Geoffroy Brut Expression Brut Premier Cru

50% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Cumières and Hautvilliers. All steel apart from some large oak for reserves. 2012/2013 Base, disgorged October 2017. Dosage 7g/l. 

A great blend of base vintages and no malo means this entry-level wine is shining very brightly even at 2.5yrs post-disgorgement. You receive a friendly, unpretentious Meunier greeting with apple pie and toasted oats (without the cream), then the fragrance of an orchard in blossom and some riper orange fruit. It’s pepped up with fresh lemon&limeade focus on the palate and a little almond essence. Warm flavours presented with icy coolness. Direct, charming, excellent value. 16.5

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Geoffroy

Franck Bonville Pur Avize 2012

100% Chardonnay. 3 parcels  – Les Chapelles, Les Avats, Les Maladries. 5 years on lees under cork. Disgorged April 2018. Dosage 2 g/l. 2500 bottles made. 

Suave, silky blanc de blancs at that lovely point where tension starts to gently unwind. The caramelised pear and fragrant russet fruit is sweet and inviting. There’s a lovely sense of generosity, too, from honeyed, tropical fruit and peach sharpened up with praline and summery honeysuckle. It sets about the palate really quite calmly, with plenty of citric focus morphing into white pepper, chalk and zest without any sharp edges still in play. Farm shop apple juice lingers, and a hint of quince development is just starting. Lower pressure (?) sits with the subtle, airy creaminess just so perfectly – I haven’t tasted this producer in a while and need to catch up. 17.5

Laurent-Perrier Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature

100% Chardonnay from Chouilly, Cramant and Villers-Marmery. 40% reserves going back to 2009. It is difficult to know the base vintage but I believe this is still the original 2012 and 2013- based bottling. Disgorgement Q1 2019.

An unusual wine for a Grande Marque house to release. Quite a taut, reserved profile of apple juice, white peach, and lemon pith, lifted with chalk and some almond. It is not pinched or unbalanced for a brut nature, and indeed you get a good sense of the careful composure of the ingredients – in this case the slightly hollow, papery palate is not as vibrant as it should be, though. Worth trying again with a super-fresh release. 15.5

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois

2007 base. 1/3 each Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, vinified in barrels averaging 15 years of age. Disgorgement 2014 or 15 here.

You notice some butterscotch upfront, but then it melts into caramelised apple tart and dried peach. Freshness is still there with some juicy papaya and a little squish of citrus, whilst some creamy milk chocolate and a developed layer of polished wood and peppery spice add up to a lovely set of flavours. 07 (and the Chardonnay) keep some keenness and bite on the palate, although it is quite plush and up-front in terms of shape. Meunier feels like it is in charge! Billecart really do have a way with it. You feel the connection with the NV Brut Reserve. 16.5

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

2010 base. 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier. 40% reserve wine addition. Disgorged in 2017.

In a very tasty place. Golden fruit very much on song, with rich apricot pastries, mango and yellow apple. Chardonnay lemon oil runs through, offering a nice little kick in the tail. Posh salted butter richness too, with maturity coming on now in dried pineapple and toasty coffee beans. The palate is quite front-loaded, a friendly hug of a champagne, plush but with a gentle, slightly soft-focus kind of energy. I don’t think it will the longest-lived CH, at least not in 75cl, but it has life ahead of it yet! Great stuff. 17.5

Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2008

65% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, Marne Valley and Äy and 35% Chardonnay from mostly Grand Cru sites in Le Mesnil, Chouilly, Cramant and Oger. 9 years on lees, disgorged with 4 g/l dosage. Last tasted in September 2019. This bottle is rather more developed than that showing, with quite heady roasted yellow apples, lemon meringue pie and unsulphured dried apricots. There’s some nice fuzzy, slightly wild pear and a succulent core of yellow fruits on the palate, which is still intact but tending towards a slightly nutty, dried-out austerity. Missing a streak of energy. 16.5

Marc Hebrart Cuvée de Réserve NV

This has been in my cellar for 18 months. A gregarious style, with caramelised pear pastries and fleshy orange papaya fruit and digestive biscuit. The dosage has kept it fresh despite the openness. A bit soft-focus but a safe bet.

16

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Marc Hebrart, NV

R. Pouillon & Fils Solera Brut NV

This is terribly tired. Solera wines are prone to oxidation and this is just stale nuts, VA and sherried notes, rather tough and completely without freshness. Hay and dried fruits behind it. Disappointing.

14.5

Date Tasted : 31/12/2019

Yann Alexandre Sous Les Roses Extra Brut 2013

New Producer to the UK based in Courmas. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. Short fermentation in old oak, 5 years on lees. This treads a fine line between fresh fruit and a more open, developed stance. It’s not a tense style, but quite pretty with nectarine, apple blossom and pear and almond tart. There is some friendly, cashewy Meunier, and some complexity from basil and grippy comice pear skin. Attractive, if a bit loose-knit. Could do with an extra notch of freshness and zip. 15.5

15.5

Date Tasted : 20/12/2019

Vazart-Coquart Extra Brut NV, 2014 Base

Chouilly Chardonnay. Good, but a little curious. Russet apples and toasted hazelnuts, slightly autumnal and developed in tone. White flowers bring some freshness, but this is mellower than I was expecting, with a slightly poached quality to the fruit.

16

Date Tasted : 31/12/2019