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tête-à-tête: Lassaigne Le Cotet & Les Vignes de Montguex

January 5, 2010

By luck and chance, I was able to find 2 bottles of ‘hipster’ champagne from Jacques Lassaigne – the Entry-Level Blanc de Blanc Les Vignes de Montgeux and the single-vineyard Les Cotet – both with similar 2007 disgorgement dates. These wines were brought to my attention via Brooklynguy, who documented a more comprehensive tasting of Lassaigne’s Champagnes, with fine notes – and a local importer along with several retailers seem to have some great prices on these cuvees, making them really hard to pass up.

Some good old friends were over for the New Year and it provided a great opportunity to taste these side by side while a chicken was roasting – as this sort of thing is significantly less exciting while alone.  Both wines showed a set of family attributes – great clarity and leanness and a focused concentration of fruit and chalky minerality. Definitely both signs of understanding terroir, tight blending of solid base wines, and keen wine-growing practices.

The Montguex definitely seemed relatively a touch softer and more accessible – maybe an attribute of a fractionally higher dosage (the Montgeux was labeled “Brut” vs the Cotet’s ‘Extra Brut’) and a broader blend of base wines (potentially up to 9 different parcels, and several different vintages). Plenty of green apple and lemon cake. Ripe, but high-toned and finessed with vibrant acidity – it opened considerable with time and softened to reveal fresh-pressed cider and quince notes. A very solid and expressive wine value compared to the line-priced big-house bubblies, it was a fine partner with the chicken and would be even better with poached/steamed white fish or crustaceans.

Les Cotet was even more linear and long on the palate – more focus, more poise and a beam of acidity at it’s core. More lightning, less thunder. A combination of tank-raised chardonnay with a small percentage of barrel-aged wine – but same vineyard, several vintages. Super-fresh with all the green apple and citrus of the Montgeux with the addition of a cranberry component on the nose and palate and a chalkier finish all its own. Hours later, most of the bubbles had left, but I couldn’t help thinking about what a clean and complete expression of Chardonnay this was. I’m not a Chardonnay lover or hater, but I loved this. Youthful, but very serious stuff. Unbelievably, I paid less for this than the Montgeux, and will be stocking up in due time.

While these are small production/ hipster wines, they are just delicious and accessible and nothing any wine newb or non geek should be afraid to try. They are great examples of a leaner style of Champagne that might surprise folks raised on the big house juiced-up marquees with their freshness and food-friendlyness and unique charm.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 7:54 pm

    Thanks for the link Jonathan, and I enjoyed reading your reactions to these wines. How you found Cotet cheaper than the NV is amazing – I want some.

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  1. Beautiful Chardonnay « bestdrinkever

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