Roger Brun

The family Brun has been making wines for generations. Léon Brun, the great grandfather learned the craft of making champagne while working with Moët & Chandon in the early 1900s during the phylloxera crisis. Since then, the talent of winemaking has been spreading through the region. By the turn of the 20th century, the Brun family counted up to 120 members. So far, it has generated 3 different brands: Edouard Brun, René Brun and Roger Brun.
Owner and winemaker Philippe Brun – from Roger Brun – is a true individualist and icon in Champagne. He’s a rugby fanatic, an intellectual, a polyglot and (of course) a true bon vivant! Besides that, he's also a mechanical and production engineer and he was an industrial manager of a big textile group. In 1999 he came back in the family business to take the lead over champagnes Roger Brun.
His Grand Cru champagnes are not meant for the feeble and faint of heart: they are masculine, powered by the expression of the Pinot Noir and the complexity of the Aÿ-predominant terroir.

Philippe is a man of science and this reflects in his controversial thoughts about the usage of pesticides such as glyphosate. Agree or disagree, rest assured, Philippe reached his conclusions based on careful consideration and meticulous research. He’s a true walking and breathing Champagne encyclopedia packed with background info on everything you could possibly want to know about Champagne, laced with naughty, spicy inside information.
Philippe has a countless amount of different cuvees. Every time I drop by, there is something new to taste. There’s a wine for every palate; for novices looking for an easy drinking wine or for hard to please snobs like me, ha-ha.

Most of the wines have been aged in old oak barrels. He’s not seeking the taste of wood, but the expressiveness formed by micro-oxygenation. The result is more vinosity and a more yeasty – call it rural – character. All this without having signs of oxidized scents and flavors. Philippe has a passion for Pinot Noir, but a perhaps less appreciative view of Chardonnay. “A champagne always needs Pinot Noir”, he claims. I protested, mentioning some magnificent Chardonnay-driven wines such as Salon, Comtes de Champagne and Blanc des Millénaires, but couldn't convince him (not even when I brought a Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs 1981 with me). He however does make a vintage Blanc de Blancs: Blancs d’Aÿ. Quite frankly, I’m a big fan of it. It’s very atypical, in the sense that it’s very vinous, powerful, and ripe with a hint of red fruits, quite peculiar for a Blanc de Blancs. I personally hope that he will be making more of this cuvee since it has become a rare find.

The Brut Réserve is the basic cuvee. I’ve only tasted it once, but I think that Philippe isn’t too keen on it himself. It’s a blend of a majority of Pinot Meunier (50%), Chardonnay (40%) and just a little Pinot Noir (10%). The grapes are from 15 different villages around Epernay. It’s an accessible fruity, slightly tropical wine, no wood, not toasty, hard for me to become lyrical about it. The Grande Réserve is a more Pinot-dominated wine with a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, vinified in tanks. The dosage is quite high: 12.5 grams. Philippe clearly doesn’t follow the low, or zero, dosage trends. On contrary, he claims that the hype has surpassed and the high dosages will become the new standard. The 2015-base I tasted, was a lovely symbiosis between ripe orchard, plum and wild strawberry, combined with complex spices and a lovely tropical acidity.

The real non-vintage marked by the Roger Brun's Aÿ-fingerprint is the Réserve Grand Cru. This wine offers the terroir characteristics: chalkiness, salinity, dark spices and lots of Pinot Noir character. Although every year (the base harvest) is different, the wine is always unmistakably Roger Brun d’Aÿ. I’m a big fan!

La Pelle is the pride of Philippe Brun. It is a superb south-faced vineyard in Aÿ, planted with precious Pinot Noir. These grapes are very important for prestigious champagne houses, such as Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck, Perrier Jouët and Krug. The cuvee “La Pelle” Extra-Brut (dosage: 3 g) is a Blanc de Noirs vinified in small used oak barrels. It is a true “vin de parking”. It's almost a crime to open a bottle prematurely. In their youth, these wines can be spicy, barbecue roasted, bitter, bold and wild. With time they show perfect harmony and elegance without losing power and structure. This wine is just made for gastronomy and I’m fortunate to have tasted these wines paired with great dishes in Les Vieux Puits in Aÿ – Philippe Brun’s (and many famous Champenois) favorite hideout.

