Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 2008, Champagne

The latest edition of this singular Prestige Cuvée from Bruno Paillard. An equal blend of top Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, fermented exclusively in small oak, for over 10 years on lees (including a further 2 post-disgorgement).

The decadence of all this time on lees is there in nougat, praline and honey-nut, Pinot up front with ripe papaya and red fruits. The 2004 had a more relaxed, autumnal sort of warmth on release, but as you’d expect this is quite different. So compressed with tight crystal fruit, a stony crunch of intensity, a rush of energy before those sweet autolytic notes pop back and linger addictively.

This is less oxidative and notably finer than the very bold releases we have seen previously – exciting stuff and an N.P.U. that will reward cellaring. 18

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/ Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Classic Blend

Krug Grande Cuvée 169th Edition

43% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. 2013 Base year, 40% Reserve Wines.

The latest Grande Cuvée opens up with a beautiful green coffee toastiness, citrus marmalade and papaya. There’s some of that oiled wood and spice you’d expect, but also some salty, almost tangy focus. I did wonder whether this was actually a perfect bottle as it did show a very light oxidative streak (extremely subtle but noticeable aldehyde/sherry notes) that I wasn’t expecting. 17.5 A second bottle was opened later, which did seem fresher (18 pts). I look forward to a few more data points on this wine. 

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Krug

Leclerc Briant ‘Abyss’ 2015, Champagne

34% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Meunier. Zero Dosage. Disgorged March 2019.

Big salty, briny and quite oxidative nose here with grapefruit, fino and white flowers. Intense, nutty, apply – but this bottle feels a little tired perhaps. Essi Avellan MW felt that the wine was best closer to the disgorgement time, which makes sense (as it so often does for zero dosage wines). 16

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, leclerc-briant

Louis Roederer Collection 241 Magnum, Champagne

42% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier. Base year 2016. Disgorged March 2021.

A small release of this wine in magnums, based on the year before (2016) the main release of Collection 242. A broader, slightly more golden sort of wine with peach and brown bread, roasted citrus and smoky lime. Real persistence with some salty nut intensity, but fresh too. The heat of the year is perhaps on show here with this touch of savoury intensity, but in magnum with these reserve wines it comes out deliciously fresh too. 17.5 

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer Collection 242, Champagne

36% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. Base year 2017. Disgorged 2021. 

Quite brave to release the replacement for Brut Premier with the troublesome 2017 vintage as the base. But then that is the point of the ‘Collection’ concept – to feature Roederer’s Perpetual Reserve and Oak-aged reserve wines (which make up 44% of the blend). Golden citrus preserve, brightness, freshness and precision. There is a little vein of spice and fresh lees-ageing richness – feels slightly less toasted/appley than the last Brut Premier I tasted. A little more intense through the middle, but conversely a little brighter, too.  Impressive. 17

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Louis Roederer

Rare 2008, Champagne

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. Disgorged November 2019.

Explosively fresh and hugely expressive. Such a complete set of flavours, opening shots of gunpowder and coffee before exotic fruits – mango purée – deep candied citrus and fresh nut nougat. Pure joy. Incredible length, a drawn-out taper. Yes it will last for ever, but it wouldn’t be the worst crime in the world to drink this ravishing wine young, either. 19

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Laurent Perrier 2008 in Magnum, Champagne

50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Disgorged 2019.

A real over-performer. Such glorious smoky, white pepper nose with citrus freshness and impeccable build. A charming classicist that will last for a long, long time in the cellar. This is great value. 18

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Dom Perignon 2008, Champagne

50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. Dosage 5 g/l. Disgorged Jan 2018.

This wine continues to amaze. It seems to have ‘solved’ 2008, promising both incredible longevity but also some level of approachability. Classic D.P: a burst of citrus of all colours, green to orange, with that reductive lift – white pepper, smouldering embers. The ‘white’ flavours ‘ – nougat richness from time on lees, white stone fruit – are beautifully fresh and balanced. Serious intensity, but it still floats. 18.5 

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Dom Perignon

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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