(2018) It may not be on your radar as yet, but there's a buzz about the crémant wines of France - France's 'other' sparkling wines made by the Traditional Method with in-bottle secondary fermentation, but not in Champagne. From Burgundy, this is a blend of 92% Chardonnay and, intriguingly, 8% Gamay.
(2018) From the Grand Cru vineyard acquired by Georges Mugneret in 1977, with the help of Charles Rousseau, composed of thin, stony soils. The domaine is now worked by Georges' daughters, and this wine will see around 70% new oak. The colour is pale, but with a garnet hue and little sign of age. Perfumed and touched by herbs and a meatiness, lovely firm berry fruit with some liquorice and chestnut character. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit fairly explodes, real ripeness here and even lusciousness, the fleshy berry fruit soon caught up in a dried cherry acidity and purposeful but ripe, coffeeish tannins, the oak very delicate just adding a touch of cedar and smoke way in the background. This has good length, dry, the fruit and a delicate herbs and spices character again, and a poised but really quite powerful finish. Very hard to say whether this should be cellared further: it has loads of fruit and charm still, but does finish just a touch dry, so perhaps drinking now and over the next five years would be the sensible path. It should also be decanted as it throws a significant sediment, but also opens nicely in the glass, so give it a little air.
(2018) A new wine to C&B's own-label range as of autumn 2018, this is unoaked Chardonnay from the vineyards of the Mâconnaise, made for Corney & Barrow by Maison Auvigue. It is a beautifully pitched Chardonnay, creamy with almond and a hint of new-mown hay on the nose, and plenty of creamy and ripe orchard fruit. In the mouth it is expansive and richly textured, the nicely sweet mid-palate fruit swept up in very good acidity that give length and a dry but not austere finish. A lovely wine for fish or fowl. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) Crémant wines are undergoing something of a mini-boom, finding many new fans for these traditional method sparkling wines from French regions outside of Champagne. This, from Chablis producer Simonnet-Febvre, is a blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir, aged 24 months on the lees in bottle. It is a crisp and zippy style, but a creaminess and touch of biscuit adds to the pear and lemon fruit of the nose. In the mouth it is razor-sharp as befits a wine from vineyards surrounding Chablis, but there is a juiciness and peachy generosity to the mid-palate fruit before that long, shimmering core of acidity extends the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) A fabled wine, now selling for £600 or so per bottle (but that's not what I paid almost 20 years ago). The colour is certainly faded, a broad, pale rim, but definitely still some garnet at the core of this. Immediately on opening and pouring a small taste to check the wine I thought it was fairly oxidised, but pouring the first proper glasses around an hour later and the wine seemed to have drawn itself together as if by magic. There is a touch of leafiness, a touch of roasted chestnut, some spice and a touch of dried blood, some firm red fruit too. Over an hour or so of drinking it opens, the palate perhaps just a moment past its prime, but such lovely mineral precision to this, the acidity so perfect, tannins sweetly resolved, and the impression left is of dry redcurrant fruit, but a building warmth of spices and some weight, really quite richly satisfying despite the ethereal red fruits and light gaminess that float into the ether as you drink.
(2018) I'm on record as saying that, at it's best, Chablis is the world's greatest expressions of the Chardonnay grape. This, from a top vintage and one of the best premier cru sites, is eloquent testament to that. Subtle, wet river stone minerality, taut apple notes and fleeting glimpses of summer meadows on the nose lead on to a firm and finely-etched, steely palate. There is fruit, and there is textural weight, but this is the antithesis of the 'golden' Chardonnay style: linear, lightly salty and strictly defined, it has a lemon-juice freshness disguising its concentration, its depth and complexity revealed slowly as the bottle goes down.
(2018) A subtle but very fine and, in the end, charming Chardonnay this, it is a négociant wine made from fruit and must bought from long-term contracted growers, and only a small proportion of the blend sees oak. Apples, but ripe, a little pastry or vanilla covering, and hints of more tropical fruit are gentle and welcoming. In the mouth it is not the most concentrated of complex of white Burgundies, but the silky, vanilla-touched fruit and texture and the sweet fruited finish are most enjoyable.
(2018) Always delivering a reliably solid glass of wine, Maison Louis Latour's 2015 Bourgogne opens with spice, a hint of truffly damp earth and nicely pert red cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth there's a deal of backbone here, a nice endive-like bittersweetness to the tannin and acid axis, but the layering of fresh, open red fruits and hints of mocha add up to a pleasing picture. £14.49 as part of a mixed six at Majestic is a more attractive price - and Bon Couer Wines has half bottles at £7.99.
(2018) Cellared by me since purchase around 1997, this is a beguiling wine that reinforces the magic that is - or can be - red Burgundy. A modest appellation and vintage, but from a highly respected winemaker, it stands apart from the vast majority of Pinot Noir wines from elsewhere in the world, especially given its beautiful state of maturity after 23 years. A touch of ochre to the pale ruby colour, the new oak has melted into a sheen of Sandalwood spice, and sappy and briary aromas as well as quite delicate redcurrant and cherry fruit dominate. There's a hint of something firm, almost like brick dust, but it is not age or oxidation. On the palate yes, the fruit has receded perhaps a touch too far, but that core of fresh, tart-edged red plum and cherry is still there, a dry iron oxide note is not at all unpleasant, and the softness of the tannins and acidity just supports very elegantly. Long and very precise, again the oak is transparent, the steely, dry, but agile freshness just delightful. It's impossible to say how long a wine like this will continue to give pleasure, but I won't rush to immediately drink my remaining bottle. Newer vintages will cost around £30.
(2018) Though Petit Chablis - so from vineyards not on the prime Kimmeridgian soils - maybe its the 50- to 70-year-old vines that give this excellent Chablis characteristics, with a touch of that seashell and flint, and rosy, ripe apple fruit. In the mouth it is a touch less concentrated than the Chanson Chablis, but has a lovely flowing and pure character, plenty of gently peachy ripeness and some bright Mandarin orange acidity. Yes, there's a touch of salinity too, to complete and impressive picture.