Cuvee des Sires is a cuvee made with first press juice from 2/3 Pinot Noir from Aÿ vinified in oak and 1/3 Chardonnay from Avize vinified in tanks. The wines are accessible and easy drinking in their youth, but with age the wines get a lovely “patina” (I call it sexiness) that I often find in the great vintage wines of Charles Heidsieck, Henriot Enchanteleurs and some Krug Grande Cuvees. This is the style that made me fall in love with champagne. For a bit more than 50 euros, this is a very satisfying vintage quality-pricewise Aÿ. Be sure to order bottles long in advance, because they are sold out very quickly.

I am particularly captivated by the Charlie-styled cuvee Réserve Familiale. This is not a coincidence: in the blend of Charles Heidsieck vintages, there is a lot of Philippe's Pinot Noir. He’s actually quite proud of that. And he has more to be proud of: his cousin Cyril became the new cellar master at Charles Heidsieck – a talented family, indeed! The collection is an oenotheque which contains mostly Cuvee des Sires and Chardonnay from Avize from exceptional years, vintages include 1982, 1985, 1992, 1995, 1996 (power and acidity), 2000 (a Pinot Noir bomb), 2002 (still youthful, but very promising) and their latest version 2006, a true stunner! We'll have to patiently await the 2008, which will be a Blanc de Noirs La Pelle 2008 still resting on its yeasts in the cellar. I had the chance to taste the La Pelle 2008 in its evolving process. Unfortunately, at this stage, I was not impressed (yet).
The apogees of the range are definitely his rosé wines. I once tasted like a dozen rosé wines at the premises.
“These are for the Americans and these are for the English and the Dutch”. The rosés were totally different in style and sweetness. Admittedly, some of them had very odd tastes, not to say that they were really bad actually. It was obvious that he was not very keen on the Dutch, ha-ha.
The rosé Romance is a light-bodied (except for the 2013 I tasted) with typical red fruits aromas, soft gunpowder and smoked ham flavors, which I love tremendously. The big bomb is Rosé de Saignée 4 Nuits, "4 Nuits" because the grapes have been macerated for 4 days. The color is dense and intense, like a red Burgundy effervescent. The palate of aromas brings you to dark cherry, chocolate and earthy tones. All of this is combined with a huge mineral driven finish, which never gets too tannic. For this wine, I prefer the version with dosage, but it’s released in Brut Nature.

My favorite rosé was an old disgorgement – I think it used base 2005 – of Rosé 1er Cru. It had luscious cured Black Angus beef fat, dark cherry, mushrooms and Piment d'Espelette. A true delight!

I’m looking forward to tasting his experiments. As you know, Moët & Chandon has created a multi-vintage cuvée vinified in stainless steel, oak and glass: the MCIII. It's a prestigious cuvee that I like very much. Philippe was immediately triggered to copy the concept and wants to make a cuvee RBIII as a reaction to Moët. His latest experiment “Vieille Réserve” was already a nice preview of this. It’s a wine completely made out of reserve wines. The version I tasted, base 2008, was a pleasant, unctuous champagne made in a rather classical style. A true crowd-pleaser!
Besides his viticulture business, he also has a Bed & Breakfast at friendly prices.
If you’re planning to visit Champagne Roger Brun, be prepared. The amount of champagnes you will taste with the generous and fascinating Philippe can make your eyes blur. And remember: don't drink and drive.

