There's everything here from the cheapest and quite cheerful fizz (in the Other group below) to the most sumptuous of current cuvées of champagne.
There is little to unite this massive collection of tasting notes except that they were all written by us about blends of (usually) twice-fermented grape juice and carbon dioxide. We've given UK prices and stockists as often as possible.
You can jump to each group of wines using the links below:
Within these groups the 158 wines are listed in descending score order but you can change this.
Full bottle 1,697 g. From vineyards including the historic plots at Le Léon in Aÿ, complemented by Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. Red wines from Mareuil. 72% Pinot Noir and 28% Chardonnay. Dosage 4.5 g/l, eight years sur latte, disgorged March 2019. 5,212 bottles.
Long and racy. Bitter orange oils and raspberry-leaf tea, more than a little minty but with the cool-hit lift and bite of wasabi powder, fine-ground chalk and river pebbles, cumin powder, white pepper. Enormously complex but clenched as tight as a fist. White raspberries, grapefruit, redcurrants. Precision, finger-nail-pressed origami folds, so sharp the fruit has paper cuts. Exciting. Exacting. Tense yet creamy. Spice defines the finish and brings it to a close that feels like an unfinished poem. So you take another sip. (TC)
From grand cru vineyards in Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. Aged for nine years in Taittinger's particularly deep cellars. Dosage 9 g/l.
Quite a deep greenish primrose yellow. Meaty, substantial, quite savoury evolution on the nose. Bone-dry finish but no shortage of rather captivating fruit before then. Very appetising with good steady bead and no aggressive froth. A very successful Comtes with a deep undertow. This may have been a challenging vintage but the Taittinger team seem to have risen well to the challenges.
Very pale pink. Wonderfully pure Pinot Noir character on the nose. Very fine bead indeed. Tight in texture yet playful in flavour. A worthy successor to the 2015.
Really quite evolved on the nose. Very piercing and dense! Extremely intense. With a very fine bead. Extremely long. Almost more of a wine than a champagne.
54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir. Six premiers and grands crus: Trépail, Mailly-Champagne, Verzenay, Avenay in Montagne de Reims, and Avize and Chouilly in the Côtes des Blancs. At least 8 years of ageing on lees. Dosage 6 g/l. Disgorged 2021. Henriot write in their tech sheet: 'Although 2012 started as one of the most worrying years, it ended up being ideal. Episodes of frost, hail and heavy rain occurred in the vineyard during the first months of the year. The weather eventually turned out to be favourable until harvest, with a series of heatwaves, which ultimately led to good development of the vegetation and the ripening of grapes.'
Very pale gold, plenty of lively mousse on pouring. Intense, rich and inviting toasty aroma, deep and yeasty with ripe lemon and clementine freshness of fruit. Terrific combination of intensity and freshness on the palate, the marked autolytic character giving an impression of sweetness even though it tastes dry. Toasty on the palate and there's still lovely citrus fruit at the core. Fine mousse, vibrant freshness through the deep and long flavours. (JH)
The 25th iteration of Laurent-Perrier's de luxe cuvée, always a blend of different vintages in their quest to make the perfect champagne.
Deep gold with the tiniest bead. Very pungently aromatic and with a texture as smooth as silk. Utterly luxurious. Slides over the palate with an undertow of surprisingly ripe Chardonnay. I'd drink this with a sophisticated fish dish, perhaps with a rich sauce. I love the gentlest of explosions on the palate. Surely this has a lower-than-average pressure? Very long. But it is not recommended for those who like their champagne on the austere side. This is to be launched in late 2021 but it tastes as though it was already gorgeous in 2020.
Certified organic. A distinctive champagne house. 40% of each Pinot and 20% Chardonnay. Based on the 2017 vintage. Disgorged in August 2021. Dosage 4.54 g/l. Vegan.
Very deep copper colour. A really glorious array of wild, floral aromas. Hugely distinctive and the opposite of formulaic with a tiny little bead. Mouth-filling. Tingly on the (dry) finish. So amazingly long with some lemon notes on the end! This is superior champagne that I would recommend to any serious champagne lover. So full of life! GV at the special-offer price of £40 'while stocks last'.
Twenty-year-old vines – 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay – from a 15% slope facing south-east in Verzy. Disgorged 20 October 2020.
Really rather broad and it approaches the nose as a cloud not a rapier. Hint of putty and lots of minerals. Very zesty but with good undertow of ripe fruit with the Pinot Noir obvious. Really quite fruity. Good stuff!
