(2018) From a low-yielding vintage, this is a fabulous wine from Taittinger, a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 9g/l of residual sugar. Chardonnay is sourced primarily from the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs, and Pinot Noir primarily from those of the Montagne de Reims. Fabulously toasty and nutty on the nose, there's an all-encompassing feeling of luxurious depth, then the palate bursts through with a deal of sweetness - fruit rather than sugar, and electrifying acidity, a gorgeous, fleshy plum fruitiness and lovely weight and texture, the finish long with more of those toasty notes to beguile. Use wine-searcher to find plenty of independent stockists, plus big names like Majestic and John Lewis.
(2018) My word but I loved this. Two-thirds Pinot Noir, one-third Chardonnay, coming from Grand Cru vineyards in Bouzy, this has a moderator dosage of around 8g/l and a nose filled with buttered toast and wheatgerm, a spiced pear fruitiness beneath. Racy and fine on the palate, the mousse crisply textured, so much sweet fruit, yet a dazzling, orangey acid structure and textural richness, toast again in the finish, giving this sumptuous presence and making for fabulous drinking.
(2018) The full five years this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay spends on the lees in bottle offsets and gives richness to the very low dosage of 3g/l, and along with 40% reserve wines results in a wine that is chalk dry, but not aggressive. There's a lovely lick of seashell salinity on the nose, joining fresh lemony fruit but with a developed breadiness beneath. In the mouth it is very keen and crips, the lively mousse carrying more salts and citrus, a dry apple core acidity and just little vestiges of nuttiness and biscuit in quite a complex character, finishing dry but not austere.
(2018) Pierre and Sophie Larmandier are among the leading growers in Champagne, farming biodynamically (though un-certified) and with parcels of old vines, in this case Chardonnay from Cramant that is up to 90 years old. It is Extra Brut with a lowly 2g/l of sugar. It's a singularly powerful Champagne, pouring with a golden hint of richness and tiny bubbles, the aromas are firm and gently earthy, with touchs of herbs, lemon and a brioche and biscuit background. In the mouth that intensity is striking: there's a powerful impression of salty minerality, fat lemony fruit that fills the mid-palate, and real length and layered complexity. It's a terrific Champagne and would be wonderful with roast chicken or other poultry. One of my two sparkling wine picks for Christmas 2018, watch the video for more information.
(2018) A one-off and exceptional wine from Gosset, 100% Pinot Meunier, aged for a full nine years on the lees in Gosset's cellars. The base vintage is 2007, with 10% reserve wines added. The Meunier comes from south-facing vineyards around Epernay, and it is very dry with only 3g/l of residual sugar. The colour immediately speaks of the age of the wine, a burnished yellow/gold, then very fine bubbles and a cushion of mousse, revealing lovely biscuit and toast and a yellow plum fruitiness. It is full and charming. In the mouth it is expansive and creamily rich, the mousse quite luxurious, and the pitch of the acidity - very noticeably saline - gives great freshness to the toasty, creamy, weighty fruit. Just lovely and a real treat to taste a truly exceptional Champagne.
(2018) It was interesting to compare the bottle with this large format version in Magnum. Instantly a step away from bottle generosity and one towards magnum sternness. The magnum character shines through with its struck match reductive character on the nose, the peach flavours are replaced with a zesty-lemon bouquet in this format. A distinct aroma of coffee is beginning to develop on the finish, completing a contrarian wine that is both nervy and open at the same time. Drink this from 2019 until 2025.
(2018) I’m fed up of recommending Champagnes from 2008 (almost), it would be far easier to simply list the bad wines! Another lovely wine, this has the authority and resonance one has come to expect from this vintage. A fragrant bouquet of apple, supported by a note of almond. A palate redolent of crunchy red-fruits, aromas of plum and quince emerge from the glass as the wine warms. Impeccably balanced, the aromatic volume is cranked up for the Pinot Noir dominated finish. Superb, but a real baby that is currently hovering around the 92/100 mark. Should start drinking well from around 2021 until around 2032.
(2018) The second wine from the oenotheque, disgorged 2016, with 57% Chardonnay, and 43% Pinot Noir. Creaminess is building, biscuit notes emerge from a peachy core of fruit. An excellent wine for the vintage, this will certainly evolve further in the next couple of years, but I rather like it now! Drink from 2018 until 2022, and again not listed for sale in the UK at time of review.
(2018) I often struggle with this vintage, the combination of over-the-top ripeness and botrytis can be rather cloying. Fortunately for us, this Champagne possesses neither in excess, although I wouldn’t age it for too long. Elegantly toasty, with a touch of mushroom on the nose. The palate is all about youthful stone fruits that turn quite juicy in the glass. I suspect a short and sharp evolution for this wine, maybe wait one or two years for the walnut richness to emerge. Drink from 2019 until 2023.
(2018) A new cuvée about to hit the market, so not in UK retailers at time of review. Vanilla and toast on the nose, a balanced, linear palate, lightly honeyed with a candied orange peel aroma. Again, the reserve wines add an extra, savoury depth to the ensemble. A great new cuvée! Drink 2019-2024.