Tasting notes:

Brut Grande Réserve (base 2015) (last tasted June 2018) This is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from 1er Cru villages in the Grande Vallée de la Marne. It has a lovely light golden color with a fine effervescence and light tears on the glass. On the nose, we experience rather sweet scents of apple/pear syrup, blueberry cream, baked and fresh Boskoop apples, Mirabelle plum and dark woody overtones. The mouthfeel is soft, slightly unctuous, but a little sticky. On the palate, you get pineapple, bramble, Quetsch plums, Mirabelle plums, orange with candied rind and honey on the mid-palate. The finish is medium long with toast, hazelnut, nutmeg and a hint of cherry shining through all together with a nice citrus acidity. Though a nice party champagne, it's just a bit too sweet for me.
79 points

Réserve Grand Cru Extra-Brut (base 2015) (last tasted June 2018) This is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, all from Aÿ and 50% added reserve wines. It has an intense light golden color with a fast, powerful effervescence and nice mousse. On the nose you get red apples, young apricots, Mirabelle plums, wild strawberries and lovely exotic spices, like asafetida, cumin, gentian and turmeric. After swirling the glass, you get mellow overtones of melons. The mouthfeel is fresh and dynamic. On the palate, you get roasted pineapple, melon, apricot, bitter grapefruit and a hint of prunes on the mid-palate. It has a long finish with lovely acidity of young mangosteen, peach and plums together with a complex spiciness and mild toast. As with all young Brut Réserve Grand Crus I tasted from Philippe, this one needed time to open up and some extra post-disgorgement ageing will soften the rough edges. I’m a big fan.
85 points with 88 potential

Réserve Grand Cru Extra-Brut (base 2014) (last tasted February 2017) Base 2014. On the nose, you get a gentle yeast presence, ginger, red apple, dried raspberry, rye bread, candied orange, juniper berry and biscuits. After a while, blond tobacco and a haze of slate and rainwater start showing. The mouthfeel is fresh, vibrant and powerful. On the palate, you get fresh blueberry, Reinette apple, juicy plum, rye bread and blackberry. The finish is long and toasty with tobacco, turmeric and chalky minerality. All of this is nicely layered. It's hard to believe that this is not a vintage. Side note: there is a sharp edge to it that will soften with some more time in your cellar. Drink now up to 2025.
84 points with 87 points potential

Réserve Grand Cru Extra-Brut (base 2013) (last tasted 2016) Base 2013, this wine has a lovely light golden color with vigorous small bubbles and a nice mousse. On the nose you get juniper berry, rosehip, peach, quince, lemon zest, chalk, yeast and Bollinger toast. After a while, at warmer temperature, it shows blueberry, blackberry and oxidative notes that remind me of Bollinger Spécial Cuvee – before their style change. It has that austerity and seriousness as well as the typical forest fruits. The mouthfeel is fresh, vibrant and powerful. On the palate, you get crunchy apples, endive root, quince, woody spices and again lovely blueberry and blackberry. This ends in a long chalky finish with lots of toastiness and white pepper. Perfectly balanced. This is definitely the best version of his Brut Réserve that I've tasted. I often find this cuvee a bit unbalanced and too austere, but this one was excellent.
86 points

Vieille Réserve Brut (base 2008) (last tasted June 2018) Made of 100% Pinot Noir (mostly 2008, including some older reserve wines) from Aÿ (the back slopes with clay soil – close to the forest where you can pick porcini mushrooms). Aged 8 years before disgorgement (disgorged June 2017). It has a golden color with a refined effervescence. The nose is surprisingly young: Granny Smith apple, cranberry, blackberry, wax, rye bread and candied citrus. At first, it seemed a bit closed and needed time to open up. After a while, it started showing ripe fig as well as surprisingly complex mineral overtones of smoky slate and deep chalk. The mouthfeel is unctuous and pleasant. On the palate, you get more mature flavors, including baked apple, fig and hint of tobacco and salted lemon on the mid-palate. The finish is quite long with lots of bread, a hint of peanuts, hazelnut and salted lemon.
84 points

