Geoffroy Expression Brut Premier Cru NV
As Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy reminded me last month, while introducing me to his daughter Sacha, I first visited him in the early 1990s just after he started out on his own. He was one of a small band of quality minded independent growers I discovered on my first few visits to Champagne – all of whom I still greatly admire — a group which included Pierre Larmandier, Didier Gimonnet, Jérôme Prévost plus Philippe and Elizabeth Chartogne-Taillet (whose son Alexandre now runs things).
Fast forward some three decades and the family winery is now in spacious premises with an attractive house adjoining, on the north side of the grand cru village of Aÿ where they moved in 2008 and the Geoffroy wines have evolved considerably. Back then the business was based in Cumières, where most of their 14 hectares of vineyards are still located (the others being nearby in the adjacent crus of Hautvillers, Damery and Fleury-la-Rivière).
Three quarters of their holdings are planted with black grapes – this is essentially Pinot Noir and Meunier territory – and this particular cuvée is a blend of 50% Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, plus just a splash of Chardonnay (10%). As Jean-Baptiste reminds me, it’s always a blend of two harvests, in this case 2013 and 2014. Some of the 2013 reserve wine is kept in large oak casks. It was disgorged in July 2018, so that’s nearly four years lees ageing (of the youngest component) and close on 12 months on the cork, post-disgorgement. Few, even top, big name houses manage that.
What immediately strikes me is a lovely mouth-watering, apple fruit freshness, plus good texture on the mid palate. It’s very moreish and not quite Extra Brut in style at 8gm/l dosage, though the wine doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation which certainly helps retain its zip. It’s not however austere, but rather a rich, characterful, distinctive wine made by someone with a passion for his craft.
Armit Wines: Price £32.12 a bottle, £192.64 per six bottle case www.armitwines.co.uk