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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
A TASTING OF THE CHAMPAGNE PIERRE PETERS RANGE IN WELLINGTON,  NEW ZEALAND



In champagne circles,  the name Pierre Peters has seemingly emerged from nowhere,  to now be seen as one of the yardstick wines.  Pierre Peters does not even appear as a producer in Tom Stevenson's 'definitive' 1998 / 1999 guide to sparkling wines,  nor the 2002 supplement,  nor in Oz Clarke's 2003 Encyclopaedia of Wine.  Yet little more than 10 years later,  this small firm has leapt to prominence in the current 'definitive'  guide to Champagne by Tyson Stelzer.  Not only prominence,  but in the top 11 producers of 79 ranked.  To put this into perspective,  Stelzer has scored the champagne producers from 10 / 10,  to presumably zero, and ranks only those rating 5 / 10 or more.  Pierre Peters is in the 9 / 10 bracket,  along with Dom Perignon and Pol Roger.  Moet & Chandon does not figure on the list at all.  Stelzer thus displays winewriting and wine perception of a very different calibre from New Zealand,  where totally inconsequential champagnes continue to be ranked gold medal by anxious-to-please winewriters,  and tinpot wine judgings.

As a consequence of this latterday enthusiasm,  the wines of Pierre Peters are now on allocation all around the world.  In New Zealand,  they are imported by Wellington wine-man Ian McInnes,  who has a great love for champagne.  Ian tackled the question of supply by visiting Pierre Peters in person,  and putting the case for the wine to be represented in New Zealand.  And succeeded,  no doubt to the surprise of more established players.  This is a great development,  for New Zealand is climatically ideally placed to become a significant producer of methode champenoise wines in its own right.  While absolute quality has so far eluded us,  it is noteworthy that the British press do cite New Zealand as a particularly reliable source of affordable bubbles.

Pierre Peters has in fact made wine under its own name since 1919.  The key thing about the present range is all the wines (except the Rosé) are 100% chardonnay,  and all (except the meunier in the Rosé,  and maybe a component in La Perle) are sourced from grand cru vineyards which Peters owns.  The average age of all their vineyards is c.30 years.  These factors immediately make the wines very different from the more commercial scale of the grandes marques.  Viticulture is tending towards organic,  careful,  but more flexible,  with particular respect for the chalk soils.  The implication is that such vineyards are cropped more conservatively than mainstream vineyards.  A rough guide to the cropping rates can be obtained by multiplying up Pierre Peters' production of roughly 160,000 bottles per annum and his vineyard holdings of 18 to 19 ha. This works out to a cropping rate of around 10 t / ha (= 4t/ac ).  Such figures are not on a par with grand cru Burgundy practice,  but are good by champagne standards.  

Pierre Peters wines do stand out for the impression they give of substance and richness in mouth.  Note this quality of 'presence' in grand cru-quality champagne is not at all comparable with 'fruitiness',  as such.  New Zealand has had rather too many 'sparkling chardonnays'  masquerading as methode champenoise wines.  This results in part from the new world preoccupation with cool temperature-controlled ferments,  for whites.  Pierre Peters ferments at warmer temperatures than some practitioners,  up to about 18 degrees C,  to avoid 'fruitiness'.  All wines go through MLF.  It is the weight of substance in mouth,  the dry extract the wine shows,  and the complexity of autolysis (and to a degree the minerality) of these Pierre Peters wines,  which contrasts them with run-of-the-mill champagnes,  or most New Zealand methode champenoise wines.

