(2020) In very general terms I normally prefer blanc to rosé in Champagne, many rosés having charm and delicacy, but missing out a little on complexity. Gosset's has always been one of the exceptions, a properly complex Champagne that does have all the fruit, but a full four years of ageing on the lees, plus being made by assemblage, with a fair percentage of still Pinot Noir in the blend, giving depth and vinosity as well as charm. The blend is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, but in this case 9% of the Pinot Noir is red wine from vineyards in from Bouzy and Ambonnay and Cumières. It has a lovely, delicate pink colour and streaming small bubbles. The nose is all about pert and pretty red fruits at first, fresh raspberry and softer strawberry, but there's definite Pinot character too, a little truffle, a touch of wild scrubland and some yeasty biscuit notes. On the palate that sweet fruit dominates, but the acidity is pin-sharp. A very delicate, very much background touch of tannin just adds extra edge to this, the long finish and exquisite balance suggesting it's one pink Champagne that could also cellar for a years, as well giving gastronomic appeal - Gosset's suggestion of duck in a cherry sauce being as intriguing as it is appetising. Use wine-searcher for more independent stockists.
(2020) A preview of a brand new wine from Gosset, to appear on the market some time in June 2020. Notes comes from a tasting with cellarmaster, Odilon de Varine, via Zoom.
Beautiful colour, a burnished hint of gold to the straw yellow, masses of streaming, miniscule bubbles. Absolutely beguiling nose, with the subtle oxidative notes from the 12 years on lees, some toast and custard, but fresh orchard fruits, little greengage and yellow plum notes, and really very multi-layered. The wine tightens up considerably on the palate, immediately citrussy and bright, but with a supple, smooth and rounded texture. There is a definite lick of salty minerals in the finish, further tensioning the picture. Really very lovely, intriguing balance between the open, matured flavours and youthful zest and energy. Odilon thinks it will age extremely well, because of that long contact with the lees. 12,000 bottles produced.
RRP is around £95 a bottle and it will be available from Fine + Rare, The Whisky Exchange, Planet of the Grapes, Uncorked and Fortnum and Mason.
(2020) The 2002 Belle Epoque is 50% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir with 4% Pinot Meunier. Some critics have claimed it is too soft and too forward for a deluxe cuvée from the outstanding 2002 vintage, but I have to say I found this to be both seductive and beautifully pitched. The colour has a little golden hue and there is loads of creamy, nutty, gently toasty development, but ripe rosy apple fruit too. In the mouth it is generous and sweet-fruited, a pillow of soft mousse flows across the tongue, then suddenly there's an initial spark of citrus and salt, that develops nicely into a long tantalising finish playing sweetness against sharpness delightfully. Possibly not a wine for extended cellaring, but a joy now.
(2020) From Grand Cru vineyards in Avize and Oger, this is a blend of the 2014 and 2015 Chardonnays, disgorged in November 2017, with a dosage of 9.17g/l - all of that information on the back label. Pale straw-gold in colour, lots of miniscule bubbles stream in the glass, the nose taut, with lemon and Cox's pippin, a hint of hazelnut, and nice breadiness. In the mouth the combination of ripe fruit and dosage gives this initial sweetness, but there's a lolvely mineral salts and citrus clarity, the finish long and bone dry, a deliciously drinkable Champagne yet with just enough austerity to please lovers of the purest styles.
(2020) It's actually quite unusual for me to like a house's Rosé as much as their regular Brut or Blanc de Blancs, but Bonville's pink is a beauty. A blend of 2014 and 2015 vintages with 6.57g/l dosage, it's a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, this bottle disgorged November 2017, and a striking, dry style of Rosé Champagne. A tinge of orange to the peachy colour leads on to streaming small bubbles and aromas of orange and redcurrant, some truffle and biscuit in the background. In the mouth a cushion of mousse supports bold, dry Seville orange and raspberry, a hint of sothing smoky and mineral, into an exquisite, long, dry finish. Excellent.
