Charles Heidsieck Brut Rosé NV, Champagne

2012 base. 36% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Meunier. 

This is terrific value, serious vintage-quality champagne with this base year. So much delicious richness, but it sneaks up on you, packed into an elegant, fresh frame. Beautiful freshness, the red fruit ripe and soft, the creaminess and bakery richness really emerging with a bit of time on cork. Superb. 17.5

/ Champagne, Charles Heidsieck, Rosé

Krug Grande Cuvée 169th Edition

43% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. 2013 Base year, 40% Reserve Wines.

The latest Grande Cuvée opens up with a beautiful green coffee toastiness, citrus marmalade and papaya. There’s some of that oiled wood and spice you’d expect, but also some salty, almost tangy focus. I did wonder whether this was actually a perfect bottle as it did show a very light oxidative streak (extremely subtle but noticeable aldehyde/sherry notes) that I wasn’t expecting. 17.5 A second bottle was opened later, which did seem fresher (18 pts). I look forward to a few more data points on this wine. 

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Krug

Bollinger B13, Champagne

100% Pinot Noir. Disgorged April 2021.

The latest in Bollinger’s limited editions, this is 52% Verzenay fruit with the remainder coming from Äy, Louvois, Avenay and Mareuil-sur Äy. Based on the 2013 vintage, whose coolness brings an appealing freshness to the style when combined with the natural restraint of Northern Montagne fruit. A briny, classically-Bollinger opening shows some sourdough and light oxidative character, under which dried apple and spiced greengage do offer up a slightly paler, creamier take on the Bollinger style than the more ostentatious ‘PN’ wines. No doubt on the palate, though, which side the bread is buttered – plenty of intensity. 17

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/ Blanc de Noirs, Bollinger, Champagne

Louis Roederer Rosé 2012 Magnum, Champagne

63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay. Disgorged April 2020.

Essi Avellan MW calls this her ‘poor woman’s Cristal Rosé’!. It is a beautiful wine, summer pudding made with brown bread. so bright with redcurrant and raspberry but a touch of savour creeping into the Pinot profile now. Some orange peel (again something that seems to come with a little time) and anise, floating along with focus and purity on the palate. Fine, fine champagne. 18

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/ Champagne, Louis Roederer, Rosé

Leclerc Briant ‘Abyss’ 2015, Champagne

34% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Meunier. Zero Dosage. Disgorged March 2019.

Big salty, briny and quite oxidative nose here with grapefruit, fino and white flowers. Intense, nutty, apply – but this bottle feels a little tired perhaps. Essi Avellan MW felt that the wine was best closer to the disgorgement time, which makes sense (as it so often does for zero dosage wines). 16

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, leclerc-briant

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2011, Champagne

100% Chardonnay Grands Crus. Disgorged April 2021.

This raised a few eyebrows – not many Prestige wines have been released from 2011. If any…? Chardonnay, though, so often pulls through where the Pinots don’t. Important to give this a fair hearing despite the vintage rep. And it is very good indeed, sweet-toned nougat and hazelnut praline over candied yellow fruits, lime meringues. Approachable and lightly toasty, it is very much a fine Comtes, perhaps slightly splayed in shape compared to tighter, long-lived vintages such as 2008 but still with plenty of focus. 17.5

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/ Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, Taittinger

Louis Roederer Collection 241 Magnum, Champagne

42% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier. Base year 2016. Disgorged March 2021.

A small release of this wine in magnums, based on the year before (2016) the main release of Collection 242. A broader, slightly more golden sort of wine with peach and brown bread, roasted citrus and smoky lime. Real persistence with some salty nut intensity, but fresh too. The heat of the year is perhaps on show here with this touch of savoury intensity, but in magnum with these reserve wines it comes out deliciously fresh too. 17.5 

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer Collection 242, Champagne

36% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. Base year 2017. Disgorged 2021. 

Quite brave to release the replacement for Brut Premier with the troublesome 2017 vintage as the base. But then that is the point of the ‘Collection’ concept – to feature Roederer’s Perpetual Reserve and Oak-aged reserve wines (which make up 44% of the blend). Golden citrus preserve, brightness, freshness and precision. There is a little vein of spice and fresh lees-ageing richness – feels slightly less toasted/appley than the last Brut Premier I tasted. A little more intense through the middle, but conversely a little brighter, too.  Impressive. 17

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Louis Roederer

Rare 2008, Champagne

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. Disgorged November 2019.

Explosively fresh and hugely expressive. Such a complete set of flavours, opening shots of gunpowder and coffee before exotic fruits – mango purée – deep candied citrus and fresh nut nougat. Pure joy. Incredible length, a drawn-out taper. Yes it will last for ever, but it wouldn’t be the worst crime in the world to drink this ravishing wine young, either. 19

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Laurent Perrier 2008 in Magnum, Champagne

50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Disgorged 2019.

A real over-performer. Such glorious smoky, white pepper nose with citrus freshness and impeccable build. A charming classicist that will last for a long, long time in the cellar. This is great value. 18

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