This is not a label I have previously seen, but it is of a very high quality. It’s a red grape dominant Champagne, with 40% pinot noir, 40% pinot meunier and the balance chardonnay. It has finely chiselled aromas of brioche, plenty of bread and bakery yeast. The palate is dry with an austere and fresh impression and medium-long length on the finish. This is easy to recommend. Rating: Very Good. Abv: N/A. Price: $90. Source: Sample.
There was a time when I could relatively easily spot Tasmanian sparkling wines in amongst Champagnes in a blind tasting. The give aways? More primary fruit, lower acidity, less yeast and a honeyed character even in young releases. No longer. Tasmania is Australia’s premier sparkling wine region and comparisons with Champagne are comfortable in quality terms. The reasons Tasmania has been able to achieve this are worthy of their own post, and so I shall do that. If you have a view, please let me know. This particular Tasmanian wine is a delicious sparkling from Kreglinger. A blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, and consumed at 13 years of age, it has very attractive toast and yeast aromatics, and a racy, fresh palate with flavour and poise. (Alc: 12.5%, Region: Tasmania, Rating: Very Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes, Drink: now to 2027, Tasted: Mar, 2017)
Other vintages reviewed:
Champagne Mailly is from the Grand Cru village of Mailly-Champagne in the Montagne de Reims north of Epernay and a label I haven’t previously encountered. The 2007 vintage tasted here presents very well, and is a blend of 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. Aromatics of almond, yeast and toast. The palate is dry with a racy acidity, medium length and a chalky texture on the finish. Rating: Very Good
Aged wine isn’t for everyone. Many, perhaps most, won’t be better after two decades of cellaring. This Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs, however, is simply delicious drinking at 20 years of age. It has aromatics of lemon, toast and strawberry. The palate is dry, the mousse delicate but persistent, the finish long and the acidity crisp and racy. There are still plenty of primary lemon and yellow grapefruit characters. Yes.
Rating: Very Good
Read more: http://www.polroger.com/en/
This is a very good release of Pol Roger’s Blanc de Blancs from the 2008 vintage. A 100% chardonnay, it has aromatics of lemon, lime and stone. It’s the palate though that excels. A very fine creamy mousse, clean lemon and stone flavours and lovely delicate and framing acidity make this is a pleasure to drink.
Rating: Very Good to Outstanding
Abv: Not recorded
Vendors and website: http://www.polroger.com/
I attended an excellent recent tasting at De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley of Veuve Fourny’s Champagne releases. My plan to be blend agreeably into the background met something of an obstacle when I found myself seated on a table with high profile wine writer Tyson Stelzer, first rate winemaker Steve Webber, proprietor Leanne De Bortoli and Charles Fourny from Veuve Fourny fresh from France. My impressions? De Bortoli are producing some quite seriously good wines in the Yarra Valley that may well be underrated, Veuve Fourny, a producer I already liked, produces high quality Champagne across the board and Tyson is doing something a bit interesting by offering a comprehensive Australian perspective on Champagne.
To the wines then. First, the Veuve Fourny Champagnes, each premier cru wines noting the Champagne peculiarity that premier crus affix to villages rather than vineyards. Vertus is a well-regarded premier cru located in the Côte de Blancs. The house style is fresh and elegant.
Veuve Fourny Grand Reserve Vertus Premier Cru NV
The Grand Reserve is a blend of 80% chardonnay and 20% pinot noir from vines with an average age of 40 years or more. There’s a certain class to this wine in the glass. Aromatics of toast and stones give a refined impression. The palate has racy acidity, a creamy mousse and a lovely balance to it. $65. Very Good
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs Brut Vertus Premier Cru NV
The Blanc de Blancs (a 100% chardonnay) is also a delicious wine. More stone, bread and lemon characters than the blend, there is also a slight hint of parmesan. The palate carries similar flavours, a creamy mousse and has refreshing acidity. $65. Good to Very Good
Cuvée “R” de Veuve Fourny Vertus Extra Brut NV
The Cuvée “R” is an Extra Brut wine which sees 18 months on lees, 4 years in the cellar and is a 100% chardonnay. It is quite aromatic in the glass, with notes of nectarine, peach, bread and apricot florals. The palate is dry and quite flavoursome, with notes of stone framed by high acidity. There’s a lovely wine underneath here. $85. Very Good
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs 2009
From the warm 2009 vintage, the Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs has aromatics of lemon, lemon rind, toast, brioche and minerals. The palate is dry with only 1-2 g/l of residual sugar, lemon characters and towards long length. The warmer year seems well balanced in the glass, with the acidity not falling away. Good to Very Good
Although this tasting was primarily to showcase Veuve Fourny’s releases, it would be remiss not to remark upon a couple of excellent wines served from much closer to home from the Yarra Valley.
De Bortoli Section A5 Chardonnay 2014
This is a single vineyard wine from chardonnay planted in 1976. It’s a delicate wine, full of interest. Its aromatics remind of struck match, lemon and stone. The palate has rather long length and is very balanced in its expressions of lemon and stone and good acidity. 12.7%abv. Very Good
De Bortoli PHI Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
This pinot noir got my attention, and proved an agreeable note to finish on. It’s from the increasingly sought after upper Yarra Valley and 2012 is an excellent year for pinot in the area. In the glass, I couldn’t help but think it would have fitted right in among the premier crus in my tastings in Burgundy in June. Bacon, cherry, a slight char and an expanding aroma. The palate has towards long length, and great balance with cherry flavours, gentle tannins and well handled acidity. $55. 13%abv. Very Good
Note: I attended this tasting as a guest of De Bortoli. Website: http://debortoli.com.au.
