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Decanter Dec

Another month, another Decanter and, somewhat scarily, this one says December on the cover (but mercifully features no tinsel, angels or dancing snowmen):

(www.decanter.com)

The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine from this current Decanter appear on each product page.

**STOP PRESS - TALINAY PINOT NOIR 2015 - PANEL TOPPER IN OCTOBER - UNEXPECTEDLY BACK ON SALE!! **

Now, we pride ourselves on offering the top wines from the panel reviews wherever a) we can and b) it makes a modicum of commercial sense to offer them (ie you want to buy them). This month is one where we deem b) to be in question, as we'll enlarge upon in a paragraph or two.

Let us tell you what we can offer and are particularly excited about. There's a very fine article (by Greg Sherwood MW), transparently entitled The Best Cape Wines Under £20. Which is exactly what it says: 30 high-scoring wines from South Africa that are attractively priced.

As Greg points out (and we 100% endorse these words), "If you haven’t been drinking South African wines over the past five years, you’ve been missing out big time. Where have you been? South Africa, in my opinion, is making the most exciting wines of any New World country at the moment, with several wineries producing reds and whites that are more dynamic than many equivalent offerings from the masters in France, Italy and Spain".

Praise indeed. We've taken a view for a while that the whites of South Africa are particularly fine, and we offer a handful of these top scorers, plus a top sparkling, being:-

- On 92 points, an excellent Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) sparkling from esteemed fizzmaker Graham Beck (ever popular with Exel customers, is he). Being an MCC (Methode Cap Classique), it's made in the Champagne/traditional method and provides incredible value at only £17.15. Sure, it's obviously not Champagne (and we'd get in trouuble in Reims if we pretended it was) but it's of a quality that we defy anyone to tell us isn't worth double its price. It spends 4 years on its lees, which is more than for a good many vintage Champagnes. It's also wonderfully dry. As Sherwood puts it, "possibly the best-value MCC on the market, this excels to new heights of quality". The whole Graham Beck range of sparklings is well worth a little experimentation.

- Perhaps the standout wine of the article - on 95 points - is one we knew plenty about already, being, as it is, a Platinum (97 pts) winner at DWWA19. Swartland's Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2017, at just £13.70, is utterly outstanding. "Lovely, flavourful and classically styled" and "boasting rich aromas of lemon, apple pie and vanilla wafers in peaches and cream" writes the article author. Until recently, we had the 2015 on offer; we tried one the other evening, the depth/development of which demonstrated just how good a wine this is to squirrel away for a few years. FMC fans might like to note that this goes pretty close to that wine at less than half the cost.

Swartland

Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2017

£13.70

- On 90 points, and for a cleaner, lighter, more Loire-esque style, try Radford Dale's Vinum Chenin 2017. "Crunchy fresh pineapple" is not far wide of the mark here. Again, it's amazing value at £12.25.

- Want even better value? Sauvignon Blanc fan? Try Strandveld's First Sighting 2018; again a winner at DWWA19 (Gold/95 pts) and a big seller here, it scores 93 points here. South African Sauvi Blanc is becoming/has become a "thing", and while it may never be the phenomenon that is NZSB, it has a dynamic style all of its own at an even better price point. This one, partly due to its 13% Semillon content (which gives it quite some body), is "very expressive, with typical cool-climate grass and white citrus notes and a wonderfully balanced palate that is both intense and fresh, with seriously persistent length and focus".

- Also in the mix is Springfield's Special Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc (91 points) - another excellent Cape SB. The 2018 is reviewed but has yet to land; we offer the 2017.

We've a fair representation in another article, Top 40 Piedmont reds beyond Nebbiolo. It's a interesting article which hinges mainly on Barbera (d'Alba and d'Asti). These are wines that have their fans here, but, if one is to be honest, the vast bulk of what we sell from Piemonte is Nebbiolo! We offer a very fine speciment from Michele Chiarlo on 93 points and two more-keenly-priced options from the excellent Bruno Rocca (he of the famed Barbarescos) on 92 points and Massolino (90 points).

Those panel reviews, then. One is Californian Cabernet. It's tremendous and luxurious stuff, of course ... but if we've learnt one thing over the years about Exel customers, it's that CaliCab is not popular on the grounds of (its typically high) price. It's also a pain to source (we take off our hats to those merchants who specialise in it). And so, painful as it is to say it, you won't be finding the Monte Bellos and Frog's Leaps at Exel. That said, you can always let us know if we've got that wrong.

The other panel is an interesting/wacky review of Champagnes in magnum and standard bottle, much of the exercise being to compare the tasting performance of the two formats. Chemistry, physics and conventional wisdom all say that Champagne should age more gracefuly and fully in larger vessels, and that's largely borne out by this test (23 of the 34 90+pointers are magnums). We've a good smattering of high-scoring Champagnes here, but, be warned, this is not the place to expect much change from £50, even for a standard, 750ml bottle. Top of the Pops, somewhat unsurprisingly, is 2008 Dom Pérignon, both in bottle (95 points) and magnum (98 points). The former, we can supply, but we do recommend a call to us first, as LVMH's all-new allocation process now makes this very hard to get hold of. Further down the order, we've some very classy options from Palmer & Co, Piper Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Collet. Of course, if very affordable, high-rated Champagne is your thing, don't miss this.

Our old friend, Taylor's Quinta da Vargellas (single Quinta) Port 2004 pops up for yet another good review in a Vintage Port review. This remains staggeringly good value at £27.30.

And Cullen's excellent Red Moon - a Malbec-heavy blend from Margaret River - pops up for 92 points in Weekday Wines.

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Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs Brut 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs Brut 2014 - December 2019 Decanter review

The foundations for the success of the Graham Beck brand were laid in 1983 when the late Graham Beck purchased Madeba, a farm located outside the Western Cape town of Robertson. It was his ardent ambition to establish a world-class winery in this area that saw the erection of a state-of-the-art cellar. The cornerstones of the Beck family ethos were entrenched from the very start – contributing to the passion and dedication that continues to drive the entire team today. From grape to glass the entire process of producing a Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) relies on meticulous attention to detail, dedication to authenticity, precision timing and plenty of patience. At Graham Beck, the team is passionate about the pursuit of the perfect bubble – a golden thread of excellence runs throughout the entire process and portfolio. 

100% Chardonnay.

To see the winemaker's excellent notes - including tasting notes -on this sparkling wine, please click on the blue link below.

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2014 - fiche technique

Bright lime green colour with rich aromas of fresh lime and ripe apricot fruit on the nose. An exciting fine mousse with an explosion of tangerines on the palate. Great brioche and yeast complexity broaden the palate, leading to a long, elegant finish.

Residual sugar = 5.25g/litre.

£17.15

Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2017 - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Big open skies, arid deserts, the vast flowing landscape, with its unforgiving climate and rugged bush vines, this is wild country, this is Swartland. The contrast with manicured Constantia and oh-so-cool Stellenbosch couldn't be greater. But right now, Swartland is the most exciting wine region in South Africa. A new wave of winemakers are making ground-breaking wines from Rhône varietals and it is part of a revolution that has got everybody talking. The Swartland Winery is producing iconic and award winning wines in this fashionable and dynamic region, so we have joined forces with them to create a unique, distinctive and expressive wine range that has been masterfully blended for the UK palate. We think something this good, is definitely worth talking about!

The 2017 vintage was characterised by extreme drought but very little disease pressure which resulted in very healthy grapes and low yields. The wines from 2017 are complex with concentrated flavour profiles.

The Swartland name originates from a description of the indigenous renosterbos or rhino bush, which appears to turn black, ("Swart" in Afrikaans), during the summer months. This hot, dry climate has an average temperature range of 25°C to 35°C and an annual rainfall of 450 mm and 600mm, but the altitude of these vineyards creates a cool oasis in this arid landscape. Minimal intervention and environmentally friendly farming practices are paramount. The soil types vary, but Malmesbury Shale dominates, with small patches of granite and Table Mountain sandstone. The gravel substructure of the soil promotes good moisture retention, essential in this hot, dry climate. The grapes came from a single vineyard, from 100% bush vines with an age range of between 25 to 30 years.

The berries were harvested at optimal phenolic ripeness. An extended skin contact was applied and fermentation took place at 13°C. The wine underwent an extended fine lees contact, following fermentation. The wine was aged in second and third fill French oak barrels for a period of six months, prior to being filtered and bottled.

Chenin Blanc 100%.

A full flavoured and classic Chenin Blanc with rich aromas of lemon, apple and vanilla wafer over a creamy texture. Forthcoming aromas of dried fruit, peach, apricot and citrus hints follow through on to a creamy palate. A crisp, well balanced and intense wine, with dried fruit, almond and citrus flavours underpinned by beautifully integrated oak and a creamy finish.

This wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.70

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded a Gold medal and 96 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Nestled between Elim and Cape Agulhas, and just 9km from the sea, lies the secluded Strandveld Vineyards. This wind-swept winery derives its name from the belt of land which spans the tempestuous tip of Africa’s southernmost coastline. At almost 35 degrees below the equator, this part of the Cape is characterised by severe winds, billowing mist and below average temperatures. A unique combination of maritime climate and diverse soil types work together to create the terroir which distinguishes the wines of Strandveld Vineyards.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers a Strandveld.

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2019 - fiche technique

87% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Semillon.

Genuine lively fresh nettle and elderflower aromas. Very typical and expressive wine with cool climate Sauvignon notes. Wonderful balance to the fresh, powerful palate.

£11.45

Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2017 - December 2019 Decanter review

Radford Dale was founded in 1998 when Ben Radford and Alex Dale first made wines together. They believe in combining innovation with a healthy respect for tradition. In other words, the approach is old plus new, and the best of both worlds. They specialise in the mountainous viticultural sub-regions of the Helderberg area in Stellenbosch, Elgin, and the Perderberg area in the Swartland.

The makers says, "Chenin Blanc has been overlooked and underappreciated for so many years in the Cape. But you know what they say about the ugly duckling… This variety’s transformation began in the late 1990s, when a handful of like-minded producers started creating high-quality Chenin Blanc, especially on the ocean-facing vineyards of Stellenbosch. We were among those producers, and we made our Vinum Chenin almost entirely from old bush vines – a totally contradictory and unorthodox approach, but a dynamic one we believe in. Chenin is the most versatile of all grapes in the land, with an innate ability to adapt not only to its habitat, but also to all kinds of styles. No wonder it suits a mindboggling variety of cuisines and occasions. Chenin is still totally underrated, which isn’t just a travesty; it’s a wonderful opportunity. We think this variety is the greatest white grape in the Cape, and sooner or later everyone will catch on". 

For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2017 - fiche technique

The fresh vibrancy of white peach and apple aromas on the nose, hint at the wine’s sophisticated elegance and a touch of cinnamon and adds to its complexity. A generous mid palate of quince, pineapple and a weighty feel reward while the bright acidity refreshes with an interesting tang and persistant clean, mineral finish.

£12.25

Springfield Special Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage has been awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Springfield Special Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - December 2019 Decanter review

Set in the heart of the mountain-ringed Robertson Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa, Springfield Estate is a family-run wine farm owned by ninth-generation descendants of French Huguenots, who went to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms. The present generation to tend the rocky Springfield soils are brother-and-sister team Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer. The Springfield philosophy is to produce wine as naturally as possible. The winemaking process is kept direct and uncomplicated – the wine is left to make itself, as was done centuries ago. This allows for an honest expression of the estate’s terroir.

For this wine:

Harvested at night in February 2017. Settled without enzymes at -3°C for 2-3 weeks. 18 days alcoholic fermentation. 100 days lees contact. Racked only twice, under CO2. Stabilized at -3ºC for tartrates. Bentonite fining.

Originating from 35-year-old vines rooted in sandy alluvial soil in the estate’s riverine area, this cuvée is achieved by two pickings – one earlier in the harvest and another slightly later. Grown in the estate’s prime site for Sauvignon, this results in a complex wine, with a sensuous combination of passion fruit, nettles and minerality. It will mature beautifully for 2-4 years.

£15.20

Michele Chiarlo, La Court, Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, Top 40 Piedmont reds beyond Nebbiolo (see blue link below).

Michele Chiarlo, La Court, Barbera D'Asti Superiore Nizza 2015 - December 2019 Decanter review

Michele Chiarlo is one of Piedmont's truly great winemakers. The family owns 60 hectares of vineyard in three of the classic growing areas - Langhe, Monferrato and Gavi and have access to a further 50 hectares through long-term relationships with their growers. Michele has insisted on total quality since his first vintage in 1956, an ethos which his sons Stefano and Alberto adopt today. The Chiarlo style is highly elegant, they make complex wines that can age for decades but above all reflect their provenance - some of the finest vineyard sites in Piedmont.

