We were thrilled to be approached by this rising-star in the great Grand Cru village of Verzenay (home of Lallement and Péhu-Simonet). Proprietors in Beaujolais since 1850, in recent years they acquired both Ch. Rouget in Pomerol and Jacques Prieur in Burgundy. They also have interests in Napa Valley. But current proprietor Edouard Labruyère had his sights on Champagne, too, and he wanted it to be at the top level. He was lucky enough to be offered a pocket-sized domaine (5.5 hectares in total) in this most sought-after locale in 2012. A conversion to bio-dynamic vineyard methods was quickly undertaken and no expense was spared in the cellar to bring it up to date. To make the wines, he tapped his acclaimed wine-maker from Prieur, Nadine Gublin, who instantly showed an uncanny instinct for the very different demands of making champagne. The result is wines imbued with Verzenay’s distinctive flavor, polished to a fare thee well, made in today’s prevailing dry cast. They are stylish and intense.
From a tiny parcel in Verzenay, this is an exceptional Chardonnay champagne from a village renowned for its Pinot Noir. Also aged 60% in steel and 40% in used Prieur barriques, with a dosage of 3.2 gm., just 3000 bottles are made each year. It is a stately, fine and deep-flavoured champagne, well-suited to gastronomy as much as an aperitif.
The estate’s flagship wine is by rights Extra Brut, as the dosage is a mere 4.8 gm. The juice is entirely cuvée, and the wine is aged 60% in steel and 40% in used barrels passed on from Prieur. 2012 was a fortuitous year for a debut, since it provided such inherent balance for a champagne made without reserve wines. There is an aristocratic poise to the flavours and a thrilling nerve to the cut. All is in place and the result is pure class. (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay)
The addition of 8% still Pinot Noir from a small plot in nearby Bouzy and the increase of the dosage to a still-low 6.4 gm. serve to heighten the fruit qualities of this wine while leaving intact its distinctive Verzenay expression. A serious, structured rosé that perhaps serves best at the table rather than as a cheerful quaffer. For those so inclined, it should also age gracefully.
(72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay)