2019) A blend of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier, this seems meatier, less overtly summer berry fruity than the 2009 on the nose, but the palate shows dazzling acidity that seems more taut than the 2012. Really good intensity, thrust and focus here. Long, shimmering grapefruit zest acidity gives this real vitality too.
(2019) There is 50% Pinot Noir in this blend, Chardonnay having dominated previous vintages, with 36% Chardonnay and a relatively low 14% of Meunier. A powerful wine, this also spent seven years in the cellars before release. Real salinity, yeast and biscuit, candied lemon and lime. Lovely sweetness on the mid-palate, the thrust of citrus and salt surge through to the finish.
(2019) A terrific Blanc de Noirs from the 2012 vintage, 100% old vine Pinot Noir with around 8g/l dosage. Pale gold with a mass of miniscule bubbles, aromas are gently biscuity, something a touch peppery, but mostly about ripe orchard fruits, some floral hints too. In the mouth a powerful and concentrated wine, a great, rushing sweep of intense acidity that drives it across the palate, but then a more broadening core of grapefruit or blood orange, edging towards peachiness, a waxy lemon zest crispness developing toward the finish which is long and beautifully balanced. This feels very youthful and yet eminently enjoyable right now. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2019) In June 2019 Champagne Devaux's Cellar Master, Michel Parisot, presented a masterclass on the 'D de Devaux' range of wines to a sell-out audience at my Glasgow Festival of Wine. Each wine in this range is aged for a minimum of five years on the lees - seven years for magnums - including this Brut, disgorged in October 2017. A blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, it shows plenty of yeasty, biscuity autolysis, and a fat lemony fruit character beneath. Perhaps the 35% of reserve wines, aged mostly in large oak casks, helps with the creaminess and the hint of gold to the colour. In the mouth plenty of ripe, rosy apple and peachy fruit, a fine, bitter edge of grapefruit or Seville orange to the acidity, and the 8g/l dosage meaning this finishes with some fruit sweetness against an element of salty minerals.
(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.
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