Based in the village of Chigny-les-Roses on the Montagne de Reims, Gilles Dumangin is a gifted, wine-maker who has been at the forefront of a new wave of spirited, independent Champenois upping the qualitative ante and giving the less nimble Grande Marque houses a serious run for their money. We are grateful to Gilles for producing our popular 'own label' Champagne which amply fulfils the remit of being 'elegant, light and fruity', and therefore incredibly versatile. It is made from a blend of 50% Pinot Meunier and 25% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. His own 'Grande Réserve' bottling is made from exactly the same cépagement but is matured on its lees for an additional year before being disgorged; this imparts a toastier bouquet and slightly fuller and richer palate. The same blend is deployed in a third 'Extra Brut' cuvée, the difference here being a minimal dosage of just two grams of sugar per litre of wine. It has appealing citrus scents and a bone-dry palate making it the ideal fizz to accompany oysters or to adulterate with a shot of crème de cassis to produce a decadent Kir Royal.
Gilles superb rosé is made from 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and just 10% Pinot Meunier; it has a lovely coral pink colour, inviting crushed-berry aromas and flavours and fine, fresh finish. If you are thinking of drinking something aspirational and effervescent al fresco it should be at the top of your shopping list.
Gilles is uncompromising in his pursuit of excellence and only produces his vintage Champagne when he is fully satisfied he has the right raw materials. Blended from equal volumes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that are lees-aged until deemed ready for release, it has a buttery brioche bouquet and a rich, complex palate of stewed orchard fruit and minerals. It will age well for (at least) a decade.