Rated James Suckling's #1 Wine of The Year 2023.
This is really something. Electric on the palate. The aromas are so complex with sliced fresh and dried ginger, subtle pie crust, tarte tatin and hints of nutmeg with some salted caramel. Toasted bread, too. Always subtle. The palate is full- to medium-bodied yet hemmed-in with a freshness and balance that draws you back. Savory and vibrant. It's full of energy. Spectacular. Fascinating. Symphonic blend of 2012, 2008 and 2007. 65% of the 2012, 25% of the 2008 and 10% of the 2007. Eight grand cru. Chardonnay 58% and 42% pinot noir. Disgorged February 2023. 10 years on the lees. 7g/L dosage. Drink or hold.
A blend of the 2012, 2008 and 2007 vintages, the NV Brut Grand Siècle #26 won't be released for another four or five years, but there is a great deal to anticipate, as it's a stunning young wine in the making. Unfurling in the glass with scents of crisp nectarine, pear and honeyed citrus fruit that mingle with notions of fresh mint, blanched almonds and iodine, the wine is full-bodied, concentrated and tightly wound, with broad structural shoulders, tangy acids and a long, intense finish. It's a great Grand Siècle in the making. 2025-2045
The 26th edition of Grand Siècle is based on the 2012 vintage, which shines stylistically on both the nose and palate. Pale in colour but bold in aromatics, the nose blends confit citrus with rich, flinty smoke and creamy toasted brioche notes. The palate is broad and bold on entry, a persistent mousse matched by powerful citrus and even orchard fruit. Salted butter, crème patissiere and viennoiserie are on show in this intense and generous Champagne. Cutting through this are waves of steely acidity, brought thanks to the mineral 2008 vintage and tangy 2007. The vintages in this wine complement each other beautifully. This is another terrific effort, with the power and length to age but the breadth and intensity to be a delicious drink now.
Expected release in the UK and US in October 2023. The usual tri-vintage blend, in this case 65% 2012, 25% 2008 and 10% 2007. About 70 different ingredients from eight grands crus, of which, as usual, the dominant grape is Chardonnay, comprising 58% of the blend. The Chardonnay came from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Cramant and Avize, while the 42% Pinot Noir was from Laurent-Perrier's home town of Tours-sur-Marne plus Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzy. The blend was bottled just after the 2013 harvest and this bottle, from the first of several disgorgements, has a dosage of 7 g/l. One of the 'immutable principles' of Grand Siècle is that it should be aged on lees for at least 10 years but market pressure (fuelled by the new phenomenon of investing in champagne) seems to have reduced the ageing period slightly. The wine was presented to me by new chef de cave Maximilien Bernardeau, who says he had experience of making all sorts of champagne from all over the region when working in his previous lab job. He claims that this wide-ranging exposure to all sorts of champagne happily allowed him to decide that his favourite style of champagne was the same as Laurent-Perrier's!
Powerful aroma of orange peel and something in the putty/chalk spectrum. It somehow manages to be both tight yet approachable, dense in terms of flavour concentration yet filigree in terms of texture. As usual, it's so Chardonnay! Overriding citrus character and quite amazingly long, a mouthful tingling on the palate for minutes not seconds. Enormous finesse. Massive pleasure. This would make the most luxurious aperitif. Michel Fauconnet, having welcomed the new chef de cave in January 2023, must be especially proud of this wine.