Ulysse Collin Les Maillons Blanc de Noirs is 60% 2016 vintage with the balance 2015. Collin Les Maillons ages in 3 to 6-year-old barrels (including some foudres) for the first seven months of its life. This release of Collin Les Maillons was disgorged in March 2020 with 2.4 grams dosage. Ulysse Collin Les Maillons is a gloriously perfumed, red-fruited wine with wonderful purity and mineral energy. This release of Collin Les Maillons will look better with another 6-12 months in bottle, and potentially 5-10 years if you can be patient.
Collin Les Maillons is quite a complex wine and I would pair it with something tasty but simple. I had a scampri risotto at Geppetto Trattoria and that would have been a heavenly match for Collin Les Maillons.
Collin Les Maillons is a 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs from a site called Les Maillons in Barbonne-Fayel, near the town of Sézanne (in the Cote de Sézannais). It’s a 2.5-hectare parcel that was originally planted with massale vines in 1971 on a slope of heavy, iron-rich clay. This is a superb Pinot terroir that perfectly ripens grapes and provides beautiful wine.
Olivier Collin is one of a group of young growers who worked with and revered Anselme Selosse. Four years later Collin took control of his family’s 8 hectares of vines and the making of the wine.
Collin’s vineyards run allow organic/biodynamic principles. Ploughing, cover crops, no herbicides or pesticides. Yields are kept lower than normal in Champagne and strict sorting occurs at harvest.
In the Congy cellar, the grapes are pressed in a traditional 1950s Coquard press. Nothing is added to the wines and there is no fining or filtration. Each pressing ages separately in old barrels, generally large format is used.
Ulysse Collin Les Maillons Extra Brut Cote de Sezannais Blanc de Noirs NV 2015/2016 Base Wine Review
“The NV Extra-Brut Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons (2016 base) is effusive in its aromatics and also wonderfully deep, while also remaining light on its feet. This is an eccentric, heady style that really emphasizes the breadth of Pinot in its perfumed, fruit and structural feel. I would give the Maillons a bit more time in bottle to fully come together. Bright saline notes cut through a core of sweet red cherry, kirsch, dried flowers and spice. I loved it.”
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 aging on lees (the dead yeast cells). 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 – Salon. 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.
These wines are based on one vintage but will contain ‘Reserve Wine’. Reserve wine old stocks that they keep specifically to blend into the Non-Vintage wine. The purpose is to have a consistent and reliable drink every time someone buys their NV. NV Champagne must spend 12 months on lees at a minimum and 15 months in the bottle before releases. Most quality houses age their Champagne for much longer than that to achieve the desired level of Autolysis.
The NV style came to be as a way to use the grapes that weren’t perfectly ripe. Champagne was so marginal of climate that it was unlikely they would get a drinkable wine every. Holding on to that wine and blending it across multiple vintages allowed them to use the grapes and make an agreeable style.
This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one-trick pony; it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too. Adding body, perfume and richness to Champagne it also adds red berry and floral/rose petal notes along with spice and subtle layers.
The land that some many New World (not European) wine producers look to emulate. To generalise about French wine, I would say it is savoury, lighter-bodied wines. They are the definition of elegant, complex. There are many styles, though. And there is a French wine for every palate. They lead the world in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy. Sparkling Wine in Champagne. Cabernet and Merlot in Bordeaux. Syrah(Shiraz) and Grenache in the Rhone Valley. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris in Alsace. Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. Gamay in Beaujolais.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fizz, bubby, bubbles. It is a wine with bubbles in it. There are many ways to put the bubbles in, and many styles and flavours you can find. Important to know that you should never buy cheap Sparkling. Champagne is still the quality leader of the world. But great Sparkling can be found in Moscato (sweet), Prosecco, Franciacorta (Italy), Cava (Spain), Australia, New Zealand, Loire Valley and Burgundy Cremant (France).
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.