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Champagne Lallement


Jean-Luc Lallement has officially been at the helm of this estate since his father retired in 1999. His family has been growing vines in Verzenay for some time, as Jean-Luc’s great-grandfather already had some parcels of vines here, but it wasn’t until after the Second World War that his grandfather Jean began to produce estate-bottled champagnes. His father Jean-Charles took over the estate in the late 1970s, and Jean-Luc worked at the estate part-time between 1978 and 1982 while attending a local oenological school. In 1984, he returned to the estate and has been involved in the winemaking ever since.

Lallement owns four hectares of vines, 2.8 of which are in Verzenay and the rest just over the border in Verzy. The soil is very calcareous here, with little clay, and Lallement says that the terroirs in both his Verzenay and Verzy parcels are quite similar, with perhaps a little less slope on the Verzy side. In the cellar, fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in enameled steel tanks, as does the malolactic, and the wines are neither filtered nor cold-stabilized before bottling. Lallement produces three cuvées, each with a distinct personality. These are extremely terroir-driven wines, keenly expressing the northern Montagne de Reims in their poignant minerality and sleek shape, and they possess a sense of refinement and finesse that sets them apart from many other growers in this area. As the production is miniscule, Lallement’s wines can be difficult to procure, but they are well worth a special search.

Available Wines:
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Lallement Brut  
Characteristics: Notes on the Champagne Jean Lallement Brut Tradition bottling disgorged on November 2012 (but seemingly mislabeled 2013 on the bottle –impossible because I am writing this in September 2013 –an honest slip set straight by checking the case code that corresponds with November 2012 in the Terry Theise catalog)

Hailing from the Grand Cru slopes at the very heart of the Montagne de Reims, Lallement’s Brut Tradition embodies the soul of the mountain as this is Champagne’s spiritual home for Pinot Noir which comprises 80% of the cuvée with the balance countered by Chardonnay –just the variety to counterbalance and highlight the structure, red fruit, and baritone depth for Chardonnay can lift Pinot Noir’s brooding spirit, lend its own crispy floral fruit and lofty pastry notes.

Even the first dip of the nose into smelling this glass, one finds it brimming with quince paste, plums and apricots –an engaging and fragrant burst of Montagne de Reims expressing some of its bolder character in the form of honeycomb and fragrant bruised apples in that best of ways that reminds us of an Autumn field trip to the orchard to fill our bags, our pockets and our larders with orchard keepers.

On the palate there is a little sourdough rye bread that I usually associate with Pinot Meunier and for which I love that variety so much –which must come from the Pinot Noir and its richer and rounder nature. After an exhilarating reel through lemon peels, leesy and yeasty brioche dough rising, and then chalky minerals (almost listing toward those chewable vitamins I strangely craved as a child), this then returns in a comforting gesture of texture and flavor to that membrillo quince paste that started it all and stays with us almost like a ripened cognac of a good age. In a class of non-vintage champagne all its own, this Brut Tradition is living proof that the little parcels of Jean Lallement convey Grand Cru in such compelling, coruscating clarity.
Wine review by Nicholas Livingston

“We sometimes call it “the green label,” but whatever we call it, it’s the finest and most distinctive NV in all of Champagne.
First notice its exceptional polish and detail. Then take an amazingly distinct expression of terroir, redolent and atmospheric.
It’s my personal favorite, but apart from that, its innate virtues speak well for themselves; signature flavors of apple-cellar,
mead, heirloom honey, brewer’s yeast, sometimes with lemon-balm and sorrel, other times with walnuts and herb oils.

It’s the same cuvée as last year, just more recently disgorged—November 2012 in fact. If anything it showed leesier and
chalkier than usual, and I had the sense there was more Verzy showing through. But really, this silvery crystalline being is
just absurd, one of the treasures of the wine world.

80-20 `09-`08 and 80-20 PN-CH.”
Tasting notes by Terry Theise

Ah, Montagne de Reims in a bottle! This is always 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. Wondrous as this champagne is both in sense and in spirit, it is all the more inspiring when I think of how Jean-luc makes only 1,700 cases. Scents of pear Williams, yellow plums, and a retronasal warmth of hazelnut pastries -I am completely in awe that this doesn't see any oak. Wow! Delightful leesy autolytic notes are a pleasant surprise for its recent disgorgement -this is gripping, graceful and precocious.
Wine review by Nicholas D. Livingston, October 2012
Origin: France - Champagne
Average Rating: 5 out of 5
Type: Sparkling
Price: $58.00/bottle
Bottle size: 750 mL
Bottles Per Case: 12
My Rating:

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