A.R. Lenoble: Chardonnay, Specialized
It’s no secret that we love the quality and value that small production, grower Champagnes offer. These are wines made directly by the farmers who own and tend small parcels of vineyards in the region. There are no international offices to staff or marketing campaigns to put together . . . which means that all you are paying for is what it costs to make great wine and put it in a bottle (and get it to California!).
And today we have a truly great value to offer. Champagne A.R. Lenoble is a small, family owned and operated estate in the village of Chouilly. This is the heart of the Cote de Blancs, which is where the best Chardonnay in Champagne is grown. And Lenoble are definitely Chardonnay specialists.
They do everything in a very "old school" way. Wild yeast fermentation, wooden press, hand riddling and disgorging etc. But true to more modern tastes they use a very low dosage. The result is a bright, mineral and dry Champagne style that accentuates texture and salinity.
That's why we are super excited by their most recent release from the blockbuster vintage of 2008. It is one of the best vintages in generations and like all great millésime Champagne it will age gracefully for many years to come, but we've also enjoyed a bottle or two at the shop already. 2008 Champagnes are quickly disappearing from the market, indeed many of the best grower options are long gone, so this may be your last chance to stock up on a classic Blanc de Blancs from a phenomenal vintage. Oh, and we have the best pricing in the nation, to boot!
A•R Lenoble, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Chouilly Blanc de Blancs, 2008
"The AR Lenoble 2008 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Chouilly Brut Millésime displays a beautifully intense and golden shining citrus color. This has amazing richness and gentleness on the nose but, at the same time, delicacy, precision and finesse! This bouquet is perfectly ripe and generous but also fine and fresh, representing the chalky soils and warm microclimate of Chouilly as well as perfectly ripe and healthy fruit. Any 2008 austerity here? Negative! The attack on the palate is as fine and fresh as it is pure, piquant and aromatic. Ripe and juicy fruit flavors such as pineapples, lemons and limoncello intermix with a round and creamy but by no means bold or heavy texture that is actually marked by chalk powder and iodine flavors on the finish. In fact, this 2008 Chouilly is delicate and filigreed as well as firmly structured. To me, it is an icon wine for Chouilly, and I highly recommend it, even if only to understand the highly diverse terroirs of Champagne, even in the Côte des Blancs where Chouilly is the most northern village next to Cuis. A small part (10%) of the wine was aged in oak. The finish of the 2008 is fresh and light but also intense and persistent. This is a great vin de terroir, and to be honest, I couldn't stop drinking it!” 94 pts, The Wine Advocate