A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blancs Chouilly Grand Cru 'mag14'

Carving out a story - A.R. Lenoble and the 'mag14'

This is one of two new-ish wines from Damery-based producer A.R. Lenoble that incorporate reserve wines aged in magnum at 1.5 bar pressure. Cellar master Antoine Malassagne sheds some light on the thinking:

“Climate change is a reality. The challenge for the future is to be able to bring as much freshness as possible to our reserve wines. At the end of each harvest, we observe that acidity levels are much lower than they used to be. Reserve wines now need to add complexity and richness but also freshness. Ageing a portion of our reserve wines in magnums under cork and staple makes this possible.”

The 'mag14' sounds a bit sci-fi - I like it, even if it's not really a new concept. Pierre Gimonnet uses a similar technique for his Cuis Premier Cru, a wine with a very different ethos - no oxygen contact, no oak and a naturally steeliness. A.R. Lenoble's Chouilly is broad and generous, reflecting not only the riper nature of Chouilly fruit but also the charms of subtle oxygenation and oak usage.

In some senses this stylistic picture is largely sketched-out long before the wine finds its way either into this year's blend, a Réserve Perpetuelle or a reserve magnum. Freshness and acidity is surely just as much a question of site, vintage, viticulture, pressing strategies, oak usage, oxygen contact....Anyway, the long and short of it is that there is a good 40% reserve wine usage here (only a portion of which is from magnum) in addition to the 2014 base wine, with 25% oak fermentation and a 5g/l dosage.


A.R. Lenoble Blanc De Blancs Chouilly 'mag14'

I love the citrus character here -  bergamot lemons and clementine, crystallised zest and citrus leaf too. There's richness here from apricot pastry, almond and dried apple, whilst the fruit shows some Chouilly ripeness with sunny kiwi/mango and a lovely exotic sense of ground ginger and tarragon. Oak is quite present as layer of buttermilk richness at the moment.

Intense ripe citrus kicks out on the palate with some chalky, vinous grip  - it's almost jagged in places, rounding out quite plushly with some autolytic creaminess. You can feel the oak gently dancing away on the finish with butter toffee whilst some pithy notes play along. After a while some wild apple juice starts to characterise the palate - think the posh stuff from a farm shop, nice and not too bruised (but not totally sanitised either). It's not really driven by acidity, but has some ageing capacity - I'd say it actually needs it to integrate a little more. Confident and quite extroverted Blanc De Blancs. 87-89