|Grapes||Chardonnay, Pinot Noir|
All from Ambonnay. Rich nose, deep notes of confit fruit and fresh fleshy red fruit - strawberry and raspberry, mingling with autolytic amplitude and generosity. Fabulous length again. L&S (Jul 2018)
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Disgorged in July 2018 with only two grams per liter dosage, Gonet-Medeville's 2006 Extra Brut Grand Cru Grande Ruelle is showing very well, offering up a sun-kissed bouquet of ripe yellow orchard fruit, honeycomb, dried orange and gingerbread. On the palate, it's full-bodied, broad and fleshy, with a rich core of fruit, succulent acids and a long, nicely defined finish. Reflecting the gourmand, generous vintage, this is a vinous, gastronomic Champagne that works well at table. It's produced from a 0.2-hectare plot in Ambonnay lieu-dit La Grande Ruelle and vinified in barrels. Drinking range: 2019 - 2033 Rating: 94 William Kelley, The Wine Advocate(Apr 2020)
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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