Super Cuvées from Larmandier-Bernier and Egly-Ouriet come into Australia in tiny quantities. We’ve secured a few bottles. First in best dressed!
In 1998, I was mucking around with some barrels in the winery at Yering Station and Tom came down to ask a question. “Want to do vintage in Champagne?” Easy question to answer. The next week I landed in Paris, jumped in a hire car and headed for Champagne. You can read about the full experience here. To sum up, at the bottom end of the spectrum, fruit is sourced from over-cropped vineyards, made to a recipe, and, churned out as fast as technically possible. We’re talking battery acid with a little alcohol in it, and, always more sugar than you’d need if you had fruit of quality giving you flavour.
The top end of the spectrum is often perceived (due to a lot of marketing) to be the Super Cuvées like Dom Perignon and Krug. Don’t get me wrong these are great wines. The thing is when you get the chance and taste the top wines from Grower Champagne houses like Larmandier-Bernier & Egly-Ouriet you find yourself taking things to an all new level. Their vineyards are immaculate, the fruit comes in with so much intensity you could happily drink the finished wines after they’ve gone flat.
I don’t know who coined the term “Grower Champagne”, when you see it, make sure you take a second look before you move on. Champagne producers are split into three groups:
- Houses that make over-cropped boring fizz, battery acid with bubbles and a bit of alcohol.
- Bigger houses that are pushing hard to make yummy wine, own some of their vineyards, buy a lot of grapes and have some exceptional super cuvées (top wines – think Dom Pérignon).
- Grower producers that grow 100% of their grapes themselves and make wines that have bags of personality.
Larmandier-Bernier & Egly-Ouriet sit comfortably in the Grower group. Doing all the little 1 percenters in the vineyard and winery that make the difference between a drink and a pleasure fest!
Visit the vineyards and you’ll see horse drawn ploughs and during the pruning and harvesting seasons the same faces year after year. That kind of continuity just makes for deep knowledge and empathy for the vineyards that = great wine.
In the winery the detail is insane. Use of old oak barrels and foudré, large format barrels reaching into the 1000’s of litres each. Lees stiring, re-suspending yeast from fermentation that have settled to the bottom of the barrel to add extra creaminess and complexity. Use of carefully crafted reserve wines in the blends. Reserve wines are older wines that are a blend of several different years, often stored in foudré. Their use imparts complexity and a generosity that you wouldn’t see in the wine until it had been aged for much longer in bottle were it not for their use.
Maturing the base wines before tirage, second fermentation in bottle, again contributing to complexity, harmony, and, helping tame the incredible intensity of fruit these growers generate in the vineyard.
All of these things only have a positive impact when the fruit is of quality, has the depth to handle oxygen contact and be improved by it rather than fall apart.
Combined the effort in the vineyard and winery result in layered, complex, yummy wine, with bags of personality.
We have on offer three of their standard wines, which are by no means standard, and, three of their Super Cuvées. These represent the Top 6 wines from a combined tasting of 14 of the Champagnes from these producers. Of which all I would happily devour, I’ve just been extra picky and selected the cream for you!
What struck me about all of these wines was their purity, vibrancy, power, that had been harnessed by all the hard work in the winery. The intrigue and high notes in these wines is something you rarely see. The all have exceptional length, depth and balance. They’re subtle, precise and delicious!
*We only have a very small number of bottles of the Super Cuvées. 1st come 1st served. All wines are available for immediate delivery