A not-excessively-cold winter, but heavy rain and snow created an abundant water reserve. A mild spring led into a warm summer with a complete absence of rain from mid-June until 10th August, which contributed to the grapes' perfect ripeness. September saw excellent diurnal temperature differences leading to the development of vibrant aromas and excellent phenological ripening of the red grapes. 2015 is being hailed as one of the greatest vintages of the last two decades.

The grapes come from the La Court vineyard. A prestigious site originating from the 1800s, the single parcel covers three hectares. The vineyard has a southeast to south western exposures at 240 metres above sea-level and produces very low yields. The vines are Guyot trained. The soils are designated as ‘Artisane Sands’ which consist of calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin with high lime and sand content. They produce ample, intense and elegant wines with good structure and longevity. Manually harvested.

100% Barbera.

The grapes were fermented on the skins in 55 hectolitre oak barrels for 15 days at controlled temperatures of between 27° to 30°C. A gentle shower system of submerging the cap was used to extract flavour, colour and structure. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. The wine was refined for 30 months. Oak maturation lasted for 12 months: 50% in 55 hectolitre French oak barrels and 50% in Allier oak barriques, followed by a further 18 months in bottle prior to release.

A richly textured wine with nuances of coffee and chocolate together with red fruit flavours, elegant and beautifully balanced. An appealing and structured wine, which is complex and elegant with layers of black cherry, cocoa and coffee. Harmoniously balanced, it has a velvety palate and a long, silky finish. Its richness and elegance places it amongst the finest wines in Chiarlo's portfolio.

£40.10

Bruno Rocca Barbera d'Asti 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, Top 40 Piedmont reds beyond Nebbiolo (see blue link below).

Bruno Rocca Barbera D'Asti 2017 - December 2019 Decanter review

The Rocca family originates from Barbaresco. Bruno Rocca took charge of the family business when his father died in 1978, and decided that all the wine produced by the estate would from then on be sold in bottle. The family now has 15 hectares of vineyards. Stylistically, Bruno is a consummate modernist, making wines with great intensity of fruit while retaining the structure and elegance of the Langhe at its best.

The grapes for the Barbera d'Asti come from vineyards in the commune of Vaglio Serra, planted in 2000. Soils here are sandy, with reddish marl and the vines are planted at a density of 4,500 plants per hectare. The vineyard faces south/south-east and yields are approximately 40 hectolitres per hectare.

2017 was, for many reasons, a rather unusual and challenging vintage. While yields were relatively low, quality was very high. Variable weather, which saw frosts in winter and spring and then very little rain during the summer, lowered production. However, Bruno Rocca's attentive and precise work in the vineyard have allowed grapes to achieve their best expression.

Harvest was carried out by hand, and the grapes went through two selections, the first in the vineyard and the second in the winery. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 10-15 days at 28ºC. The wine was aged in French oak barriques for 12 months.

100% Barbera.

This wine has an intense, deep red colour with purple hints. On the nose, the wine has fresh, vibrant aromas of ripe plums, blackberries, sour cherries and blueberries with subtle almond and hazelnut nuances. Full-bodied, warm and savoury, this has a well-balanced acidity and an elegant finish.

ABV = 15.0%.

£22.25

Massolino Barbera d'Alba 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, Top 40 Piedmont reds beyond Nebbiolo (see blue link below).

Massolino Barbera D'Alba 2018 - December 2019 Decanter review

This 23-hectare estate has been in the Massolino family since 1896. Since 1994 the style of the wines has undergone a subtle transformation. Winemaker Franco Massolino has done a wonderful job of marrying change with a respect for tradition, something that sets him apart from most of the younger producers in Barolo today. This is in part dictated by the nature of the vineyards that the Massolino family owns in the commune of Serralunga d'Alba - the source of some of the greatest, most structured, robust and long-lived Barolo wines.

Grapes for this wine are sourced from several vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba. The vines are Guyot-trained and are approximately 10 to 45 years old. The plant density ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 vines per hectare depending on the vineyard. Yields are approximately 6.5 tonnes per hectare. Soils are mixed but predominantly limestone.

The 2018 vintage began with a long, rainy winter, which helped replenish water resources depleted in 2017. The winter season extended until the beginning of March, with temperatures much lower than in recent years. This led to a gradual, slow resumption of the vine’s vegetative stages. Development was gradual during summer, with temperatures rising considerably from mid-July onwards. This allowed the grapes to mature fully, and resulted in intense grapes with well-balanced sugar and acidity.

