An estate to keep your eye on - Penet-Chardonnet Extra Brut Reserve

Posted by Ian McFadden

Grand Cru Champagne Discovery
Extra Brut Reserve

"This is clearly an estate to keep your eye on." –Peter Liem

An ultra-fine Champagne with impeccable richness, depth, and steely minerality for less than $65 a bottle — this was the wine that sold us on Alexandre Penet.

The guy comes into Crush one day with nothing but a suitcase full of wines and a good word from "Champagne Warrior" Brad Baker. It's an unfortunate truth that most blind pitches don't turn out as well as we'd hope, but tasting Penet's wines, we were floored.

This was one to make them all worth it. Each time I tasted the Extra Brut Reserve during our little courtship with the Penet-Chardonnet portfolio, it became increasingly clear that we had found something special.

We introduced you to Penet a few months back with his Brut Nature, an impressive under-$50 sparkler. The Extra Brut Reserve takes their careful winemaking to the next level - it is more refined, a deeper expression of the considered precision that defines Penet's approach.

Penet was an engineer with an MBA before he dropped it all to make Champagne, and his approach to wine is fittingly erudite. His philosophy is one of terrior, and of low-dosage as a means of reaching the pinnacle of a wine's true expression. But of course, theory is no good without praxis, and Penet's philosophizing delivers: Above all else, Penet's Champagne is really fun to drink.

Extra Brut Reserve is sourced from entirely Grand Cru plots, in Verzy and most notably, in Verzelay, which is one of top Grand Crus of Champagne. The Extra Brut delivers a rich, ripe core with the firm structure typical of these Grand Crus and, shimmering about it all, a delectably saline minerality. A tendency toward low-dosage wines can sometimes yield unfriendly austerity, but the Extra Brut retains a certain warmth and grace, staying long and wonderfully balanced.

I brought a bottle to kick off a recent weekend upstate. Amidst a number of impressive wines that got popped throughout the night, the Penet-Chardonnet stood out. It's immensely pleasurable to drink, with the intrigue and complexity to hang right along with the heavy-hitters.

Though his family has been making wine for five generations, Penet has only taken over operations since 2008, and it's since then that this estate has started to garner more (much-deserved) attention. Peter Liem is not the only one to note that "this is clearly an estate to keep your eye on."

It's easy to see why. His wines hit that hard to reach equilibrium of being serious without being challenging; restrained but still generous; complex and downright delicious.

This was the wine that made us want to work with Penet, and the bottle that cemented him as one of our new favorites in Champagne. I don't think I'm being presumptuous in my confidence that you'll feel the same.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine and Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits