Wine Seller's Review of 2023 Champagne Releases and Recommendations

We are almost halfway through the year 2023, and most of the champagne producer's releases have arrived. Notably, some producers like Marie Courtin have decided to release later this year, feeling that a longer period post-Dégorgement will benefit the champagnes. Something I wish more producers would do.

 

In 2023, some producers have marked their champagne with drastic price increases. I am not sure if this is the correct course of action considering the financial situation at present. For this reason, we have dropped a number of producers this year, as we have noticed no increase in quality to correlate with the price increases.

 

Gerhard Eichelmann has released his new book, "Champagne 456," which is definitely the most informative book on producers. Unfortunately, the champagnes reviewed are last year's releases in most cases. Interesting is the three producers he has promoted into the top league: Leclapart, Emanuel Brochet, and Huré Frères. Personally, I prefer Leclapart to Selosse; the prices of Selosse, and the variability of bottles, are a put-off. Last year, the L'Aphrodisiaque 2017 was one of the best champagnes I drank. The new arrivals are coming soon.

 

Emanuel Brochet has decided to stop producing different champagnes, as he feels putting everything into one bottle makes the champagne much better. In these times of more and more fragmentation, a wise choice, and we can only hope more producers follow his lead. Huré Frères has long stood in the shadow of Bereche and Vilmart. Over the last few years, the quality has improved drastically, and the new releases are at another level in comparison to the last few years. A shame that they are so limited. The Memoires and the two Element champagnes are for me Egly-Ouriet level.

My favourite champagnes so far this year:

Bourgeois-Diaz - I will be honest; I did not expect these champagnes to be so good. More in a modern style akin to Georges Remy, Ulysse Collin, Domaine Vincey, these are powerful and require a lot of air, but once they open up, really nice with good depth, complexity, and persistence. As usual, we should have taken more.

Bedel - In the past, I have always found the Origin'Elles the weakest link in Bedel's selection. This year it is 100% Meunier and is just at another level. It has Bedel's signature style written all over it but is richer, creamier, with more depth and complexity. A fantastic champagne.

Domaine Vincey - A lot of new producers arrive on the scene and are massively hyped, and usually, the hype is not justified. With their second releases, they have confirmed that they are serious producers, and alongside George Remy, probably the best of the new producers to emerge. This year they have released their first Chemin de Chalons, a site that up until now only Selosse has released. A big Blanc de Blancs, which will need two or three years to show its full potential. If you are a fan of Ulysse Collin champagnes, I would strongly recommend trying these.

Helene Beaugrand is a new producer from Montgueux. The Derrière la Cabane is particularly exciting; we now understand the reason why. The prime site on this small hill is Clos Sainte Sophie, where Lassaigne makes his best champagne but unfortunately, we do not receive any bottles from this rare champagne. Derrière la Cabane neighbors this site, and it now makes sense this is why the champagne tastes like it does.

If you were to ask me which is the best champagne in our sortiment at the moment, I would list four:

Guiborat De Caures a Mont Aigu 2015 Chardonnay - A monumental Blanc de Blancs which we recently tasted; it will need at least 10-12 years to really show its potential.

De Sousa Cuvee des Caudalies Millesime Grand Cru Extra Brut, 2013 - This is not a cheap champagne. If I could give 100 points for a champagne, this would be my top candidate. It needs a lot of aging.

Francoise Bedel Jouvence Brut - Again, not a cheap champagne, but this new champagne is monumental and shows what the much-maligned grape Meunier is capable of.

Jacques Lassaigne Millesime 2014 Brut Nature. An incredibly tight and focussed champagne that will need a few years to open up. I believe like Guiborat and De Sousa's champagnes, this will develop into a beautiful champagne,

Tags: top picks