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2013 (last tasted June 2018) The wine has a light golden color with small fast rising bubbles and a nice mousse. The nose is a bit dominated by the wood showing vanilla, fresh and toasted coconut, violin resin, dried apricots, sweet spices (including a hint of sumac) and sourdough bread. The mouthfeel is rich and dynamic. On the palate, you get peaches, tangerine, vanilla and mild spices. The finish has a lovely warmth of fried onions, tobacco, ripe peaches and toasted almonds with a hint of spicy olive oil. Not the most complex Sires that I’ve tasted, but again a fine wine.
84 points with 86 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2011 (last tasted November 2017) The wine has a light golden color with a red copper reflection and refined effervescence. Intense nose of red apples, ripe peaches, candied angelica, chalk, vanilla, a hint of marzipan with orange blossom and sweet woody spices. The mouthfeel is young and dynamic. On the palate, you get a mixture of apples, peaches, dried apricot, a hint of fresh mushroom and frangipane cake. It offers a lovely spicy finish with turmeric, white pepper and toast. Not only is it a classic Sires, furthermore it proves that Pinot Noir can be beautiful in 2011, without disturbing green tones. This went great with red mullet prepared by the great chef Eric Aubert from Les Vieux Puits in Aÿ.
87 points with 89 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2008 (last tasted June 2018) It’s been 3 years since I tasted this wine and it has evolved exactly like predicted. The nose is now very rich with apple fitter, hazelnut cream, all kinds of pastry and bakery aromas, rooibos tea, straw, the scent of pollen and rosehip. Yet also showing more maturity with beeswax, white truffle, summer sausage and a pleasant hint of musk. Swirling the glass, revealed orange oil, vanilla cream, lemon curd. A noble aroma that reminds me of Charles Heidsieck! The mouthfeel has calmed down and shows a lovely depth and vinosity. The very elegant candied citrus flavors from before are still present, combined with mild spices and a mixture of nuts. The finish has exotic fruits, wood, a hint of honey and again the cinnamon biscuits. This is a beautiful wine that still has not reached its full potential.
90 points with 92 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2008 (tasted in 2016) (I include this review just to show how this wine has evolved.) The wine has a light golden color with quite tempestuous bubbles, turning into an elegant effervescence after some time in the glass. The nose is impressive: roasted hazelnut & almond, toast, lemon and grapefruit with zest, dried honey, rooibos tea, a light haze of straw, turmeric and nutmeg. The attack is quite spicy, followed by lemon zest, acacia honey, nuts, mandarin, a light touch of butter and a little nibble of cinnamon. On the mid-palate, we get some blackberries. The acidity is nicely rounded with sweet lemon. The finish is impressive with sugared Brazil nuts, toast and fresh hazelnut. Decanting the Champagne makes it even more radiant, helping the wine evolve into an unctuous wine with candied berries, vanilla cream. The wine turns Burgundian of style with notes of fresh juniper, sandalwood and cinnamon cookies. Giving the wine time to open up, it gains even more complexity: tangerine peel, Kalamata olives, figs, redcurrants and a very slight undertone of Boskoop apple with violets. This all gives rise to a magical moment in the mouth. The finish remains consistent: toasty and powerful. I’m already very impressed, but this Champagne is still a baby it this stage. Highly recommended.
88 points with 93 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2006 (last tasted June 2018) The wine has a lovely golden color with a refined effervescence and rather fat tears on the glass. It offers a rich and seductive nose of café au lait, rhubarb tobacco, young calf leather and surprisingly fresh overtones of nettle and sea breeze. Swirling the glass, revealed butterscotch, Hawthorn, apple pie and mushrooms with Meursault-like smoke and again fireworks. Very Charlie in style! The mouthfeel is like drinking a Burgundy effervescent: soft like butter. On the palate, you get butterscotch, toffee, apple sauce, pear and fig syrup and foie gras with a hint of Sauternes. On the mid-palate, there is blueberry sauce and buttery brioche. The finish tastes like clafoutis with cherry, again the brioche and ripe Meursault aftertaste. I could never have predicted that it would have become such a beautiful wine.
91 points with 92 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2006 (tasted 2014) (I have included these tasting notes to show that maturation of the wine can be unpredictable. I was tremendously impressed when I re-tasted it recently.) It has a light golden color with a modest effervescence. There's a very seductive nose of Apfelkuchen (a kind of apple pie), mocha, iron oat, graphite and yeast with an overlay of gunpowder that reminds me of good times from my youth when I was playing with harmless fireworks. On the palate, it is surprisingly citrus oriented, with grapefruit, sun-ripened blood oranges combined with vanilla, Turkish delight, bread crust and again that lovely gunpowder. On the mid-palate, there is Reinette apple and a hint of blueberry. The finish is long and toasty with typical Aÿ minerality. I suspect that this wine will mature fast. Drink now until 2025.
85 points with 86 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2005 (last tasted 2013) It has a golden color with a modest effervescence and fat tears on the glass. The aroma is interestingly animal-like with yeast, offal of beef, blood, toasted hazelnuts with salt. There is a sweet Sauternes-like nectar on the mid-palate, which I really love. It is surprisingly elegant on the palate with refined yeasts, hazelnut oil, apricot and some sundried tomato on the mid-palate, adding a nice bitter touch. The finish is long and yeasty with notes of young Comté cheese.
88 points

