There is a trend to undermine the quality and style of ‘conventional’ Champagne, from the established houses. The growth of grower Champagne bottlings and now a move to more ‘natural’ expressions is gaining popularity and market share around the world. Don’t get me wrong; I think these new developments are indeed exciting, and suddenly the Champagne category has got a lot more exciting. What I don’t like is the chipping away at the credence and goodness of the houses who have developed a style and way of doing things that work well and have given consistent pleasure to wine drinkers around the world for decades. I have enormous respect for the likes of Moet & Chandon at the ‘bigger’ end to the fanaticism of small house Bollinger. And they have their more limited cuvees that are individual, if not idiosyncratic. But the present trends tend to put these producers under a cloud.
Tasting some of the wines from the new wave of releases is interesting, and there are brilliant wines to be found, but one such wine from The Roader reminded me of the bigger picture, The NV Pasqual Douquet ‘Anthocyanes’ Champagne 1er Cru Rosé is from Vertus, and a blend of 66% Chardonnay and 34% Pinot Noir, a blend of 20% 2012 vintage, 46% 2011 and 34% 2010 fruit, indigenous yeast fermented with 5 g/L dosage, on lees from April 2013 to disgorgement end of January 2015. This has a strong pink-red colour living up to its ‘Anthocyanes’ name, but clearly cloudy, if you’ll excuse the pun. On nose red berry and floral fruit with yeasty more than bready autolysis. The palate very interesting with layers of flavour, a touch on the savoury side of fruity, and also a little textural. Not quite finished off, compared to ‘conventional’ Champagne, but more flavoursome with funky ‘pros;’ that will entertain the winemaker, but also slightly coarse ‘cons’ that will not suit those looking for class.