2008 Champagne: A Few Early Thoughts…

pressoir_nbA number of 2008 Champagnes have been dripping on to the market of late and we have been tasting as many of them as we can.  Talk of a potentially excellent vintage started as the grapes came in almost six years ago now: a tricky vintage with the ace card of an almost perfect ending (mid-September to the harvest gave unbroken sunshine, and the idyllic warm and sunny days were followed by cool nights: this is perfect for physiological ripening whilst at the same time preserving acidity).

None of the “big” houses have as yet released a vintage, though the “smaller” Champagnes that we have tasted show great promise.  At this stage the vintage looks like a classic, elegant and pure one, with wines that will reward considerable time in the cellar.  More of a 1996 than a 2002?

The most recent office tasting winner was 2008 Varnier Fanniere Grand Brut.

Denis Varnier is an independent vigneron working in Avize.  He has just four hectares of Chardonnay in the Cote des Blancs.  Having read Antionio Galloni’s comments “Denis Varnier makes some of the most unique, compelling Chardonnay-based Champagnes readers are likely to come across” we had to find out for ourselves just how good his wines were and, needless to say, we weren’t disappointed.

“Sparkling Coche” is a bit facile, and a bit “salesy”, but it’s not far off.  The 2008 is all about minerality and precision.  And maybe a little seduction to boot.  Tightly wound, arrow-straight: this is a Champagne for those that like their bubbles with ballerina lift, and is very much my style.

This is intensely toasty on the nose with marked biscuity notes alongside ripe stone fruit .  Rich and concentrated on the palate; densely structured with excellent length and pin-sharp focus.  Tightly-wound – this will benefit from some time in the cellar.

Joss Fowler
Director of Fine Wine