In 2021, after 13 years at Veuve Clicquot, acclaimed cellar master Dominique Demarville shocked the wine world when he announced he was leaving his high-profile position and large team of winemakers for the little-known domaine Champagne Lallier, in Aÿ, France. Demarville, celebrated for his exacting blending style, wanted to get back to hands-on winemaking. Now Lallier is releasing the first cuvée made completely under his direction: Réflexion R.020, a multi-vintage Champagne based on the superb 2020 vintage.
Multi-vintage Champagne distinguishes itself from nonvintage in that it’s based primarily on a single harvest, a style that Champagne Lallier has been making for several years and that Demarville says is “different than how most people are doing it in the region.” As for the wine’s name, he says the number on the bottle denotes the base vintage that dominates the blend. Réflexion R.020, for example, is made with 81 percent grapes from 2020—offering fruity and floral aromas and flavors, with a touch of salinity—while the remaining 19 percent comes from 2018 and 2019, for added intensity and depth.
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Demarville says Lallier doesn’t incorporate a high percentage of reserve wines, typically used to create continuity from year to year for nonvintage Champagnes. “At Lallier, we’re not looking for consistency, which means that from one Réflexion to another, we have small differences,” he says.
R.020 is the 10th iteration of Réflexion and the first to include a majority of Chardonnay, at 51 percent of the blend. The dry and sunny 2020 season produced ripe grapes that were picked relatively early, to maintain freshness and acidity; according to Demarville, “this level of Chardonnay brings a level of finesse and a purity in the Lallier style.” Thanks to the full-bodied vintage, he adds, “it also has a long finish with a very silky, delicate texture on the mid-palate.”
In our tasting, Champagne Lallier Réflexion R.020 offered a fine mousse with a steady stream of tiny bubbles and aromas of lemon-lime, vanilla, and dried thyme. Remarkably fresh on entry, with flavors of lemon, green apple, and kumquat, it also provides a sophisticated back palate, featuring hints of croissant and chopped green herbs with a full yet refined texture.
According to Demarville, the depth of the 2020 season means R.020 will age slowly, like a fine vintage Champagne. While it’s drinking perfectly now, he believes it will remain fantastic for another 10 to 12 years—enough time, perhaps, for Demarville to make Lallier a household name among wine cognoscenti.
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