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N.V. Laytons Brut Reserve, Maison Burtin, Epernay, Champagne, France (Magnum)
Medium lemon colour, fine mousse. The nose has good richness and depth of toasty fruit, showing elements of lemon zest and brioche. The palate is refreshing yet also quite full, with a long and balanced finish developing nice yeasty notes.
Grape Variety: 55% Pinot Meunier, 42% Pinot Noir, 3% Chardonnay
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N.V. Laytons Brut Reserve, Maison Burtin, Epernay, Champagne, France (MAGNUM)
Laytons Brut Reserve is medium lemon colour, fine mousse. The nose has good richness and depth of toasty fruit, showing elements of lemon zest and brioche. The palate is refreshing yet also quite full, with a long and balanced finish developing nice yeasty notes.
An accomplished aperitif champagne, it also has sufficient weight to accompany pan fried white fish and cold meats.
Maison Burtin is a historic Champagne house that is now a part of the Lanson group. Our Laytons Brut is our house Champagne and is an exclusive blend that undergoes a minimum of 18 months ageing before release. It has real depth and complexity and we are rightly proud that the Laytons Brut Reserva is regularly cited in the press as one of the best House Champagnes on the market.
Region and Champagne Info
Champagne is the name of the world’s most famous sparkling wine, the appellation under which it is sold, and the French wine region it comes from. While it has been used to refer to sparkling wines from all over the world – a point of much controversy and legal wrangling in recent decades – Champagne is a legally controlled and restricted name. See Champagne wine labels.
Champagne’s fame and success is, of course, the product of many complex factors. And yet there are three key reasons of which we can be reasonably certain. First, the all-important bubbles, which make it stand out from less “exciting” wines. Second, the high prices that Champagne commands, which make it feel somewhat exclusive and special. Third, two centuries of clever marketing to a willing and highly receptive consumer base.
Located at a northern latitude of 49°N, the Champagne region lies at the northern edge of the world’s vineyard- growing areas, with lower average temperatures than any other French wine region. In this kind of cool climate, the growing season is rarely warm enough to ripen grapes to the levels required for standard winemaking. Even in temperate years, Champagne’s grapes still bear the hallmark acidity of a marginal climate, and it was only the discovery of secondary fermentation that provided a wine style capable of harnessing – and even embracing – this tartness.
Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the primary grape varieties used to make Champagne – a recipe used for sparkling wines across the world. It is a little-known fact that four other varieties are also permitted for use in Champagne and are still employed today, albeit in tiny quantities. They are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane. All seven varieties are still used together in at least one producer’s Champagne.
Champagne’s particular combination of grape varieties did not come about by choice or design. Once upon a time, a much larger range of varieties was used, but this has been whittled down and refined over the centuries. As with so many French wines, it was the Champagne region’s terroir (specifically the climate) which dictated which grape varieties would be grown in its vineyards. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are among very few varieties capable of performing in northern France’s cold, wet climate, so naturally they prevailed. Interestingly, Dom Perignon – the monk erroneously credited with the invention of sparkling wine – is said to have encouraged the use of black-skinned grapes over white. This advice was given on the basis that the wines produced from Pinot Noir were less prone to re-fermentation, which had not yet become a controlled part of winemaking in Champagne.
Each Champagne variety has its own particular qualities and benefits. Pinot Noir contributes good palate weight and darker, meaty aromas. Pinot Meunier gives good acidity and a certain fruitiness which shows most obviously in younger wines. It also buds later and ripens earlier than Pinot Noir, making it less susceptible to rot- inducing springtime rains and crop-damaging Autumn frosts. Chardonnay is said to bring elegance and finesse to Champagnes, along with a certain creamy roundness and lifted stone-fruit aromas.
Grand Cru Champagnes and Premier Cru Champagnes are those made from the region’s very finest and highest- rated vineyards. However, branding is so important in Champagne that the Maison (producer) that brand names take priority over appellation titles and such honourifics as Grand Cru and Premier Cru.
The production process for Champagne is similar to that for other wines, but includes an additional (and vital) stage, during which a second fermentation is started in the bottle by the addition of yeast and sugars. It is this that generates the carbon dioxide bubbles responsible for the pop and sparkle that are the symbols of Champagne.
All Champagne must spend at least 12 months ageing on its lees – the spent yeast cells from the second fermentation. An extended period on lees beyond this can have a marked effect on the yeasty characteristics of the final wine. Non-vintage Champagnes must mature in bottle for a minimum of 15 months in total before release (i.e. an extra 3 months after the yeast sediment is removed at disgorgement) though in practice 2 to 3 years is a more typical figure. Vintage wines must spend 36 months in bottle before being sent to market, though most are released after 4 to 10 years.
Most Champagne is sold without a vintage statement, making it “Non-Vintage” or NV. The main reason for this is the variability in vintages which results from the marginal climate here; by blending vintages together, the effect of a bad year is lessened. In years of exceptional quality, however, many houses release a vintage Champagne (millesimé in French) made exclusively from grapes harvested in the stated year. These are typically designed for longer bottle ageing and are made to higher quality specifications.
Aside from the climatic conditions of the particular vintage and the characteristics of the grape varieties, there is a third component in the distinctiveness of Champagne. The landscape that earned Champagne its name (it roughly translates as “open countryside”) undulates very gently over the white, calcareous soils of the Paris Basin. This famous chalk is distinct from the limestone soils of other French wine regions, being much finer- grained and more porous. This looser structure means that its mineral content is more readily absorbed by the vine roots, and it also provides excellent drainage – avoiding the risks of water logging. A further benefit is that this permeability allows access to the water resources far below, promoting strong root development and ensuring a continuous water supply.
Blind tasted by Simon Field MW Peter Liem David Vareille (at Decanter Magazine’s December 2019) 86 Bold, fleshy fruit, tethered by citrusy acidity. A textured palate, with characters of cassis leaf and a hint of linseed. Drinking Window 2019 – 2021