The wine fermented for 10-12 days in stainless steel at temperatures between 31-33°C. Malolactic fermentation followed, and the wine was left in stainless steel for a short period of maturation. The wine is usually bottled and released for sale during the spring after the harvest.

This wine is deep purple in colour. On the nose, it is elegant with intense red fruit aromas - typical of Barbera. On the palate, it is refreshing and well-balanced with supple tannins and a long, fragrant finish.

£18.45

Moet & Chandon Cuvee Dom Perignon 2008 (1x75cl)

** DO PLEASE CALL US BEFORE ORDERING AS ALLOCATIONS OF THIS VINTAGE ARE VERY TIGHT/IN SHORT SUPPLY. **

Awarded 98 points/Exceptional status (in magnum) and 95 points/Outstanding status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Moet & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon 2008 - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (see blue link below).

Moet & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon 2008 - Decanter review

Dom Pérignon is only ever produced as a vintage champagne. Each vintage is a singular and unique creation that expresses both the character of the year, and the character of Dom Pérignon. After at least eight years maturing in the cellars, the wine embodies the perfect balance of Dom Pérignon, the Plénitude of harmony.

2008 was dominated by grey, overcast skies – an exception in a decade characterized by bold, generous sunshine. Just when the harvest was getting underway, the weather conditions were finally perfect: blue skies and prolonged north-northeasterly winds. The grapes were riper than anyone dared hope, and had truly outstanding balance. The vines were in perfect health.

To the bracing acidity, concision and aromatic purity expected of the 2008 vintage, Dom Pérignon adds depth, density and complexity. The light is warmer and less harsh.

The opening bouquet is complex and luminous, a mingling of white flowers, citrus and stone fruit. The overall effect is enhanced by the freshness of aniseed and crushed mint. The final aromas offered by the wine are starting to show spicy, woody and roasted notes. After a long period of reluctance, the wine is finally opening up. There is complete balance between the nose and the palate. Its slender, minimalist, pure, toned, athletic character is now also expressed with warmth. The fruit is pronounced and clear. The vintage's characteristic acidity is remarkably well integrated. Its persistence is mainly aromatic, grey, smoky and highly promising.

£143.50

Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV magnum (1x 150cl)

Awarded 93 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 86 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Palmer & Co Blanc De Blancs NV magnum - Decanter December 2019 review

Palmer & Co. have been making noteworthy and elegant Champagne since 1947. They began as seven winegrowers, who came together with a shared vision and passion for making ultra-premium wine; now, they grow grapes over 415 ha of vineyards, of which 200ha encompass 40 crus in the Montage de Reims. The rest of their grapes are grown across the Côte de Sézanne, the Côte des Bar and the Marne Valley, this patchwork of terroirs helping Palmer to achieve wonderful balance.

Cellar Master Xavier Berdin and his team of four oenologists take ‘the art of blending’ very seriously. One of the few Champagne houses to have a Solera system, their 35-year-old Soleras add richness and complexity into the Champagnes – these reserve wines are the backbone of their non-vintage cuvées.

Time is of the essence for Palmer & Co., as their self-confessed most important ingredient. The long lees ageing gives the wines their characteristic refinement and aromatic complexity: a minimum of three years for non-vintage, while the vintage cuvées are aged for six to eight years. Not to mention the larger bottles, left in the cellars for ten years or more!

Maturing in a maze of deep, chalky galleries, the bottles rest 20 metres under the city of Reims. They love large formats at Palmer, so the lengths of the cellars are filled with anything from 1996 magnums of Blanc de Blancs, to 20-30-year-old Nebuchadnezzars and Methusalems. In fact, they lovingly call regular 75cl bottles “half magnums”.

Unanimously appreciated for their excellence, Palmer’s cuvées are regularly distinguished in major international wine competitions. Three of their Champagnes won gold at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2018: the Brut Reserve NV, Blanc de Blancs NV and Blanc de Noirs NW, the latter also taking gold at the Sommelier Wine Awards last year.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Palmer & Co (grape varieties, ageing, dosage etc).

Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV - fiche technique

An expressive style of Blanc de Blancs with an amazingly fine and harmonious palate. This is delicate with floral notes, a mineral hint and fruity aromas.

