Champagne Esprit de Craie Rose Extra Brut, Varnier-Fanniere
cépage 100% Chardonnay
assemblage 60% 2010, 40% 2009
info/source It hails from two parcels with old vines in Avize called
‘Clos du Grand Père’ and ‘Pierre Vaudon’
élevage Stainless Steel
sur latte 48 months
Cote de Blancs
This is the final vintage from the Clos du Grand Père, as it needs to be replanted due to fan-leaf. This was a 79-year old vineyard when this wine was made. It’s 60% 2011 and 40% ’10, but the delicate hint of grassiness is actually from ’10, not ’11.
Deg 11/2015, it’s an extremely high-toned iteration of this wine; essentially naked chalk, bracing, as if they’d made a mint of
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Press & Reviews
Varnier-Fanniere’s NV Brut Cuvee Saint Denis originates in a single plot of septuagenarian vines in Avize, two-thirds of which have unfortunately since been ripped out, so that future installments of this cuvee will incorporate one or two additional sources. Black tea smokiness complements a somehow dark sense of things mineral, and tangy apple is reinforced in its invigorating crunch by piquantly vegetal and nutty allusions to lentil and other legume sprouts, making for a juicy, piquant and prominently mineral – not to mention long – finish. I relish the contrast and balance offered by such energetic impingement with a texture as fundamentally polished as is that exhibited here. If this had finished with the pressure usually associated with Champagne, then that particular charm and fascination might have been missed. This should prove worth following for at least 3-4 years.
I was deeply struck by the Champagnes I tasted from Varnier-Fanniere this year. These fine, handcrafted wines are bursting with class and personality. Great Champagne is never inexpensive, but these three wines all deliver outstanding value. Readers should do whatever they can to check out the Champagnes of this small estate in Avize.
This fresh, open-knit version features a floral overtone to the flavors of blackberry pâte de fruit, bread dough, golden raisin and slivered almond. Lightly spiced finish. Drink now. –AN
(100% chardonnay from Avize, half from 2009 and half from 2008; disgorged in May, 2013 after five years on its lees): Greenish straw. Perfumed, complex scents of melon, white peach and jasmine, with a smoky topnote. Juicy and penetrating, offering spicy pit and orchard fruit flavors and a jolt of chalky minerality. The mineral quality adds lift and bite to the finish, which lingers with impressive persistence and vivacity.
Denis Varnier's NV Brut Cuvée St. Denis is an exceptional wine endowed with superb depth, crystalline purity and fabulous overall balance. Lemon oil, pastry, white flowers and crushed rocks all literally jump out of the glass in this beautifully expressive Champagne. The St. Denis remains bright, floral and perfumed throughout, showing a slightly brighter side of Chardonnay than the Jean Fannière. The Cuvée St. Denis, from a parcel with 70+ year old vines in Avize, is stunning today. This release is equal parts 2009 and 2008 vintages, disgorged in May 2013.