CHAMPAGNE, THE ART OF CELEBRATING
Bollinger, B13. Two new releases in two years is rare enough to be highlighted, especially when you are called Bollinger. After PNVZ 15 and 16, its Pinot Noir from Verzenay, the House continues to pull out all the stops with this other 100% Pinot Noir, from the 2013 vintage alone. An atypical year in Champagne, with one of the latest harvests in the last twenty years. A classic Champagne, intense and complex, long and velvety in the mouth, with a perfectly round and integrated structure thanks to the House’s know-how in terms of ageing. Great style, it “bollying”.
Piper-Heidsieck, Collection Hors-Série 1971. Most often, art inspires Champagne. More rarely, music. And even less, pop. However, this is the angle chosen by the house of Piper-Heidsieck, accustomed to glamour, to highlight its new collection of old vintages. With this 1971 vintage, Emilien Boutillat explores the house’s archives and offers 2021 bottles of this great champagne, impressive in its aromatic freshness and elegance for its age. Many treasures still lie dormant in the cellars of Champagne. Piper’s are full of them. Lucky.
Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 2011. In the latest edition of the Nouveau Bettane+Desseauve, you will find a vertical devoted to this classy Champagne, a symbol of the Taittinger spirit. With its inimitable style, purity, elegance and ability to stand the test of time, Comtes de Champagne underlines the extent to which the house has returned to the highest level. In this contrasting 2011 vintage, Vitalie Taittinger and her teams have produced one of the best Blanc de Blancs in the region. Long ageing in the cellar (ten years), iodine character, omnipresent chalky sensation, smoothness at all times. Perfection is not far away.
Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage 2013. Further proof that 2013 produced great champagnes, this grand-vintage reminds everyone how favourable the vintage was for Chardonnays. The talent of Benoît Gouez, the head of the house cellar, combined with this October harvest, gives this new opus of the cuvée a style of its own in the series. With its autumnal nose, between spices and honey, it has a finely iodized character on the palate which makes it a Champagne capable of playing on all registers, from the aperitif to the table. Luminous finale.
Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009. In the previous issue of En Magnum, we looked at the reasons why Frédéric Panaïotis, the head of the Ruinart cellar, decided not to vintage his prestige cuvée in 2008, preferring the atypical 2009 vintage, which was more favourable to the Chardonnays and to Dom Ruinart’s Blanc de Blancs identity. A great nose of fresh lemon and white flowers, with notes of riper fruit on the palate that give it strength and persistence. Its length does not detract from the sapidity of its finish. How great it is.
Veuve Clicquot, La Grande Dame 2012. We knew this Champagne was in the pantheon of prestigious cuvées. Now, it also benefits from the stylistic revival of the Clicquot House and its immoderate taste for a bright and sharp pinot noir style, which makes up this blend of 90%. A little Chardonnay adds vitality and freshness to this blend, which gives meaning to the minerality. If we take care to let it age, this Grande-Dame already succeeds in the feat of being in place, playing the card of great greed.
Alexandre Bonnet, Blanc de Blancs. In the midst of a revival, this commendable Ryceys house has taken the gamble of moving towards a Burgundian parcel-based approach. Its Blanc de Blancs has gained considerably in precision compared to previous versions of this cuvée, still greedy but more appetizing than usual.
AR Lenoble, Intense. Excellent definition of the aromas, pleasant and fleshy fruit, chalky intensity, this Champagne has good length and finishes with finesse. It is also the standard-bearer of this recommendable house
Ayala, Brut Nature. This Brut Nature (no dosage) has to wait a minimum of four years in the cellar before being put on the market. With its citrus peel and white fruit aromas and intense chalky notes, we recommend it for its tonicity and precision in the mouth. It is the best companion for a few oysters.
Castelnau, Origine ES 9.0. First of all, you have to decipher its code name. ES for Elisabeth Sarcelet, the House’s former cellarmaster who is retiring this year, 9 for the vintage that makes up this Champagne and 0 to remind us that it is the starting point for this new solera. Great ripe fruitiness, intense with honeyed notes and candied apricot, this is a table champagne, smooth and precise.
Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires 2006. Our readers know all the good things we think of this cuvée, the stylistic paroxysm of the Charles style. A blanc de blancs among the most accomplished in its category, rich and incredibly complex, mixing nobly vinous and chalky elegance with great naturalness. It leaves us on the edge of our seats, amazed and moved.
Deutz, Cuvée William Deutz 2009. Ever more elegant, ever more harmonious, the Champagnes of the Deutz house, from the brut Classic to the cuvée Amour, have once again taken a step forward in recent vintages, legitimately reaffirming their place among the elite of Champagne. In this cuvée, a tribute to the founder, 5% Pinot Meunier is blended with Pinots Noirs and Chardonnays. Delicacy, elegance, purity. Everything is there.
Drappier, Carte d’Or. The lover of beautiful champagnes (at a good price) will find his pleasure with this reference of Brut non-vintage Champagnes. This famous cuvée has become even more gourmand and refined, while reinforcing its predispositions as an aperitif. In short, Drappier is always there where one wants it.
Gosset, Celebris rosé 2008. This is only the fourth version in twenty-five years for this prestigious rosé Champagne, which has established itself in the eyes of all as an essential reference for the colour. After 1998, 2003 and 2007, it brings together the best of Gosset’s know-how while gaining even more depth and smoothness of texture. The whole is impressive.
Henriot, Blanc de blancs. In the expert hands of its young cellar master Alice Tétienne, the House is back in the limelight, orienting its style towards more purity. For example, this Blanc de Blancs with its smoky iodine scent, fat on the palate while maintaining a superb airy character in its effervescence.
Jaquesson, Cuvée n°743. Two words are enough to define the Jacquesson style: ultimate precision. A new success for this cuvée, between intense and warm fruit, delicate exotic scents and candy aromas. The whole impresses by its finesse in the mouth and its natural salinity.
Lombard, Cramant brut nature. The talented Thomas Lombard embodies the new generation of this House, that specialises in the plot-based approach, and is capable of producing great Champagnes such as this Cramant, which is dynamic and taut, pure without being overpowering.
Mailly Grand Cru, Les Échansons 2012. There are very few Champagne cooperatives capable of displaying this level of performance. This cuvée, dominated by 75% Pinot Noir and produced solely from a first press, imposes its charm and leaves one dreaming of its potential to evolve over time. It will defy the years, for the better.
Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmes d’Or. Subtle, delicate, precise, the iconic cuvée of this major player, capable of ageing magnificently, is the ideal match for a little caviar. A festive Champagne that holds its own in the closed circle of the best prestige vintages.
Perrier-Jouet, Belle Époque 2013. With those screen-printed anemones right on the glass, this bottle never goes unnoticed. It continues to be the undisputed pinnacle of the Perrier-Jouët range, an unchanging testament to the House’s mastery of Chardonnay. The chalky style is as accomplished as ever.
Philipponnat, Royale Réserve. This brut impresses with its aromatic amplitude and its slender, tasty mouth. The finish is marked by iodine and salinity, with the luminous bounce characteristic of the brand, leaving a great impression of lightness. Model effervescence, tender and delicate.
Palmer & Co, Amazone. Great vinous complexity, marked by a formidable presence of empyreumatic notes that support the candied fruit and quince flavours. Long, broad and rich on the palate, this champagne is made for the finest gastronomy.
Veuve Fourny, Brut Nature. With its purity and intensity, this ultra-racy champagne is a born seducer. The fundamental style of the house is found here, between the purity of the fruit and the smoothness of the bubbles. The brothers Charles-Henry and Emmanuel Fourny know what harmony means.fff
THE WHITE WINES, THE BEST ARE HERE
Domaine Louis Sipp, Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé 2019, Alsace Grand Cru. It seduces with its floral fragrances. On the palate, we like its rounded start which gives it a lot of charm. Dry and slender, this is a Riesling with a pure and refreshing finish. This intensity places it among the best of the vintage.
