(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) 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) 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) For me one of the absolute 'banker' Grand Marque Champagnes, of excellent quality and yet widely available and often on discount. Shop around to find it for £23-£25, and that's exceptional value. It's £23 in Tesco until 18/12/2019. It's a superbly refined blend of mostly black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with 15% - 20% of Chardonnay and 9 - 10g/l of dosage. Around 10% -20% reserve wines give depth and a certain biscuity richness, but it is a direct, focused wine with wonderfully clear fresh-cut pear fruit quality and pristine acidity. There is nuttiness and a fine line of smokiness into a long tapering finish that is very elegant, classy, but also fruity and terribly easy to drink.
(2019) From a house on the up, its wines much improved over the last decade or so, this is a Chardonnay-dominated cuvée (50%), and has around 30% of reserve wines in the blend. That along with extended ageing for three years on the lees does nothing to blunt the wine's vivacious fruitiness and freshness, but adds enough biscuit and brioche to be truly satisfying. Nicely balanced in the mouth between nutty dryness (less than 8g/l dosage) and zipping citrus fruit and acidity, it's a dependable and widely available Champagne, so there will deals around.
(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) Fabulous and a bit of a rarity, I confess this bottle came from my own collection where it had been cellared for five or six years, so although bottles on sale now will have a more youthful character, I couldn't help but include it in this round up. Krug Rosé is a blend of the three main Champagne varieties, from a wide range of years with a high proportion of reserve wines, and it is an 'assemblage', made by blending still Pinot Noir before at least five years ageing in bottle at Krug’s cellars. It has a moderately deep pink colour and a wonderfully expressive nose: strawberry shortcake aromas of berries and buttery pastry, floral highlights adding lightness. In the mouth more of those red berry and vanilla flavours, decidiely smooth and refined, the acidity making its presence felt ever so subtly, giving this an effortless freshness too. Majestic stuff. Most retailers are charging between £210 and £250 per bottle.
(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.
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