(2023) Though not certified organic, I believe this vineyard is organically farmed. A little development to the colour here, and a fine, herby, slightly medicinal (but not at all unpleasant) nuance to the aroma. In the mouth a subtle and complex wine, with a vivacious edge to the fruit, aided by keen acidity. A definite saline tang to this too.
(2023) From old vines planted in the highest part of the estate, yields here are very low. A full 24 months on lees is evident on the nose, where salts and lemons carry a certain fat and suggestion of skinny grip. The palate has great saline richness and full flavour, a nut husk and salty dryness but not with juiciness and mouth-watering freshness. Gastronomic, serious and lovely.
(2023) Lallier's cellarmaster is Dominique Demarville, whose C.V. is impressive, having held that position at Mumm, Perrier-Jouët and Veuve Clicquot. This blends 55% Chardonnay with 45% Pinot Noir, and was bottled with a modest dosage of 8g/l. The mousse is fine, with small persistent bubbles. Biscuit and brioche overlays a fruity opening, notes of lemon sherbet and green apple are crisp and appetising. On the palate it is a very finely honed Champagne, delicate and filigree weight and flavour is etched by fine chalky acidity, but there's a hint of peach and sweetness from the dosage that gives lovely balance.
(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.
(2021) A blend of fruit from the Taylor family's vineyards in the Clare Valley and from the Limestone Coast. There's a plummy character on the nose, a little wisp of something herby and lifted too. The full-on sweetness and chocolate density of the wine surprises as it hits the palate, a mocha coffee raft of black fruit flavours, super-ripe and mouth-filling. Plush is the word for this wine, with its creamy and generous tannins and acids, it's for immediate pleasure I'd say, as long as you like that uncompromisingly ripe and large-scaled style.
(2021) From 30-year-old vines in the Waipara Valley, part whole bunch fermented in open-top vessels then matured in oak barriques (40% new) from Burgundian coopers. A little paler and more ruby than crimson, sweet, soft and quite mature aromas, a truffle and damp woodland charm and and lots of soft, pulp strawberry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth a lovely wine, medium-weight and filled with juicy but supple red fruit. The oak adds a coffee and cream touch, the acidity is pert and fresh, and the finish spicy, fruity and long.
(2021) A Cabernet-dominated blend from the Gimblett Gravels, that always gives my database a challenge to fit in the full label details. If only they'd rename it 'Bordeaux blend'. Vibrant, dark, saturated crimosn, then bright, almost pastille aromas of blackcurrant and violet, there is a nice gravelly touch to the background, along with some polished oak. In the mouth this has a barrow-load of black fruits, a nicely sour orange tang to the acidity that fits in well, and a roughening edge to the tannins that just grips towards the lip-smacking, juicy but tart and mouth-watering finish.
(2021) Garrus is made from a single vineyard of nearly 100 year-old Grenache vines, blended with a little Rolle (Vermentino), and fermented in new and second-use French oak barrels of 600-litres, where it is aged for a further 10 months with batonnage. The colour is still delicate and appealing, but the nose is intriguing: the herbs and light floral and summer fruit scents are there, but it seems deeper, it seems as though it is a rosé that is holding something in reserve and not putting it all there from the start. In the mouth it is bone dry, and though there's a hint of passion fruit and even mango, that is soon tempered and calmed by a serious bit of structure, salts and lemon acids yes, but also an intensity of small red berries from cranberry to redcurrant, the concentration seeming to build in the mouth. It's a wine that plays mind-games with you, seeming like a typically fresh, floral and herb-strewn Provence pink one minute, perhaps a delicate and feminine Pinot Noir the next, and yet with the texture and balance of a fine white wine. Truly something exceptional and will cellar positively too.
(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) The latest incarnation of a regular favourite and one that, in the opinion of d'Esclans founder, Sacha Lichine, is the best ever made. Sadly, it is also the last made by celebrated winemaker Patrick Léon who died in December (Patrick was winemaker at Mouton Rothschild before creating Whispering Angel in 2006). A blend of Grenache, Rolle and Cinsault, is the colour a touch deeper than usual? It certainly has bags of fruit in the aroma, not only tangy citrus peel but small red berries and a delicate more floral and rose-hip perfume. In the mouth it is bone-dry, with precision to the fruit and a sense of both substance and finesse. Watch the video for more information.