Domaine Trimbach, Clos Sainte-Hune 2017, Alsace. This is the pinnacle of our Alsatian Riesling tasting. Complex and intense, floral and fruity, clean on the palate, it’s its vibrant lemony tension that impresses in this vintage. Perfection.
Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Clos Windsbuhl 2019. Alsace Fresh citrus and apricot nose, you can recognize the limestone pattern in the soil, lots of finesse and energy in this vibrant, pure mouthfeel. A Riesling already in good shape on one of the greatest terroirs of Alsace.
Joseph Drouhin, Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches 2017. Elegance, precision, length, its balance balances between a delicate elegance and minerality. A Chardonnay that is both airy and grounded. This brilliant family knows how to draw out the quintessence of this iconic Beaune terroir.
La Chablisienne, Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys 2018. Pure in its fruit, with superb tracery and stony character, this fresh terroir deserves close attention. Pure fruit, final burst, lots of style. Chablisienne continues its march forward, including on this unjustly underrated first growth.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fèvre, Chablis 1er cru Vaulorent 2019. The palate expresses the power of the growth, with a saline strength and density already in place. Splendid with creamy poultry with mushrooms, its persistence will work wonders. At the level of a grand cru in mouth definition. This endearing duo is at its best.
Château La Nerthe, Clos de Beauvenir 2020, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A masterful achievement by the estate with this wine that is close to perfection, harmonious, seductive, carried by splendid notes of acacia honey and a floral complexity that gives it quite a personality. An outstanding wine and a reference.
Domaine La Barroche, Pure 2020, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A 100% Clairette, in a style reminiscent of the greatest wines of Meursault, with its broad fruit, its tender and enveloping character, all driven by considerable energy. A wine to be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.
NC Baudry-Dutour, Château de Saint-Louans 2019, Chinon. Lots of energy and a change of style with less breeding than in the past. This Chenin expresses purity and pleasure in its aniseed finish now. Rare on the market, white Chinons are worth the detour.
Domaine Vial Magnères, Armenn 2018, Collioure. Finesse, length, velvetiness and nerve, pure and mineral length enhanced by candied citrus zest, tension, aromatic complexity and persistence. A white Collioure in our pages, it was about time.
Guigal, La Doriane 2019, Condrieu. Always this toasted woody note, which is characteristic of the house and gives a soft charm to the wines. The touch is caressing, and we can guess a significant maturity that the maturation has well contained. As always, this wine will evolve well over time.
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Les Hauts de Husseau 2019, Montlouis-sur-Loire. This cold parcel takes full advantage of this sunny vintage. The chalkiness stretches the refined fleshiness of the palate. All the elements merge, with a perfectly pure finish. Counting the seconds is useless, let’s go to the minutes.
Domaine Luneau Papin, Excelsior 2018, Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine. The domaine, embodied by Marie and Pierre-Marie Luneau, is at the top of the Pays nantais and offers a range of Muscadets capable of comparing with the best whites in France. An absolute priority in the range, this cuvée is enchanting with its crystalline structure and ageing potential.
Domaine de Chevalier 2018, Pessac-Léognan. Subtly fruity and floral nose, tasty, melting palate, with dense flesh, refined aromas that are supported by an excellent vivacity and a touch of salinity. Energetic and racy, Oliver Bernard’s great white wine continues its march forward.
Plaimont Producteurs, Cirque Nord 2017, Saint-Mont. One of the best plots in the appellation, in the shape of an amphitheatre, gives this great racy white. Petit and Gros Manseng, with a little Courbu, this is one of the most accomplished whites in this sector, with a combination of mineral expression and powerful fruit.
Domaine Matthias Planchon, Les Herses 2019, Sancerre. Dashing and balanced mouthfeel. The saline finish gives it a real dimension. Its author is a promising young winemaker whose highly recommendable estate is our great discovery of the year in Sancerre.
Château Suduiraut 2017, Sauternes. As long as vintages like this one continue to display this incredible level of consistency, the Sauternes region will not have said its last word. Let us rejoice in the ever-pure and chiselled character of this high-class sweet wine. Great vintage, great wine.
