Co-op Les Pionniers 2004 Champagne has just won two Gold Medals - at the IWC and the DWWA (meaning that it's really rather good).
Most Champagne is non-vintage, NV, a blend of several years' wines to create a consistency of style. Occasionally, however, along comes a doozy and the wine-maker will create a vintage Champagne from only that year's fruit.
My general rule of thumb for vintage Champagnes is that they need at least a decade's aging before being even ready, let alone mature, so this one is still rather young.
Made from 2/3rds Pinot for red fruits and body, plus 1/3rd Chardonnay for white fruits, elegance and freshness, it is a pale straw yellow in the glass with a fruity, Pinot nose and slightly musky, toasty aromas.
There is ripe apple and pear fruit on the palate with hints of red berries; well-structured acidity, touch of pleasant sharpness, good savoury leesiness; the mousse is fine and elegant.
It is long and balanced with a persistent finish.
This is a lovely, complex and still youthful Champagne; it improves significantly with aeration and develops for several hours after opening, so will repay cellaring. Very Good.
It is priced below many more-mainstream NV Champagne brands, so really is a bargain; buy a case whilst you can and watch it develop over the years.
Match with shellfish, white fish or roast pork.
£26.99 (and currently discounted to £23.99); provided for review.
The Co-op's Les Pionniers NV also won an IWC Gold, a DWWA Bronze and is reduced from £19.99 to £16.99 until 16 July, 2013.
Other related articles
Veuve Monnier NV (Co-op)
Piper Heidsieck Brut NV (Co-op)
Lanson Black Label Brut NV (Co-op)
Etienne Dumont Brut NV (Sainsbury's)
The Co-op - website, twitter