Jancis Robinson - jancisrobinson.com, Nov 2016
About this WINE
Champagne Pierre Peters
The loquacious and extremely likeable Rodolphe Péters of Champagne Pierre Péters is one of the most highly respected champagne growers in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, where 12 of his 17 hectares are located.
The style of Le Mesnil Champagnes, differing markedly from more gentle siblings from villages such as Cramant, focuses on mineral power and capacity to age. Péters is the master of this art; a full malolactic fermentation and moderately high fermentation temperatures serve to tame the steely acidity of the wines, but in no way diminishes their inherent power and potential to develop over the medium to long term.
The non-vintage bottlings always incorporate a significant proportion- up to 40% - of reserve wine assembled over decades by saving back a portion of each year's blend and adding it to a solera.
Brut denotes a dry style of Champagne (less than 15 grams per litre). Most Champagne is non-vintage, produced from a blend from different years. The non-vintage blend is always based predominately on wines made from the current harvest, enriched with aged wines (their proportion and age varies by brand) from earlier harvests, which impart an additional level of complexity to the end wine. Champagnes from a single vintage are labelled with the year reference and with the description Millésimé.
Non-vintage Champagnes can improve with short-term ageing (typically two to three years), while vintages can develop over much longer periods (five to 30 years). The most exquisite and often top-priced expression of a house’s style is referred to as Prestige Cuvée. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Chardonnay is often seen as the king of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.