£110.00

Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 88 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV - December 2019 Decanter review

With a long and varied history dating back to its beginnings in 1785 when it was created by Florens-Louis Heidsieck, Piper-Heidsieck is one of Champagne’s most well-known yet under-estimated houses. From being a favourite of Marilyn Monroe (who claimed she liked a glass to wake up in the morning) to being the first ever bottle of Champagne to feature in a movie (the 1933 Laurel and Hardy film ‘Sons of the Desert’), it has long links to the world of cinema. In recent years, it has been the Champagne served at the Oscars. Today the house is owned by the same family as Charles Heidsieck, Rare Champagne, Biondi Santi and Chateau la Verrerie, benefitting from the quality ethos that drives the continual investment in winemaking and vineyards from the Descours family. Presided over by a roll call of Champagne’s most admired winemakers, the quality of the wines never fails to shine at international competitions – the 2018 International Wine Challenge brought in two gold and two silver medals, while the range picked up a Platinum medal and four silver medals at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards. The House’s winemakers have won Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the IWC more than any other house. Chef de Cave Émilien Boutillat is the current custodian, whose philosophy is simple: preserving the quality, elegance and generosity of style that has always characterised the Piper-Heidsieck wines.

This signature cuvée of the House is a round and vibrant non-vintage Cuvée Brut, recalling the rich variety of its blend of 100 crus from across the patchwork of Champagne vineyards. The vineyards are located in Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Aube and Vallée de la Marne.

First fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. Once completed, the wine was racked and underwent full malolactic fermentation. After blending, in which 20% reserve wines were used, the wine was bottled with selected yeasts added. The wine was kept on the lees for 3 years before disgorgement, when a dosage of 10g/l was added. The bottles were allowed to rest for 6 months before being shipped.

50% Pinot Noir, 30% Meunier, 20% Chardonnay.

This wine is pale golden in colour. On the nose, there are intense notes of almonds and fresh hazelnuts, with flavours of fresh pear and apple with a delicate hint of citrus. It is lively and light with added depth from the Pinot Noir, creating beautiful balance.

ABV = 12.0%.

£33.35

Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV magnum (1x150cl)

Awarded 92 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 88 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV - December 2019 Decanter review

With a long and varied history dating back to its beginnings in 1785 when it was created by Florens-Louis Heidsieck, Piper-Heidsieck is one of Champagne’s most well-known yet under-estimated houses. From being a favourite of Marilyn Monroe (who claimed she liked a glass to wake up in the morning) to being the first ever bottle of Champagne to feature in a movie (the 1933 Laurel and Hardy film ‘Sons of the Desert’), it has long links to the world of cinema. In recent years, it has been the Champagne served at the Oscars. Today the house is owned by the same family as Charles Heidsieck, Rare Champagne, Biondi Santi and Chateau la Verrerie, benefitting from the quality ethos that drives the continual investment in winemaking and vineyards from the Descours family. Presided over by a roll call of Champagne’s most admired winemakers, the quality of the wines never fails to shine at international competitions – the 2018 International Wine Challenge brought in two gold and two silver medals, while the range picked up a Platinum medal and four silver medals at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards. The House’s winemakers have won Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the IWC more than any other house. Chef de Cave Émilien Boutillat is the current custodian, whose philosophy is simple: preserving the quality, elegance and generosity of style that has always characterised the Piper-Heidsieck wines.

This signature cuvée of the House is a round and vibrant non-vintage Cuvée Brut, recalling the rich variety of its blend of 100 crus from across the patchwork of Champagne vineyards. The vineyards are located in Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Aube and Vallée de la Marne.

First fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. Once completed, the wine was racked and underwent full malolactic fermentation. After blending, in which 20% reserve wines were used, the wine was bottled with selected yeasts added. The wine was kept on the lees for 3 years before disgorgement, when a dosage of 10g/l was added. The bottles were allowed to rest for 6 months before being shipped.

50% Pinot Noir, 30% Meunier, 20% Chardonnay.

This wine is pale golden in colour. On the nose, there are intense notes of almonds and fresh hazelnuts, with flavours of fresh pear and apple with a delicate hint of citrus. It is lively and light with added depth from the Pinot Noir, creating beautiful balance.

ABV = 12.0%.

