Quelques Champagnes: Blanc de Noirs

During the last few months I drank a number of highly interesting Champagnes, thoughts on which I’d like to share here. First up are a few remarks, by no means professional, on blanc de noirs Champagnes, drunken over the last weeks.

Amongst the most impressive wines I’ve had in my short life was without doubt a bottle of Anselme Selosse’s Contraste. This blanc de noirs, from the finest grand cru sites of the Champagne, is a wine that is so powerful and intriguing that one can hardly forget it. From the moment the first drops land in your glass, you are surrounded by the smell of red fruits, and just want to dive in. When you taste the wine for the first time, it’s close to an earthquake. After having let it rest for a few minutes, it has lost the agressivity of the bubbles and one has the fine mousse, the incredibly powerful, vinous wine and the unbelievable finish. WOW! If the thing weren’t so bloody expensive, I’d drink it every single day. DIVINE.

Contraste- Jacques Selosse

Another very lovely wine was Bertrand Gautherot’s cuvee Fidele. Here, one had a wine that was a little less concentrated and powerful than the Contraste, but that also had a very singular, and by all means charming character. There was maybe a slightly more present acidity in this wine, which made it seem a little fresher or less mature. This is a bargain, as the wine costs around £35, and is definitely worth trying, if you have the opportunity. Excellent.

Fidele-Vouette & Sorbee

Another highly intriguing wine, one that kept me busy for a whole evening was Jerome Prevost’s La Closerie Les Beguines. This was a bizarre wine (100% Pinot Meunier). After about 15mins I smelled it for the first time, and thought I about to drink a cidre. The palate nearly confirmed that impression, although the bulles were much finer than those of (very good) cider. I had one glass and put it back in the cold for half an hour. After those 45mins, the wine changed it’s character completely: The sweet woody character of the oak (Prevost uses Coche-Dury’s barrels it seems) became apparent on the nose, and the wine suddenly began to taste a bit more like a wine, lost some of that cider-character. I can’t really describe the taste, but I started to like it more and more as the evening progressed. About 2 hours after I had opened the bottle, it seemed at it’s best, and at the end of it, I was able to safely say, that a wine had never ever puzzled me more than this. A unique wine, that won’t please everyone, but can be fantastic if you’re open-minded.

La Closerie, Les Beguines- Jerome Prevost

Another great wine was the R.H. Coutier 2002 Grand Cru Ambonnay. I drank this at the Sportsman, and fell in love with it straight away. With lots of depth, and highly concentrated, this wine was absolutely lovely. I don’t know much about the grower, and can’t find much about him, not even his address, but I certainly hope to find some more of his bottles. They’re very well made, easy-drinking powerful wines that are very reasonably priced (I paid £40 for the bottle). Excellent.

Coutier 2002

The last of the bunch will be Benoit Lahaye’s Brut Nature. Now this has 10% Chardonnay in it, but I can let it pass in this post. Without dosage, the wine remains very fresh, very vivid (the bottle was disgorged in June ’09) and had a quite youthful acidity. However, the 45% reserve wines give this wine a sufficiently complex and powerful backbone, which makes it another great easy-drinking Champagne. What is great here is the power of the Pinot gets a little freshened up with the addition of the Chardonnay. This gives it a unique, but great note. Very good.

Brut Nature- Benoit Lahaye


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