Full bottle 1,599 g. Certified HVE. 100% Pinot Noir. Picked and pressed 10 September 2015. Vinified in 205-litre oak barrels. Bottled April 2016, disgorged January 2021. 2,008 bottles produced.
Oak spicy. Sandalwood, roasted hazelnuts, green cobnuts and smoke segue from nose straight to palate. Has the Déthune signature minty freshness plus grapefruit and lime zest. This is gymnastic in its firecracker, explosive lithography and yet the oak is formidably, spectacularly structural. I'd wait another three years, at least, before opening this broad-shouldered, Corinthian wine. (TC)
This wine, the top of the line for the Paillards, has been made only in 1990, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002 (launched after the 'audacious' 2003), 2003 and 2004. Fermented in oak barrels where it remains for 10 months. Then blended and aged on lees for at least 10 years and then aged for a further two years. Disgorged in April 2019. Dosage 3 g/l.
Pale greenish copper colour. Such a dense, ambitious nose. Tightly laced but with massive complexity underneath. Putty notes on the nose and a really punchy attack. A hint of fresh almonds. An amazingly youthful wine still. No hurry to drink this! It dances on the palate.
Quite wild on the nose – almost like biodynamic fruit character! Really mouth-filling with savour (oak-derived?) notes and even a hint of yeast. Very distinctive. Much denser than most champagnes and probably best with food but it’s certainly very successful in the Bollinger idiom. I must look up who was the chef de cave in 2012…
Richly oaky/appley nose. This producer really goes his own way! (Not least with the non-traditional agrafes on the corks…) Quite a deep straw colour. Depth and complexity of savoury flavour is followed by a bone-dry (but not austere) finish. This is a wine to be pored over – either at the table or even after a meal, though maybe the Henri Giraud Ratafia Champenois Solera 90-13 occupies that slot! It’s not that old but it has certainly picked up a great deal of flavour.
Pinot Noir-dominated blend. Disgorged April 2021.
Deep gold. Firm, convincing nose. There may be zero dosage but this is very far from austere. The finish is actually rich and my only criticism might be that the mid palate is just a little skinny, but I think this is the best wine I have ever encountered from this champagne house. Very fine bead. Just a little short.
Full bottle 1,659 g. Picked September 2015. Tirage June 2016. Disgorged May 2021. Dosage 3 g/l. A blend of Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Apples, citrus and a crack of smoke. Smokier on the palate. Cobnuts and lime and a billow of mouth-filling froth. Very linear on the palate – forward focus and drive. But at the same time, it leaves a sense of broad, beautifully formed fruit on the mid palate. This has length and substance. (TC)
A decidedly mature nose. Quite soft and interesting. A good blend of age on the nose and vibrant acidity on the palate that works. May not be too expensive for a 13-year-old wine? The merest hint of the sort of lactones you encounter in whisky. Interesting!
Contains 21 different vintages from 1961 and younger.
Doesn’t seem to have much nose at all! It has just been shipped apparently… Very arresting on the palate with a great array of flavours – pings away from really quite old to really quite young. Probably best to let this settle awhile.
Full bottle 1,608 g. Certified HVE. Ambonnay grand cru. 40% Pinot Noir, 60% Chardonnay. Vinified and aged in oak casks. Bottled April 2013, disgorged January 2021.
Smells like lime pannacotta. Pears and cocoa butter and the soft-sweet chalkiness of last season's apple but also the bitter-tart crunch of crab apples. Mouth-filling mousse; angles and curves playing cloak and dagger tag with each other. Playful, yet serious. Lemon-juice soused chalk dust doing the rumba with apple pie and soapstone sculptures and honey-heavy brioche. Then one fresh mint leaf on your tongue, right at the end. Just one. (TC)
Full bottle 1,597 g. Certified HVE. Ambonnay grand cru vineyards – Les Crayeres and Les Secs. 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. Vinified and aged in oak barrels. Bottled April 2014 and disgorged January 2021.
