(2023) What an interesting wine from leading Argentinian winemaker, Susana Balbo. The highly aromatic Torrontés is rarely fermented in oak, and this 11.5% alcohol example was clearly harvested early, which has also acted to temper its floral and herbal exuberance. There's still a whisper of jasmine, but aromas are much more about delicate orange and nectarine, just touched by a little oak creaminess. In the mouth lots of Mandarin orange juiciness, sweet peach juice, and refined acidity, the whole picture light, fresh and flowing due to that low alcohol and the delicate handling of the fruit. A nice way to celebrate International Women's Day in just a week or so. Watch the video for more information.
(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) 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) 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.
(2020) Pommery doesn't enjoy the greatest of reputations among Champagne afficionados, but I really rather enjoyed this wine, made with around 9g/l dosage and with around 30% reserve wines in the blend. Bready and lightly toasty on the nose, the bubbles are tiny and rise steadily in the glass, and the palate it taut with a lemony thrust of fruit and acid, but a certain peachy sweetness on the mid-palate, with a reasonably long and nicely balanced, tangy finish.
(2019) The basics are the same as the Brut Gold, with wines from 2009, 2010 and 2012 and a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. The dosage is 33g/l. The wine arose from experimentation in the winery, even though the Cattier's realised that Demi-sec was a controversial style, it was decided the wine could be launched as a Prestige cuvée, made with sweetness at the lower end of the Demi-sec category (which begins at 32g/l). Slightly darker in colour than the Brut, it has a lemony and yeast nose, some biscuit and autolytic character, and doesn't immediately reveal that it will be Demi-sec. The palate is soft and rolling, sweet nectarine and marshmallow vanilla note, but the sweetness very nicely balanced. I'm not generally a Demi-sec fan, but I have to say this is a terrific interpretation.
(2019) A blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay with a dosage of 8.5g/l. Quite a deep pink with a hint of copper. Very fine bubbles. There is obvious red fruit on the nose, dry cherry and cranberry, but there's a meaty autolytic character. Dry on the palate, plenty of lemony character and acidity, there is still a touch of the dry red berry character, but it finishes dry and citrussy and would drink well with salmon, duck, or even grouse in season.
(2019) Again the 2009, 2010 and 2012 vintages make up the blend in this all-Chardonnay cuvée with a dosage of 8g/l. Fruit comes from the Côte des Blancs, with around half from the Montagne de Reims. Elegant, pale gold colour. Lots of freshness here as well as creaminess, a soft lemon rind and lightly waxy character, citrus continuing with orange and more oatmeal and almond developing. Super fresh on the palate, a touch of salty minerals, though there is nuttiness and a hint of quite ripe pear and nectarine fruit beneath.
(2019) The blend here is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier and like all of the wines in this tasting, it is a blend of vintages 2009, 2010 and 2012. The dosage, made from wine aged for one year in oak, is 9g/l. Beautifully creamy and refined nose, the sheen of almondy richness over quite full, peachy fruit, quite toasty but fruity too. Rich and rolling mousse, with lots of toast and nuttiness, buttery, but very good, precise acidity. Lovely and long, a tang of Seville orange in the finish.
(2019) Deep and meaty aromas compared to the 2009, rounder, less sharply - crisply - lemony, but there is good thrust and fruit precision too, quite a bright orange character, then some delicate toast and spices. The blend is 41% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 26% Pinot Meunier. Excellent potential here if cellared for a few years.