Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV

It is such a good wine this, amongst the best Grande Marque NVs out there. We tend to think of it as quite a rich style, but there is just a touch of reductive stoniness and some restraint too.

16.5

Date Tasted : 28/02/2019

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, NV, Piper-Heidsieck

Fratelli Berlucchi Freccianera 2012

60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco, 10% Pinot Nero. Ripe, slightly pithy mandarin and candied grapefruit with sweet peach, pear and quince. Some sweet creaminess on the nose. Quite straightforward – not much backbone or length here, with slightly phenolic character coming through on the palate and introducing a little harshness. Some toast. Attractive

15

Date Tasted : 15/11/2018

Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve (magnum) NV, 2012 Base

This was a great find; based on the 2012 vintage and disgorged in 2016 it had just woken up. Lemon and green apple fruit going towards a little papaya richness and ripeness, the intensity surprised a few people (that’s 2012 for you). The fresh, sweet cream on the mid-palate and the overall precision here is only boosted by being in Magnum.

17

Date Tasted : 28/02/2019

Hoffmann & Rathbone Classic Cuvée 2013

60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Meunier. I think this was disgorged towards the beginning of 2017. Quite a lot going on here, with fruit ranging from sweet, fresh apple juice to spicy red pear, quince and candied lemon. Lovely sweet bakery tones of raspberry frangipane tart, ginger snaps and crème Anglaise. The Pinot here touches on some of that meatier, savoury character that sings of quality fruit, with no sensation of meanness or greenness whatever. Pillowy mousse and some length and drive, helped along by the Chardonnay component. 7 g/l dosage is plenty here; at first I thought it might even be a little much for my palate, but I think it will continue to settle in over the next couple of years. A real charmer

17

Date Tasted : 17/11/2018

Rare 2002

As will all the Rare blancs under Camus, this is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Camus’s definition of 2002 is “La Richesse”. First there are bright notes of chalk dust, fresh white flowers and complex orchard fruits. Behind lurk mango and dried yellow fruits just waiting to open up – this wine is still bound up so tightly. Fragrance comes from faint, almost buried sense of anise and mint, with lovely subtle yellow raspberry sweetness from the Pinot Noir. The palate really takes off – a stunning, layered presentation of freshness and development and an effortlessly floating mousse. The acidity shines a lazer-sharp light from start to finish, yet feels completely encased in the structure of the wine. This has miles to go.

19

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 2002, Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Rare Rare 1998

Magnum, Immediately more salinity and creaminess here, with a sense of seriousness from freshly-roasted coffee beans and black pepper sitting beautifully alongside the sweet candied grapefruit and discreet caramelisation. This wine showed its exotic side even more than the 2002 or Le Secret, with gentle dragonfruit and lychee fruits beautifully tinged with sweet jasmine and the aniseed tones of Thai basil. Tremendous length to the candied fruits and just a little grip of seville orange. Subtle and totally radiant, with the immediacy of a young champagne still shining behind all the developed complexity. I find it hard to imagine enjoying a glass of champagne more than this.

19.5

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 1998, Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Rare Rare Rosé 2007

56% Chardonnay and 44% Pinot Noir. Régis explained how, when this wine was made, serious Rosé Champagne was not really in fashion. On top of this, he “didn’t choose the easiest year” in 2007. This, for me, carries more delicacy than the Blancs, with a delicious shade of sweet strawberry and pomegranate syrup colouring the fruit. Just a touch of anise and warm spice. The palate is so airy and fresh, with a lovely blood-orange freshness and a touch of honey developing. Such impressive balance and alignment on the palate, especially for 2007; for me this is ready to drink, but I quite like my Rosés youthful!

18.5

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 2007, Champagne, Rare, Rosé

Rare Rare 1988

The first of two Champagnes from the ‘old team’. So welcoming with fresh quince and savoury notes of chestnut honey and resin, backed up by delicious dried mango and membrillo. The acidity is fine and clear – really quite brisk. This is just a little looser and doesn’t quite have the togetherness of the others, although it is still very clean and full of lovely flavours.

17

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 1988, Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Rare Rare 1979

Now we’re talking! What a wine – a procession of deliciousness. Distinct from the other wines in opening with some heady lime cordial, giving way to candied peel, pineapple and oiled wood. Barley sugar and marmalade maintain the sensation of sweetness, but there is still enough precision and freshness to keep it from feeling completely dominated by sugared/Maillard notes. The generous sensation of dosage is still there, as is just a little lift of effervescence. Gorgeous

18.5

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 1979, Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare

Rare Le Secret 1997

This 1997 cuvée displays such crystalline youthfulness still. Nevertheless, it is recognisable from both the 2002 and 1998, carrying some of those same exotic fruits as well as honeysuckle and anise – there’s just a little more creamy weight. The recent disgorgement and lack of dosage gives this wine a powerful, forthright character right now which is very striking; it feels tighter than the 2002, but the acidity delivers a tremendously long, mineral palate that really hangs together beautifully.
We did not really discuss ageing this wine. For me, this isn’t a cuvée that has another whole life ahead of it, but more of a bold, singular expression whose character is very much tied in to its post-disgorgement youth. I’m finding quite hard to pin down as it feels like the flavours will really come into focus with a little more age, but I think that period may only be one or two years (and probably under five). Impressive and unique

17.5

Date Tasted : 28/11/2018

/ 1997, Champagne, Classic Blend, Rare