A Festive Fizz Lineup

These wines were the highlights from a lineup of grower champagnes I put together for a regular blind tasting circle. We had a great tasting, with the Egly-Ouriet, Bêreche and J.L. Vergnon really standing out. Notes from the ever-expanding Six Atmospheres Instagram Account. 

Natalie Falmet Brut Nature
100% Pinot Noir from the Côte Des Bar. 2013 vintage. No oak in this Cuvée. Disgorged over two and half years ago, this has held up very well. Some rich creamed ceps on the nose, with nicely-developed roasted pears and dried apple. The red berry freshness is still there though, and this has completely avoided any kind of harshness, nuttiness or unattractive drying-out over time. It's like a tart apricot on the palate, tangy but moreish, closing out with a creamy little snap. 16.5

J.L. Vergnon Expression Extra-Brut 2009
Blanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil and Oger, all steel (unlike some of the other wines), no MLF. 4 years on cork. The tension in the house style just injects some energy into the 2009 vintage here, which combined with a bit of buttery lemon tart ageing just hits a sweet spot for drinking. Some quite ripe bergamot citrus and even ultra-ripe, sweet gooseberry (thanks @grand_cru_girl for that one!) alongside sweet white pear and meringue. Nut skin and more ripe, sun-drenched citrus on the palate, which retains some edgy, buzzing energy despite the softening light of vintage and time. I really like this producer and must get hold of some more. 17

Agrapart Terroirs Extra Brut
Chardonnay from Avize, Cramant, Oger and Chouilly. 2014 base, disgorged Jan 2018. 25% oak fermentation. 5 g/l dosage. For me Terroirs is a big step up from 7 Crus, much closer to the top of the Agrapart portfolio without the slightly crazy prices. A bit of a sweet spot.
This really does hit some of those classic mineral notes of white flowers and chalk, with ripe grapefruit, lemon in brine and complex white orchard fruits. It's all about carefully-chanelled, nervy energy rather than your super-suave, polished kind of Grande Marque Blanc de Blancs thing. Delicious. 17

Bêreche et Fils Rive Gauche Meunier 2014
2014 vintage. Disgorged Nov 2017. Dosage 3 g/l. 'Left Bank' Meunier from Le Port a Binson in the Marne valley. Here was a wine that everyone around the table loved. It seemed to capture all the best facets of Meunier without some of the more off-kilter aspects - smoky/confected/blowsy/oxidative/fat/oily etc - that you sometimes come across in wines from Champagne's underdog variety. Those characters can be fun, in balance, but they can get a bit tiring.
This is more 'Pinot' than 'Meunier', perhaps. Red pear pastry, slightly toffeed, with some warm cinnamon spice and cashew. Candied orange peel and key lime pie. It's intense but avoids anything heavy-footed, instead homing in on the finish with some drive and focus. No MLF. I found this a truly rewarding, interesting drink, and one of the finest 100% Meuniers I've tried so far. 17.5

Fleury Vintage Extra Brut 2002
Biodynamic pioneers in the #côtedesbar. 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. I doubt very much of this is still around! This was in great condition, not having lost its yellow plum freshness despite the nice pear crumble, tarte tatin and roasted nut.
The sheer force of 2002 has helped preserve this so well - to me it seems a little less open/funky perhaps than some of the modern Fleury. It was a big hit with everyone for those classic developed flavours that only come with age. 16.5

Ferrari Riserva Lunelli 2009
TrentoDOC. This is the outlier in Ferrari's portfolio. 100% Chardonnay with full oak vinification. This bottle was disgorged in 2018. Intense, saturated style with lime marmalade and smoked meat at first, opening up with real complexity of pomelo, peach and candied citrus. Tarragon and sweet wood. A vein of yellow butter and spice runs through the palate. Oak is very, very prominent, yet not tough or dried-out. Extremely stylish, and time will help bring it together. Still, I think I prefer the beautiful clarity of the Perlé Bianco from 2009.  16.5

Egly-Ouriet V.P. Extra Brut
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. This went into bottle in July 2012, so we can assume the 2011 base vintage. This might account for the slightly muted performance here, although it is very, very good. Peach tart with mascarpone, creamy raspberries and blackberries, just a gorgeous breadth of golden fruit on the palate. The combination of autolytic weight and ripe fruit is almost a bit monolithic for now, although there are some touches of spice and very mild oxidative tones too. Probably drunk too soon (6 months) after disgorgement still. Excellent. 17