In brief. The massive 2004 Vintage is just starting to uncurl and relax. Tremendous energy, perhaps entering an approachable stage
Date Tasted : 07/06/2019
This is so alive, actively and relentlessly throwing out pure lemon zest, toasty brazil and fine oatmeal sweetness with spots of honey round the edges. I put ‘sweet crustaceans’ in my notes, which sounds a bit crazy. Beautiful ginger biscuit developing, but this still feels so young. It is a fine laser beam to the Blanc De Blancs NV’s chandelier. Brilliant.
Date Tasted : 12/07/2019
1985 was a small, intense year in Champagne. This wine, disgorged in 1999 and sourced, like all Collection Crayéres wines, directly from Charles Heidsieck’s cellars, shows all that magical Chardonnay development you would hope for; dried peach and apricot, shifting into mango and coffee, then marmalade and gingerbread warmth. It isn’t dried out or over-caramelised at all; quite the opposite, there is a beautiful freshness and precision on the palate. A fine example of just how well the Charles style does with age.
Date Tasted : 12/07/2019
This opened up to be more layered than I was expecting – there are quite a few different shades of Chardonnay in here. First out of the blocks are classical notes of cox apple, fresh quince and ground almond, but the intensity of 2012 gives us some headier flavours of kiwi, orange and apricot kernel without stepping too far from the sea-breeze freshness of the whole package. The lees ageing offers cushioning on a palate which otherwise cracks a whip of almost compressing intensity – its beautifully-woven acid and salty savour become quite addictive after a couple of sips. With time and acclimatisation comes a delicate, sappy sweetness – a gift from the lees-ageing I think. Delicacy and intensity in one – enjoy it fairly young I think
Date Tasted : 09/04/2019
47% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. This claims to have been disgorged in December 2018, 2 weeks before landing on my doorstep! There are a few more layers of flavour here; a tasting-menu of apple (creamy roast bramleys, charred green apple, blossom….), lemon meringue and a touch of clementine, some crystal fruits and apricot too. It seems more Chardonnay-influenced than the numbers suggest (but that’s the vintage as well). Really insistent on the palate, the acid plays along with some lovely autolytic texture. It’s quite contained at the moment, but will probably hit its peak in something like 2-4 years
Date Tasted : 31/03/2019
54% Pinot Noir, 32% Pinot Meunier, 14 % Chardonnay. Three strands of flavour here: 1)Sweetness and fragrance from subtle strawberry, quite friendly stone fruits (this took me by surprise a bit) and apple + wild blackberry compote. 2) Subtle richness of sweet bread dough and toast that recedes into the background. 3) Hedgerow and wilderness from rosehip jelly and bitter herbs (think dill/sage/bitters).
Between them these elements merrily swirl around creating plenty of interest that takes this beyond just being a delicious sun-lounger Rosé. The palate starts open with some of that sweeter fruit, but pinches in with tart rosehip/crabapple – it’s a bit pokier than 2014, for sure – but the dosage keeps it steady before this quite delicious bitter herb/pithy texture takes over the baton on the finish. Really well put-together and in some ways quite bold
Date Tasted : 23/04/2019
100% Pinot Noir, 2015 base with 25% reserve wines and 25% vinification in oak. Pours rose gold, with a cocktail of yellow and golden fruits popping up – peach and yellow plums, lemon yoghurt, grapefruit and starfruit. Flecks of camphor and gunpowder emerge after a bit of time in the glass. and a touch of red cherry perfume doffs its cap to the other side of the mountain.
This wears its oak lightly, which I really like. It’s quite straightforward on the palate, airy through the middle without too much savour and toast for now. The dosage is not obtrusive but lends a sappy yellow-plum sweetness in a way I find a little present at the moment. I think this will lose some of its puppyish-ness with another 2 years in bottle. Lovely style
Date Tasted : 18/05/2019
78% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir. Eight years on lees. Arras strikes again with a highly distinctive, fascinating wine. Some vegetal parting shots (my friend said celeriac and I can’t really disagree) drift away to crystallised yellow grapefruit and milky papaya, stony oyster with sage and juniper. Toffee yoghurt runs through the palate which is creamy, richly-textured and shot through with pithy seville orange and sweet butter. The acidity and slightly raspy grip play a long, delicious game on the finish. Subtle it is not – multifaceted and delicious is certainly is.
Date Tasted : 05/03/2019
60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 10% Meunier from Wiston’s original Findon site, 1/3 vinified in young and old oak. No malo, 8g/l dosage. This wine is a complex, shimmering beauty on the nose. I’m aware I have a lot of notes for it, but it just kept throwing things at me over the course of a few hours. Starting off with dried, sharp apple and pear tatin (just catching around the edges), it opened up with sweetness of apricot, white chocolate meringue and ratafia, starfruit and orange bitters. Then there are all these lovely nuances; savoury earth and spice from bay leaf and sea salt, perfume from tonka bean and sweet jasmine, a bit of fluffy, funky autumnal quince. Just so enchanting.
The palate jumps in with this developed orchard fruit tinged with charred citrus and post-disgorgement richness, clinging for its life on a speeding train of powerful, engulfing acidity. It’s a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde with this openness and austerity co-existing; whilst the nose is layered and complex, the palate plays close to the edge (probably just getting away with it). On this showing I would be inclined to drink it within the next couple of years – I think it will develop wonderfully from an aromatic/flavour perspective for sure. There’s not really anything quite like this on the market at the moment, and the whole acidity/integration/age/cohesion dynamic is something we’re all still learning about with English wines. If you’re inquisitive about English Sparkling Wine it’s something you have to try
Date Tasted : 03/03/2019
55% Pinot Noir, 27% Pinot Meunier, 18% Chardonnay. 3 years on lees, dosage 9 g/l. 2013 is such an interesting year in England. It was cool, late and with higher acids than normal – some have called it more of a Pinot year, but the reality is that the good Chardonnay-based wines seem to have showed more character and length (at least for me). This has really benefited from a bit of cellar time, with grilled red apple, pear and apricot kernel richness touched with herbs and white blossom. There’s some muted strawberry sweetness here but it’s definitely orchard-fruit dominated, fresh and direct, feeling just a little sweet’n sour on the palate. This is good but the Blanc de Blancs 2013 is the pick from this vintage (the 2014 Brut Reserve is really the wine this cuvée wants to be – it is superb and shows the effect of a much better growing season)
Date Tasted : 05/03/2019