Cuvee des Sires Brut vintage 2000 (last tasted 2013) I was happy to find this perfectly stored bottle in Belgium. The wine has a deep golden color with a modest effervescence and fat tears on the glass. The nose is warm, romantic: candied peaches, prunes, dates with a hint of Port and barnyard. Offering a very vinous and masculine mouthfeel. On the palate, you get bakery yeast, raisin bread, chocolate, prunes, peach and cherry. The finish is yeasty, but I'm missing some supporting acidity. Nevertheless, it's still a very pleasant wine.
81 points

La Pelle Extra-Brut vintage 2012 (last tasted June 2018) Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The wine has a beautiful golden color with fast rising fine bubbles. Offering a very compact and spicy nose of dried berries, ginger powder, vanilla wafers and overtones of wild garlic and dark minerality with slate. The mouthfeel is tight and it all feels very nervous. The fruit is now a bit suppressed by the woody flavors. The finish is very spicy and has a trail of apple, citrus and young plum acidity. This needs time to mature because now it is a baby. Only time will tell how it will evolve.
82 with 88+ potential

La Pelle Extra-Brut vintage 2011 (last tasted 2015) I was at restaurant Les Vieux Puits in Aÿ with my good friend and chef Filip Bossuwé. We had a three-course lunch (sweetbreads, duck and cheese) accompanied by a chilled bottle of La Pelle 2011. The wine has a beautiful golden color with fine bubbles. The nose reminds a lot of Albert Bichot Meursault Charmes! This is nearly incredible, because La Pelle is made of Pinot Noir. The aroma is silky, you get wax, blueberry cream, baked mushrooms, apple, beurre noisette, Meursault smoke, walnut crème, a hint of coffee with a “finesse” yeastiness and buttery brioche. This champagne is fantastic out of big wine glasses. Swirling the glass revealed more Pinot with dried cherry and a hint of blackberry. The mouth has everything you expect: lots of concentration, a nice fine pearl and a creamy mousse. On the palate, you get a lovely reflection of the nose combined with dried figs, smoke and a hint of Cantal cheese. The finish is long with citrus acidity, toast, mushrooms and even a hint of truffle shining through. This is a fabulous and one of the best vintage 2011s I’ve ever tasted.
92 points with 93 potential

La Pelle Extra-Brut vintage 2009 (last tasted November 2017) The wine has a beautiful golden color with fine bubbles. It offers a modest nose of blueberries, ghee, tobacco, hay, a light cognac tone, noble yeasts, pink pepper, black olive, cocoa butter, syrup waffles and wood tones. After a long time in the glass ginger syrup and cloves came out. The mouthfeel is soft, slightly vinous and full-bodied. The taste is closed, but opens up with time. On the palate, we get spicy wood, speculoos spices with a soft touch of cinnamon, blackberry, roasted lemon and candied citrus. At the end, we get a beautifully long and toasty finish with cigar smoke. Yet, I’m somehow missing a bit more supporting acidity. This is a wine that I absolutely want to re-taste within 7-8 years. All summed-up, it's a beautiful masculine wine with that old-school Bollinger character. Delicious!
87 points with 89 potential

