A couple of weeks ago, I tasted some current releases from Champagne Mailly, including three 2008s, an excellent vintage. The producer is a cooperative in Mailly-Champagne, a grand cru village on the northern side of the Montagne de Reims. Champagne Mailly is counted by many as the very best cooperative in the Champagne wine region, and I have previously profiled them based on a visit. The tasting was hosted by the French-Swedish online wine merchant Franska vinlistan, which translates as “French wine list”.
Pinot Noir reigns in Mailly, but it is a village with north-facing slopes, so usually we don’t find the very heaviest Pinot versions here. This means that Pinot Noir from this village can be quite elegant and do well on its own, without too much Chardonnay in the blend.
My impressions of the Champagnes available for tasting was as follows, although I should point out that I had to taste through them rather quickly and didn’t have time to follow them for too long in the glass:
Fruity nose with ripe apple including waxed green apple and lightly flowery notes. Fruity palate with yellow and red apple, some spice, good acidity, some minerality and an apply aftertaste. An uncomplicated and pleasant Champagne, showing cool Pinot style. Drinkable now, 87-88 p.
The regular Brut gives a cooler (i.e., less ripe) impression then the Blanc de Noir and the 2008. I don’t know if this is related tothe composition of the blends, since no information about base vintages was available.
Nose with ripe red apple, a hint of peach and red berries, some minerality, and an impression of ripe and sweet fruit. Palate with red apples, some green apples, good minerality, some spice, good acidity, and an apply aftertaste. Drinkable now but could develop, 88(+) p.
Slightly more powerful than the Brut Réserve with more obvious Pinot Noir character. Although this Champagne gives a more ripe impression than the Brut Réserve, there is a distinct character of the relatively cool origin.
2008 O’de Mailly Brut Les Artistiques Grand Cru
75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay.
Nose in a fruity style with clearly ripe fruit, a lot of apple note including some green apples, peach, some melon with some honey, some citrus, hints of flowers as well as hints of herbaceous notes. The palate shows good concentration with red apple, pronounced minerality, some citrus, good acidity, and slightly spicy notes. Rather young, 90(+) p.
Here, I found the Pinot character to be a bit more powerful than the “regular style” of Mailly, being a bit more ripe with a bit more “Aÿ-styled” Pinot than usual, without in any way lacking in balance.
This is the regular 2008 vintage Champagne from Champagne Mailly. In excellent vintages they usually give their vintage cuvée a special name and provide them with special packaging. Naturally, they have done so with the 2008s, which is a vintage where I’ve found everything in Champagne to “deliver” at the highest level!
60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Vinified in steel tanks. Dosage 8 g/l.
Fruity nose with ripe fruit character, including ripe apple, peach, some ripe melon, hints of honey, and hints of herbaceous notes. Fruity palate with powerful concentration, red apples, fine minerality, some peach, good acidity, a lot of citrus and green apple mid-palate, and an apply finish with citrus and green apple. Rather young but approachable now, 91(+) p.
The nose indicates slightly sweeter fruit than the 2008 O’de Mailly, and the palate shows a bit more concentration and “punch”. Again an impression of heavier Pinot Noir than usual from this village, and some “Aÿ vibes”.
2008 L’Intemporelle Rosé
60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The rosé colour comes from an addition of 2-3% red wine produced from old vines (over 40 years of age), which must be the lowest proportion of red wine I’ve seen in any rosé Champagne. Vinified in steel tanks. Dosage 8 g/l.
Very pale rosé colour, it just blushes slightly. Fruity nose with peach, red berries, ripe melon, honey, and a hint of herbaceous notes. Slightly more red notes than the white sibling. Fruity palate with powerful concentration, similar to the white version but slightly more spicy and slightly more underlined minerality. Rather young but approachable now, 91(+) p.
L’Intemporelle is positioned above the regular vintage Champagne in their range, and Champagne Mailly counts it as a prestige Champagne. At the summit of their range, we find Les Échansons, see below. L’Intemporelle is sold in transparent bottles and has a higher proportion of Chardonnay than their other “blended Champagnes”. (In some vintages, they have produced a blanc de blancs named Exception Blanche, but currently it is not included on their website.) The ambition is to produce an elegant Champagne, while Les Échansons is more intended to show power.
Les Échansons 2004
75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. Vinified in steel tanks. Dosage 6 g/l.
Fruity and elegant nose with ripe red apple, peach, some honey, some perfume notes, and some mature notes. Palate with yellow and red apples, some spice notes, some honey, good acidity, minerality, a hint of developed notes, as well as an apply and spicy aftertaste. A hint of development, but could take some more time in the cellar, 91(+) p.
On earlier occasions and with other vintages, Les Échansons has always risen above L’Intemporelle when compared side-by-side. This time, the 2008 vintage shows its colours! And it is worth pointing out that 2004 is also quite a good Champagne vintage, although most would probably rate is it as a four-star vintage on a five-star scale.
My impression two years ago, in October 2013, was the following:
Nose of yellow apple, butterscotch, slightly flowery and rater elegant. Palate of green and yellow apple, good concentration, noticeable minerality, and good acidity. Rather young, 90+ p.
Four older vintages was offered from magnum. They are late disgorged bottles of the vintage Champagne (75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay) that are sold with an extra low dosage of 2.3-3.3 g/l. The low dosage comes through in their style, so they are likely to appeal to those who don’t approve too much of a “standard dosage”. In this case, they were all disgorged early 2015, i.e., they have spent 15-18 years on the lees. Each vintage has been given a nickname by the producer.
1999 – “La Précision”
Nose with ripe sweet fruit, peach, honey, some developed notes with spices and nuits, and some minerality. Palate with red apples, some spice, good acidity, and a fresh aftertaste. Rather young palate, 90(+) p.
It may not seem strange that the youngest wine comes across as the youngest in this lineup, but the general reputation of the vintage would rather have led me to believe the 1999 to be at least as developed as the rest. Here, I got the impression that additional cellaring could be beneficial.
1998 – “Generosity”
Nose with yellow apple and other ripe fruit, minerality, developed character with nuts, some wax, and cocoa powder. Palate with good concentration, yellow apple, minerality, good acidity, some apple compote, and an aftertaste with green apples. Rather fully developed, 90 p.
The 1998 is more fully developed than the 1999 and shows a slightly bigger nose than the 1997. The 1998 and the 1997 are rather similar in the nose, but not on the palate.
1997 – “Elegance”
Nose with green and yellow apples, minerality, rather noticeably developed character with some nuts and wax. Palate with a lot of minerality, marine notes, pronounced acidity, and green apple in the background. A fresh palate with great focus on minerality, fine elegance, and rather fully developed, 90-91 p?
I was somewhat surprised that the 1997 was so mineral-focused, not just in the aftertaste as the 1996, but to the extent that the minerality completely dominates over the fruit mid-palate. Here, I found its nickname – “elegance” – to be very fitting.
1996 – “Intensity”
Developed nose with nuts, red apples, yellow winter apples (old apples), and spices. Palate with apples including winter apples, quite a bit of spice, high acidity, and a mineral-filled aftertaste. A fine balance and a noticeable Pinot character, which isn’t always the case with the high-acid 1996 vintage. Rather fully developed, 91 p.