Such a dulce de leche nose! Especially once the wine had been open for 24 hours. A cloud of citrus bitters and violet powder drawn over a floral arc. Soft toasted brioche and crushed toasted hazelnuts underneath. Firm baked-apple fruit. A little spike of fresh peppermint leaf. Complex with lots of angles disappearing into softness, like a sepia-gold-leaf sketch of a Rubik's cube with some of the lines smudged out. Food, especially salty aged cheese, brings out a gentle sweetness of fruit and charm. (TC)
Full bottle 1,592 g. Certified AB organic. The ‘Arpège’ in this Cuvée’s name refers to the fact it is made from fruit grown in three villages: Vertus, Mont Aimée and Villeneuve. Pascal Doquet established his own estate in 2004 after making wines for his parents’ label since 1982 and runs his domaine to strict organic principles using native fermentations and a variety of vessels from concrete to wood to stainless steel. 100% Chardonnay, spontaneous fermentation, minimal-intervention winemaking, bottling with the lightest of filtrations and no fining. After malolactic fermentation in tank, the wines remain sur lie for five months with approximately one-third of the production being aged in used oak barrels before secondary fermentation in bottle. 52% 2010, 48% 2011. Tirage September 2013, disgorged 12 December 2017. Dosage 3.5 g/l.
Remarkably floral on the nose. Even a tiny bit minty. But seriously savoury on the palate. A long, firm drive with beautifully chalky bone structure and taut smoke-and-toast layers between the ripe, sharply carved citrus fruit and hazelnut. Showing elegant, confident development. This really would be a great choice for a Christmas Day aperitif. GV (TC)
Really quite a heady, fruity nose. Already quite evolved on both nose and palate with a very gentle mousse – a sort of caress of the palate. Really very nice indeed. So easy to love already! Though maybe not for the long term. Very long. GV
Both intense and discreet. Extremely tightly woven. Not as dry as some but certainly not simple. Tastes more youthful than many 2012s. Subtle and not flamboyant. You feel you could drink this in quantity!
Really lacy and complex with lots of development and reassurance on the palate. Easier to love than the 744 with its extra age. Really beautifully balanced and clean as a whistle. Bone-dry finish after a panoply of fruit and much else.
Very pale pink! Pure Pinot on the nose. Lightly beery/yeasty in a nice way! Lots and lots to enjoy here with real grip on the palate but nothing too aggressive. Long and layered.
More density and depth on the nose than the Brut Nature Mag 16. Masses of detail here. Rich start, dry finish. Long.
Fairly light but confident nose. Then quite a wide panoply of flavours on the palate. Brisk with lots of fruit. Wild flowers? Not at all austere despite the zero dosage! Transparent and lively.
Full bottle 1,623 g. 100% Meunier from Vallée de la Marne (Passy-Grigny). Base 2018. Disgorged January 2021. Dosage 15 g/l.
Deep pink, almost cranberry red! Hibiscus and cherry juice with wonderful cinnamon and vanilla-pod spices. A touch of marshmallow, rhubarb candy, juniper berry and raspberry sorbet. Full of fruit and charming playfulness and yet complex. The bubbles are just right – not too loose, not too spiky. Delicious with cold, rare, smoked lamb and even more delicious when that lamb is smeared with Belazu's Turkish ezme paste! (No, Belazu are not sponsoring me!) This wine is a foodie dreamboat. The kind of wine that you could drink the whole of Christmas Day and it would work with everything; or the wine you could safely take to a picnic, a buffet or a potluck, and it would sail through all manner of fusion – and confusion – dishes. (TC)
Full bottle 1,603 g. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay from 22 individually vinified parcels of owned vineyards entirely in Bouzy, where only organic composts and treatments are used. Spontaneous fermentation, natural malo. Base wine from 2016 with 30% reserve wines. Disgorged May 2021. Dosage 1 g/l.
Walnuts, cobnuts, lean racy citrus fruit and seriously austere acidity. Long and ultra-lean. Cold-stone bones. Packed with lemon zest and so taut into the finish it feels as if it might snap in the mouth. Purity in extremis, for purists. Makes me crave oysters! GV (TC)
100% 33-year-old Pinot Noir from Verzenay. First fermentation in oak. No malo. Disgorged 20 October 2020 with dosage 5.2 g/l.
Quite headily scented. Really quite rich. Assuming the dosage as printed on the label (disgorgement date and vintage were scribbled) is correct and as low as in all the other Penet-Chardonnet wines, then that richness is presumably from the ripeness of the fruit and the maturation effect. Pretty impressive.
Full bottle 1,635 g. 72% Pinot Noir, 26% Chardonnay, 2% Meunier, mostly from premier and grand cru vineyards in Aÿ, Mareuil and Avenay. 35% reserve wines with 7–8% coming from red wine from the upper sections of the Clos des Goisses vineyard. Disgorged April 2021. Dosage 9 g/l.
