(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.
(2022) What a lovely Champagne, all 1er Cru Chardonnay, fermented with 20% in barrels, and aged 48 months on the lees. It has 8g/l dosage, and this bottle was disgorged November 2018. Beautifully biscuity and toasty, with a crushed almond sheen of elegance and obviously ripe fruit exhibiting a certain generosity. The mousse is cushioning and creamy, and the palate poised between hazelnut richness, peachy fruitiness and a generous line of limey acidity. The richness keeps this decadent, the acid line sharp, in a delicious and elegant wine.
(2022) From the Côte des Bar in the south, with a fifth generation family estate. This is 100% Pinot Noir based on the 2018 vintage, aged three years on the lees and a dosage of 8g/l. It's a perfectly quaffable Champagne, and when i tasted this on offer at half price. At £17.99 it's a super bargain, at full price? Still good creamy fruit and a softness to the mousse and acidity - though that is plenty enough to balance into a citrus and gentle toast finish. £29.99 as part of a mixed case of 12 bottles.
(2022) A Sec Champagne, so possibly with around 15g/l of dosage and noticeably sweeter than the average Brut, it is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. A lovely nose, elegantly biscuity, creamy abd peachy, the palate nicely focused, with glacé fruits and lime, and despite an obvious sweetness, really very good balance, the central spine of acidity and rounding weight of the time on lees giving both sharpness and breadth. Deliciously useful stuff for fresh fruit desserts or perhaps with fish and chips.
(2022) A lovely and eminently approachable, Pinot Meunier-dominated grower Champagne, based on the 2016 vintage, with 40% of reserve wine from 2015 in the blend. It has a golden colour and only 5.5g/l dosage, but the ripeness and softness of the mousse and fruit profile make this elegantly sippable. There is some biscuity toast, but there's plenty of mid-palate fruit and a well-balanced finish with zippy acidity giving good length. Good value at under £22.
(2021) Launched in 2014, this all-Chardonnay cuvée is sourced from top villages of the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. Malolactic is blocked, the dosage is only 7g/l, but the wine does rest on the lees for four years before disgorgement. This is in Gosset's more open, rich and nicely creamy style with almond notes and a formidable oranges and lemons fruit intensity. Quite like white Burgundy in some ways, but delightful elegance, freshness and zip on the palate. Acidity slices through some ripe mid-palate fruit, though the whole picture is gossamer light. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) A proportion of this Pinot Noir-dominated wine (72%, Chardonnay, 26% Chardonnay, 2% Pinot Meunier) was vinified and aged in oak barrels. It is based on the 2016 vintage, but with 35% of reserve wines in the blend. The dosage is 9g/l and around 7-8% of the blend was vinified as red wine. It has a relatively deep, bronze-pink colour and there is a definite biscuity depth to the strawberries and cream of the nose. Something just a little bit truffly adds extra interest. In the mouth the mousse is rich and cushioning, and the bite of raspberry and a little spicy nuance makes for attracive and balanced drinking. Both savoury and sippable, with good intensity into a long finish, it's a very fine and characterful rosé from Philipponnat.
(2021) From Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyards in Äy, plus 28% Chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger, this rosé spent eight years on the lees and is Extra Brut with 4.5g/l dosage. 5212 bottles were disgorged in March 2019. It's a remarkable and serious pink, the nose smoky and mineral, crammed with small, tight red berries and streaking citrus, just a little biscuit character too. There's an immediate sense of concentration, borne out on the palate, which is intense and beautifully fruited, with raspberry and redcurrant, again that smoky, stony, mineral base, some natural fruit sweetness gathered up into a sweep of acidity through to the finish.
(2021) Henriot's rosé is 50% Pinot Noir grapes from the Montagne de Reims, with 40% Chardonnay and a 10% Pinot Meunier. Reserve wines make up 35% of the blend, which spent three years on the lees and has 9g/l dosage. The colour is a medium-pale bronze/peach, with aromas of small red berries, and a touch of biscuit. In the mouth the mousse is cushiony and rich, but the zestiness of the acidity gives good energy to the wine, the soft fruity character also making it approachable and easy to drink.