There seems something just a little bit likeable and eccentric about the team behind Champagne Brimoncourt, a new Champagne house in an old region. A scroll through their website confirms this. The brand itself last appeared on a label in the 1950s, but Alexandre Cornot, born in Reims, acquired it in 2008 and after several years of small steps launched its first non-vintage release in 2014. With Cornot’s background to date including the navy, the law and buying and selling art, there’s a bit of a relatable departure from the norm.
Brimoncourt has now found its way to Australian shores, and I tasted a couple of their new releases. The Brimoncourt Régence Brut NV is a classically profiled Champagne, with aromatics of strawberry, lemon, stones and brioche characters. The mousse is fine, and the acidity fresh, elegant and linear, with brioche and lemon notes to the fore. The dosage is around 7 to 8g of residual sugar, which gives the wine a good balance on the palate. There is a lot to like here. The Brimoncourt Blanc de Blancs is a racier style again, and firmer. Its aromatics remind of lemons and stones, with yeast characters restrained. The palate is fresh, clean and minerally, with high acid and lemon notes. This Champagne is made from chardonnay sourced from the north of the Côte de Blancs, and it shows. Stylistically distinct, this is another good release.
Price: not yet released, Abv: 12.5%, Source: sample, Vendors and website: http://brimoncourt.com, Tasted: 2015
There are so many interesting Champagnes available these days beyond the big houses, and this Champagne from Louis Barthélémy in Epernay is one of them. Their non-vintage Améthyste cuvée is a red grape dominant blend of 50% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier, with 20% chardonnay making up the balance. It is very classically profiled, with aromatics that remind of toast, lemon and brioche. The palate is appealingly and resolutely dry, with a creamy mousse and nervy acidity framing its flavours of lemon and stone. This is a lovely balanced Champagne.
I am always excited by Christmas, a combination of the parent and child in me, seasoned with the creeping realisation that each year is another year to be recalled on the lesser canvass that is memory. Increasingly, it does seem unlikely that time will reach an agreeable stop where all remain forever young, happy and healthy. Part of me still is hopeful.
This Christmas the availability of wines from the superlative Bordeaux vintage in 2009 meant that easy choices were able to be made. My notes on the wines are short, and are more glancing impressions, rather than a structured analysis of each.
Dom Pérignon 2004. Elegance personified. Fine everything – bubble size, mousse, persistence of bubbles. Chardonnay immediately evident, with towards long length and seamlessly integrated yeast characters. A very good Champagne.
Chateau Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc 2009. This is very classic left bank Bordeaux, from an appellation nestled behind Margaux. Cedar, blackcurrant, cigar box and a balance that asserts itself with time in the glass and due reflection. The sort of wine you would be happy to have by the glass at a restaurant and is typical of its style. More current drinking than one for the cellar.
Chevalier de Lascombes Margaux 2009. A most definite step up in quality. Riper fruit, more extract and texture on the palate. This is a very pleasant Margaux indeed.
Goulée by Cos d’Estournel Médoc 2009. Considerably riper and fuller in style than the preceding two wines, with aromatics verging on licorice and dark olive characters, with evident ripe blackcurrant fruit aromatically and on the palate. This wine has quite a lot of stuffing, and will interest for its overt fruit characters. Médoc is its appellation of origin rather than Saint-Estèphe, that of its famous parent Cos d’Estournel. The Lascombes had more intrigue.
Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2009. The first of the heavy hitting reds. Its tannins are ripe and enjoyable, and flirted with being perfect and melting in the mouth, while never quite doing so. Classic high quality left bank Bordeaux, with few peers. This should last decades.
Chateau Baron Pichon-Longueville Pauillac 1994. 1994 is plainly a lesser vintage than 2009, but the Baron continues to outperform. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a bad one. The cork was in very good condition, as was the wine. Long length, grace, depth and classic left bank Bordeaux flavours of blackcurrant and cedar. This is an outstanding wine.
Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux 2002. This wine continues to show extremely well. Slightly more red fruit characters, such as redcurrant and red plums, but an effortless intensity and length on the palate meant it disappeared rather quickly, as all good wines seem to.
Murdock Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra 2000. This wine continues to be outstanding, and sat comfortably with the preceding wines. Greater intensity of fruit and length than its Bordeaux cousins, but more Bordeaux than Coonawarra I felt, with no particular Coonawarra ferrous like goût de terroir evident. Its component parts are in beautiful balance and this wine continues to justify my faith in it. A pity the winery appears no more.
Carmes de Rieussec Sauternes 2009. A very pleasant Sauternes, although I felt it needed more tension across the palate and the wood seemed a little obvious. Mere quibbles in the scheme of things.
“RM”. If you look really closely at a Champagne label, you will usually see one of “NM”, “RM”, “CM” or “RC” appear on the label. “NM” appears most commonly on labels of the big Champagne houses, standing for négociant manipulant, where the houses buy in grapes and produce the wine. “RM” in this case stands for récoltant manipulant which means a grower has made the Champagne from their own grapes. Or in other words, it is what is more popularly referred to as a “grower Champagne”. There’s some increasingly fine bubbles in this category, and this wine is no exception.
This Champagne from Achille Princier has fine bubbles, with a long persistence in the glass. Its aromatics are attractively yeasty, with notes of biscuit and vegemite, although I am sure the latter will appear in few offshore tasting notes. There’s a creamy mousse on the palate, with medium length, and flavours of lemon and biscuit. Overall, this is a very impressive Champagne and one that I’ll be buying.