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Tim Hall

Commentating on and importing small domaine champagne.

http://www.scalawine.com/

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Those bottles at L’Assiette Champenoise just kept coming. Up there with professionally justified sybaritic Sunday’s.

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Glad of an opportunity to fill a jigsaw piece of Enchanteleurs. I can’t find a record of having tasted this version before. Muted nose, with a whiff of mildly sherried toffee oxidation. Not great start! Light and playful texture, delicate weight, revealing its high Chardonnay. Grapefruit and butterscotch evident but altogether lacking vibrancy and a little too soft. I wonde about all jottings of this before Laurent Fresnet arrived in 2006. Maybe it stayed on lees too long. There is pleasure here but all a little tired.

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One of north London’s stranger sites. Where am I?

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What can be better than sitting in the garden sunshine of L’Assiette Champenoise tasting champagnes from magnum?

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Au Bon Manger, Reims

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Making very tasty and gently persistent, refreshing champagnes.

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Antoine Malassagne of Champagne AR Lenoble, explaining the concept of ageing reserve wines in magnum, slightly refermented, for freshening Carbonic gas, and kept bright by the slow ageing magnums, in contact with ageing lees, sealed with a cork and staple for fractional complexing oxidative effects. Champagne needs to explain its reserve ones and their use far more than it does. It is critical to Champagne‘s claim to offer a far more complex flavour and precision then other sparkling wines. It’s not too difficult to explain, so why is Champagne largely silent on the issue? Maybe they think pictures of ladies in smart frocks smashes it?

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Philipponnat’s latest Goisses (2009) is beautifully proportioned with all the weight of Pinot delivered with maximum Chardonnay finesse. Sublime balance. But as yet really young with a ferny, almost green streak that needs some years to unfold. Drinkable with nibbles but best squirrelled away while you think about the future!

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Scala Wine annual single estate champagne tasting, Friday 9 November, 67 Pall Mall, London. 12 elite producers on show Must register for entry. Info@scalawine.com. Trade 2-6pm. Private clients 5.30-10. No Pissecco drinkers please.

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Proud Midsummer House Restaurant, Cambridge (2 Michelin *s) have chosen to offer Champagne Vazart-Coquart Extra Brut Grand Cru by the glass. Exclusively imported to UK by Scala Wine.

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Champagne @arlenoble : an astounding 2008, today served with perfectly matched Japanese and Chinese food @meiumelondon, 10 Trinity Square. Entrancing mandarin peel and violet nose, really perfumed, and a suave élan all through. This is top vintage champagne. A great Interpretation of a great vintage. The presentation also featured the precision given to final non-vintage wines by blending in a fraction of reserves aged in lightly refermented magnums sealed with a cork and staple. All adding complexity, creaminess and a dash of cool fresh precision to the final wine. Do check out the ‘Mag14’ concept! #antoinemalassagne #annemalassagne. #bosiechampagne

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Peter Crawford begins his remarkable tasting of 1988 de luxe cuvèe champagnes some days ago at Elystan Street resto in London. See my upcoming report in The World of Fine Wine. #champagne1988

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I have managed to taste this wonderful Blanc de Blanc champagne twice this week and it confirms what I have always thought about it, a real density, vanilla cream and warm hay, graceful balance and long. Overall great depth and complexity. A wonderful grand cru from Chouilly

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So sad to hear of the death of a great wine writer and analyst, Nicholas Faith. In all his work, as an economics and business writer, apart from about wine, he was always so trenchant, so brilliant at setting the scene and context for big events. His book on champagne and Champagne first published in 1988, is still about the best work on champagne history for all the fact that even its reissue cannot capture the most recent developments. He began to be absent from London trade tastings but I saw him often in North London where he could shop Waitrose in his 80s with as much alacrity as any young denizen of Islington. RIP NIcholas.

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