Pierre Gimonnet Special Club ‘Grand Terroirs de Chardonnay’ 2012

Pierre Gimonnet Special Club ‘Grand Terroirs de Chardonnay 2012

Drinking very well already, this is a perfect example of 2012’s personality, balance without aggression or tightness. Evident ripeness of orange fruit – papaya, dried mango – is tempered by green apple and lemon tart. Richness of hazelnut biscuits. Lovely lift of honeysuckle and oyster/chalk rasp, closing in on the palate where the dosage dares to drop off. Very harmonious, focused and compelling  Flavours as clear as a mountain spring. 17.5

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Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV

All Grand Cru Chardonnay from the producer of Salon based in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger. 100% steel, Not sure of the base vintage.

This is a classy, thorough Blanc de Blancs shows a lovely integration between classic Chardonnay elements without anything too obvious. Ripe lemons and yellow grapefruit, juicier elements of white peach and even some fleshier tropical touches of green mango and starfruit, cushioned with sweet autolysis and freshened with delicate blossom and powdery chalk. Lovely and airy through the palate, but still keen and mineral. Balanced and so refined, this is a serious effort. 17.5

A.R. Lenoble Chouilly Blanc de Blancs Mag ’14

2014 base with 40% reserves, partly aged in oak and partly in magnum under low pressure. Dosage 5 g/l.

This has had an extra stint in my cellar. Everything has mellowed here, including some of the oak influence. But it is still a bold, up-front champagne, landing with a big dollop of apple and cinnamon danish, toasted cashew and ratafia biscuit. Some blossom and bergamot lemon fragrance add delicacy, with a lick of vanilla buttercream that has settled out since I first tasted it.

Rich lemon oil and quite a gastronomic grip closes out a palate of front-end intensity and mid-to-late relaxation (borrowing an excellent @alavolee ism there!). The combination of the 2014 vintage, welcoming Chouilly fruit and the generous house style means this is a contrast from your tense, delicate kind of Blanc de Blancs, so if you like your Chardonnay with a bit of flair this is a cuvée to follow! 16

Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve NV

2015 Base, 100% steel with 40% reserve wines. This is quiet, discreet and wholly convincing with its delicate lees sweetness and fine ripe apples and white fruits. Not tense or high-energy compared to some iterations of this wine 16.5

Ferrari Perlé Bianco 2009

100% Chardonnay from this slightly cooler TrentoDOC vintage. All stainless steel. Disgorgement mid 2018.

This lovely vintage is developing a more golden set of flavours now, with a strongly reductive personality that threatens vegetal notes but stays with jackfruit and pineapple, lime and lily, candied grapefruit and ginger. It retains the sinewy tension of roasted lemons on the palate, opening out now to a fine, relaxed place with gentle, unobtrusive bakery richness. An intriguing touch of something like paprika – smoky pepperiness – that I’ve started to associate with all these wines, too. Complex and rewarding, if not quite as harmonious as some other recent Perlés. 17

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/ Blanc de Blancs, Ferrari, TrentoDOC

Enrico Gatti Franciacorta Brut

100% Chardonnay, 24 months on lees. All stainless steel.

Notes as written blind from The Big Blind Bargain Bubble Tasting. Clean, clear and slightly peppery fruits. Yellow apple and herbs, in a quite an elegant style. Doesn’t quite come together but a very good effort. 16.5

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

Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2014

100% Chardonnay from the original vineyard at Ridgeview. I believe this was disgorged in May 2017.

Lovely bright flavours of ripe lemon, floral bergamot and juicy yellow apples warmed up with some peach and salted pastry. Ripe yellow grapefruit provides a nice edginess and peppy length. This does feel like a single vineyard wine, rather than something assembled of many complex parts, but it is fine and enlivening, developing very well in typically pristine Ridgeview style. 16.5

/ 2014, Blanc de Blancs, England, Ridgeview

Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Satèn

100% Chardonnay, in the satèn style (bottled at a lower pressure). NV, disgorged in 2019. This such an assured wine, perfect for anyone trying to get to grips with what Franciacorta Chardonnay is all about.

The fruit is so clear and transparent, sunny but controlled with fragrant peaches, ripe pear and a nice juicy grapefruit bite keeping it keen. 2 years on lees just rounds it out – it doesn’t need more as the body and freshness is right where it should be. It’s not toasty or developed in style. Just pure fruit, perfect for a sunny aperitif. Great value. 16.5