A mate invited me to join his tasting group last night for an informal evening of fizz.
2017 base vintage plus 44% perpetual reserve with vintages dating back to 2009. Dark fruited, surprisingly rich and savoury. Technically dry but has sweetness from older reserve wines. Nice mid-palate energy. 42% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, 22% Pinot Meunier; interesting that the combined red grape proportion puts this so close to the classic Cristal blend of 60/40 Pinot/Chard.
Brut Vintage 2014
Deeper colour than the 2014 Cristal. A rich, bold and red fruit-driven expression (71% Pinot Noir, 29% Chardonnay). Deeply pitched and with engaging mid-palate texture. Finishes broad and assertive.
Next to the Brut Vintage much more reserved and delicate. Has a filigree texture that’s taut and fine-boned. Bright and vibrant acid line. A distinctive preserved lemon character and a saline finish. Multi-faceted and long.
Brut Vintage 2013
Aromas of nougat and rich orchard fruit. Has some savoury and toasty aspects, and a very faint reduction in the background that seems to be a hallmark of these 2013s. Tight-packed and complex but this is bursting at the seams with fruit whilst the Cristal is much more linear and reined in.
Reductive, smokey and introverted. Has a laser beam focus and a sort of reverberating saline bitterness. Long, chalky and rippling with energy. A zesty preserved / cured lemon character. Significant volume at the core but it’s very controlled and coiled. Huge potential.
Brut Vintage 2012
This and the Cristal 2012 show less colour differentiation than between the 2014s. This is open-hearted, with breadth, richness and spice. The mid-palate is starting to show some evolution and is moving into a citrus butter phase. There’s a very attractive inner harmony and it effortlessly sits on the palate. Drinking well but maybe misses some of the excitement of the leaner and more sculpted vintages.
Stylistically this is closer to the 2013 than the 2014. It shows a hint of the 2013’s reduction, and mineral smoke, but it’s toned down. In the early stages of evolution, with a creaminess at the core and a floral tone I’ve not noticed in other vintages - white blossom and jasmine. The finish is full and fans out rather than staying focused and linear.
Hitting a mature phase compared to previous vintages, with white chocolate, coffee cream and a golden graham, caramel, character. There’s a sweetness and toastiness linking to a Maillard reaction caramelised quality that’s very attractive. Mid-palate spice and a forward, flamboyant richness. Wearing its heart on its sleeve, as opposed to some of the more complex and subtle vintages, and finishes with nougat and truffles.
More stylish and sophisticated than the more obvious 2006. Precise, cool and linear. It has a compact profile that’s cool and even a little bit minty - like Ramonet spearmint. After the maturity of 2006 and early evolution of 2012 this is much more primary and youthful, with crisp orchard fruit and a distincly cool vintage character.
Inhabiting the space between maturity and energy, where it has a bewitching combination of aged characters and youthful, vibrant drive. The nose has elements of toasted nuts whilst the palate displays razor-sharp citrus drive and high-definition fruit. Beautifully chiselled and precise with a great interplay between light and shade. Really long and really quite magical.
Opulent and mature with a chocolatey, creamy edge and a palate with a sort of umani sweet / savoury note. Truffles. Rounded, buttery and luxuriant but just lacking a bit of shape. Broad and creamy finish. For drinking now it delivers a lot of pleasure but it’s not great on tension or mineral salinity.
This is a study in tension, reserve and coiled power. This begins linear and extremely compact but the mid-palate hints at ripe, rich and layered fruit but everything is just dripping with acidity. Pitch-perfect balance and tension with a structure that’s at once fine-spun and very high tensile. Very, very pure and vivid. Delicate yet intrguingly strong at the same time, chiselled and mineral.