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Tasting Reviews




Grower Champagnes from Glengarry


06-Mar-2017
The Jakicevich family have separated what used to be the inextricably linked Glengarry retail and Hancocks trade distribution businesses. As the Glengarry stores directly imported an extremely wide range of wines from all over the world, it made much sense for the Glengarry stores to offer and distribute these separately from the main core of brands that Hancocks dealt with. The specialised wines of Glengarry are more suited to high-end on-premise (as well as keen enthusiasts), which the Hancock portfolio did not conflict with.

The category of Champagne has seen considerable changes in recent years, with the rise of ‘Grower Champagnes’. Once thought of as challengers to the Grandes Marques by consumers initially, the reality that these wines are complementary has slowly been realised. Their hallmark is individuality at the expense of consistency, as most of the growers have only small vineyard holdings, and lack the resource to blend multiple vintages with holdings of substantial reserve wine for the uniformity that the large and well-recognised houses possess. Glengarry has made a strong foray into this category and has a good portfolio of Grower Champagnes to complement the more well-known brands. www.glengarrywines.co.nz
 

Liz Wheadon, Glengarry Wines & Stephen Wong MW

A Tasting of Champagnes and Sparkling Wines
I had the opportunity of attending a trade tasting conducted by Glengarry Thorndon where a number of grower Champagnes and other sparkling wines were presented by Glengarry general manager Liz Wheadon, with Wellington manager Phil Rowe and fine wine consultant Meredith Parkin. Here are my impressions of the wines tasted.

Introductory Sparklings
 
Introductory Sparklings
Saint-Meyland Methode Traditionnelle Brut NV
Bright straw-yellow with moderate persistence and bead. This has freshness and volume on the nose, the fruit more up-front and showing good even accessibility. No real autolysis showing, but this is fruit-based. Dryish to taste, the fresh stonefruit fruitiness is prevalent. The mouthfeel is rounded and quite attractively easy, with the effervescence showing on the finish with a creamy tail. A good, up-front all-pleasing sparkler without pretention. Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay & Aligote, from the Burgundy region, aged 18 months in bottle on lees. 11 g/L dosage. 16.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $18.95

Perelada Cava Brut Reserva NV
Pale lemon straw colour with fine bubble and persistence. This has freshness and intensity with tightly bound white stonefuit and nutty aromas, the autolysis not really prevalent. Some riper, sweet yellow stonefruits show with aeration. Dryish to taste, the fruit and flavours tightly bound, classic nutty, floral and lemony nuanced characters, very clean without earthy or savoury distraction. The phenolics fine and guiding, and the acidity fresh and proportioned. A modern expression of Spanish Cava, in an elegant style. Macabeo, Xarel-lo & Parellada. 17.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $16.99


 
The Champagnes
Serge Mathieu ‘Tradition’ Champagne Brut NV
Full, even straw-yellow, with fine and persistent bead. Clearly Pinot Noir-based on the nose with moderately broad yellow stonefruits, with good depth and up-front, without great subtlety, but excellent honest character. The yeasty autolysis a minor component on nose. Dryish to taste, this has lovely, interesting, savoury yellow stonefruits, with a firm core, and surprisingly tight here. This has a good driven core and line, with crisp, clean acidity and mousse for freshness, to carry and balance the savoury gamey nuances on the finish. An accessible Pinot Noir-based Champagne with some savoury interest. From 11 ha in the Cotes de Bar. 100% Pinot Noir, 8.6 g/L dosage. 17.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $59.99

J. Lassalle ‘Preference’ Champagne 1er Cru Brut NV 
Bright, pale yellow colour, with fine bead. The bouquet is softly full with fresh white stonefruits and balanced tight, bready autolysis, lovely layers of detail of red/black fruit. Beautifully elegant, with very fine textures and the palate lifted and freshened by the mousse, and fineness of the acidity. Delicacy of expression, and balanced and subtle autolysis. Very smooth-flowing, and showing finesse and a sense of style. 11 ha in Chigney-les-Roses, 1er Cru, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the latter dominant in this cuvee, 8 g/L dosage. 18.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $69.99

Henri Giraud ‘Esprit de Giraud’ Champagne Brut NV
Full, light golden-hued straw colour, the bead moderately fine. This is full and broad, quite open and up-front, with yellow stonefruits showing Pinot Noir prominence, along with subtle autolysis, Some savoury, nutty aldehyde complexities emerge from the core. The palate is softly full and rounded, with savoury yellow stonefruits and autolysis. Some spicy, nutty oak? Certainly some secondary interest. The mouthfeel possesses some phenolic textures, and the wine is a complete, satisfying package. From Ay, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, 24 months on lees, 8 g/L dosage. Giraud now purchases fruit to supplement own holdings, so is thus technically a negociant. 18.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $79.99



Lilbert-Fils Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Pale straw-yellow colour, the bead moderately persistent. This has a very fine and intense bouquet of white florals and fresh herbs, with white stonefruit and stylish autolytic yeasty core entwined. Nutty complexities emerge, but this retains a steely freshness. Very dry, the palate exudes elegance and finesse, the palate slender and narrow, but refined in concentration. The textures show very fine phenolics and beautifully soft acidity. A wine which has clarity, intent and precision. Perfect mousse and a long, fresh, but creamy finish. From 3.5 ha in Cramant, 100% Chardonnay, 50% 2013 vintage and 50% reserve wine, 7 g/L dosage. 18.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $54.00

Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Reserve NV
Full, light yellow colour, with moderately fine and persistent bubbles. This has a full, gentle and deep nose with savoury yellow stonefruits, the Pinot Noir base providing the breadth. But this retains a degree of elegance at the core. The nose unfolds the bready autolysis slowly. Fuller bodied, but with stylish restraint, this is rich and savoury, with balanced richness and fine acid cut. A wine with all the proportions filled out and covered, and a lovely evenness and harmony. It would be easy to underestimate its completeness. From Bouzy, with 9.5 ha, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, no MLF, dosage 11.2 g/L. 18.5-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $64.00

Andre Jacquart & Fils ‘Experience’ Champagne 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
Full, even light yellow, with moderate bubble and bead. This has a penetrating, tight and concentrated core of white stonefruits alongside bready autolysis and a layering of spicy oak with nuances of flint and nuts providing aldehyde detail. Dry to taste, and tightly concentrated. This has depth of flavour, white stonefruits and yeasty autolysis at the core unfolding spicy oak and reductive suggestions of funk and flint. The textures are very fine and the mouthfeel enlivened by soft acidity and effervescence. Complex, oaky and idiosyncratic. From 24 ha in Mesnil and Vertus, 100% Chardonnay. 30% oak fermentation, no MLF, 4 g/L RS dosage, 5 years aging. 18.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $64.00

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