NV Gatinois, Brut Tradition, Grand Cru, Aÿ, Champagne, France
£35.15, reduced to £31.25 each for a case of 12 bottles, Haynes Hanson & Clark, 020-7584 7927, hhandc.co.uk
I can remember sitting next to the venerable Madame Gatinois at a Bollinger Vins Clairs Assemblage lunch many, many years ago. This prestigious, annual event is held to thank those grape growers who contribute to Bollinger’s own harvest and it forms the basis for blending the wines that will appear on the market in years to come. Gatinois is based in the great village of Aÿ, just down the road from Bolly, and it owns 7.5 hectares of epic pinot noir vines, most of which they sell to Bollinger. Madame Gatinois was seated to the right of Ghislain de Montgolfier, the Bollinger boss at the time, so she was clearly the most important person in the room, underlining the calibre of her fruit.
Gatinois keeps a small proportion of its grapes to release under its own label and, today, tiny quantities of wine are made by Louis Cheval-Gatinois. The blend is, not surprisingly, made from 90% pinot noir, with the balance being chardonnay. It is a “white” Champagne, but cannot fail to pick up some pigment from its regal pinot noir skins, and it wears a curiously fascinating amber/gold hue. The nose and flavour are about as impressive as it gets and the wine is extraordinarily underpriced. This is a stellar Champagne and it is made from perfect ingredients. I love it more than a great many of the most revered wines from the famous Grandes Marques houses.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)