Domaine Huet, Clos du Bourg – Première Trie 2010, Vouvray. The limestone underlines the density of the vintage while stretching it and sculpting a finish that will defy the next half-century. The nose opens up gradually, releasing flavours of saffron, mango and acacia honey. The palate combines fat and tension.
RED WINES, THE ONES YOU NEED
Clos Lunelles 2018, Castillon-Côtes-de-Bordeaux. If Gerard Perse, the man behind the success of Chateau Pavie in St.-Emilion, moved to the terroirs of Castillon, it was not to make a show. This is the best Clos Lunelles ever made, with a fresh aromatic that give energy to the tannic intensity and silky texture. Fresh, peppery finish. A delight. As well as being great value for money, they are also the most serious contenders for many of the not-always-cheap St. Emilions.
Domaine Henri Rebourseau, Charmes-Chambertin 2019. The younger generation of Surrel continues this estate’s remontada among the Gevrey Chambertin elite. Meticulous to the core, Bénigne and Louis have focused all their efforts on viticulture and maturation, signing a collection of perfectly recommendable grands crus. A rather powerful Charmes, with velvety tannins and a racy mouth. Well matured, its saline and dense finish will encourage you to keep it, it deserves it.
Domaine Grosbois, Clos du Noyer 2019, Chinon. In ten years, Nicolas Grosbois has built a solid reputation, propelling his estate among the very best in Chinon. With a range balanced between wines for pleasure and more serious wines, he signs on this first-rate parcel a superb Clos du Noyer, magnificent in its energy in the tannin, with complexity and a welcome freshness in the silkiness of the texture, in phase with the sandy-clay soil that naturally gives more suppleness than clay-limestone.
Domaines Gérard Bertrand, L’Hospitalitas 2019, La-Clape. Intense and complex aromatics, its great depth and breadth on the palate give it great potential. Beautiful wine with considerable energy. A good reminder to all those who see Gérard Bertrand only as a big doer. At La Clape as well as in his various clos, he never ceases to impress us with his consistency and progress. A great southern wine to put in everyone’s hands.
Château Batailley 2018, Pauillac. During our blind tastings, we often hesitate when it comes to identifying this wine. Pauillaçais by its strength of tannin, Saint Julien by its smoothness of tannin, its unctuousness and its aromatic delicacy. A complete wine, combining power, finesse, high grape maturity and a beautiful freshness. Exemplary of Bordeaux classicism, in the image of the family that produces it. On this first-rate but sometimes difficult terroir, the Castéja’s have everything right.
Château Beychevelle 2018, Saint-Julien. Under the impetus of the excellent director Philippe Blanc, this grandiose Saint-Julien cru is regaining the rank that should be his, given the finesse of its terroir. Sublime finesse and infinitely delicate flesh in a generous body, this 2018 is the most artistic and complete in history. Smoother and creamier than ever, it plays in the court of the greatest.
Domaine de Terrebrune 2017, Bandol. Pure and mineral, with that brightness and energy in the fruit characteristic of the estate’s wines. The superb ageing rightly reinforces its depth and sap. A style apart in the appellation successfully maintained by Jean d’Arthuys and Reynald Delille.
Château de Mercues 2018, Cahors. Owned by Georges Vigouroux, whose ambition is to make great Malbec wines from the Cadurcian terroirs, this 2018 Mercues imposes its smoky nose, with notes of red and black fruits. Fleshy and fruity on the palate with a fresh finish. It’s always so pleasant to drink.
Château Beaucastel 2018, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. One of the peaks of our annual tasting, true to its style and living up to its reputation, monumental on the palate with its full-bodied, spicy texture and body, plenty of measure in its power and ever-so-spectacular perfume finesse. Beaucastel is at the top.
Château Mont Redon, Le Plateau 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Immediately perceptible floral aromatic palette, almost already on the sought-after potpourri notes, great distinction and racy tannin character. Magnificent work carried out by the Abeille-Fabre family on one of the most renowned terroirs of the appellation.
