Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Iteration 24, Champagne

This iteration is a blend of 2007, 2006 and 2004 vintages, 55% Chardonnay (all Côte des Blancs Grand Crus) and 45% Pinot Noir (a tour of Montagne de Reims Grand Crus). All stainless steel.

A beautiful blend, captured with purity and clarity, transformed by serious time on lees. It has that serenity that great champagne holds when it arrives in your glass after a long, calm journey, with no attempts to prise things open earlier than needed.

The generosity of 06 and spark of 07 lend an immediacy here, citrus marmalade on slightly charred toast, crystallised tropical fruit, sweet apricots. It is all lifted up by gunpowder and white pepper, delicious stylistic flashes that are so, so refined without dominating the profile. I think the 2004 influence is ‘cooling’ or ‘calming’, here, framing everything in silky restraint.

The slow build of acidity is wrapped up so tight in the texture that it pulls everything along with it. Nothing sticks out. Hard to unpick, really. 18.5

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Digby Fine English Vintage Brut 2010, England

65% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir,17% Pinot Meunier. 2/3rd of the wine (presumably the Chardonnay?) went through MLF. All Stainless Steel. Made by Dermot Sugrue, disgorged in 2017.

An umami hit up front of dried shitake, almost miso caramel-like. Savoury interest meets post-disgorgement characters. Tangy russet apple and apricot, you could take it in all day. Beware though, there’s a train of acid on the palate that you just have to ride! It pulls everything along, all the texture from time on lees, that slightly wild fruit, those golden flavours of age…almost challenging to drink, but in a good way. Reminds me of the Wiston 2009 in some ways. 16.5

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Taittinger Vintage 2012, Champagne

50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. All stainless steel.

Taittinger vintage is always a good one to get a feel for what a year in Champagne has thrown up.

Lemon preserve and creamy, peachy ripeness under a sparky layer of hazelnut and charred grapefruit peel. Stylish bitter cocoa and chalk dust. Even though it’s 50:50 you feel more Chardonnay – that’s the Taittinger way! It’s bristling, bustling, toothsome and not quite resolved yet – not all 2012s are ready to play ball. I’d keep this about 3 years to let the palate settle, and expect to be enjoying still in 8 to 10. Magnums a good bet. 17

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House of Arras Grand Vintage 2008, Tasmania

65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir. 7 years on lees. 

Another data point for this wine, and it is showing as brilliantly as ever. Such a good vintage! The balance point between fruit – candied citrus and dried apple, lemon posset, creamy strawberry – and the ‘Arras’ hallmarks of salt/iodine/toffee/florals is just right. Focused, intense but elegant and full of refreshment. It plays on and on. 18 

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/ Arras, Classic Blend, Tasmania

House of Arras Grand Vintage 2007, Tasmania

78% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir. 7 years on lees.

An extra few years on cork has brought out the intensity of this wine, with some cooked lime and toffee apple showing over powerful candied grapefruit and dried peach. That lovely oyster/iodine sense of fresh air hangs around, tempering the richness here. A big character – the 08 steals the show, feeling tauter, shinier, and ultimately more engaging. Still this is a very fine sparkling wine. 17

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/ Arras, Classic Blend, Tasmania

House of Arras Ed Carr Late Disgorged 2004, Tasmania

13 years on lees. 69% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir.  DIsgorged mid 2020.

This is remarkable stuff. Previously I have sometimes found this a bit too intense with the leesy characters, but this is beautifully honed and harmonious today. I think it is a good idea to open it a bit early and let it settle.

The aura of ‘white’ flavours – sea salt/iodine/sourdough starter, salty white butter and truffle hangs over charred candied lemon and apricot/peach fruit. Beautiful citric freshness and just the right level of unctuosity on the palate. It doesn’t obscure the line, length or refreshment value. We’re not seeing the toffeed/caramelised notes of the Grand Vintages tasted alongside.

I would drink this within a couple of years of disgorgement. 18.5 

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/ Arras, Classic Blend, Tasmania

Leckford Estate Brut 2014, England

Waitrose’s Hampshire vineyard, made at Ridgeview. A couple of years in my cellar here. 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier.

A nice dollop of apple sauce, slightly spicy, over a big whack of yellow grapefruit. This grapefruit shows up with a potent, building phenolic presence on the palate that is quite unsettling. The bitterness feels coarse, extracted somehow. These wines are up and down – the fruit is better and riper than the 2015 here, with no greenness, but the palate is a little unhinged. 15

Bollinger La Grande Année 2012, Champagne

65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, all Grand Cru. Fully oak fermented, with 6 years on lees. This has the ‘mini magnum’ neck – slimmer to cut down on the oxygen ingress.

This is arresting stuff, although it is a little more developed than I was expecting with maple and pecan, roasted apple and a supporting candied citrus intensity. Rich hazelnut and a front-loaded shape. I wonder whether this bottle is absolutely at 100%, or whether it is slightly over-evolved? Powerful but not quite an enlivening as it could be. 17 

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Nyetimber Classic Cuvée MV (2014 Base), England

2018 disgorgement, 58% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 11% Pinot Meunier.

This is sitting in a lovely spot with equal time on lees and post – disgorgement. With 19% of the wine as reserve from 2009 and 2010 we’re treated to a reasonable amount of time behind this bottle, although in Nyetimber fashion that development is beautifully controlled – some apricot tart and ratafia biscuit over roasted apples, single cream and a zipline of lemon syrup, keeping it moving where some 2014s dissipate a touch. It’s a good vintage in England, and it doesn’t need as much time as the two that surround it. Sometimes the noses are more interesting than the palates, but not here.

Aside from a blend that sits *just so*, there’s a natural satin sheen to the texture here that marks Nyetimber out. Not everyone wants that, of course, but the delicacy with which these wines are handled definitely makes its way into the glass. 16.5

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/ Classic Blend, England, Nyetimber

Squerryes Brut Reserve 2014 in Magnum, England

Still very primary in magnum. There’s a lovely aromatic side to this, quite breezy with some elderflower and meadow flower notes. Ripe, though – fresh raspberry and pear fruit with a little bit of tropical yellow fruit pointing at the easy nature of the 2014 season. Accomplished wine, although I don’t know if this is better ( at the moment) than the 75cls I tasted last year. Even longer on lees would have been brilliant, and more time on cork will develop those flavours. 17

 

 

/ Classic Blend, England, Squerryes