Rich nose – strawberries and cream, Eton mess. And all this in the mouth, filling the mouth, inside a framework of steel-ground stone dust. Rose petals and strawberry-juice-dipped nectarines. Almost dapper, the pink pressed starched-cotton pertness of the fruit – but it's seriously stylish too, underneath the coquettish squirl. (TC)
Dosage 10 g/l. Aged 36 months on lees.
Cooked apple, biscuit, savoury and long. Delicious salted-bread aftertaste. The absolute prototype of champagne, and I appreciate the generous dosage. (RH)
A completely new approach to NV Champagne. The blend is dominated by wine from the most recent vintage, supplemented with Roederer's 'réserve perpetuelle', a blend of older harvests topped up each year.
Serious winey wine that is deep-flavoured, dry and has real personality. A beginning, middle and end. A wine that demands attention. Quite persistent. QGV
There’s a lot here on the nose – real intrigue and layers. This is wine! Do I detect a little oak influence? And there is certainly refreshment but intellectual stimulation too. A very complete package, with a little more obvious acidity than the regular 2014 Brut.
Pale (but not very pale) strawberry pink. Quite an opulent nose. This is going the super-fruity route! Good perhaps to have it very distinct from the Brut rather than just a Brut with a bit of colour? But it does finish dry and I could well imagine enjoying this with salmon and tuna and – hey – maybe chicken and white fish??! Very clean finish. Very slight bitterness on the end which I’m sure is intentional.
There’s an undertow here and many different elements which are by now well knit. Quite a rich start but a dry finish. Correct and conscientiously made for the long haul.
Served from a magnum by an importer who says, ‘I don’t know why everyone doesn’t’.
Intense, dense nose with some putty notes. Bone dry and still very youthful and tense but impressive. Slightly hard work at this stage – perhaps because of the magnum? – but you have to admire it.
There’s a real green vegetal energy about the nose of this. And I don’t mean it’s unripe! Very distinctive indeed with a briskness and pace that is rare in champagne. Though it’s not a comfortable pair of slippers to slip on but a dry wine that demands attention.
100% Chardonnay from 28-year-old Verzy vines, fermented in small oak. No malo. Picked 21 September. Disgorged 20 October 2020. Dosage 5.2 g/l.
Still quite tight and tense on the nose – tastes absolutely bone dry but there is an undertow of rather refined, sleek fruit waiting to unfurl. Admirably long. Very much an aperitif style.
Rather a luscious nose. Lots of froth but very pretty balance. Really very satisfying and just the job now. Quite refined and long.
Brut Millésime is produced only in exceptional years. 45% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, seven years on lees.
Lots of age on the nose. Lightly toasted brioche flavours? With what tastes like a fairly high dosage. But delicate texture.
100% Chardonnay from Trépail, Villers-Marmery, Bassuet and Montgueux – smart addresses for Chardonnay grapes. Eight years on lees in the cellars of the Reims co-op. 9 g/l dosage.
Bright pale copper colour. Deep-flavoured, presumably thanks to the quality of the 2012 vintage. Real tension and stimulation before a tight-knit, dry finish. Very much a blanc de blancs aperitif style – not heavy, and not that persistent – but, for a 2012 vintage champagne, VGV.
Full bottle 1,576 g. Picked September 2016. Tirage April 2017. Disgorged March 2020. Dosage 9 g/l. There is some Chardonnay blended in with the Meunier.
Deep terracotta-toned pink. Bags of juicy fruit tucked into this – blood oranges, strawberries, apricots. Lively acidity and lively bubbles. Exuberant! (TC)
A pioneer of hands-off winemaking, and the first carbon-neutral champagne house. Made from Chardonnay and a dash of rarely used Pinot Blanc. With 5% of the wine aged in barrel, and lees ageing of 36 months.
Real energy here on the nose. A bit mouth-filling in texture but excellent interest and delicacy on the palate. Serious wine – an ideal aperitif? No hurry to drink this. GV
Quite a creamy nose and rewarding fruit on the palate. Mouth-filling with something akin to candied violets. Well made and assertive without being aggressive.
Equal parts of Chardonnay from Chigny-les-Roses, Pinot Noir from Rilly-la-Montagne and Pinot Meunier from Ludes. This Chigny-les-Roses producer has a réserve perpetuelle that includes no fewer than 21 vintages. Their Réserve is a special selection made every year since 1996 so presumably this is their 21st. Vegan.