Domaine d’Aussières 2018, Corbières. The winemaker has managed to extract the intensity of the material, the race without making the tannins stand out. They are perfectly coated by a judicious breeding which brings smokiness and empyreumatic notes from which many could be inspired.
Faiveley Corton Grand Cru Clos des Cortons Faiveley 2019. 2019 confirms the evolution of the House’s style and perception of this vintage. Without denying anything of its origin, it shows itself in a tender light in its youth, floral with delicate and subtle tannins. The flagship of Faiveley is as great as ever.
Maison Gabriel Meffre,Laurus, Côte-Rôtie 2018. Rather discreet in our columns, this wine merchant nevertheless has its place in our selection of festive wines. A seductive and greedy côte-rôtie, carried by a mouth full of roundness, a juice with tannins coated by the breeding but without excessive marking of vanilla aromas.
Domaine Pierre Gaillard, Rose Pourpre 2019, Côte-Rôtie. One can only be attached to this winegrowing family, as much for its activities in the Rhône as in the Roussillon. Concentrated and dense, its delicately extracted tannin can still melt, its finish caresses like velvet. The cuvée is close to its brilliant successes of the past.
Domaine de Montbourgeau, Poulsard 2019, Côtes-du-Jura. Magnificent for the finesse of its bouquet between great fruit at the right maturity, faded flowers, subtle sweet spices. Supple tannins, natural sweetness and obvious elegance. This distinguished Poulsard is the work of the Deriaux, one of the most talented winegrowing families in the Jura.
Château Citran 2018, Haut-Médoc. This Médoc brand has built a solid reputation thanks to a distribution system that is mastered from start to finish. It returns to the forefront in a vintage particularly conducive to balanced blends. Powerful, broad and coated in tannins, Citran is a friend of fine meats.
Château Clarke 2018, Listrac-Médoc. This Rothschild cru, Edmond branch, keeps progressing in its stylistic approach, proposing a typically Bordeaux wine, marked by the Listrac terroir, between firmness of tannins ready to soften with time and obvious final freshness. Easier to drink when young than in the past.
Château d’Issan 2018, Margaux. By acquiring a few neighbouring plots in a good location, this Cruse family property now has all the weapons it needs to play a leading role in the court of the great Margaux. A 2018 in keeping with the Issan style, between civilized power, particularly fine tannins and refined aromas.
Domaine de l’Arlot, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot 2019. Nose on the bramble and black fruits. Its fine tannin and the quality of the material will allow it to evolve well, one of the constants of this clos en monopole. Additional proof that the impeccable work of Géraldine Godot, the technical director, is producing great results.
Château Lynch Moussas 2017, Pauillac. This classified growth of Pauillac, owned by the Castéja family, is an ideal compromise between the serious Pauillac made for ageing and the modern Bordeaux made for faster consumption. Nice notes of cedar and menthol, depth of flavors, smooth tannins. It is already excellent.
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2018, Pessac-Léognan. Guillaume Pouthier has led many revolutions, more or less officially inspiring many Bordeaux winemakers. His demanding harvest sorting and his mastery of whole bunch vinification have made Carmes one of the most sought-after wines in Pessac-Léognan. A wine of place in the heart of the city.
Château PetitVillage 2018, Pomerol. Beautiful reference, a subtle, harmonious 2018, with a real mid-mouth thanks to a juicy silkiness and a stylish floral release. Already expressive, it will stand the test of time. Petit-Village is once again up there with the best of its appellation. Great value for money (for Pomerol).
Château Belair – Monange 2018, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Located on its limestone terroir at the southern entrance to Saint-Émilion, Belair-Monange belongs to the Jean-Pierre Moueix winery. This shinny 2018 has the level to look the first of the classification in the eye. Delicate and creamy attack, stretched out mouth, chalky grain, masterly finish.
Château Pavie Macquin 2018, Saint Emilion Grand Cru. By one of the most endearing and experienced directors of the Rive droite. We cannot remember the last decade when we’ve come across a Pavie-Macquin that fell short of its potential. Great wine, vibrant, long and slender.