Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvée St. Anne
Wine AdvocateThe latest installment of one of my favorite "intro-level" Champagnes, the Chartogne-Taillet NV Brut Cuvee Ste.-Anne Disg. 6/2013 pushes the qualitative element even beyond what I recall under this label from two or three years ago, and must be counted (relative to its appellation) as a sensational value. A haunting nose of ocean spray with clam and oyster liquor anticipates the mouthwateringly saline, mysteriously meaty and seaweed-tinged aspects of a polished palate that's also informed by luscious, pit-tinged white peach, fresh lemon and almond. (And were it not for that last trio, here would surely be one of those wondrous instances where you find yourself asking how a wine's flavors can possibly come from grapes!) Ultra-juicy and palate- as well as saliva gland-massaging, the finish here left me licking my lips in anticipation of the next sip. What's more, this cuvee is among the most versatile at table of any in Champagne. Feel free to follow the current disgorgement for 2-3 years. The blend, by the way, is 60-40 Chardonnay-Pinot and features vintage 2010 with 40% from 2009 and 2008. Under the direction of still-young Alexandre Chartogne, the wines of Chartogne-Taillet - long praised, yet in my view still under-rated - seem to be going from strength to strength, fueled by exemplary experimentalism and attention to detail, not to mention passion. Among the more conspicuous recent innovations at this cellar in out-of-the way Merfy (on the Massif de Saint-Thierry immediately northwest of Reims) is the use of concrete eggs for fermentation and aging, a shape and material designed to enhance lees contact via Brownian motion. The emergence here of single-cepage single-vineyard bottlings, reflects a trend among intrepid young Champagne vintners. And the aforementioned experimentalism naturally encompasses serious dosage trials, with results that consistently hit the "sweet spots" of expression (even if these are not literally in the least sweet).
Wine SpectatorThis is quite firm and focused, offering a lively bead and flavors of lemon zest, fresh quince, anise and poached pear. Hints of vanilla and pastry linger on the chalky finish. Disgorged April 2012. Drink now through 2015. 1,050 cases imported.
Wine EnthusiastDark, rich and sensuous, this is a ripe Champagne, boasting pear and apricot flavors. Although the aftertaste appears dry, the richness gives it a very sumptuous mouthfeel, leaving a long, full aftertaste.