J Lassalle Champagne is a small family run Grower Producer in Chigny-Les-Roses in Montagne de Reims. They have 11 hectares of vines from 10 to 40 years old, all Premier Cru, and produce 100,000 bottles wine a year. J (Jules) Lassalle established Champagne J Lassalle in 1942, passed away in 1982, and now his wife, daughter, and granddaughter are in charge.
The wines are elegant yet quite big, lush, and dense. Some would say opulent. Importer Kermit Lynch uses the description of "signature style of elegant, tightly knit wines with a certain ampleur" - ampleur being a French word that roughly translates to fullness, richness, and opulence.
Wines are very traditionally made, just as they were in 1942. The original wooden press is still used to press grapes, each vineyard plot is vinified separately, all wines undergo malolactic fermentation, wines are disgorged and riddled by hand, and all under go extensive aging once bottled. Even the Non Vintage wines get a minimum of 5 years in bottle. Lutte raisonnée farming is employed, minimizing the use of chemicals and pesticides.
I first encountered J Lassalle, a simple NV Brut of theirs, when I was a Champagne neophyte and enjoyed it immensely. After a few years I now have the privilege (as is my tradition) of drinking a Lassalle as I write this up, specially a Special Club 2002 I acquired from The Rare Wine Company - notes below.
They make quite a few different bottlings, and the precise blends vary depending on the year and are not disclosed exactly so the following are approximations which are roughly correct each year. Non Vintage wines include:
Brut Réserve “Cachet d’Or” - 60 percent Pinot Meunier, 20 percent Chardonnay, and 20 percent Pinot Noir
Brut “Cuvée Préférence” - 60 percent Pinot Meunier 20 percent Chardonnay, and 20 percent Pinot Noir, and aged a year longer (6 years total) than the "Cachet d’Or”
Brut “Cuvée Angéline” - 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay
Brut Rosé - a very pale pink Rose which is 85 percent Pinot Noir, 10 percent Chardonnay, and 5 percent Pinot Meunier. 3-4 percent of the Pinot Noir is still wine which adds the color.
They make two vintage wines:
Brut Blanc de Blancs Millésimé - of course 100 percent Chardonnay as it's a Blanc de blancs
Brut Spéciale Club Millésimé - 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent Pinot Noir
Tasting Note: J Lasalle Brut Spéciale Club Millésimé 2002 - Feb 2012
A light straw yellow with small and medium sized bubbles
The nose is immediately impressive with fresh apples and a touch of orange, and a rich mineral roundness
On the palate, concentrated green apple, sweet orange, lemon custard, and a lot of lime. Quite concentrated and quite young, yet undeniable elegant. Drinking well but this will only get better. This is quite intense at its current state and goes well with food.
Another Bottle: tried April 2014, a little over two years later, seemed a bit off. Although still pleasant, it had lots of rich red ripe apple on the nose and palate that I've seen on some much older naturally made Grower Champagnes. Still a fun bottle, but although I'd give it a "B" it will remain unrated.