Varnier-Fannière, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
Varnier-Fannière, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru

Varnier-Fannière, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru

Champagne, France MV (750mL)
Regular price$62.00

Varnier-Fannière, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru

Champagne, both by design and by historical fashion, is a “luxury” product that’s taken a unique position in the wine world hierarchy over the past 200 years. So, “value” is of course relative, but there is no doubt that certain bottles offer much more value than others. Today’s textural, finely etched blanc de blancs is a perfect example. For less cash than most liquor stores charge for a bottle of Yellow Label or Möet, you can score a tiny-production gem, farmed by the same talented team that turns the grapes into wine, and sourced exclusively from four of the top Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte de Blancs. It’s a herculean effort, the kind of labor- and resource-intensive undertaking that the big brands reserve for their very top, three- to four-figure-priced tête de cuvée wines. But at Vanniere-Fannière, every bottle in their 3,000 case total production (!) gets the same white glove treatment. Although New Year's is now squarely in the rear view mirror, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and we can think of no better bottle of bubbles to share with your sweetheart!

The Varnier-Fannière clan have been growing grapes and, to some extent, producing wine since at least 1860 (as witnessed by their label), but like many of the best micro-growers today, their full conversion to a récoltant-manipulant (a grower-producer in Champagne) dates back just three generations. And it was the third generation, Denis Fannière, that really propelled this tiny estate of four hectares into the upper ranks of grower Champagne. Tragically, Denis passed unexpectedly in 2017, but his wife, Valérie, valiantly stepped in to take the reins, and though Denis is greatly missed, the quality he established has not diminished one iota; if anything, Valérie has pushed the estate to even greater heights. 

The Fannière holdings are based in Avize, a top Grand Cru on the Côte de Blancs that is known for lending a bit of extra power to the Chardonnay this region is famous for, but somewhat paradoxically, the style Denis and now Valérie have always preferred emphasizes finesse and subtlety over richness and bravado. The Avize fruit is complemented by three other top Grand Cru sites: Cramant, Oiry, and Oger, and critically, all of these parcels have old vines that average at least 45 years (some are even older). In order to achieve the delicate, supremely elegant style that is the Varnier-Fannière calling card, Valérie uses only steel tanks, never any oak, and bottles the wine relatively quickly after fermentation is complete. They also bottle with a lower atmospheric pressure, which leads to a super fine, tickly mousse instead of aggressive bubbles that hit you in the nose. 

Once bottled, the Grand Cru Brut spends between 24 and 48 months aging on the fine lees before disgorgement. Today’s edition is equal parts 2020 and 2019, and was disgorged about six months ago, placing it on the upper range of lees aging and therefore adding additional complexity and textural finesse. Indeed, the bubbles are so gentle and inviting that an opened bottle disappears much faster than expected (we know this from first hand experience!). Serve this deliciously delicate Blanc de Blancs at a cool 48-50 degrees in an all-purpose stem in order to best enjoy the heady combination of fruit, flowers, chalk, and saline minerality that this corner of Champagne is famous for. Aromas of barely ripe apples, white peach, lemon peel, toasted almonds, orange blossom, and crushed rocks all mingle with delicate flavors of orchard fruit, lemon curd, fleur de sel, and hints of earthy, dried mushrooms. It’s a no-brainer with a romantic spread of raw oysters and shellfish, or go all-out with some caviar topped crudo. Even all on its own, this effervescent delight is sure to help shake off the winter blues and bring a smile of satisfaction to your face.

Varnier-Fannière, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru

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