Buying smartly in Burgundy isn’t the easiest task these days but our contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones, thinks he’s found a real winner from Méo-Camuzet. And who would have thought that a winery based in Norfolk would be the latest addition to the Field Morris & Verdin portfolio – rubbing shoulders with the likes of Vega Sicilia, Au Bon Climat and R. Lopez de Heredia? – and not only that but really standing up to the task. For Jones’ FMV tips read on…
“Flint Vineyard’s Charmat Rosé Brut is far more serious than any non Champagne Method Rosé that I have tasted,” argues Jones.
“Boom” – from an upmarket London wine merchant specialising in Burgundy and a few superstars such as Vega Sicilia and Au Bon Climat; Field, Morris & Verdin have quietly grown their portfolio to include quite a spectacular listing of global stars, from over 14 countries. Being part of the Berry Bros & Rudd family of course helps but I was not expecting such a fabulous experience last Tuesday, albeit that my visit was a brief 90 minutes as I had lunch at Sketch to attend to.
Greeted by a glass of Hambledon, Classic Cuvée, Brut was an excellent benchmark prior to tasting numerous sparkling wines. Hambledon has been a great favourite of mine for many moons and this Hampshire vineyard continues to lead our country forward with exceptional wines. The Classic Cuveée is more forward and relaxed than their Premiere Cuvée, which I prefer with a bit of age to show its exceptional quality.
Pierre Péters, Champagne
Champagne Pierre Péters, Cuvée de Reserve, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Brut
This Non Vintage or, as Rodolphe Péters called it “a blend of superb vintages based on the 2016 vintage but going back to 1988”, is bright, focussed and fresh on the palate, then gives out layers and layers of luscious and beautiful flavours. Rodolphe explained that no year is the same, so there is no ‘standard’ he just allows the Chardonnay grapes to shine each year in this blend.
Champagne Pierre Péters, L’Esprit, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Brut, 2014
Clean and focused, the purity here is superb – delicate tangerine and the sweetest and freshest almonds; a touch of brioche; this is still evolving and will age beautifully gaining depth and structure.
Champagne Pierre Péters, Cuvée Speciale, Les Chetillons, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Brut 2012
Production is around 10,000 bottles, using up to 70 year old vines and Wow what a wine! it is refined with tiny bubbles dancing on your palate, on the nose a touch of white peach and white flowers, it also has a delicate shortbread-and-stem-ginger note, with a creamy finish. In its youth now but this Grand Cru wine from the village of Les Mesnil sur Oger is a star.
Leclerc Briant, Champagne
New to the portfolio, this exceptional house trades on its organic and biodynamic viticulture under the guidance of chef de cave Herve Jestin (who also incidentally is the head winemaker at Hampshire’s Hambledon Estate).
Leclerc Briant, Rosé Brut
95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot; focused and restrained, certainly a nod to fine ‘Burgundy’, the Chardonnay gives it a fabulous style then the ever-so-slightly-pink colour confirms that it is a Rosé. This is a superb quality Rosé especially at the price that would be a great food match to young racks of lamb or grilled wild sea bass.
Leclerc Briant, Reserve Brut
The nose has an aged style, on the palate it is full-on with the first taste but as the wine opens in your mouth you get a very impressive gentle explosion of exotic fruit, lime curd, yuzu then it drifts back into a heady shortbread, luxurious wine. This Champagne entices you back to try and search for all its wonderful flavours.
Leclerc Briant, La Croisette, Brut 2014
Delicate stone fruit balanced with perfectly candied citrus skin, acacia honey and freshly baked croissants dusted with icing sugar. There are layers of flavour here all balanced perfectly, delivering a focused, refined purity. Another plus point is the lower than normal 12% alcohol.
Flint Vineyard, Norfolk
I had never heard of Flint Vineyard before. Being Welsh I thought it could be a Welsh vineyard from Flint in Flintshire, so I stopped to taste and am so pleased I did. First, it’s not in Wales, but based in the Waveney Valley in Norfolk, second my word what a find for the Field Morris & Verdin team. The wines I tried were quite exceptional and highlights that Great Britain will flourish not only with sparkling wine but also with exceptional English winemakers.
Run by Ben and Hannah Witchell and ‘farmer’ Adrian Hipwell. Ben is a graduate from Plumpton (1stClass Degree), Hannah runs the marketing (and speaks fluent French) and Adrian is the landlord and indispensable business partner. Ben and Hannah prior to moving to the Flint Vineyard had been living as expats in Beaujolais, where Ben had secured his first winemaking job.
Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2018
Bruised apple on the nose, pear william in the background, fresh and vibrant on the palate, hints of restrained elderflower, but carefully held back to allow the freshness of the wine to excel.
Flint Vineyards, Silex Blanc 2018
Sllex (French for flint) is a blend of Solaris and white Pinot Noir, fermented in stainless steel then aged in Burgundy barrels. Clean and focussed, minerality is at the fore, like a classy modern Muscadet, there is some fresh cobb nut in the background, foraged herbs and citrus. This has purity, freshness and vibrancy in its youth and is a stunning wine so perfect for shellfish or roast chicken. Will look forward to trying this as it ages, but it’s pretty amazing now.
Flint Vineyard, Pinot Noir Precoce 2018
Pinot Noir Precoce is a close relative to Pinot that ripens early – so two new grapes I learnt about (Solaris) in one go. Juicy fresh perfume on the nose (bubble gum in a nice way), on the palate there are strong hints of classy Beaujolais, there is a hint of darkness and earthiness, mingling with cherries reminding me of Central Otago Pinot a decade ago.
Flint Vineyard, Charmat Rosé, Brut 2018
Ben is the first winemaker to make Charmat Rosé (a smarter word for the Prosecco method) in Great Britain, and what a wine, bright effervescent full of English red summer berries and juicy cherries, this is glowing. It is appealing, even though it is a luscious fruit bomb, there is restraint with its acidity and it is far more serious than any non Champagne Method Roseé that I have tasted.
Love this winery that has always offered exceptional value and quality from Burgundy
Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc, Clos St –Philibert, Domaine Méo-Camuzet 2016
If you can’t afford great white Burgundy, try this opulent little number, at just over £20 to the trade it is a marvel. On the nose it is opulent but on the palate it is fresh with perfect citrus flavours balancing the deep-textured, layered wine. Buy it! I am.
Fixin, Méo-Camuzet Frere & Soeurs 2009
Fixin always offers quality and value and this aged beauty is drinking superbly, and has that distinct truffled forest floor with dark berries, but there is a seductive perfume that carries them together.
With Chenin Blanc making a comeback (thanks to our South African friends) the Loire is definitely seeing the spotlight focussed on them, and this time not on Sauvignon Blanc. Vincent Careme and his Cape Town wife Tania, produce Chenin in both the Loire and in Swartland.
Vouvray Sec Vincent Carême, Loire 2017
It is the balance and refinement that I loved about this Chenin, all about control and less is more. I wrote “beautiful” down twice and it was.
Vouvray Les Clos Sec, Vincent Carême, Loire 2017
Purity and fresh on the first taste, clean and precise, focused, this will age but drinking well now.
Tania & Vincent Carême, Terre Brulee, Swartland 2017
Wild honeysuckle with juicy peaches, classic South African, sought from Swartland hence the “Brulee “term – burnt earth from the heat and dry temperatures.
And then my time was up, not before a quick glass of wine with my great friend Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia whose status in Great Britain has risen dramatically since she joined FMV and Berry Brothers with her R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia wines, especially the epic whites.