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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Legras & Haas Les Sillons 2013, Champagne

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

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Pertois-Lebrun 2012 l’Egoïste 2012, Champagne

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

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Henriet-Bazin Marie-Amélie 2012, Champagne

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

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Domaine Vincey La Première 2014, Champagne

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

From Six from Sip Champagnes

Beaugrand Cuvée Gustave, Champagne

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

From Six from Sip Champagnes

Jean Velut Lumière et Craie, Champagne

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.

From Six from Sip Champagnes

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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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Fox & Fox Essence 2015, England

My first taste of this Chardonnay vintage from one of the top small producers in the country, moving on from the terrific 2014.

A fine follow up – a friendly greeting on the nose with blossom honey on rye bread, hazelnut praline…but underneath a smack of ripe lemon, lime meringues, serious tang. Kapow! Daring, but that opposition is addictive (and delicious)

Not one for the acid-shy. I imagine this one pushed the no-MLF ethos to the limit! The clarity of fruit and some careful taming on the palate means the effect is more like an intense, sweet ‘n sour burst of green mandarin syrup than an unalloyed acid hit, though. 

I would leave this for another 2 to 3 years to get the best out of the different moving parts. 16

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/ Blanc de Blancs, England, Fox & Fox

Adank Blanc de Noirs, Switzerland

Swiss Blanc de Noirs! Pinot Noir from 6ha in Fläsch.

The young winemaker @patrickadank has spent time with Raphael Bérèche in Champagne. The style here definitely shoots in that direction, with careful viticulture, some old oak and low dosages.

This feels youthful + recently disgorged with apple blossom over pale pear and almond tart (+almond essence), red cherry and a pleasing pepperiness. ‘Bakewell tart’ is a good UK reference! Quite a rush of acid builds, not hidden away at all. Some MLF blocking here? Some grip and drama on the finish too. Not quite harmonious, a bit ester-y. This would have taken more time on lees very happily. 15.5

/ Adank, Blanc de Noirs, Switzerland