Pierre Peters produces seven or eight different wines.  In terms of range,  it seems that no market in the world has the full suite of them.  Accordingly therefore,  when Ian McInnes managed to wangle out of the Peters family two-only bottles of most of the wines not allocated to New Zealand,  in addition to his New Zealand range,  the opportunity to present a tasting of the nearly full Peters range had great appeal.  It has not happened often,  round the world.  This tasting was presented at  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Wellington,  7 October 2015.  In addition to attending the tasting,  I was able to examine the wines more closely afterwards.  To better evaluate them I opened a couple of New Zealand's leading sparkling wines as well (not all in the notes below),  and the well-established commercial 'standard' nv Moet & Chandon,  and assembled a completely blind tasting.  I also added last year's Extra Brut too,  since this is a key wine in the range / perhaps the key wine,  given how habituated the New Zealand wine market is to tacky-sweet sparklings,  as a consequence of market-leader Lindauer refusing to budge from its populist 11 – 12 g/L dosage even for its Reserve series wines,  notwithstanding the evident quality of the juice and winemaking.  [[ As an aside,  and if the dosage can be overlooked,  the quality of nv Lindauer Special Reserve and  Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs currently is better than it has ever been,  due to tirage times being significantly longer now.  As I have previously asserted,  the urgent need now is to differentiate the Special Reserve two from the standard supermarket-wine Lindauer.  The best way to attract the more sophisticated market the Special Reserves  merit would be via a clearly more sophisticated dosage.  Reference to the wine details in the accompanying nv grandes marques champagne article shows that the Champenois are moving to sub-10 g/L dosage indicating quality. ]]

At the tasting,  the bottle of the latest release Peters Cuvée de Reserve did not seem quite as expected,  to me.   You can't help noticing,  when reading Tyson Stelzer's reviews of individual champagnes,  how certain he is that different bottles taste differently,  to him.  Since Pierre Peters is closed with Diam,  this should be less of a factor for his wine.  Nonetheless,  importer Ian McInnes reflected on this,  and subsequently invited me to re-taste not only the current-release Cuvée de Reserve wine,  based on the 2012 vintage,  but also last year's Cuvée de Reserve based on the 2011,  and the first consignment he received,  based on the 2010  vintage.  This was a fascinating follow-up exercise.  Armed with samples both under pressure (crown-capped) and still,  I repeated the tasting in a rigorously blind format with three other sparkling wines (as foils and for discipline),  the same evening.  The moral of this exercise turned out to be,  if you can exercise restraint,  do not open the current-release nv wine (or any current-release sparkling wine,  for that matter) for two full years after purchase.  The blossoming and mellowing in bottle is spell-binding.  I have reported similarly and repeatedly on this theme for sparklings,  often with reference to Lindauer Special Reserve.  The follow-up bottles are reported on,  below.

Pierre Peters top wine is the vintage-dated Les Chétillons,  grown entirely in the commune of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger,  near Oger the village.  The vineyards in this commune are all rated grand cru.  They are the source of several other very famous champagne wines,  such as Salon.  Stelzer refers to Les Chétillons as Peters' 'Le Montrachet of Le Mesnil'.  Accordingly expectations for this tasting were high.  In the  event,  and assisted by the rigour of the follow-up blind tasting,  my impressions and conclusions do not match entirely with Stelzer's.

References:
Stelzer,  Tyson,  2013:  The Champagne Guide 2014 – 2015.  Hardie Grant Books,  Melbourne & London,  360 p.
Stevenson,  Tom,  1999:  Christie's World Encyclopaedia of Champagne [ and ] Sparkling Wine.  Wine Appreciation Guild,  San Francisco,  335 p.




THE WINES REVIEWED:

*  denotes not available in New Zealand

2010  Akarua Vintage Brut
   nv  Champagne Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut
   nv   Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut [ 2010  base ]
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut [ 2011 base ]
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut (2012 base)
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs [ 2014 release ] *
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs [ 2015 release ]
  2009  Champagne Pierre Peters L'Esprit Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters La Perle Blanc de Blancs Brut *
2009  Champagne Pierre Peters Les Chétillons Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Brut
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Reserve Oubliée Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut *
   nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Rosé for Albane Brut *
   nv  Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut


nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs [ 2014 release ] *   19  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2010 fruit,  hand-picked from four vineyards (located in Le Mesnil,  Avise,  Cramant,  Oger);  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.3.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.2 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is more clearly chardonnay-derived,  and less complexly autolysed,  than Les Chétillons.  Yet the degree of autolysis is still great,  this one matching more exactly my concept of best-quality baguette crust,  plus just a hint of white mushrooms.  Palate is glorious.  Somehow the wine achieves richness yet doesn't taste fruity;  instead it is powerful in a paler way than Les Chétillons.  Again there is lovely minerality on the palate,  and it is hard not to write down 'chalky'.  As to the finish,  the dry extract in the wine is so stunning that the flavour and nett impression lingers long on apparent richness,  yet the thought it might be nearly zero dosage (2 g/L) never occurs.  This is what a low cropping rate does for sparkling wine,  a factor dry extract mockers cannot acknowledge.  In a way this wine is purer and more focussed than Les Chétillons,  due to the greater autolysis complexity evident in the latter.  Many might prefer this wine over the Chétillons,  if they don't like too much flavour in their champagne.  Cellar 5 – 20 years,  a quite wonderful blanc de blancs.  GK 10/15

2009  Champagne Pierre Peters Les Chétillons Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Brut   19  ()
Le Mesnil-sur-Oger,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $187   [ laminated champagne cork;  Ch 100%,  hand-picked from a single Le Mesnil vineyard;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.4.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Clearly lemonstraw rather than lemon.  The first thing to be said is:  this is a big champagne showing a lot of autolysis character on bouquet.  It is wholegrain Vogels breadcrust in style,  as well as best baguette crust.  But at the same time it is wonderfully pure and elegant,  showing mealyness and an impression of richness without being fruity.  Palate is exactly the same,  you can feel the richness,  there is a wonderful mealy complexity and near-nuttiness of autolysis,  but the thought of sparkling chardonnay never occurs.   Instead there is this satisfying length of flavour and complexity,  hinting at 10 year-old Meursault but crisper,  quite lovely.  This is great but very complex blanc de blancs champagne,  substantial yet light in a sense,  exquisite balance and autolysis,  some minerality,  great length.  Part of the quality evident in Les Chétillons results from the old vines in the dedicated Les Chétillons vineyard.  One block averages 48 years,  and a second 69 years.  In the United Kingdom,  Pierre Peters wines are distributed by Berry Brothers & Rudd,  which is usually a pretty good index of the quality of a winemaker.  For Les Chétillons in general,  they say:  “Les Chétillons comprises three prized parcels ranging from 46-67 years of age, separately vinified then blended into this, Pierre Peters’ magisterial top cuvée.  It is the epitome of Mesnil, arguably the greatest grand cru for Chardonnay: with mineral, pure, concentrated power, Les Chétillons can age for decades”.  The residual sweetness seems perfect.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe longer.  GK 10/15

