Larmandier Bernier is probably the best and most consistent of the Growers that is readily available in Australia. The estate is 15 hectares, predominantly in Vertus, at the southern tip of the Côte des Blancs, yet there are also holdings in Cramant, Chouilly, Oger and Avize. The vineyards are biodynamically worked and the average age of the vines is 35 years.
100% Côte des Blancs Chardonnay. The fruit for this wine is predominantly grown, as it always has been, in vineyards on the southern side of Vertus. These are vineyards on roughly the same latitude. Fermentation takes place in a mixture of casks, wooden vats and stainless-steel tanks. The wines are left on their natural lees for nearly a year and are not fined or filtered. The second fermentation and the maturation ‘sur lattes’ take place over a period of more than 2 years. Each bottle is disgorged manually 6 months before being released. The dosage is a very low 4 grams per litre.
As to be expected with Blanc de Blancs Champagne this is elegant, clean and precise. Due to the work in the vineyard the Chardonnay flavours come through and there is some lovely texture and generosity in the mouth.
A wine region of France approximately 160km East of Paris. It is also the name of the wines produced from the area. Most famously it is a sparkling wine that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle and is aged on lees. Although there is the occasional still wine you can find around particularly Pinot Noir. The fantastically named Bouzy Rouge is one such example. There are very few single vintage, single vineyard, single variety Champagnes (I can only name one and it was produced only 47 times between 1900 and 1999). Why? Due to the large area the region covers, and the challenging weather the houses blended wines to produce a consistent and reliable product every year. This is where the growers come in. They relish the chance to show off vintage variation and small plot wines.
The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation.