Seven Champagnes and four value-driven sparklers

"... seven terrific Champagnes are recommended here, along with three very good Crémants de Bourgogne, and a Cap Classique from the Western Cape ..."

available in Ontario from December 9, 2017

This final release of sparkling wines by Vintages in 2017 focuses on terrific Champagnes, seven of which I’ve recommended here, along with three very good Crémants de Bourgogne, and a Cap Classique from the Western Cape. Along with the eighteen sparkling wines recommended in November, there is a very fine selection available now in Ontario stores.

My two top recommendations, as always not adjusted for price, are vintage Champagnes that I’ve rated at 94 points, equalling the top score that I’ve awarded any wine in 2017. These wines are the 2008 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne and the 2002 Louis Brochet HBH 1Er Cru Champagne AC. The latter, at $69.95, is a very fine value, certainly within the framework of Champagne prices. The remaining five Champagnes include the “R” De Ruinart Brut Champagne, the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne, the Lallier Grand Cru Brut Rosé Champagne, the 2008 Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne, and the Gardet Cuvée Chigny-les-Roses Tradition Brut Champagne.

The remaining four traditional method sparkling wines are not only very good in their own right, but they are all fine values too, ranging from $19.95 to $24.95. The three Crémants de Bourgogne are the Labouré-Gontard Brut, the Bailly-Lapierre Chardonnay Brut, and the Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Rosé. The South African traditional method Cap Classique is L’Ormarins Brut Classique from the Western Cape.

10544

MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC 2008

Vintages #69773 • $92.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 94/100
This 2008 vintage wine is showing so beautifully, with just a touch of bottle age that comes across as an extra (though subtle) resinous and nutty edge, complementing the toast and brioche notes, with very little oxidative effect on the fruit. The wine is dry, with vivid acidity that keeps the palate surprisingly fresh and full of verve. There is a core of lemon and green apple fruit — although the wine isn't "fruity" — with a savoury-herbal edge and a pleasant toasty undertone. Refined, elegant, driven by life-affirming acidity ... crisp, stony and saline. Lovely!
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10543

LOUIS BROCHET HBH 1ER CRU CHAMPAGNE AC 2002

Vintages #385815 • $69.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 94/100
This is an enchanting wine from récoltant-manipulant Louis Brochet that is showing some interesting bottle age. Start with the colour that shows subtle gold highlights, to the rich aromas of toast, honey and sponge toffee, leading into subtle fruit that takes on the character of tarte Tatin. But here the expectations change, as the palate jumps with still-vivacious acidity, that hides any residual sugar save for a moderate honeyed depth, and keeps the palate quite fresh, with toast, lively fruit and a lengthy, stony finish. This is a real treat: an aged, vintage Growers Champagne at a very fair price.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • B. COJOCARU AGENCIES INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10546

"R" DE RUINART BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC

Vintages #189878 • $86.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 93/100
This is a focused, non-vintage Champagne. A lightly toasty frame that has a tinge of dry resin surrounds bright, fresh lemon and green apple fruit. The wine is fairly dry, with firm acidity. The fruit on the palate is tart and fresh, although a subtle richness and breadth emerges, reflecting the brioche sweetness, before narrowing into the lingering toasty, citrus and wet stone finish. Complex and elegant.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10539

BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE AC

Vintages #724559 • $109.9 • 750ml. • WD Score 92/100
This is a compelling rosé. It is firm and quite dry, driven by vivid acidity that mops up the residual sugar. A core of raspberry and strawberry fruit has a red apple breadth and a lemony undertone, all with a toasty edge. The finish is astringent and drying, with a stony, salty essence. The price is steep, but I like this very much — it's a rosé Champagne for aficionados!
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10541

LALLIER GRAND CRU BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE AC

Vintages #385179 • $56.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
Pale salmon in colour, the nose suggests apple blossoms and a mix of strawberries and raspberries, with an oxidative note that bruises the red apple fruit, and a light undertone of brioche and blanched almonds. The wine is dryish, with firm, drying acidity that suggests a stony-mineral underpinning. Fruit is focused on the palate, with the bruised quality almost subsumed by the juicy acidity that firms and freshens. The finish is tart, stony and lingering. Very good quality, and a good value — relative to Champagne — as well.
Tasted Nov 21, 2017 • EPIC WINES AND SPIRITS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10545

NICOLAS FEUILLATTE BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC 2008

Vintages #240085 • $56.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This is a richer, more generous Champagne. Note the bruised apple and lemon fruit on the nose, backed by subtle toast, brioche and white chocolate, while on the palate an edge of resin and a lightly roasted almond note add complexity to the bruised apple essence. The wine is dryish, with bright acidity that shapes the palate, and lingers on the citrusy, stony finish. Classic Champagne character.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • LIFFORD WINE & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10540

GARDET CUVÉE CHIGNY-LES-ROSES TRADITION BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC

Vintages #924654 • $42.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
Gardet continues to provide one of the excellent values for Champagne in Ontario. This is a simple and direct Champagne, presenting aromas of toast, dried herbs, lemon and green apple. Add a firm stony minerality and a subtle generosity on the palate, with enough acidity to dry the modicum of residual sugar, and you have a rather elegant and attractive wine. A nice balance between price and complexity.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • VINEXX (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10537

LABOURÉ-GONTARD BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE , Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France

Vintages #401018 • $20.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is very lovely: light toasty notes are complemented by a hint of sponge toffee, around a core of lemony-apple fruit. The wine is dryish, with bright acids that firm the residual sugar, and develop into a stony edge on the finish. The citrus-apple fruit on the palate is softened by a slight honeyed richness, adding layers of complexity. Totally a best buy.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • H.H.D. IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10536

BAILLY-LAPIERRE CHARDONNAY BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE AC

Vintages #369066 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a direct and focused Crémant de Bourgogne: citrusy apple fruit on the nose, with nuances of toast and brioche underneath. It is dry, with juicy acidity, a pleasant, creamy texture, and the drying acidity narrowing into the stony finish. Approachable, attractive and quaffable — but with enough complexity to satisfy.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • VINEXX (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10538

VEUVE AMBAL GRANDE CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE AC

Vintages #439257 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay is mid-depth salmon-pink. Pretty notes of roses and apple blossoms overlay aromas of strawberries, red apples and lemons. The wine is off-dry, with a creamy mousse, and lively acidity that dries the finish. Pleasantly fruit-forward, tart and firm.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • SYLVESTRE WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



10550

L'ORMARINS BRUT CLASSIQUE , Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa

Vintages #493411 • $23.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is a bright traditional method sparkler from the Western Cape. The nose has an understated stony-mineral breadth, with lemon and green apple fruit and hints of yeast and toast. The palate is focused and linear, quite dry with crisp acidity. The lemony-apple fruit sits on a bed of wet stones, and narrows into the lengthy, mineral-tinged finish. Very clean and classy.
Tasted Nov 21, 2017 • JOHN HANNA & SONS LIMITED (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



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