£73.50

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (1x150cl)

Awarded 91 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 89 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most awarded collections of wines in the world. The intricacies of the champagnes' complex make-up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne - between three winemakers they have been awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge fifteen times. This winemaking legacy, paired with the house's flamboyant history since its foundation in 1851 by the man who would become known as 'Champagne Charlie', makes it a unique offering from Champagne: a house with great, hand-crafted wines, heritage and proven quality.

Charles Heidsieck have built exceptional relationships with the most experienced growers across the Champagne region, and can draw on a rich palette of crus. Precise selection of grapes takes place from 60 specific sites. Vineyards which are integral to producing grapes which build the house style are Oger for Chardonnay for its texture, floral notes and ageing ability, Ambonnay for Pinot Noir for its power, vinosity and fruit, and Verneuil for Pinot Meunier for its acidity, body and aromatics.

After the first fermentation, the wine is racked to separate the lees and then undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity. After blending, using 40% reserve wines which have an average age of 10 years, the cuvée is bottled and selected yeast added to begin the second fermentation. The bottles are placed in the cellars at a temperature of 10°C. In order to achieve the depth and complexity required by the house style, Charles Heidsieck age their NV champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier.

Residual sugar = 11.2g/litre.

The Brut Réserve NV is a radiant pale gold colour with fine, persistent bubbles. The nose is characterised by complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky-smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. There is perfect balance of freshness and generosity.

ABV = 12.0%.

£90.60

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 89 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most awarded collections of wines in the world. The intricacies of the champagnes' complex make-up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne - between three winemakers they have been awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge fifteen times. This winemaking legacy, paired with the house's flamboyant history since its foundation in 1851 by the man who would become known as 'Champagne Charlie', makes it a unique offering from Champagne: a house with great, hand-crafted wines, heritage and proven quality.

Charles Heidsieck have built exceptional relationships with the most experienced growers across the Champagne region, and can draw on a rich palette of crus. Precise selection of grapes takes place from 60 specific sites. Vineyards which are integral to producing grapes which build the house style are Oger for Chardonnay for its texture, floral notes and ageing ability, Ambonnay for Pinot Noir for its power, vinosity and fruit, and Verneuil for Pinot Meunier for its acidity, body and aromatics.

After the first fermentation, the wine is racked to separate the lees and then undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity. After blending, using 40% reserve wines which have an average age of 10 years, the cuvée is bottled and selected yeast added to begin the second fermentation. The bottles are placed in the cellars at a temperature of 10°C. In order to achieve the depth and complexity required by the house style, Charles Heidsieck age their NV champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier.

Residual sugar = 11.2g/litre.

The Brut Réserve NV is a radiant pale gold colour with fine, persistent bubbles. The nose is characterised by complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky-smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. There is perfect balance of freshness and generosity.

ABV = 12.0%.

£41.35

Collet Brut Champagne NV magnum (1x150cl)

Awarded 90 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 87 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Collet Brut Champagne NV magnum - Decanter December 2019 review

Champagne Collet with its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine.

A complex blend created from the Champagne region. The Pinot Meunier, which comes from the villages of Festigny, Bonneil, Reuil and the Ardre Valley, contributes character, richness and tension to the wine. The crus of Chatillon sur Marne and Fleury la Rivière offer rich and luscious aromas of exotic fruits. The Chardonnay from the southern region of Epernay, Etoges and Vitry le François contributes citrus and dried flower notes, while the Pinot Noir from the crus of the Côte des Bar imparts structure and tension to the blend.

A blend of over 100 crus, this cuvée is a true voyage of the senses across the terroir of Champagne, from the Marne Valley to south of the Aisne. The composition was completed with 35% reserve wines in order to preserve the consistency of the Champagne Collet house style, year after year. This cuvée reached full maturity after a minimum of three years of bottle ageing in the historic, limestone cellarsn Ay, which are centuries old.

Pinot Meunier 50%, Chardonnay 30%, Pinot Noir 20%.

Residual sugar = 10.4 g/litre.

Aromas of white flowers, lemon zest, quince and white peach, are combined with delicate hints of spice and anise. Refreshing and complex through to a wonderful crunch of freshness on the finish. A bright golden Champagne with a fine stream of bubbles and complex aromas of white flowers, lemon zest, quince and white peach. Delicate hints of spice, anise and herbs are layered with rich notes of puff pastry. A refreshing palate with gentle bubbles, a balanced texture and a wonderful crunch of freshness on the finish.

ABV = 12.5%.

£63.95
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