(2021) All Chardonnay from Villers-Mamery (the eastern facing sector of the Montagne de Reims), the wine sees 100% malo, with 25% aged in wood. After four years on the lees it was disgorged 12/201, with 8g/l dosage from a Solera 'super cuvée'. Pale lemony straw coloured, I love the nose, which has bready and meaty aromas, a touch of flint, and great umami depth. In the mouth the mousse is cushiony and full, and there's a striking vibrancy of lemon fruit: really punchy, vivacious, with a full, rich texture and bright orange and pink grapefruit acid thrust to extend the finish. Just lovely. Price and stockist quoted is for 2013 vintage at time of review.
(2021) 'C.M. 1993' is not a vintage date: it refers to the 1993 metre height of the Col de la Madeleine. In 2013, when the components of this wine were assembled, it was one of the 'Hors Categories' climbs of the Tour de France. Ninety percent of the base wine was barrel fermented, in new barrels from forests in Champagne. A slightly lower liquor de tirage has also reduced the pressure slightly, for a less aggressively bubbly style. It is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 15% Chardonnay from 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. 5,100 bottles were disgorged in July 2019 with a dosage of 6g/l. A terrific nose, where there is vanilla and a touch of toast overlaid on mushroom and truffle, confit lemon and a suggestion of sweeter peach. It is fresher than the C.C.F 2067, for me it has more nerve and vitality, the rolling mousse leading onto mouthfilling but super-fresh flavours, a beautifully elongated palate where acidity shimmers to a fine, tapering point.
(2021) This cuvée named after the Col de la Croix de Fer, the Hors Categories stage of the Tour de France, where riders climbed to 2067 feet to the summit. That was in 2012, when this wine was laid downm to be disgorged in May 2017. It blends 45% Pinot Meunier with 40% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, with 85% of the blend being 2010 vintage (fermented and aged for a year in barrel), along with 15% from 2011. Only 3,600 bottles were produced, and once again a lower tirage means it has lower pressure than most Champagnes. Dosage is 5g/l. Somewhere between butercup yellow and gold, the nose shows lots of vanilla, dominating a light earthiness and bruised apple fruit. In the mouth it is gently effervescent, and the maturity of this bottle, #3,151, gives more of the lightly oxidative but honeyed style, before freshening citrus and apple acidity, plus a lick of saltiness, balances the finish.
(2020) Black Reserve is a special cuvée of the three main Champagne grapes (50% Pinot Noir), mostly from Premier and Grand Cru sites. Aged for five years on the lees and bottled with 7g/l dosage, the base vintage is 2014 but there is 45% of reserve wines in the blend. This bottle was disgorged July 2019. It's a beautifully pitched wine, lots of biscuit and brioche, but a refined floral edge and crunch of cool fruit. Walnut and an orange notes too. In the mouth the mousse is rolling and rich, with real intensity of ripe flavour, deeply apricotty and peachy, a little smoky, but terrific citrus acidity etches the finish. Selfridges is the only UK stockist of this at £55, but I note France-based vinatis.co.uk sells for £38.35, with delivery of one to six bottles, in two to four days, for £6.00.
(2020) Composed of equal parts Chardonnay (from Chouilly, Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger) and Pinot Noir (from Mailly, Verzy and Vezernay) only the second vintage of Hemera spent 12 years on the lees, and has a modest dosage. What a beautiful golden glow to this 14-year-old Champagne. The aromas are somehow golden and glowing too, a burnished hazelnut and brioche richness from its 12 years on the lees, golden toffee moving into a Seville orange and truffle. But against the depth and richness, there is a luminous edge to this; a keen mineral and salt undertow of freshness. On the palate the mousse is fine and creamy, and that sense of saline, mineral, terroir intensity is striking. It is a Champagne with autolytic nutty characters and that pure core of citrus running through it, but that edgey, mouth-watering ozone-fresh finish in many ways defines this wine.
Beautiful colour, a burnished hint of gold to the straw yellow, masses of streaming, miniscule bubbles. Absolutely beguiling nose, with the subtle oxidative notes from the 12 years on lees, some toast and custard, but fresh orchard fruits, little greengage and yellow plum notes, and really very multi-layered. The wine tightens up considerably on the palate, immediately citrussy and bright, but with a supple, smooth and rounded texture. There is a definite lick of salty minerals in the finish, further tensioning the picture. Really very lovely, intriguing balance between the open, matured flavours and youthful zest and energy. Odilon thinks it will age extremely well, because of that long contact with the lees. 12,000 bottles produced.
(2020) The 2002 Belle Epoque is 50% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir with 4% Pinot Meunier. Some critics have claimed it is too soft and too forward for a deluxe cuvée from the outstanding 2002 vintage, but I have to say I found this to be both seductive and beautifully pitched. The colour has a little golden hue and there is loads of creamy, nutty, gently toasty development, but ripe rosy apple fruit too. In the mouth it is generous and sweet-fruited, a pillow of soft mousse flows across the tongue, then suddenly there's an initial spark of citrus and salt, that develops nicely into a long tantalising finish playing sweetness against sharpness delightfully. Possibly not a wine for extended cellaring, but a joy now.
(2019) From magnum: a fine summer and mild autumn compensated for a difficult spring and delayed growing season. A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, disgorged December 2018 with 8g/l dosage. Fine copper tinged colour, this has a lovely creaminess and developed character, but is very fresh, quite custardy with a touch of coffee and hazelnut, a touch of truffle too. The palate has great freshness, a direct lemon character, a sour thrust of acid driving the lightly earthy, nutty richness. Price quoted at time of review is for 75cl, and not this disgorgement.
(2019) From magnum. A complex year with early budding but violent hail storms, but a very good summer and low yield. 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay, disgorged December 2018 with 8g/l dosage. Creamy without the more developed hazelnut and coffee nuances of the 1983. Delightful richness, nutty apple and some exotic notes with glimpses of papaya and spiced orange. On the palate it has great length and that mouth-filling creaminess, there is some toast and buttery Brazil nut richness that fills the finish to join lovely sweetness of fruit and racing acidity. Fabulous wine. Price quoted at time of review for 75cl and not this disgorgement.
(2019) From magnum. The hottest year since 1962, but also rainy which helped soils in water deficit. Dry September suited Chardonnay in particular. 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, disgorged December 2018 with 8g/l dosage. Quite a glowing golden tinge to this. Rounded, arguably slightly more attenuated, not the direct creamy elegance of the 1989, but has fine biscuity character, a yellow plum fruitiness, but the palate stretches with the rounded, sweet fruit mid-palate and again very good acid balance. Long and shimmering, though the 1989 wins for its exquisite length and balance. Stockist at time of review is for 75cl and not the same disgorgement.