Alfred Gratien, ”Brut Classique”, Épernay Non Vintage

Alfred Gratien Brut NV

50% Pinot Meunier; 35% Chardonnay; 15% Pinot Noir.  No malolactic fermentation.

Pale straw yellow.  Meaty, expressive nose with a touch of oak: slightly herbal black and green fruit, hibiscus, caraway, candied ginger, almond-buttered biscuit.   Lush and a bit smoky on the palate, medium full: black currant, dark-skinned plum, Bosc pear, Braeburn apple, Meyer lemon.  Lingering bead.  Persistent mousse.  Soft acidity.  Some youthful bitterness, toast and mineral on the finish.

Broad-shoulders here.  More guts than grace but not without finesse.  Very good.  And it is a NV that would benefit from a couple years stretching out in the cellar.  We were impressed by his vintage champagnes (his “Brut Millésimé”) from ’85, ’88, ’89 and ’90 we had last year – a true vin de garde.  Certainly a house worth exploring if your preferred style includes the oxygenation you get from barrique fermentation.  Now – 2017.

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