This is a tiny, 4 hectare domaine with exclusively Grand Cru land. Denis Varnier is a young vigneron making feline-snappy ultra-clear wines. The style is a theoretical hybrid of Pierre Peters and Larmandier-Bernier, but the fruit is unique. In his inconspicuous way his Champagnes are poster children for grower-Champagne. That Avize signature of newly sharpened pencil (what the locals call “graphite”) is as pronounced, and as important as any terroir imprint, whether Martha’s eucalyptus, Bernkastel kirsch, Kirchenstück black-cherry.The wines are fastidious and etched; even the Rosé. Denis does full malo, and is another one who undertakes the back-straining work of the old Coquard press. ~Terry Theise

Varnier Fanniere GC BdB LabelProducer website

Available Wines

Varnier-Fannière N.V. Brut ‘Cuvée de Jean Fannière Origine’

The homage to Gramps is the driest wine in the range (except for a zero-dosage version of the NV that I don’t select); it’s 50-50 ‘09/’10, and for the first time this is 100% Cramant, from a climat called Chemin de Chalons, on the flat land just over the border from Avize—and remember, the flat sites are often best in the Côte des Blancs.

Deg 12/2014, the wine is deceptively light at first, then becomes incisive and nutty; shows a little herbal greenness from ’10, but the finish is warm and vinous. A wine this “exposed” just needs more time on the cork. ~Terry Theise

Varnier-Fannière N.V. Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Disgorged 1/10. 30% ’06 70% ’07; super-pretty aromas, and this is the most enjoyable wine tasted yet (I’d been to Gimonnet in the morning), thanks in large part to its ten measly grams-per-liter of rs, which is not needed to mitigate a flaw in the base wine, but to give perfume, grace, charm, nuance – JOY. The same base wine, tasted without dosage, is interesting but dour. This is just crazy tasty.

Varnier-Fannière N.V. Brut Rosé

I can’t fathom how this Champagne is so gauzy and balanced and long. The impact is vivid, serious and zippy, but also sensuous and murmury on the finish. Maybe the ladybugs were “otherwise occupied,” but whatever the reason, this wine rocks.  ~Terry Theise