2004 Champ Alouette Extra Brut Grand Cru Le Mesnil
|Grapes||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay|
12 years 'sur lattes' for this cuvée. Very fine and elegant nose is followed by richness in the mouth - lemon and lemon zest - which seem to to be the signature flavours from le Mesnil. Only 2.5g/l dosage, but there is no harshness. Just about perfect in this style, supremely elegant, this will age gracefully for years. Toast, butter and truffle is Xavier's serving suggestion! L&S (Jul 2018)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.
The 2004 Chardonnay Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru "Champ d'Alouette" was fermented and aged for six months in oak and offers an intense, pure yet ripe and complex bouquet with spicy-mineral flavors. Terribly rich and mouthfilling on the palate, this is a concentrated yet complex and fruit-intense Chardonnay with firm grip and mineral expression. No malolactic fermentation. Expressive and very promising. The wine was dosed with 2.5 grams per liter in April 2017. Tasted April 2018. I met bordelais Julie Médeville in Reims earlier this year when she presented me with a small but fine collection of the newest releases from the nine-hectare domaine that she founded together with champenois Xavier Gonet 18 years ago in Bisseuil in the Grande Vallée. Their vineyard holdings are here (five hectares) as well as in the Montagne de Reims (one hectare in Ambonnay) and in the Côte des Blancs (two hectares in Mesnil-sur-Orger). The couple works the soils and doesn't chaptalize, fine or filter any of the wine, which also doesn't go through malolactic fermentation. The wines ferment largely in oak barrels and represent a ripe and powerful but fresh style with good aging potential. Drinking range: 2028 - 2050 Rating: 94 Stephan Reinhart, The Wine Advocate, erobertparker.com (Aug 2018)
Xavier has twelve hectares in total, spread across eight villages. There are three Grands Crus, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Oger and Ambonnay, as well as five Premiers Crus, Mareuil sur Ay, Bisseuil (where he has a substantial 4.8 hectare plot), Billy Le Grand, Trépail and Vaudemange.
In 1996 Xavier met Julie Médeville (of the Bordeaux family which owns the Graves Château Respide Médeville and the Sauternes Château Gilette) at a tasting in Reims, and they married the following year. Xavier set out on a path to quality from the moment he was in charge in 2000, and is keen to emphasise what he does and does not do. "One press makes nine barrels - and it all goes into barrel, all divided according to the parcels it comes from.", he says, "no malo, no chaptalisation, no filtration, and the wines are left in barrel to stabilise. The red wines are properly red. The non-vintages are around 70-80% of the current year, with up to 30% reserves, normally just 20% of the previous year and 10% of the year before that."
Our first visit here was a joy, seeing the vineyard in Bisseuil, which is all in one block, on a sunny south-facing slope, which is perfect for achieving full ripeness. The tasting after so much anticipation is always an anxious moment on both sides, but the 'Tradition' does not let him down - indeed it sets the bar very high - simply delicious, and we both know that we are on the right track. The Rosé both surprises and delights because it is so different - almost all Chardonnay except the the red used for colour, it is a sprightly apéritif rosé. The micro-cuvées that make up the rest of the range are the stuff of future legend, rare, but worth seeking out.
"What made me want to make Champagne was wines from '29, '45, '55, '59, '61, '64 - I want to make wines like that", says Xavier. You need have no fear of cellaring these wines to see how they evolve, however delicious they are now.
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