(2020) Yes, you read it right: Roger Daltrey, as in the lead singer of British rock institution, The Who. Released in celebration of his 50 years fronting one of the UK's most loved bands, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to Teen Cancer America, a charity founded by Daltrey and fellow band member, lead guitarist and songwriter, Pete Townshend. The bottle comes adorned with the band’s trademark bullseye symbol, as well as artist Mike McInnerny’s artwork from the album, Tommy. Roger Daltrey himself says "I am very excited to have the opportunity to express my passion for Champagne through this limited edition cuvée. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do."
Composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier coming mostly from the Marne Valley, there's a glint of gold to the colour, fine, streaming bubbles and the nose has a biscuit and brioche richness over ripe and juicy lemon and ripe pear fruit. In the mouth it is softened by a healthy level of dosage (10g/l), but is nicely fresh and free-flowing, the fruit and the acidity staying crisp and lively, the little creaminess to the texture and softening hint of vanilla making it a very easy-drinking and approachable in style.
As well as the Champagne itself, sets of The Who Champagne glasses and a limited edition pewter ice bucket are also available from Eminent Life
(2019) Brut Réserve is hte cornerstone of Taittinger's extremely impressive portfolio: indeed the selection of Grande Marque Champagnes featured in this report includes many of the best and most reliable 'standard' Brut wines from the major houses, and that certainly includes Taittinger. It's also widely available in supermakets and indepedent merchants, and for Christmas many have offers on, bringing the price down to around £27/£28 which is an excellent price for the quality. It's an approachable and crowd-pleasing style with its upfront, fragrant aromas of peachy fruitiness, floral notes and biscuit, the 40% Chardonnay and three years on the lees enhancing that (also 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier). The palate is on the sumptuous side, expansive and creamy, a level of sweetness making it feel rather luxurious, thought that's not at the expensive of excellent acidity and clarity in the finish. On offer in Ocado until the 2nd January 2020, but use the wine-searcher link for many other stockists and plenty of festive discount prices.
(2019) Arlaux is a Champagne grower, the family having farmed only Premier Cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims since 1852. The Grande Cuvée spends a full three years on the lees (this bottle disgorged 3rd July 2017 according to the label), and is a blend of the three Champagne grapes. It is immediately appealing, the toast and depth of nutty autolysis melting into a deep orange fruitiness, a little spice and the zest of lemon completing a very alluring picture. The palate does not disappoint, both ripe and relatively full-bodied, creamy and toasty depths of flavour shot through with fine salt and lime freshness of acidity. Long and very beautifully balanced, this is my first experience of Alaux, and most impressive it is too.
(2019) From a fantastic vintage, the Chardonnays for this wine are sourced from villages of the Côte des Blancs, Sézannais, Montgueux and Montagne de Reims. It was aged for eight years in bottle and has a dosage of around 8g/l, so towards the drier end of the Brut scale. The pale gold colour also shows plenty of tiny bubbles, and the nose has biscuit and pastry, and a delicate yeastiness to baked apple pie fruit. There's a lighter touch of floral character in there too. In the mouth it is racy and long, a really good, elegant and dry core of white fruits, a roundness and hint of richness and a long, shimmering finish. A lovely 2008. Apparently this is also in John Lewis in a fancy neoprene carry-bag, but at time of review I saw only the straight vintage (not Blanc de Blancs) on the JL website.
(2019) For me one of the absolute 'banker' Grand Marque Champagnes, of excellent quality and yet widely available and often on discount. Shop around to find it for £23-£25, and that's exceptional value. It's £23 in Tesco until 18/12/2019. It's a superbly refined blend of mostly black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with 15% - 20% of Chardonnay and 9 - 10g/l of dosage. Around 10% -20% reserve wines give depth and a certain biscuity richness, but it is a direct, focused wine with wonderfully clear fresh-cut pear fruit quality and pristine acidity. There is nuttiness and a fine line of smokiness into a long tapering finish that is very elegant, classy, but also fruity and terribly easy to drink.