nv   Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut [ 2010  base ]   18 ½ +  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2010 fruit,  all hand-picked from c.50 grand cru sites through the Cote de Blancs,  including Le Mesnil;  40% of the wine from the assembled multi-vintage Reserve 'solera';  full MLF;  c.2.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.6.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Elegant lemon,  fractionally deeper than the two later 'years'.  This first 2013-release batch in New Zealand can be recognised by not having any supplementary back label.  Bouquet is the richest,  most mellow,  and most exquisitely baguette-laden of the three Cuvée de Reserves.  It is so complex as to be nearly floral.  Palate has softened somewhat to show near-brioche 'sweetness' of baguette character,  on exquisite chardonnay fruit – yet it is not 'fruity'.  The grand cru quality fruit is so satisfying and sustained,  you would never pick this as c.6.5  grams per litre dosage.  An outstanding 'standard' champagne,  and blanc de blancs champagne,  of rare quality – if only you can put it aside for 2 years from purchase.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Rosé for Albane Brut *   18 ½ +  ()
Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 60% from Le Mesnil grand cru,  PM 40% from Damery and Cumieres,  rank not clear;  based on 2012 fruit,  hand-picked;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.2.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.7.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Colour is palest salmon,  to first impression just a little paler than is delightful or reassuring.  Bouquet however shows exquisite purity,  subtle florality,  palest pink roses,  illustrating the lovely and charming side of pinot meunier:  subtlest red currants and the best side of fresh strawberries.  Behind that hint of red fruits is beautiful autolysis,  just as good as the Extra Brut (this year's).  Palate is just as elegant,  great freshness and subtle baguette flavours mingling with the hint-only of red currants,  an extraordinarily finessed rosé wine.  The more you taste it,  the finer and subtler it becomes,  not something you can say for most rosé offerings,  so maybe the colour is just right in terms of phenolics.  Meunier has the reputation of maturing quickly,  so do not expect this wine to retain freshness as well as some rosés or the blanc de blancs.  But even once it goes coppery,  I'm sure it will still be lovely.  The slightly higher residual sweetness / dosage of this wine is just apparent,  once you think about it.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs [ 2015 release ]   18 ½ +  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $106   [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2011 fruit,  hand-picked from four vineyards (located in Le Mesnil,  Avise,  Cramant,  Oger);  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.3.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.2 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Lemon,  slightly fresher than last year's wine.  Bouquet is refined and restrained alongside the top two wines,  a little closer to the standard expectation for a good bland de blancs:  white flowers,  suggestions of palest nectarine,  beautifully subtle autolysis at this stage as much crumb of baguette as crust,  and a hard-to-characterise chalky minerality.  In flavour this seems (maybe) fractionally a lighter wine than last year's Extra Brut,  but even so the weight and purity of flavour and autolysis again obscures the fact there is only 2 g/L dosage.  Oh that the winemakers for Lindauer Reserve Blanc de Blancs,  New Zealand's 'standard' good-quality example of the genre,  would taste and think about this wine.  Then they might ponder what a travesty it is cropping the fruit at a higher rate,  and then using 11 – 12 g/L residual sugar to give the impression of body.  This year's Peters Extra Brut is again definitive blanc de blancs chardonnay.  Only the very best years of Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs match this.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 10/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut [ 2011 base ]   18 ½  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2011 fruit,  all hand-picked from c.50 grand cru sites through the Cote de Blancs,  including Le Mesnil;  40% of the wine from the assembled multi-vintage Reserve 'solera';  full MLF;  c.2.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.6.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Elegant lemon green,  in practical terms indistinguishable from the current year.  The 2014-release batch in New Zealand can be recognised by the small and hard-to-read black back-label,  advising:  info@champagners.co.nz. Bouquet on this wine is also classic blanc de blancs methode champenoise,  but still a little on the youthful side.  There are clear suggestions of crust-of-baguette autolysis mingled with an impression of white grapes,  again of beautiful purity.  Palate is one notch firmer (younger) than the 2010-base wine,  but otherwise of identical quality,  except the autolysis at this stage shows crumb-of-baguette as well as crust.  Again the aftertaste is long on fruit,  yet the thought of sparkling chardonnay does not occur.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters La Perle Blanc de Blancs Brut *   18 ½  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2012 fruit,  understood to be not all grand cru,  with c.30% Reserve wine,  but using only 10 years' selection,  not the full 18;  hand-picked from estate vineyards in several locations in the Cote De Blancs;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.2.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.6.5 g/L;  the L.S.N.V. on the label signifies Light Sparkling Non Vintage;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Colour is fractionally more lemonstraw than the lemon of the latest Cuvée de Reserve.  Bouquet is classic blanc de blancs champagne,  clear essence of chardonnay,  some florality,  some baguette,  some chalk.  I did not open the wines,  so cannot comment on how much less pressure this 'cremant'-style' bottling may show.  I  understand pressure is more 3.5 – 4 atmospheres rather than the standard for champagne of 5 – 6.  [ Note the term 'cremant',  formerly denoting lower pressure,  has since 1994 had a geographic connotation,   not pressure. ]  It is closest in style to the Rosé,  once you take away the red fruit component of the latter.  Again there is great freshness,  seemingly a little more depth on bouquet than the current Extra Brut at this point,  but not quite the authority on palate,  being sweeter.  Yet the elegance of the blanc de blancs fruit is immediately apparent,  as soon as you compare it with the current Moet & Chandon.  If you wanted a fine blanc de blancs with less gas,  this is the answer.  Fruit quality here seems more like last year's batch of Cuvée de Reserve,  but not as rich.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  but a bit of a puzzle why one has a low-pressure champagne,  all the same.  GK 10/15

