Tasted 8th July 2020
It is in the nature of the culture of the wine business that you make many friends; it is easy to bond over a good bottle, and most industry people are more interested in making and selling something that’s enjoyable than picking fights. This wine is made by a friend, so if you think this is a shameless conflict of interest then you may choose not to read on.
Champagne Marc Chauvet is a vigneron making – to my mind – extremely good value for money champagnes. They are based in the same village that we used to live in in the region, and while I like to drink a wide range of different champagnes this became – and remains – effectively our ‘house champagne’.
The domaine is run by a brother and sister. In traditional culture men have generally ‘made things’ (thus been winemakers) and women have ‘tended’ things (so more likely to focus on vines) but this producer neatly upends that assumption. Clotilde makes the wines and Nicolas looks after the vineyard. Clotilde also spent time in New Zealand in the 1990s, working with Rudi Bauer at Quartz Reef in Central Otago (where she helped to teach him how to make what is now one of that country’s best sparkling wines).
They make a complete range of wines – but this one is particularly interesting as it’s a blanc de blancs, so 100% chardonnay from a village better known for its pinot noir. As well as this, it is oak aged – also unusual in champagne where the danger is that the oak will overwhelm the normal elegance and delicacy of the wine.
The oak is really nicely handled on this, however (and less evident than it used to be). The style is mealy and biscuity than overtly spicy or cedar, but with a lovely undercurrent of white flowers as well. Overall, a very integrated wine. Neatly structured, and the chardonnay gives a backbone which balances the intensity of the fruit. 2012 was a good vintage and this is well defined in the wine. The packaging is also great, and most unlike the traditionally conservative approach of the region.