Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Not quite Champagne and definitely not Sekt

The sparkling wines of Bailly-Lapierre – Crémant de Bourgogne began life in the 1970s as an attempt to make something good from grapes that had previously been sold to the to the Germans to be transformed into Sekt. From 1972, the newly-formed co-operative cellars in Northern Burgundy – the villages to the south west of Chablis – sought advice from neighbouring Champagne, put it to good use, and have since turned out highly creditable fizz.The wines spend far less time on the lees than most Champagne, but make up for this with an often appealing freshness.

On a recent visit I tasted the current range, but was also treated to a sample of a Blanc de Noirs from the 1985 harvest, disgorged in 1987. What a surprise! I’ve previously taste a wine from here from the early 1990s, but this was even fresher – lovely and rich was the flavours of confit lemon and lime and soft acidity and an almost minty, herby finish. It is a powerful testament to over a generation of careful wine-making.

Of the current releases ‘La Réserve’, a blend of five permitted grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, Sacy and Aligoté) and just nine months on lees is a simple, fruity bubbly with fairly soft acidity and some of the body of red fruit.

Rosé Brut is refreshingly strawberry with a host of other crunchy red fruit flavours. It’s not masively complex, but is very appealing. The same wine is in Waitrose under the Blason de Bourgogne label. £12.99 and well worth it.

The Pure Pinot Noir, longer sur lattes, is richer, with good crispness and even a little minerality.

Chardonnay 100% is very Chardonnay indeed: lighter, with the smell of white peach and a marked, fresh minerality. Marks and Spencer sell a version of this under their own label.

Noir et Blanc is delicious. Rich and complex, almost buttery, with lots of fruit and a fine tension between the fruit and acid.

Ravizotte, Extra Brut, based on Pinot Noir is surprisingly delicate, yet almost floral and open, with a clean mineral finish.

Egarde, from organically grown grapes, is complex, herbal and richly ripe, with a greater degree of elegance than in any other wine – and more length. It is my favourite.

One Response to “Not quite Champagne and definitely not Sekt”

  1. Thank you the champagne is a lovely area