100% Chardonnay from Rotari, the Trentino arm of the Mezzacorona giant. This is being pushed in the UK at around £15 a bottle, which makes it amongst the cheapest Traditional Method wines available. It’s better than almost everything at that price (and better than a fair bit priced higher, too). Very bright with sunny yellow grapefruit and almond paste, clean and balanced with 36 months of ageing. The only real signature of a very affordable sparkling wine comes on the finish, which holds quite a build-up of grippy, slightly bitter citrus oil. But in its sunny yellow-grapefruit way, it is quite attractive. More fun than much ‘special offer’ own-brand champagne seen at this time of year, for sure. 16
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
Disgorged 2017. All Chardonnay from the Sussex Chalk at Wiston. One of the first vintages here, made by Dermot Sugrue.
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
100% Chardonnay. Chouilly single vineyard. Vinification and élevage in foudres. Disgorged April 2019 with 4g/l
Tasted blind. Closed and slightly reductive upon opening, quite a lot of C02 at first. Some ‘cool’ profile here, pale yellow fruits and chalk, a slightly herbaceous lemon sherbet streak. The wine keeps growing, though, and after 45 minutes it is up and running with lightly roasted fruit, lime and demerara sugar, a marriage of refinement and slightly obstinate firmness on the palate (we thought it was probably the 2013 wine even if it didn’t seem very ‘Chouilly’ at first). A chameleon – top quality but give it some more time on cork if you can. It will certainly take five years, and probably longer. 17.5
100% Chardonnay, Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oiry. All stainless steel, disgorged October 2020 with 3 g/l dosage
Tasted blind. Beautifully assembled, the most ‘classical’ style of the night here. We agreed this ought to be one of the Northern Côte des Blancs wines. ‘Nose of the night’ is the general agreement! Fresh and fragrant yellow apples, ground almonds and zest. Beautiful tension and refinement, although I would leave it for another couple of years to see if the palate settles further. 17
100% Chardonnay, Villers-Marmery. Enamel. Brut Nature
Tasted blind. Classic profile, clean, toasted/grilled lemon, some delicate stone fruit and florals. Quite muted on opening but it opens up beautifully. This is suave, powerful, tight, with real finesse to the mousse and incredible chalkiness and motion on the palate. Great energy. 17
100% Chardonnay, Oger. 50% stainless steel, 50% oak. MLF is “non-recherchée!” Disgorged July 20, 3g/l dosage. 1574 bottles.
Tasted blind. Big nose, toasted pine nut and tropicals, butter and hazelnut praline. Rich and decadent with some oily nut and candied grapefruit. It feels young, slightly puppyish, but quite serious with some oxidative flourishes. Needs time for the palate to calm down. 16
100% Chardonnay, Montgueux. Held in oak for 18 months before tirage. 4.5 g/l dosage.
Tasted blind. This is a firework! Explosive aromas on opening, yuzu and quince, green pears, a lift of white pepper spice and almond. Incredible acidity here – maybe this is the Oger wine? With time a more oxidative aldehydic (sherry) profile becomes evident. At its peak upon opening – not necessarily a bad thing for champagne! This would be a great one to look into if you are a Selosse fan. Drink rather than keep. 16
100% Chardonnay, Montgueux. No base year – all blended from reserves. Disgorged Jan 2021.
Tasted blind. This opens up rather reductively. Jackfruit, russet apple and green mandarin, really attractive underneath with some lovely silkiness to the texture. Just a little rubbery/sulphurous note showing at the moment which shades the profile. Give it a bit of time in the cellar to see if that equalises. 15
Peter Crawford mentioned a special bottling of this wine that Sip will be releasing with 4 years extra age.