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An excellent new Champagne range


The marketing people are calling it an "everday luxury".

What's that mean exactly? It means a tasty Champagne you can sip with a clear conscience. A Champagne you can enjoy without waking up in the middle of the night anguishing over how you're going to pay the mortgage this month.

It's called Brimoncourt and it's a new label on the scene.

Think about that for moment. Trying to muscle in on a sector of the market that already boasts Taittinger, Krug, Moet et Chandon, Mumm, Veuve Cliquot... optimistic yes, gutsy most certainly.

But 12 months after arriving in Australia, and young Frenchman Hugues Villemain would have to be pleased with his work.

Given the job of launching the new label in Australia, he and Brimoncourt have taken some very substantial steps.

The wine is not only still going strong, it has cracked the wine lists of some serious restaurants - think The Lake House at Daylesford, Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth, Catalina at Rose Bay. There's more, but you get the gist. Suffice to say a lot of first-year wineries would love that sort of success.

For my money, you can put it down to two things.

First (and daylight second), the quality of the wine. Restaurants like that aren't in the habit of putting ordinary wine on their menus. The fact they sneak in significantly under the $100 mark is a bonus. They're also clear in their own minds what they're trying to achieve - a lighter, fresher, zestier style. A wine that, in their own words, is less formal.

The second is Monseur Villemain himself, a charming fellow.

I'd agreed to write about his wines a couple of times but due to unforeseen circumstances the articles hadn't appeared.

I must confess I was delighted with his patience, and his calmness. But clearly with the wines' rapid progress, there's also a healthy dose of good old-fashioned doggedness and business acumen.

But anyway, here we are. I'm finally writing about them.

For me, the star of the show is the NV Blanc de Blancs (mid $70s). Lean and very zesty - more of a starter than a finisher - it's downight tasty. Creamy, grapefruit and lemon zing, some understated honeyed sweetness, minerally, and driving acid to finish. Really enjoyable

There are other wines in the portfolio that sing from the same songbook.

The wonderfully named Brut Regence - "freshness and elegance" the website says - and that seems fair enough. There's a quite fine and delicate brut rosé, the biggest of the wines, an Extra Brut. All have their appeal.

Brimoncourt won't have the big boys looking over their shoulder in fear, but they're not trying to.

They're after a lighter Champagne, a bit more fun... mouthfuls of zingy, zesty, bubbly charm.

And there's always a place for that.

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