Guy Larmandier established this domaine which, following his death, is now supervised by his wife, Colette, and their two children, Francois and Marie-Helene. Annual production is on the order of 90,000 bottles. Harvest is conducted manually, the Champagnes are aged a minimum of 36 months on the lees and the Champagnes destined for the US market are disgorged on order and receive a minimal dosage so as to emphasize the purity and finesse of this special terroir. The principal cuvées are:
|Vertus Brut Cote des Blancs 1er Cru: A blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir from Larmandier’s premier cru-designated home village of Vertus, this “classic” six-grams-per-liter disgorgement is a blend of two-thirds 2013 vintage and one-third 2012. Whereas this possesses slightly less of the driving limestone cut of the Cramant, it shows more roundness of texture—in keeping with the terroir of Vertus. Subtle notes of fig and green apple frame the satisfyingly broad and long palate, and the overall personality of the wine is generous and forward.|
|Vertus “Brut Zero” 1er Cru: Sporting a more markedly floral, chalky nose than the classic disgorgement, this new “Brut Zero” version of the Vertus 1er Cru has a similarly chiseled frame to the Cramant above. However, it is less obviously bone-dry on the palate—the ample character the village manifesting itself in a rounder overall texture. The wine is firm without being hard, with a great interplay of supple fruit and intense stoniness.|
|Vertus Brut Rosé 1er Cru: Larmandier’s Vertus Rosé has always been exemplary, a happy marriage of Cote des Blancs elegance and ripe, succulent red fruit. While interesting, we found the experimental zero-dosage version of the rose sacrificed too much of that nicely caressing texture, and thus this cuvee will remain as it has always been—with around six grams per liter dosage. In keeping with the traditional method by which most rosé Champagne is made, Larmandier Rosé blends a splash of red wine into a base of white wine—in this case, Pinot Noir vinified as a red constitutes 15% of the final blend.|
|Cramant Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs:From this renowned grand cru in the southern tier of the Cote des Blancs, Larmandier’s Cramant is textbook stuff: beautifully brioche-y, yet with a driving floral elegance and an effortlessly pungent minerality characteristic of Chardonnay grown in a place where it’s truly at home. Vinified entirely in stainless steel to highlight the wine’s chalky soul, this disgorgement is a blend of two-thirds 2012 vintage and one-third 2011. The Cramant is perhaps the wine for which this estate has become the most renowned stateside through the years, and this six-grams-per-liter version of it will doubtlessly please those who prefer a more traditionally styled Blanc des Blancs with a little flesh on its frame.|
|Cramant Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs “Brut Zero”: The non-dosage disgorgement of Larmandier’s Cramant is a different beast from the “classic” version: less rich but more driving; less broad but longer in the mouth. The total absence of any sense of sweetness allows the limestone to take center stage, and it presents in a more piercing and saline manner than the above wine. Despite its relative rigorousness and austerity, however, this is by no means a difficult wine. Rather, it will appeal to those who relish the sort of palpable, intense mineral character Champagne is capable of when made in such a straightforward fashion.|
|2008 “Cuvée Signé Francois – Vieilles Vignes” Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs: Larmandier’s prestige cuvee is produced from their oldest parcels of Chardonnay in the grand cru village of Cramant (along with a small amount of fruit from a holding in the Grand Cru Chouilly), and it spends a full five years on the lees before disgorgement. No dosage is present in our version of the 2008, but one would never even know it is missing—the wine’s depth and richness is extraordinary, voicing the sappy and dense character of the fruit Francois wrests from these old vines. Notes of pear tart, fresh figs, baked apples, and cherries frame a vibrant, expansive palate, and the wine’s chalky core shows itself in a clinging, almost salty finish.
• Also available: 2007 “Cuvée Signé Francois” (6 g/L dosage)
|Coteaux Champenois Rouge “Rouge de Vertus”: Francois Larmandier employs a portion of his oldest Pinot Noir—around 50 years of age—in the production of a still red wine, which he vinifies and ages entirely in steel. Based largely on the fruit of a single vintage, the wine is augmented by small amounts of a perpetual reserve—a steel vessel to which Francois adds a small amount of wine each harvest. “Rouge de Vertus” is a soft, pretty Pinot Noir with sappy plum and cherry fruit, ample but not obtrusive acidity, and virtually undetectable tannins.|
Rosé Champagne Brings the Holiday Joy
By Eric Asimov
Dec. 19, 2019
Champagne used to be such a simple thing. You popped a cork, and the gushing fountain of wine cued celebratory joy.
You might have had a preference among the house styles of the big Champagne producers, or grand marques. Or maybe you simply chose a brand as your own, as if it were cigarettes or beer.
Also worth noting were the chalky, energetic Vertus Premier Cru from Guy Larmandier.
★★½ Guy Larmandier Champagne Rosé Vertus Premier Cru Brut NV $50
Tangy and energetic, with creamy, chalky citrus flavors. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)