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Something a little different?


Just occasionally the search for something a little different throws up a gem.

We all know that non-vintage champagne relies on blending in reserve wines from earlier vintages to achieve a house style, but when I read about one which uses a solera system I had to try it (It may not be unique but it is an unusual approach). 

CHAMPAGNE CONSTANTINE ‘Solarris’ Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Meunier) comes from the Côteaux de la Neuville aux Larris in the Vallée de la Marne.  The grapes are from environmentally friendly viticulture; the current release was disgorged in July 2020 after 24 months minimum ageing; dosage is 8 g/L.   The Solera was started in 2009. Under this system as wine is drawn out  to be put through second fermentation, it is replaced by wine from the latest vintage, all of which is thus blended together so it evolves in its own unique way.

The result is a wine  which has great depth of colour with a hint of blush from the pinot meunier and the fine streaming bubbles you would expect of a good champagne.  You will not have to search behind the autolytic ‘brioche’ to find flavours, but will immediately be aware of a wonderfully intense, complex nose with buttery hazelnut and almond and ripe fruit notes, followed by a long lasting and very satisfying finish.  

This is not a wine for those who love their Champagne taut, steely  and with delicate nuanced flavours.  But  for those who love fuller bodied vintage Champagnes or more fruity House styles, here at last is a wine which will not burden your bank balance but could give you much pleasure more regularly than just on special occasions! 

The cork discloses that this is ‘Grande Champagne’, and for once I agree.

As friends who love their sparkling wine and who tried it on my introduction said, this has become their favourite champagne overnight… and that was before they realised that it was also ‘affordable’. 

Currently available at Majestic –  £34.99 a bottle, £24.99 on mixed six deals. Buy while you can – this price is unlikely to last long!

Mike Hildesley

Vice Chancellor of the Wine Guild