La Pelle Extra-Brut vintage 2008 (last tasted June 2018) This is one of thé vintages in the history of Champagne. Expectations are very high of course. The nose is incredibly restrained with green pepper, Granny Smith apples, dried orchard fruits, vanilla and citrus zests with overtones of charred vegetables and fruit. This is like a hornet trapped in a glass bowl: agitated and very aggressive. The mouthfeel is tight and very nervous without a supporting mousse. On the palate, you get dried fruits, woody spices, again the charred flavors, squid ink and a hint of lavender, quite bitter. On the finish, you get garrigue spices, sharp citric and rhubarb acidity with very dry toast. I’m not sure what to think of this. Still, Philippe is so impressed with this wine that he is planning to make a Collection Familiale version. If there's one thing I'm sure of it's that Philippe knows what he’s doing. Hence, I’m very anxious to taste it. Also, I would like to re-taste this La Pelle in about 2 years.
70 points (when you drink it now)

La Pelle Extra-Brut vintage 2006 (last tasted 2014) The wine has an intense yellow golden color with fast rising bubbles. On the nose you get red apples, chocolate biscuits, beef jerky, fleur de sel, toasted brioche and complex chalky minerality. The mouthfeel is compact but dynamic. On the palate you get crunchy apples, vine peach, blond tobacco and Mimolette cheese. The finish is long and toasty and has the typical apple and citrus acidity with zests. Still very young but should be drinkable starting from 2018.
86 points with 88 potential

Cuvee des Sires Brut Blanc d'Aÿ vintage 2007 (last tasted October 2015) Made from 100% Chardonnay. The wine has a beautiful yellow golden color with lots of quickly rising streams of bubbles. We find aromas of warm straw, ginger, pancake with melted butter, washed cheese rind, fish oil, roasted lemon, honeycomb, rosehip, linden blossom, vanilla, orange blossom and hawthorn. The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy without being sticky. Yet, it has a slight grainy feel to it, perhaps because of more rustic effervescence. On the palate, we get lemon sorbet with citrus concentrate, followed by cold butter, candied tones, peach, vanilla, walnut, soft chestnut puree and chalk. On the mid-palate, you taste red fruits, quite odd for a Blanc de Blancs. The wood is prominent and ensures an exuberant character, but it makes the wine less fruity. On the finish, we get candied citrus, blond tobacco and toast. After a long time in the glass, the mouthfeel becomes softer and we get pretty smoky notes as well as softened wood flavor. Peaking soon, drink now to 2020.
86 points with 89 potential

Rosé Romance Brut (2013) (last tasted 2016) Made of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. Macerated 1 day. The wine has a very special amber, rusty color. It offers an exciting nose of dried roses, sun dried tomatoes, pomegranate, forest strawberry liqueur, black pepper, crunchy baked baguette, new leather, crunchy Durondeau pear, cherry, the leather returns in the taste together with a bitter touch of squid ink, saffron and cloves. It looks cute, but this is a serious wine with an almost Pessac-Léognan spiciness. This begs to be paired with duck breast baked in its own fat!
83 points with 85 potential

Rosé Romance (2010) (last October tasted 2015) It has an intense pomegranate pink color with a refined effervescence. It has a playful nose of raspberry, red currant, blood orange, candied red paprika and a touch of rosehip. After swirling the glass, you get gunpowder and cooked ham. The wine is medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel. On the palate, you get raspberry, pomegranate, forest strawberries and beef blood, with a mineral backbone. There is a nice bitter touch of radicchio on the mid-palate. The finish isn't very long, but still satisfactory.
81 points with 84 potential

Rosé Romance Brut (base 2008) (last tasted October 2015) The wine has an intense pomegranate pink color with copper highlights and a refined effervescence. Fruity aromas of redcurrant jam, woodland strawberry, gingerbread and chalk with overtones of ripe red cherry. After a while in the glass pink pepper and mountain source water appeared. The attack is fresh with a sour touch of cherry tomato followed by cherry and a speck of cassis. On the finish we get light citrus with cherry. This is clearly an elegant, more delicate wine, which functions perfectly as a summer aperitif.
79 points with 82 potential

Rosé de Saignée 4 Nuits Brut Nature vintage 2013 (last tasted 2018) Made from 100% Pinot Noir. This wine is intense ruby red in color. On the nose, we get cherry, pomegranate, beef blood with iron, raspberry sweets, shortbread, a violet candy, chalk, liquorice and toast. The mouthfeel is hard and vinous. On the palate you get cherry, charred flavours, licorice, dark chocolate and orange with zest. The finish is huge and toasty with lingering minerality. The wine is currently very young and very austere and I'm not sure if it will age well without dosage but then I was just as sceptical when I first tasted the vintage 2011.
80 points with 80+ potential

Rosé de Saignée 4 Nuits Brut Nature vintage 2011 (last tasted 2016) Made from 100% Pinot Noir. No dosage added. Macerated 4 days, this wine has a light garnet red color with fine bubbles. On the nose, we get dark cherry, pomegranate, blood orange, cherry sweets, shortbread, a touch of barnyard aromas, chalk, liquorice, mint and toasted sourdough bread. After some time in the glass, the aroma of hibiscus cordial predominates. The attack is slightly saline, followed by deep cherries. Then, strong roasted tones come up, like grilled pineapple and puff pastry, tonka bean, chocolate, orange zest, guava and mocha. The aftertaste reminds me of amber Bush beer: the bitterness of malt with a wink of sweetness to it. The finish is huge and toasty with echoing mace and charred flavors. The wine is currently still very young and quite austere in the mouth. After a few more years, it will evolve into a rosé with ‘grandeur’: smoky, deep and complex. The previous version, 2008, was more like a sparkling red Burgundy with a lot of dynamics. This version is now fruitier and softer on the palate than when I first tasted it in 2014. It clearly has a great aging potential, even without dosage.
85 points with 87 potential

4 Nuits Rosé de Saignée Brut Nature vintage 2008 (last tasted 2015) Made of 100% Pinot Noir. No dosage added. Macerated 4 days, the wine has a ruby red color with very refined effervescence. On the nose: sour cherry, citrus, yeast, pink pepper, dried cherry and chalky minerality. It reminds me of a spicy Pinot Noir, like a sparkling Burgundy. The mouthfeel is vinous and rather tight. On the attack, we get sour cherries followed by dark cherry, followed by raw Nuits St. Georges with tannins and slight iron. On the long finish, we get cherry with refined yeasts. I’m curious how this wine will evolve with time. Pairs remarkably well with dark chocolate fondant macaron with raspberry sorbet.
83 points

Réserve Familiale Œnothèque 2006 (last tasted June 2018) Disgorged June 2016. The wine has an intense golden color with a nice effervescence and fat tears on the glass. The nose is boom in your face: plum liqueur, heather honey, Quetsch, Earl Grey tea, Mirabelle pie with crunchy crust, toasted macadamia nuts and dark chocolate. So happy that Philippe found a more suitable (bigger) glass for this wine. The mouthfeel is rich and vinous, keeping an elegant freshness. On the palate, you get Mirabelle pie, lemon curd, Quetsch, prunes, dried figs, Lindt dark chocolate, raisins, baked mushrooms, tonka bean and a hint of Banyuls. The finish is very long with prunes, candied citrus, tobacco and smoked meat uplifted by a lovely acidity. This is a very impressive champagne to be enjoyed on its own.
94 points

Réserve Familiale Brut Œnothèque 2002 (disg. 2015) (last tasted May 2016) The wine has a light luminous golden color with a nice effervescence and gentle tears on the glass. The nose reminds me very much of Mumm Lalou 2002. It shows candied citrus, fresh figs, lychee, nougat, vanilla, hazelnut oil and mushrooms. This is probably the lightest wine that I've tasted from Philippe. The mouthfeel is playful and unctuous. On the palate, you get candied citrus, vine peach, fresh hazelnut, soft yeasts and vanilla. The mid-palate is a bit empty. The finish is reasonably long with candied citrus and young plums with minerality. I expected a bit more from this excellent vintage, a similar sensation to tasting the Mumm Lalou 2002.
88 points with 90 potential

Réserve Familiale Brut Œnothèque 2000 (disg. 2011) last tasted November 2017) (Tasted July 2013) Made of two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay. The wine has a beautifully brilliant golden color with fine bubbles. Bon vivant aroma of straw, mature Cox Orange apple, fig, date, fresh sliced oyster mushroom, fern, melted butter, hawthorn, honey roasted light and typical Charles Heidsieck-like maturity with notes of Liège syrup, beautiful yeasts and duck liver pate (rillettes). It also shows a lovely salinity of seashells. The mouthfeel is crisp and creamy at the same time. On the palate, we get candied fig, cold butter with beautiful apple, citrus acidity and an intense chalky minerality. On the long finish, acids echo with a light touch of crème brulée. This wine shows remarkable similarities to Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2000 (first disgorgement with old label) and indeed, Brun’s quality wines are in the blend of Charles (and Piper). Hence, it was very interesting to taste them side-by-side. The Roger Brun was fresher and more straightforward. Charles, the Romanticist had a fuller mouthfeel: more butter, fat, nuts as well as more pronounced mushroom tones. Nevertheless, the fruity and saline elements were very similar. This is an excellent contemplative wine, a must have for your cellar. Drink now to 2035.
93 points with 95 potential

Réserve Familiale Brut Œnothèque 2000 (disg. 2013) (last tasted November 2017) This wine has a beautiful golden color with very refined effervescence. The nose is deep and bombastic with yeast, dark prunes, old currants jam, citrus, smoke, tobacco, matured alpine cheese, toasted brioche, roasted honey … Shocked by the sensations, I nearly lost all focus. I know this wine very well, but this being a different disgorgement, May 2013, the wine is very different. Describing the flavors now, seems like an act of impertinence! This wine is powerful, very mature and still has a festive acidity to it. Followed by a majestic toasty finish which surprises with lovely chestnut honey. I could never guess that it would evolve so fast towards tertiary aromas and flavors. When I tasted it in 2013, it reminded me of Charles Heidsieck vintage 2000 (early version). Now it tastes like a mature Champagne Charlie (like the 1981): an Aÿ-bomb full of character like a Beethoven symphony in a bottle. Drink this wine out of a big glass, such as Zalto Burgunder. This is one of the best values you can find from vintage 2000. Drink now to 2035.
95 points

Réserve Familiale Brut Œnothèque 1996 (last tasted 2014) The color of this wine has an old golden glow with an elegant effervescence and fat tears on the glass. The nose is monumental with lots of yeast, leather, that typical dark scent of Italian Kentucky tobacco cigars, black truffle, bruised apples, prunes, dates, roasted coffee, charred nuts, caramel and a wisp of burning rubber tire smoke. After swirling the glass, I found the wine shows blueberry and bramble coulis and it gets even earthier. The mouthfeel is masculine, weighted and firm. On the palate, you get lots of tertiary flavors along with old Mimolette cheese, mature apple, dark chocolate and roasted coffee. The unbalanced acidity is overpowering, taking over the mid-palate. The finish is huge, smoky and toasty. This wine is a perfect match for quail with a creamy truffle-cognac sauce. Perfect to drink now.
93 points

English edited by Gudrun Huvelier.

Champagne Roger Brun

10 Rue Saint-Vincent
51160 Ay, France
Phone: +33 3 26 55 45 50

Production: 50,000 bottles

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Michiel Demarey
Michiel Demarey is a blogger and journalist specialized in champagne. He is Knight in the order of Coteaux de Champagne.