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Benoît Marguet is one of our favorite Champagne producers for many reasons. First, it's fascinating to see someone's wines improve with every vintage as his dedication to biodynamics bears fruit. Second, while some vignerons embrace biodynamics to improve their wines, one gets the sense Benoît believes that embracing biodynamics improves his life, while the farming and wines follow suit. Blessed with old vines in Ambonnay and Bouzy his wines are detailed and stony, as well as powerful, though never top-heavy. His work in the vines, as well as fermenting and aging in barrel, produces wines of richness and class expressing the character of the terroir, quite deftly. Lieux-dits Les Crayères, Les Bermonts, Le Parc, and for the first time Les Saints Rémys (four different sites in Ambonnay) combine texture, power, and finesse while being profoundly mineral, though expressing this minerality in different registers. John McIlwain
67% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, bottled with no dosage. From the warm 2015 vintage the Shaman 15 has a pale, faintly salmon-colored robe and a fine bead. The nose is ripe with notes of cherry skin, white peach, and spice. The palate is broad and expansive, with rich red fruit flavors and a firm, concentrated mineral core. There is plenty of drive and precision here to counter the richness and fine, savory, lifted finish. The spice and stony notes make this an excellent Champagne for dim sum or heartier fare, such as Peking duck, not to mention a cracking autumnal apéritif when the weather cools. Disgorged March 2019. John McIlwain
The Marguet NV Shaman 14 is comprised of 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay bottled without added SO2 or dosage. One of our favorite non-vintage Champagnes. The nose is high-toned with aromas of honeysuckle, lemon blossom, and apple skin. The palate offers stone fruit flavors and ample ripeness over a firm mineral core on a long lingering finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means lean or austere and offers great charm. Disgorged March 2018. John McIlwain
Benoît Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine, but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentation is with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is deeply chalky and mineral, displaying the characteristic power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. The 2014 is deeply-pitched with pungent quinine, tangerine zest, salt, and iodine notes on a powerful, nervy palate.The nose is redolent of citrus blossoms, stone fruit, and a touch of autolyse. In the glass citrus and acacia honey notes emerge and flavors of white peach and chalk build on a long, elegant, precise, and vibrant finish. The 2014 will benefit from time in the cellar and should offer a fantastic expression of Ambonnay class and Bermonts specificity. John McIlwain
100% Pinot Noir. The 2014 Les Saints Rémys is the inaugural release of this parcellaire from Benoît Marguet. Located on the slope on the western side of Ambonnay near the border with Bouzy. The robe has a faint peach color, fine bead, and soft mousse. The nose is warm and floral with notes of peach skin, rose petals, blood orange zest, shortbread, and Pinot spice. The wine balances supple, ripe, red fruit flavors with a firm (verging on sinewy) structure within. This is already compellingly complex, though it should gain in detail and nuance with time in the bottle. This is a stellar addition to Benoît's lineup and offers a fascinating contrast to the racy, crystalline Les Crayères. Bottled without dosage. Disgorged March 2019. John McIlwain
100% Chardonnay. Located just above the famed Clos de Ambonnay, Le Parc is 6 feet of clay over pure chalk with tufa (limestone) in between.* The 2014 bottling has a pale yellow robe and a fine bead. The effusive nose offers pretty aromas of apple blossom, pear skin, white peach, and a touch of autolyse. The palate is generous on the attack with supple, ripe orchard fruit flavors dancing over a firm mineral core carrying over a concentrated mid-palate and a long, succulent, stony finish. This is ample and generous at the moment, but this openness belies the serious structure within; and I suspect this has the stuffing to age gracefully and gain in nuance with time in the cellar. Magnificent! Bottled without dosage or added sulfur. Disgorged March 2019. *Thanks to Peter Liem's masterful Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroir of the Iconic Region for the terroir note.
100% Pinot Noir. The lieu-dit of Les Crayères is one of the great parcels in Ambonnay, if not all of Champagne. This sunny, mid-slope vineyard produces Champagne of great energy and cut. While still in its infancy, one senses nascent complexity the nose offers aromas of apple skin and Meyer lemon zest with toasty, biscuity notes. The palate, currently wound up and a bit backward, offers red fruit and deep stone flavors, with good power and tension. Of the 2014 lieux-dits, the nervy Les Crayères will likely need the most time in the cellar to evolve and knit the pure fruit flavors and firm, muscular structure. Bottled without sulfur. Disgorged March 2019. John McIlwain