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

Arras Grand Vintage 2008

The Grand Vintage 2008 definitely ramps up the intensity, with dried citrus and citrus oil meeting sourdough starter, oyster and quite an exotic richness of yellow fruits. There is baklava and sea salt, and some reductive complexity that almost threatens to become vegetal. Broad, quite saturated and finishing with a flourish of toffee. It’s hard not to break into a smile at this wine! The sweet spot in the portfolio is somewhere between the Brut Elite and here.

18

Date Tasted : 23/01/2020

/ 2008, Arras, Classic Blend, Tasmania

Minière Symbiose 2008

50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. 100%old oak with no MLF. Disgorged June 2017 with 2.5g dosage. Immediately quite open and oxidative now, wild stewed apples, toasty buttery frangipane and pear with some sweeter peach. Seemed a bit dried-out and tired here, so it went by a bit quietly in the lineup – I tasted this in the middle of the year and liked it, but this disgorgement was not showing especially freshly on this occasion. Still, I’d like to try some newer wines from this producer as there’s definitely something good going on.

15.5

Date Tasted : 13/12/2019

/ 2008, Champagne, Classic Blend, Minière

Billecart-Salmon Vintage Extra Brut 2008

This really grabbed me. 65% mostly Aÿ Pinot Noir together with 35% Grand Cru Chardonnay, cold fermented in steel. This is crystalline – salinity frames a delicate starfruit exoticism, with asian pear, apricot and those flashes of jackfruit that always make me think of the combination of ripeness and reductive control. This has the most gorgeous light-footed mousse, tapering off in a fine, soft-meringue line of sharp apricot pastry. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Champagne with a texture quite like this – it’s tricky to describe. Perhaps there are a few more chinks in the armour compared to the Nicolas-François Billecart 2002 that followed, but it would be difficult to resist drinking this now. Heresy, perhaps.

17.5

Date Tasted : 07/06/2019

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008 is a wine I find quite difficult to describe. You could write wine-y ‘descriptors’ for it that pick out flavours in the same way you might pick out individual colours in a Pissarro painting, but you’d fail to transmit anything helpful. It is beautifully inscrutable, and totally defies deconstruction.

The vines in the 45 finest mid-slope parcels that Roederer owns take 20 years to root down into the chalk, feeding initially on the topsoil before continuing their hunt for water security deeper and deeper below the surface, expanding laterally and immunising themselves against the shocks of heat and drought that can scrawl black marks over Champagne vintages. Only then are they considered for Cristal. The interesting thing about Cristal at this age is that is seems ‘less’, not ‘more’. It is not, like some Prestige wines, a hyped-up, jumped-up, flavour-intense version of another wine. It is not made by adding. It is quiet, serene and discreet, with a composed, insistent vein of fragrant fruit that lands with incredible immediacy on the palate. It is a beautifully-built chassis; you are paying for the finest winemaker in the world – time – to do the rest of the job.

19

Date Tasted : 07/06/2019

/ 2008, Champagne, Classic Blend, Louis Roederer

Dom Perignon Dom Perignon 2008

The new release (released after the 2009, out-of-sequence). This is such a honed, balanced and tightly-packed wine. Fresh salty sourdough gently holds everything together; a cartload of fresh, ripe apples, pomelo, crystallised papaya, fragrant strawberry and firework smoke, outlined with some savoury sage, dried apricot and exotic floral notes. The acid line sprints off the block on the palate and drives on and on, carrying with it a lovely gentle pithiness that sends you back for more. The ruthless brilliance of this vintage really sets it apart.

19

Date Tasted : 16/03/2019

/ 2008, Champagne, Classic Blend, Dom Perignon

Janisson-Baradon Toulette 2008

Powerful grapefruit and burnt lemon aromas, with sweet, candied tropical fruit and nectarine. Bitter almond and coffee notes too – really distinctive and intense. The palate is taut and pithy, with lemon marmalade and those crystallised fruits really coming through. A touch of bitterness too, unshaded by dosage but quite attractive and refreshing

17

Date Tasted : 10/07/2018