Champagne Lallier is a house based in Ay, and was founded in 1906 by Rene Lallier, who had married into the champagne business.
90 years later, the founder’s grandson Rene-James Lallier took to modernising the house with upgrades to the production facilities and cellars in which Lallier’s champagnes are crafted.
Only 8 years later (2004), Rene-James decided to sell on the business to associate Francis Tribaut, who saw a good opportunity to take the house to new levels, particularly given its location in a “Grand-Cru” (best quality grapes) area.
Given its rather low-key market share (Only 400,000 bottles made per year), some of Lallier’s champagnes are open to some experimentation to try and extract the best quality possible. One such experiment is the R series champagnes such as this R.012, which reflect the vintage year that the bulk of the blend is made from (in this case, 2012). I guess you could say its “almost vintage” champagne, as only a small batch of reserves wines are used to tweak the main blend – leaving the main body of the blend to express the quality of the harvest (For R.012 this is 81% of 2012 blends and 19% reserves from earlier years).
Combine this with its modest pricing ($65 a bottle) and the fact it is from a Grand Cru region there is good potential here for Lallier’s R series to spring a surprise on other brands in that price range.
Let find out how it goes.
From: Ay, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$65 a bottle available from Chambers Cellars
Blend Ratio (%): Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier (62/38/0) with 8 g/l dosage
Aging: 2 Years
Disgorged: 2015 (estimated)
Sipped: June 2017
In the Glass:
Look: Clear pale soft honey, with medium bead (bubbles) and vigour.
Smell: Lallier’s R.012 is a very clean scented wine, with very slight yeasty notes showing through an apple and weak vinegar smell.
Taste: Given it’s aging of two years, not much depth has been translated into R.012’s flavour. It as a rather dull introduction with moderate sweetness giving way to dry, quashed apple flavours – think of a bruised, mature red apple.
One it gets its introduction out of the way, it just settles in to being characterless and conservative. It’s well balanced, but there is just no flavour or excitement offered.
It easily drinkable and doesn’t assault the taste buds in any negative way, but it doesn’t energise them positively either. The finish is short so paired food isn’t elevated to greater heights.
Notes: A very well matched pair pizza shapes and crackers.
Party Potential: If you can swing a bulk buy on the cheap, Lallier may work for your party. Its inoffensive and simple. As a BYO I’d only bring a bottle of Lallier to share on a couples dinner party for the “Try it once” factor.
As a Gift: Lallier R.012 is available in gift boxes and makes a good gift to someone with a curiosity for wines.
At Home: Given its uniqueness, I would use Lallier R.012 for a small gathering of friends at home but not much more than that.
Matching: Due to it’s lack of character, Lallier pairs well with almost anything but wont extract much more out of it.
Score & Verdict:
A safe date but nothing exciting. A bit of old-guard family values mixed in with some new age ideals – but the time spent feels a little plain, conservative and boring. Sure, you can hang with them and not feel uncomfortable, but once you part ways you know they aren’t the one.
At $65 I feel it is only average value for the quality.
How did I drink it?
Bought a cold bottle for impromptu birthday drinks..
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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