While we did not really feel a strong urge to have some champagne after the numerous champagnes tasted earlier in the week at Terres et Vins de Champagne, we were having guests on Saturday and it was sort of a given that a bottle of something would be opened. As we were having asparagus it was also clear that we would be having something that was not overly fruit driven and we were considering some of the lovely Rieslings. However, after some deliberation we opted for champagne instead as we felt it would also work well together with the asparagus as well as function as an aperitif. The choice fell on the Varnier-Fannière Grand Cru Brut Zero NV that we had brought back from our trip to London.
The family Fannière settled in the Côte des Blancs as early as 1860, but at that time and until the 1950s they sold off all their grapes to other producers. In the 1950s Jean Fanniere started to bottle Champagne under his name and then his son in law, Guy Varnier, succeeded him and took over production. Today the son of Guy, Denis Varnier, is in charge of the company and has taken over the still family owned and run company. They have a fairly small estate, only 4 hectares but all in the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger and Oiry. The entire estate is old vines which is in line with the estate policy of conservation. The average age is around 40 years old as they believe strongly that the old vines will produce better champagne and if this Brut Zero should be taken as the result of this then I am inclined to agree.
The brut zero is made both as a non vintage and a vintage but we tried the non vintage this time. The color was pale yellow and the nose had a pleasant freshness of citrus but also nicely balanced by some yellow apples. The flavor is consistent with the nose and the pleasant freshness is also mixed with a hint of yeast which makes this a very nice drink. The 100% Chardonnay grapes without added sugar is a perfect match with the perfectly prepared asparagus (it was the overenthusiastic tapas-chef in action again). I have seen this wine available in Italy for as little as €28 which is a bargain but in the UK it sells for £34 at the Sampler and for 270 DKK in Denmark (from Nordisk Champagne) and that is more in the category of good value. So how does it rate:
Value for Money: 4 (if found below €30)