The first stop @ day 2, was Ulysse Collin in Congy. Once again a young man greats us - the very friendly Olivier Collin, which now makes wines, from the some of 9 hectares of vineyards in the Collin belongings. The Collin family has never themselves made wine, but rented the vineyards to Pommery. However, it was always a dream for the law-student Olivier to make his own wine and to study winemaking he took a year of a stagiaire with Anselme Selosse. That year changed his life and when I asked him about it, he describe it much as a before and after life.
Only one wine is currently available from Ulysse Collin - a Blanc de Blanc which comes from a small 1.2 hectare parcel called Le Perrières. But later, Olivier will release another wine from the estate - a Pinot Noir Champagne (more on that later). I am not sure how large the production will go, but it has gradually increased since the first vintage (2004) as Olivier obtains more land with the drop-out of these old lease contracts.
The first visible sight at the estate was the barriques. Clearly a sign of the Selosse inspiration. Others can correct me here if I am wrong, but it seemed to me, that Olivier really wants to take the step to biodynamic winegrowing. As he said - "there are risk involved in biodynamic winegrowing", but he admires those who succeeds with it.
We tasted several vins clairs with Olivier – both from traditional oak and barriques - also first and second press from the various parcels - all from the very promising 2008 vintage. Very very interesting, once again. Here we also saw the first glints of the upcoming Pinot Noir - which already in vins clairs version was rather interesting (very conservative stated ;-) ).
Later we tasted the real deal - the 2006 Blanc de Blanc. Really nice - touch of vanilla from the oak, flowers, citrus, well balance and has the right level of fragileness to keep it interesting and elegant (btw - it's without dosage). It seemed a little better defined than the current 2005 and I will for sure pick-up the 2006, when it hits the market sometime in early 2010.
The Pinot Noir - well well...shall I really tell you about it, or buy the whole Danish allocation for myself ;-)? It's good - really good....no...what the hell - it's fantastic. Still possessing some of its pinky color it holds a natural 13.7% alcohol. Olivier told us, that he had some problems getting the wine approved for its high alcohol and secondly as an Extra Brut. But as he said, he just waited and waited for the grapes to be perfect. Perfection is not always about simple maturity, but the right levels of phenols are also crucial. It’s the kind of wine where you stick your nose in and immediately you are in love. Indeed charming, with raspberries, redcurrant, apricot and vanilla. It was almost too good, if you understand? I speculated (just for a second or two) if it was the kind of wine which actually could be a little too much of everything and turn out monotonous, if to have a date with a full bottle. But no - I will have to say, despite its almost sensual healing appeal. It's truly one of the sexiest Champagnes I have ever tasted. And please, Olivier - keep the natural, slightly pink color please, when it's released in early 2010.