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Our “Champagne of the Month” for May 2018 was created by Emmanuel Lassaigne from the village of Montgueux, located a short distance to the West of the medieval city of Troyes. Montgueux is a stand-alone site, a chalky mound which has become known as the Montrachet of Champagne due to its ability to produce extremely fine Chardonnay, particularly in the careful hands and creative mind of Emmanuel Lassaigne. Unlike the Kimmeridgien soils in the vineyards of much of the South of Champagne, Montgueux has more in common with the calcerous soils of the Côte des Blancs.
Presiding over the 4.7 hectare estate of Champagne Jacques Lassaigne, work in the vineyard is fastidiously carried out by hand and without the use of any pesticides. Indeed traditional methods of production continue in the winery where an old horizontal press from 1957 is still used to carefully press the grapes. Just a little sulphur is added to the pressed juice to protect the wine from oxidation and not added again later. Indigenous yeasts are cultured to allow a natural fermentation process which generally takes place in small, old, Burgundy barrels. Malolactic fermentation is allowed and disgorgement is carried out by hand, without ice in the method known as à la volée. Dosages are either negligible or non-existent.
Our “Champagne of the Month” is Le Flacon de l’Incertitude Act V – Scène I, or to translate: the bottle of uncertainty: which can in some way describe the maverick yet brilliant style of Emmanuel who is often willing to experiment in the search for excellence.
This cuvée is an orange wine created from 100% Chardonnay and is the first such style of champagne we have tasted. An orange wine is created by leaving the pressed white grape skins macerating in the juice, much the same as in red wine making. This helps extract a little tannin from the skins whilst adding texture to the wine. It was crafted from the 2014 vintage, with the Chardonnay skins spending 10 days in contact with the juice. Fermentation was carried out in old Burgundy fûts for 8 months followed by 2 years on the lees. Disgorgement took place in June 2017 with zero dosage.
Tasted on 20th April 2018
Appearance: Deep gold with a delicate mousse.
Characteristics: Pronounced intensity with initial aromas reminiscent of late autumnal apple orchards when overripe apples begin to fall from branches developing sweet decaying notes. Once the wine opens up – ideally decanting would be advised, it develops deep citrus aromas of marmalade, orange pith, Seville orange, bramley apple peel, apple compote, star anise, roasted pineapple, golden sultanas and lychee. There is an earthiness and chalky salinity with almost flint-like quality. Secondary notes of vanilla, pastry, apple chausson, burnt butter, toasted brioche, smoky and charred wood. There are tertiary aromas of clover honey, caramel, almond, hazelnut, and toffee apple. The wine has good structure and texture from the Chardonnay maceration and is very dry with grippy, fine tannins and a long finish. It drinks amazingly now and we would be eager to see how this develops with further ageing.
This is a unique champagne, so different to anything we have tasted before, truly memorable and utterly delicious. We thank Emmanuel for his giant leap into the realms of uncertainty!
Price circa €70.00