This has been a long time in the making. I remember talking with John Harris about it a couple of years ago and, even though it was a long way off release, I sensed his excitement. And I feel excited too, because his tenure as sparkling winemaker at Domaine Chandon creates what I feel is a reasonable expectation of quality to this tasting. Mr Harris should know what he’s doing, a fact his still wines have amply demonstrated to me, but to which this wine brings an extra frisson of anticipation.
The nose keeps me excited and shows evidence of the wine’s three years on lees. There’s a clean, pure vibe to the aroma that absorbs bready notes into a matrix of bright fruit, clear juice and the sort of lean florals that aren’t heady so much as piercing. It’s the integration of notes that impresses most – this aroma profile is quite coherent. In the mouth, good texture and relatively fine spritz pave the way for a surprisingly generous set of flavours. The aromatic citrus fruit is as much pulp as rind, and there’s a sense of weight that carries this wine through a few levels of complexity. It’s not the most aggressively savoury wine I’ve ever tasted, and there’s enough sweetness to soften and swell the palate. The sweetness is never intrusive, though, and does not mask an inherently funky streak to the flavour profile. Notes of crusty bread and tropical fruit alternate, vying for first place. Neither wins, but it’s awfully fun to taste them fighting it out.
A very impressive first sparkling release for Mitchell Harris. The maker is serious about this style, and I look forward to the next release.