José Michel

I have, for several years, heard of the mythical longevity of Meunier. When ever it was mentioned there was always one producer, above all others, that seemed to be able to control the grape and allow it to flourish with some age. That producer was Jose Michel.

I have visited the maison on several occasion and must admit that I have struggled to get inspiration from their wines. It was only on my most recent visit that all the dots seemed to connect and I saw the beautiful image beneath. Their wines on first approach are so incredibly fresh and fruity, so eminently drinkable, it is hard to see how they can develop into such incredibly structured and powerful wines like I experienced when I tried back to their 1955 vintage.

Their range starts with the Brut Tradition, a blend of Meunier and Chardonnay. Great mouthfeel, crisp and sweet.

The Extra Brut is slightly heavier on the Chardonnay and usually held a year longer on the lees. It is more mineral driven with some lovely stoney notes and red fruits. It needs some food to allow it to sing.

The Grand Vintage flips the blend around 60/40 Chardonnay/Meunier. It is again wonderfully fruity with good grip. It always needs some time to give you much more.

Interestingly they show a Blanc de Blancs vintage. Having tried a number of vintages I do struggle with the wine. It shows great elegance and weight on the front end but lacks depth. I have not enquired as to the vineyard location and age but this might hint as to the lack of structure.

Their Special Club, a 50/50 blend of Meunier and Chardonnay, is a wonderfully refined and serious wine. It shows a great increase in complexity in mouthfeel. Always tight knit in it’s youth it broadens with age developing beautifully.

The Brut Pinot Meunier is the mythical wine in question. Always vintage (although released before it can be labelled vintage). Always 100% Meunier. It shows such youth and expression on first taste it is a struggle to see how and why you would age it! But if you do… Having tasted back to 1955 I can assure you it is worth it! It develops wonderful tertiary notes of caramel, paprika and sweet mushrooms but always maintains an incredible level of minerality and balance. Very impressive.

Pere Houdart is a wonderful experience being a blend of Meunier (40%), Pinot Noir (40%) and Chardonnay (20%). Based on the 2011 (40%) vintage but blended with the vintages: 1984, 1982, 1976, 1975 and 1971 which have been transferred to vats from bottle creating a wine of great complexity. Wonderfully aromatic with notes of hazelnut, pastry and layer upon layer of fruit. Produced in a limited run for each vintage base of 3200 bottles. It is a wonder more producers don’t practice this production!

All in all a fantastic little producer and one that I will be purchasing for the long haul in my cellar!

Jose Michel Pere Houdart

Tiny bubbles. Lovely fresh nose with fresh toasty hints. Beautiful lingering sweet notes. Endless finish with salty hints and a fiery bite. Velvety purple violets. Light golden. Evolution is beautiful expression of the vintages.