Delouvin Nowack Semper Fidelis XIII, Champagne

100% Pinot Meunier from Vandières. 50% from the 2013 harvest and 50% from a perpetual reserve of more than 20 harvests.

The perpetual reserve here contributes a formidably-developed, oxidative character to this intense Champagne, with windfall apples, sherried notes, ground nuts and a generally autumnal feel. There is tang and brightness from the 2013 addition, though. An ambitious style. 15.5

Nicolas Maillart Mont Martin 2015, Champagne

Pinot Meunier from the Mont Martin vineyard in Villers-Allerand, in the hot, dry 2015 vintage. Harvested on the 10th September at 10.75% potential alcohol. 6 months in barrel without malolactic fermentation. Disgorged August 2019 with 0g/l dosage.

The heat of 2015 has made it quite tricky for Blanc de Noirs from what I’ve tasted, but the two I’ve had from Maillart both present the power and richness of their fruit with some delicacy and freshness. Pear skin, sweet-natured apricot, redcurrant coulis, gentle spice. You don’t feel the pinch, or the bumpy landing, of zero dosage because the texture and extraction is so nicely restrained. This will even take a bit more time on cork. 16.5

Find this wine on wine-searcher

Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, Champagne

2014 base, 2g/l dosage. 100% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay.

Disgorged September 2021, and drunk at the very beginning of December. I know what this wine should be like, and the flavours aren’t singing yet. The texture not quite settled, either. A wine like this needs 6 months at a bare minimum. I was surprised it was let out of the cellars this early! Not rated 

/ Blanc de Noirs, Champagne, Egly-Ouriet

Champagne Alexis La Terre Mère, Champagne

Remarkably good value 100% Pinot Meunier from Alexis Leconte in Troissy (a separate project from Champagne Xavier Leconte), even more remarkable for having come from the very difficult 2017 vintage. Gently smoke-tinged classical poached orange fruits and red berries, a gentle herbal twist and the absence of any of the Blanc de Noirs pitfalls (heaviness, oxidation, vegetality). Essentially it was convincing, balanced and moreish. A great find, available in the UK with @sip_champagnes. 17

/ Alexis, Blanc de Noirs, Champagne

Paul Clouet Bouzy MV

100% Pinot Noir from Bouzy. 2011 and 2012 blend. Tasted blind, this seemed slightly angular and lacking harmony, marked both by some vegetality and intrusive oxidation. Probably not helped by the 2011 harvest here, but the style seems a little rustic. 14.5

/ Blanc de Noirs, Champagne, Paul Clouet

André Heucq ‘Histoires’ HI. VIII, Champagne

Heucq are based in Cuisles on the North bank of the Marne. 70% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir from the pick of the parcels. 10 years on lees sous liège. Disgorged January 19, which presumably means this is the 2008 vintage.

This is a big character. Tasted blind with a group, it went down very well with its developed aromas – there’s a bed of calvados and sherry, spice and cola, some warm ground nut richness and a delicious grapefruit tang drawing out the finish. Blackcurrant leaf and herbs, too. The oxidative side here seems to gel better than you might expect, tempered by the succulence of all that lees ageing and the almost fudgy richness of the style. 16.5

Find this wine on wine-searcher

/ andre heucq, Blanc de Noirs, Champagne

Adrien Renoir ‘Les Epinettes’ Verzy Grand Cru 2014, Champagne

100% Pinot Noir. This was a very odd bottle, probably faulty but not in any way that we recognised. Very bright green, medicinal herbs and soap – almost minty. Weedy, bitter herbs on the palate. Odd. No TCA. 13.5 

/ adrien renoir, Blanc de Noirs, Champagne

Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 2008, Champagne

The latest edition of this singular Prestige Cuvée from Bruno Paillard. An equal blend of top Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, fermented exclusively in small oak, for over 10 years on lees (including a further 2 post-disgorgement).

The decadence of all this time on lees is there in nougat, praline and honey-nut, Pinot up front with ripe papaya and red fruits. The 2004 had a more relaxed, autumnal sort of warmth on release, but as you’d expect this is quite different. So compressed with tight crystal fruit, a stony crunch of intensity, a rush of energy before those sweet autolytic notes pop back and linger addictively.

This is less oxidative and notably finer than the very bold releases we have seen previously – exciting stuff and an N.P.U. that will reward cellaring. 18

Find this wine on wine-searcher

/ Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Classic Blend

André Heucq Héritage Blanc de Meunier, Champagne

100% Pinot Meunier from Cuisles on the Northern bank of the Marne. 3.5 years on lees.

This is textbook, friendly and affordable Meunier, not overcooked with oak or extraction but still full of fruit and freshness. There is a tiny vein of more oxidative openness on day 2, but it is full of sticky, tangy stewed apples and pears, autumn spices and a gentle maple/fudge generosity. A bit of wild blackberry, front-loaded in shape but with enough energy and line for some refreshment value. Good job. 15.5

Find this wine on wine-searcher

/ andre heucq, Blanc de Noirs, Champagne

La Villesenière ‘Les Cuteries’ 2015, Champagne

100% Chardonnay from the village of Boursault on the left bank of the Marne. 48 Months on lees.

The oak influence is quite intruiging , taking a sparky white pepper and hay angle over praline richness and white peach. Lots of grapefruit preserve on the palate, the delectable bitterness of those peach kernels, pinching and accelerating addictively with an intensity that is exciting without getting tiring. Not all single vineyard champagnes have the balance to support and transmit their individualism – here’s one that does. 17

Find this wine on wine-searcher