2009  Champagne Pierre Peters L'Esprit Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut   18  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $129   [ laminated champagne cork;  Ch 100%,  hand-picked from four vineyards,  Le Mesnil,  Avize,  Cramant,  Oger;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  c.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
This is the most straw of the wines,  deeper even than the Oubliée.  Bouquet accordingly is much more developed,  and much more Vogel's wholegrain,  even a hint of toasted wholegrain,  than even the Chétillons,  almost worryingly so for a relatively recent vintage.  There is just a trace of Marmite,  marzipan and crushed wine biscuit,  but it is subtle.  In mouth however the richness of the wine makes you want to forgive everything:  the body and length of flavour is impressive and seductive – until you go back to the Les Chétillons and see that L'Esprit is arguably a bit broad and developed for its age.  This presumably reflects the warm season 2009 produced in Europe.  This is less likely to cellar as well as the Extra Brut particularly,  or Les Chétillons,  offering instead some risk of becoming too flavourful,  so perhaps 3 – 8 years might be best.  GK 10/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut (2012 base)   17 ½ +  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $92   [ supercritical 'cork';  Ch 100% based on 2012 fruit,  all hand-picked from c.50 grand cru sites through the Cote de Blancs,  including Le Mesnil;  40% of the wine from the assembled multi-vintage Reserve 'solera';  full MLF;  c.2.5 years en tirage;  dosage c.6.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Elegant lemon green,  indistinguishable from the previous year's wine.  The 2015-release batch is identifiable in New Zealand by both a supplementary back label,  and by a QR-icon on the main back label.  The latter (when checked with a smart-phone) advises the base vintage,  disgorgement  date,  and other details.  Bouquet is clean and fragrant,  but clearly much more youthful and seemingly less integrated and less autolysed than the two preceding years.  Accordingly the grapes of the base-wine are slightly more apparent,  and the autolysis complexity relatively less apparent,  at this stage.  Whether this batch in fact has a slightly shorter time en tirage than the preceding years,  I do not know,  but the quality of autolysis right now only goes as far as crumb-of-baguette,  rather than crust-of-baguette.  The physical body of the wine seems near-identical to the two preceding batches,  and the purity and elegance are comparable.  It might be fractionally sweeter.  It therefore seems a safe bet that with another 18 months in bottle,  this batch too will show the quality of autolysis complexity the earlier two wines show now,  as the fruit character attenuates.  And when you taste these Peters Grand Cru wines,  even this 'basic' Cuvée de Reserve,  against one of the wines in the nv grande marque batch reported on herewith,  the richness of these Peters wines is astonishing,  in comparison.  2012 was rated more highly in champagne than 2011,  so this wine may reflect both greater relative youth,  and also cellar longer,  maybe 5 – 20 years.  GK 11/15

nv  Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut   17 ½ +  ()
Reims,  Champagne,  France:  12.5%;  $105   [ laminated champagne cork;  Ch 100%,  hand-picked from mostly premier-cru vineyards in four districts,  Côte des Blancs,  Montagne de Reims,  Sézannais (which age well) and north of the Vesle Valley;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  20 - 25% Reserve wines spanning previous two vintages;  tirage unknown;  dosage c.9 g/L;  tiresome website;  www.ruinart.com ]
This was the second-deepest / most straw wine of the batch.  Like the 2009 Champagne Peters L'Esprit,  it shows a lot of bouquet,  but in a quite different looser style,  closer to but purer than the Moet,  a hint of quince,  a hint of toast,  not such taut white fruits or baguette-quality autolysis as the wines marked more highly.  Flavours are soft and beguiling,  again less focussed,  a spreading kind of crumb as well as crust autolysis with pink mushroom notes,  and a soft finish,  clearly sweeter than the Peters wines.  There is good body though,  and it is a wine which will give much pleasure.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 10/15

