Pascal Lallement Is Crafting a Stunning Value in Champagne

Sometimes a wine comes along out of nowhere and surprises me, and bam: I want to learn more, I want to buy more, and, mostly, I want to drink more. Grower/producer Pascal Lallement’s delectable Premier Cru Champagne from Chamery in the Montagne de Reims is textured and rich with incandescent energy. And for $34.99, it is an insane value for the price.

Lallement’s family has been making Champagne for four generations in Chamery, and clearly there’s Champagne in his DNA. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got an excellent site to work with—a steep, sunny hillside amphitheater of vineyards that faces south, making the black grapes ripen beautifully. His soils are clay over chalk, much like the grand cru of Chablis.

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This is farmer fizz at its best—organic, artisanal, made by someone with deep roots to his land who wants to express it in his wines. The wine has luminous acid, plus amazing texture from five years on the lees (this is two years longer than the requirement for vintage Champagne). The wine is based on the 2007, 2008, 2009 vintages with a dosage of 12 grams per liter—just enough to give it a great sense of balance. There’s something crisp and autumnal to this, like the late days of fall in Chicago (where I used to live), where it’s just cool enough to chill your fingers but still bright and sunny and full of color. This has a toasty baked apple note with hints of tart red fruit like cranberry, plus chalk and wet stone and creamy brioche. It’s fresh though there’s body and fullness here, with a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.

This is food Champagne. It’ll stand up easily to a steak dinner. It’s also Oscars Champagne! Pick some up for your Oscars party tonight. Hell, pick some up for every night. It’s divine!

- Kate Soto