Deep greenish straw colour. Impressively persistent bead. Restrained and beautifully fine and composed. Great balance and a really lovely wine that's drinking well now, even if it's not particularly persistent. My chief criticism is the really rather cheap-looking label. If you want to impress your guests, swathe the bottle in a white napkin.
Son of Olivier Leflaive. The first number denotes the base vintage and the second the dosage in 0.1 g/l.
Neat, well-composed nose. Pretty aggressive mousse and rapier-like, super-refreshing acidity but not austere. This would make a fine, well-balanced but revitalising aperitif. Clean as a whistle and super-brisk. But not an enormous amount of depth.
Full bottle 1,604 g. 100% Chardonnay. Dosage 9 g/l. 36 months sur latte.
Cream and apples, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, shortbread underlay. Gentle broad sweep through the mouth leaving a tiny trace of bitterness, the kind you get when chewing on rocket flowers and lemon pith. The finish, though, is back to cream. (TC)
Full bottle 1,605 g. 100% Meunier. Dosage 10 g/l. 30 months sur latte.
Smells of orange blossom and peaches. Firm and yet fruity and fleshy. A bowl of summer peaches and gold-to-pink apples with a touch of jasmine on the finish. A little bit different and rather lovely. Perfect early summer-evening champagne with melon and prosciutto. (TC)
Full bottle 1,605 g. 100% Meunier. Dosage 36 g/l. 30 months sur latte.
Quince fragrance, ripe guavas, jasmine. Despite the high dosage, it's not a sweet wine in the dessert sense. More like rustic home-baked apple pie, made with sharp Bramleys, skin-on, and spiced rustic shortcrust rather than flaky white pastry. You could have this with a bowl of papaya and raspberries, or a late-harvest apple (sitting in the grass on an autumn afternoon), or with a slice of creamy nutty cheese. But it would be equally good with a wintery salad of roast pumpkin, honeyed gremolata and Turkish yogurt. (TC)
100% 36-year-old Pinot Noir vines on a gentle slope at 110 m in Verzy. Disgorged 20 October 2020 with dosage of 5.6 g/l. No malo. Not yet released at the time of tasting
Still quite aggressively fizzy but very obviously with an oak element. Still very youthful, with rich Pinot perfume doing battle with the low dosage. Work in progress but with interesting, self-confident elements.
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. To be released in 2022.
Nose is rather occluded, not as pure as some of its stablemates. Though there is certainly richness in there and a bit of slightly tart savour on the finish. Though I could drink this tonight!
Quite a light nose. Very vibrant and lively but not as concentrated as many other 2012s, which may be a deliberate choice… Transparent and nicely balanced if you seek the impact of a feather rather than a hammer.
Quite a charming nose, but perhaps not for oak-phobes. Lively mousse and confident, if fairly open, transparent fruit on the palate. Distinctive and arguably a terroir champagne.
Smells very much more youthful than the Taittinger 2014. Not to say restrained. Very dry and bracing, and still pretty young. I’d ideally keep it for a while before broaching. Marked acidity but lots of fruit.
50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, originating exclusively from a 2.2-ha plot which belonged to King Louis XV, located in the heart of the Reims mountain. Matte black and gold packaging.
Light bead and a hint of ginger beer. Dry finish. But it does seem expensive for what it offers.
Impressive autolysis on the nose. A lot of lemony froth and then a clean, flattering, crisp, well put together palate. I’d guess the dosage is very slightly higher than average nowadays (yes, it’s 9 g/l apparently) but the balance is good. A sort of mini Comtes?
Full bottle 1,608 g. 100% Chardonnay, five years' ageing in bottle on lees.
Biscuity, creamy lemon nose. Florals and citrus-pith bitters, racy, some richness hinted at but on the whole this is a very lean expression of vintage champagne. Early-bud lime leaf dipped in lemon juice and icing sugar. Crystal-sharp edges. Delivers, but not distinctively superior. Good with strong cheese. (TC)
The Bollinger family-owned Champagne Ayala produces 'Le Blanc de Blancs' in limited quantities only in the best vintages. Winemaker Caroline Latrive, who has experience in a wide variety of the leading champagne houses, picks Chardonnay grapes only from grand cru vineyards to craft it.
