(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) The Brut Réserve is one of my personal 'go to' Champagnes among the major houses, and though the RRP is £47.99, there are always deals in the £30s. 40% Chardonnay and long ageing in the Taittinger cellars gives lovely biscuit and brioche notes over nutty apple and lemony scents. The fine mousse gives creaminess of texture and flavour, the dosage seems relatively high given the current obsession with ultra-dry styles, but the balance is impeccable, the core of sweet, ripe fruit, developed autolytic characters and sparkling acidity all adding up to a totally satisfying picture.
(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) 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.
(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.