Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee St. Anne Brut
#87 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2017
This is becoming very fine, and watch out; it's entirely different from its old apples-and-butter form, more oystery and chalky and ginger and talc, with the apple-butter thing skulking in the mid-palate. It's racy, on the tensile side. I'd be a lot happier with three more grams of rs, but you won't agree if you prefer a vigorously dry Champagne.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The NV Brut Cuvée Ste.-Anne is one of the best Champagnes readers will find in its price range, or any price range, for that matter. Bright and beautifully focused, the Ste.-Anne has so much to offer. The purity of the flavors is just remarkable. If anything, it needs more time on the cork to soften, as it is quite reticent at this stage. This release is based on 2017, with reserve wines from 2016 and 2015. The blend is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier, with the Chardonnay very much in evidence at this stage. Dosage is 5.15 grams/liter. Disgorged: February, 2020. Drinking window: 2020 - 2026
With Chartogne-Taillet one appreciates the significance of terroir. Theirs is an example of just how wonderful wines can be simply because of how talented and conscientious they are. These are racy, spicy Champagnes at the low end; sumptuous, brioche-y Champagnes at the top. For some reason, a consistent standout in blind tastings! The basic wine is keen and racy, and the upper-end wines are virtually luscious, they are so brioche-y and creamy. Lovers of old-style Champagnes are encouraged to look closely at these. More recent cuvees have shown a silken complexity that’s consistent enough to infer the design of a knowing hand.
Associated with luxury, celebration, and romance, the region, Champagne, is home to the world’s most prized sparkling wine. In order to bear the label, ‘Champagne’, a sparkling wine must originate from this northeastern region of France—called Champagne—and adhere to strict quality standards. Made up of the three towns Reims, Épernay, and Aÿ, it was here that the traditional method of sparkling wine production was both invented and perfected, birthing a winemaking technique as well as a flavor profile that is now emulated worldwide.
Well-drained, limestone and chalky soil defines much of the region, which lend a mineral component to its wines. Champagne’s cold, continental climate promotes ample acidity in its grapes but weather differences from year to year can create significant variation between vintages. While vintage Champagnes are produced in exceptional years, non-vintage cuvées are produced annually from a blend of several years in order to produce Champagnes that maintain a consistent house style.
With nearly negligible exceptions, . These can be blended together or bottled as individual varietal Champagnes, depending on the final style of wine desired. Chardonnay, the only white variety, contributes freshness, elegance, lively acidity and notes of citrus, orchard fruit and white flowers. Pinot Noir and its relative Pinot Meunier, provide the backbone to many blends, adding structure, body and supple red fruit flavors. Wines with a large proportion of Pinot Meunier will be ready to drink earlier, while Pinot Noir contributes to longevity. Whether it is white or rosé, most Champagne is made from a blend of red and white grapes—and uniquely, rosé is often produce by blending together red and white wine. A Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay will be labeled as ‘blanc de blancs,’ while ones comprised of only red grapes are called ‘blanc de noirs.’
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.