Rather reductively smoky on the nose. Big and bold – atypical Blanc de Blancs. A meaty mouthful. Bone-dry finish – so much so it's almost painful.
Tightly woven nose. This doesn’t taste especially old, and is very dry on the end. This bottle is not showing its luxurious nature at the moment. Just a little suppressed. I wonder whether it has light TCA? There’s no obvious fault other than a tight dryness. Score applies to this bottle only.
100% Pinot Noir grown mainly around Les Riceys in the Aube. Full malo and then aged for around two years on the lees and has four months' ageing after disgorgement. TA 4.6 g/l, pH 3.12, RS 8 g/l. Available in 320 shops.
Quite a deep straw colour. Smells quite rich and the texture is a little astringent on the finish. This is country champagne as opposed to a refined urban blend but taken on its own terms it's very honest and satisfying – as well as VGV, especially at the special-offer price.
Champagne Cattier is a new and exclusive Majestic partnership. The Cattier family began planting vines in the picturesque village of Chigny-les-Roses in 1625. 1918 saw them release their first champagne. The Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru is made from their nine favourite terroirs of the Montagne de Reims (mainly from Chigny-les-Roses, Rilly-la-Montagne and Ludes). Aged for three years on lees. Clear flask bottle.
Tiny steady little bead. Rather aggressively frothy texture. Good balance and easy, transparent fruit but not a standout for the price.
60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. 30% of the blend is comprised of reserve wines. Brut Premier Cru spends four years on lees in the deepest cellars in Champagne, which also happen to be the birthplace of world-famous Armand de Brignac.
Not sure the Armand de Brignac connection is very linear. But there is some interest here. Fruity and flirtatious.
Full bottle 1,589 g. Picked September 2013. Tirage June 2014. Disgorged March 2019. Dosage 8 g/l. 100% Meunier from vines over 50 years old.
Roasted toasty nuttiness and the earthy-sweet-savoury smell of roasted potato skins. Lots of sweetness, though, on the palate. Honeyed lemon and sharp but honeyed peaches. There is a lot going on here. Not the most refined, but very expressive and ample. Earthy. A good food champagne – bring on the roast chicken or pork. (TC)
Full bottle 1,641 g. Picked September 2010. Tirage June 2011. Disgorged May 2020. Dosage 6 g/l. The Chardonnay is oak-aged.
Grilled hazelnuts, bergamot, lemon-cream aromas. Big, spicy, broad sweep of Chardonnay fruit underpinned by toastiness. Lovely ripeness here. Emphatic. Dramatic. Fine-knit texture and sharp but lacy mousse. Long, bold, pithy acidity that builds into the finish. (TC)
The chap pouring is pretty certain this is all grand cru but it’s not on the label because ‘they don’t like to show off’.
Attractively evolved nose. And mouth-filling mousse with no great weight on the palate. Takes the Blanc de Blancs style almost to the limit! Neat rather than mind-blowing. Quite restrained.
A blend from 15 different vintages of the Côte des Blancs and Côte des Noirs. No oak and at least three years on lees. Clear glass is traditional so the bottles are sold in boxes to protect against lightstrike.
Greenish deep straw colour. Quite a rich nose. And much more formulaic than the Leclerc Briant Réserve Brut based on 2017 tasted immediately before this. Tight, tense, emphatic and correct even if not exactly distinctive and inspiring.
Labbé et Fils is a small, family-owned domain. It's run by brothers, Damien and Jérôme, and the wine is made from 65% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 15% Chardonnay. 80% of the wine is aged in stainless-steel tanks for nine months and the other 20% in oak barrels for the same period of time. The blend is aged on the lees for a minimum of 15 months in the bottle.
Light and clean on the nose. Quite a gentle palate – certainly no excess of acidity! Is this a new feature of less-expensive champagne? That the tart, greenness of old has given way now that summers are warmer? QGV in the current pricing climate.
Very light nose. Really quite frothy! Perhaps it’s deliberately meant to be flirtatious but it ends up being just a little evanescent, I think. Just a bit too light for me.
Full bottle 1,607 g. 40% Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. Dosage 6 g/l. 30 months sur latte.
Smells buttery, in a cold, white, creamy, mild goat's butter kind of way. Cellar-cold butter with lemon zest. White pebbles, lemon verbena, elderflower blossom. A cool champagne that brings images of milky winter sunlight spilling a path between muslin curtains across a white marble floor. Very gentle mousse and the finish presses ever so lightly on the tongue. (TC)
Full bottle 1,608 g. 100% Pinot Noir from Vallée de la Marne (Passy-Grigny). Based on 2016 plus vins réserves from 2014 and 2015. Zero dosage. Disgorged November 2018.
