The past few weeks have seen a flurry of vintage champagne releases, with a particular emphasis on wines from 2006, a year characterised by erratic weather that lurched from a heatwave in July to a cold and rainy August, before concluding in a bright, sunny September, which ultimately saved the crop. “The one thing with this vintage is all the champagnes have very pure fruit,” says Nick Baker, managing director of prestige champagne merchants The Finest Bubble, “and it’s looking like one of the best vintages since 2002.” Good news, in other words, if you are a fan of excellent fizz. Here are five new vintages from 2006 worth making a beeline for.
Dom Pérignon 2006Sweet and supple at first, with aromas of white flowers and apricot, before developing more complex notes of toasty oak and dried, spiced pear. Creamy, yet light on the palate, with a very long finish that alternates fudge-y sweetness with a touch of salinity. Charming now, but with a few more years this could well be as ravishing and sensual as the 2002.
£110 from www.thefinestbubble.com.
Billecart-Salmon 2006Extra brut in style, with lots of aromatic character thanks to a high proportion of Pinot Noir – buttery biscuit and a whiff of tangy cigar leaf on the nose. On the palate, more indulgent notes of toasted marshmallow and honey are lifted by grapefruit zestiness and a delicate, even sparkle. Rich and structured, but still light on its feet, this would be an excellent partner with food.
£60 from www.champagnedirect.co.uk.
Gosset Grand Millésime 2006This vivacious vintage from Champagne’s oldest producer is a wine in two parts, opening with tangy Bramley apple and citrus before mellowing into more mature notes of honeyed greengage and nutty, almost creamy, toasted oats. Lots of fresh, fruity acidity at the start and a crisp, dry finish make this a mouthwatering aperitif.
About £65 from www.bbr.com.
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006The latest Grande Dame marries “freshness and voluptuousness”, says chef de cave Dominique Demarville. Time yields nougat, brioche, ginger and preserved lemon on the nose, while a fleshy palate is cut through with chalky minerality.
£120 from www.jeroboams.co.uk.
Pol Roger Brut 2006This 60 per cent Pinot Noir and 40 per cent Chardonnay champagne has plenty of the fruity intensity that characterises so many of the 2006 vintages. Fresh pink grapefruit and almond on the nose, and a vibrant apple-y palate, which then softens to more buttery meringue. The finish is aromatic and long, as you’d hope from a Pol Roger.
£51 from www.thefinestbubble.com.