Champagne ‘Cuvee Saint Denis’, Varnier-Fanniere
cépage 100% Chardonnay
assemblage 60% 2012, 40% 2011
info/source 70% from ‘Clos du Grand Père’ 75-year old vines in Avize Grand Cru,
30% from ‘Pierre Vaudon’ 50 year old parcels in Avize Grand Cru.
élevage Stainless steel
sur latte 48 months
Cote de Blancs
Not only a magnificent Champagne, it is also an ASTONISHING VALUE, and if I only bought one single wine from this offering, it’d be this one.
Formerly a monocuvée from a parcel called Clos du Grand Père, it is now a combination that includes 30% from Pierre Vaudon, which sits on the plain to the south of Avize. Grand Père is affected with fan-leaf and much of it needs re-planting. The vine age is still around 50, the wine is 40% 2011 and 60% 2012, and it seems creamier than usual; discreetly mineral beneath a featherquilt of richness; both hedonic and detailed. I’m thinking this is a serious player among the icon-wines of the Côte des Blancs.
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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.