Biscuity, a little smoky but in a 'green' way – new-green spring-time lime leaves tossed on a campfire. It has a rather addictive kefir-like sourness combined with lemons-in-brine salty citrus, and a quinine-like metallic tang on the finish. Strong and bold: a statement, underlined. Almost a little too aggressive, but a good salty cheddar took the edges off it. (TC)
Full bottle 1,601 g. 80% Meunier, 20% Chardonnay
Lovely satsuma notes on the nose and into the mouth. More ripeness than the other two Vincent d'Astrée champagnes tasted alongside. Mouth-filling mousse. Hint of guava. Sturdy. (TC)
Full bottle 1,600 g. 100% Pinot Meunier from the premier cru Pierry.
Baked lemon-cheesecake nose. Interesting white-pepperiness on the palate. Lemon-cream fruit. Racy. Whippet thin. Needs-oysters bony. (TC)
Firm, no excess of fruit on the nose. Really quite meaty and impactful on the palate but a tad short of finesse. Is this from harder-pressed fruit? Serviceable, I’d say.
Previously only available in top restaurants, the Brut Majeur Extra Age has benefited from an additional 12 months' ageing in the Ayala cellars, providing depth and savoury complexity.
You can certainly smell the age on this. But the overall impression is of a rather sweet champagne on the palate. A little frothy. Not bad and I certainly wouldn’t turn it down but it's not thrilling.
Full bottle 1,591 g. 100% Pinot Meunier. Picked September 2018. Tirage February 2019. Disgorged October 2021. Dosage 33 g/l.
Ripe-apple scented. Apple pie and sherbety acidity with soft frothy texture. There are more complex demi-sec champagnes to be found, but could be useful with leftover mince pies on Boxing Day! (TC)
Full bottle 1,640 g. Picked September 2013. Tirage June 2014. Disgorged March 2019. Dosage 6 g/l. 100% Pinot Meunier – blanc de noirs.
Rich honeysuckle and clotted-cream nose. Very, very toasty on the palate with marked bitterness. Smoked white grapefruit. Firm fruit but there is a hole in the middle. Acidity and fruit are quite hard, and although the bubbles are fine, the wine overall feels a bit coarse. (TC)
Blend of 40% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. Red wines then form 14% of the blend.
Pale strawberry colour. Very light nose. Extremely marked by strawberry fruit and a bit of astringency. Not that much fun really at the moment.
40% Chardonnay, 40% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir. Around five years sur lattes, 30% reserve wines. Dosage 8 g/l.
You can smell the years on the secondary lees. That nose is all shortbread and cold toast. Fairly straightforward champagne, relevant boxes ticked. A bit shrill. Although if asked, blind, what the price point was I'd put it at an £18 supermarket champagne. I certainly would not pay (anywhere near) £32 for it! (TC)
Full bottle 1,570 g. 100% Pinot Meunier. Picked September 2017. Tirage February 2018. Disgorged October 2021. Zero dosage.
Soapy florality on the nose. Tight and very, very tart. For spartan palates. (TC)
Full bottle 1,570 g. 100% Pinot Meunier. Picked September 2017. Tirage February 2018. Disgorged September 2021. Dosage 9 g/l.
Smells of stollen and lemon icing. Even though the dosage is higher than their Le Meunier Conjugué au Vieilles Vignes Épicurienne Brut, it tastes sharper and drier. Floral and dusty. Grapefruit pith and white grapefruit and a bitter spine. Then candied sweetness on the edges. It tastes as if this hasn’t quite come together. (TC)
Lots of information on the back label.
Some light autolysis on the nose. Pretty aggressive froth and rather green, underripe fruit. Not that rewarding a drink. Rather hard work!
The neck label tells us that the wine was 'elaboré' by Philizot.
Very pale straw colour. The mousse is not exactly persistent. Light, simple but not unpleasant nose. Mouth-filling froth and quite a bit of sweetness. But it has been cunningly added to exactly counterbalance the acidity and to distract from the phenolic chewiness on the finish. It hasn't got too much recognisably to do with champagne and really is a bit uncomfortably sweet. I feel a little headache coming on. But it's a wonderfully low price!