2010  Akarua Vintage Brut   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $45   [ supercritical 'cork';  PN 54%,  Ch 46,  hand-picked;  some fermentation in old oak;  thought to be some MLF;  minimum 3 years en tirage;  dosage c.6 g/L;  www.akarua.com ]
Bouquet is light clean and pure,  giving the impression of some substance but delightfully non-fruity,  fitting in to a degree with the Peters Extra Brut,  but in this company relatively lacking in autolysis complexity.  Palate has good body by New Zealand bubbly standards,  but seems slightly austere now,  newly released.  It is more focussed than the 2010 Hunter's MiruMiru Reserve,  even though the dosages are similar.  I am looking forward to seeing this wine with two years' bottle-age,  when it will have rounded out.  For 54% pinot noir,  it is beautifully pale and subtle.  This is very promising and exciting New Zealand methode indeed,  clearly richer than the Moet & Chandon,  to cellar 5 – 12 years,  maybe longer.  GK 10/15

nv  Champagne Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut   17  ()
Epernay,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $50   [ laminated champagne cork;  PN c.35%,  PM c.35,  Ch c.30;  c.25% Reserve wines usually only a couple of vintages;  full MLF;  time en tirage not known;  dosage c.9 g/L;  Stelzer notes that standard nv M&C is currently as good as it has ever been,  despite increasing volumes;  www.moet.com ]
Colour is attractive lemon straw,  immediately so different from the ghastly pale sulphur-bleached Moet wines of the 1980s.  And the bouquet follows in good style,  only trace sacky weakness,  otherwise clean,  fragrant,  very much mainstream champagne.  There is just this trace of wet straw letting it down fractionally.  Palate is fresh,  aromatic to a degree but you have to taste it twice,  and against the Ruinart too with its similar dosage,  to see the added flavours of pinot noir in the blend.  It's not quite as rich as the Ruinart,  and the phenolics are clearly higher,  as you'd expect from a wine that simply can't all be made from classed-growth vineyards.  But basically,  with Moet & Chandon now available at $50 in supermarket specials (from time to time),  this is a 'benchmark' commercial French fizz.  For different reasons,  it scores about the same as,  or slightly less than,  the drier 2010 Hunter's MiruMiru Reserve.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 10/15

nv  Champagne Pierre Peters Reserve Oubliée Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut *   15 ½ +  ()
Cote de Blancs,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  all Reserve wine,  Ch 100% representing 50 grand cru sites and most vintages from 1988,  omitting 1999 and 2003;  all s/s elevation;  full MLF;  years en tirage not clear;  dosage c.5 g/L;  www.champagne-peters.com ]
Lemon straw,  in the middle on the straw to lemon range.  Bouquet is immediately a no-no,  in any technical sense for sparkling wine,  the wine showing threshold VA.  Behind that there is good fruit,  and complex but oxidative autolysis.  Palate pretty well matches,  a lot of quite developed flavour as you would expect from the bouquet,  and a lot to enjoy if you don't think about it.  Comments at the tasting were predictable,  those who mock any technical input to wine appreciation saying:  this wine needs food (always a refrain to be double-checked).  It is certainly complex and full-flavoured,  with the wonderful richness all the Peters wines show.  But to release this as a stand-alone finished wine is a mistake,  I think.  My understanding is Pierre Peters keep their Reserve wines all in large stainless steel tanks,  a kind of solera by loose analogy,  nowadays.  Managing this resource,  adding the new wine each year,  and more particularly drawing off the percentage to be used as Reserve for blending each year,  must increase the risk of oxidation issues nightmarishly.  One can therefore empathise with the more labour-intensive approach other houses use,  whether a multitude of small temperature controlled stainless steel vessels,  or the extreme approach such as Bollinger where Reserve wines are kept in magnums.  This Oubliée is not a good candidate for cellaring,  unless you like the kind of complexity that threshold faults produce.  GK 10/15