(2022) Voirin-Jamel is a grower in the Grand Cru village of Cramant. This 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir spent 24 months on the lees and was bottled with a modest dosage of 6g/l. There's a lovely, cheery robustness about the aromas here, a touch of raspberry lies over hazelnut with a crunch of gravel in the background. The palate shows the sweetness of really ripe fruit, a certain weight and breadth, but a fine sharpening core of zippy citrus acidity. A lovely Champagne at a keen price - on special offer at £25.
(2022) Eighty-five percent of Taittinger's blend is vinified as a white Champagne, before 15% of Pinot Noir, made as a red wine with skin contact, is blended. That gives a relatively deep colour, and plenty of warm, creamy strawberry fruit character. In the mouth there is a perception of sweetness because of that pretty and ripe fruit, though of course this is Brut, and little toasty notes mingle with red berries before a fresh, appetising finish. A very nice style from the family-owned Taittinger. Quite widely available (also in Tesco, Morrison and independents too) for between around £39 to £45 per bottle.
(2022) The base wine here is the excellent, low-yielding 2012 vintage. As always, reserve wines from previous vintages make up a substantial proportion of the Grande Cuvée, in this case 10 different vintages adding up to 42% of the final blend. It opens with very gentle biscuit and hazelnut, touches of yeasty, lightly earthy quality. On the palate so taut and lemony, but with a breadth of texture, showing some honey and nuttiness that adds weight and richness.
(2022) 100% Chardonnay, from Grand Cru vineyards in Cramant, Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly. After 18 years on the Lees, the wine was disgorged on 21st September 2021. The dosage is 6 g/l. There is a burnished depth to the colour. I found it took a few minutes for the nose to open up, then revealing lots of yeasty, nutty and meaty umami character. Slow to evolve notes of buttery pastry become creamier. In the mouth, there's a certain lemony strictness to this. The meatiness continues, bready rather than fruity flavours, but bags of mouthwatering lemon acidity. A touch of saline makes itself felt right on the finish.
(2022) Grapes are sourced exclusively from Grands Crus sites in the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims, Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%). The dosage is 6g/l. There's a meatiness and bready depth on the nose once again, with complex yellow plum and little charcuterie notes flecked with floral and preserved lemon nuances. In the mouth the mousse is creamy, and this develops as such a sumptuous and complete Champagne, textured and ripe in terms of the mid-palate fruit, then the cool, sheer apple and lemon acidity of the finish. Gorgeous stuff.
(2022) The latest release of Roederer's cuvee that launched with number 241. The numeric indicates that this is the 243rd blend created by the Champagne House since its creation in 1776. It also contains a significant proportion of wine from a 'Perpetual Reserve', a version of a solera system set up in 2012, and a selection of reserve wines aged in large oak foudres. It has a beguiling nose, a little more perfumed than the 242 for me, plenty of almondy, almost toasty biscuit notes, but an impression of feather-light, delicate fruitiness. In the mouth a lovely combination of substantial pink grapefruit and ripe pear fruit mid-palate density, but a streaking lemon and mineral salts definition to the acidity. There is a touch of orange bitters, and rounding depth from the aged components, in a wine that remains terrifically sheer and precise. Please note: at time of review on offer at £45 from North and South Wines.
(2022) All Chardonnay from Premier Cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, this is Brut, though at the lower end of the residual sugar range, aged for a minimum of five years before disgorgement. Around 50% of the blend is reserve wines. It's quite a meaty style, a nutty oxidation adding to a pillow of luxury, apples and lemons too. In the mouth quite powerful, the ageing and reserve wines adding texture and that nuttiness and umami depth again. Fascinating style here.
(2022) A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, aged a minimum of five years before disgorgement. This has a brioche richness and, although Extra Brut with a dosage of less than 3g/l of sugar, it has a sweet-fruited charm on the palate and is fruit-forward, hinting almost at a tropical character on the nose. That little toasty, nutty impression lingers through the finish, but again the glacé lemon precision of the acidity balances. Approachable in style.
(2022) My first tasting of the deluxe Cuvée des Hussards from Frerejean Frères, a house created by Guillaume, Richard and Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger in 2005. It is 85% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize, Grauves and Chouilly, and 15% Pinot Noir from Vertus. All vineyards are rated Premier or Grand Cru, with vines more than 40 years old. It is Extra Brut that spent eight years in the cellars. Even with a very low dosage, there is obvious ripeness and a suggestion of lusciousness on the nose. There are characters of its long ageing, with maturing notes of fig and honey, truffle too, but then a cleansing note of citrus and firm pear that balances. In the mouth the fruit sweetness belies the lowly dosage, the palate is nutty and caressed by creamy sweet flavours, but the sheer acid core gives a shimmering lemon brightness, flitting touches of saline and spices adding to the complexity of the long finish. I think this certainly ready to drink now.
(2022) Bollinger is renowned as a house that celebrates Pinot Noir - witness their über-expensive Vieilles Vignes Françaises, just like this wine, a Blanc de Noirs.
PN TX17 is part of the PN project, celebrating vineyards in areas Bollinger consider as prime Pinot Noir terroirs. From a base of 2017 (though with 48% reserve wines dating back to 2006 in the blend), this comes from the unheralded 1er Cru of Tauxières (with just a smidgeon of fruit from Verzenay and Avenay). Tauxières is known for its limestone and clay soils, and for this wine around 50% was barrel-fermented. The dosage is a lowly 4g/l.
I find the nose here particularly attractive. There's rich biscuit and brioche, but a cedary, almost meaty umami character, ripe stone fruits layered beneath. In the mouth it tensions dramatically: zesty lemon and lime is the spine here, but building around it are toast and mouthfilling peach and ogen melon, but that cedary, wood tannin grip, along with minerals and salts adds significant structure. It's an extremely intense wine, lingering on fruit, acid and a sense of graphite precision.