When we first encountered Gilles Dumangin and his wines at a tasting in London over 20 years ago, we were immediately impressed by both him and them. We thought and hoped we might be at similar stages in the development of our respective operations to engage in fruitful business together. Happily, that fledging notion proved to be correct and we have been shipping and enjoying his Champagne ever since.
We are grateful to Gilles for agreeing to bottle his 'Cuvée 17' under our own 'Champagne Yapp' label and the blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in roughly equal volumes is matured in bottle on its fine lees prior to disgorgement and the addition of a liqueur d'expédition before corking and labelling. It has always appealed to us (and many others) as it is a fruity and quite 'forward' Champagne that doesn't demand long bottle age or much in the way of food accompaniment. It is a joyful, celebratory offering with a fine mousse, gentle effervescence and fresh finish. Not overly contemplative but always reliable, enjoyable and hedonistic. As far as we are concerned that is the rasion d'être of fine, non-vintage fizz.
Gilles also produces a magnificent Premier Cru 'Extra Brut' bottling that has a base of half Pinot Meunier with equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plus around 2 grams per litre dosage, resulting in a dry, wonderfully well-delineated wine with a brioche bouquet, clean orchard fruit and persistent finish. He also makes an excellent Premier Cru rosé from roughly 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. With a pale coral-pink robe, redcurrant scents and palate of wild strawberries and raspberries, it makes for a sophisticated yet subtle apéritif and partner to canapés.
Completing a commendable compendium is Gilles' 'Vintage Extra Brut'. Made from equal volumes of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it has terrific length, marvellous finesse, a perfectly-poised mid-weight palate and delicate, toasty undertones. It has the stuffing to gently age for at least a decade in good vintages.