Overview of the Wine
Denis Varnier is only the third generation of winemakers at this estate, but grape growing in the Fannière family (Denis’ mother’s side of the family) dates back to 1860. Although the estate is small at just over 4 hectares, Varnier-Fannière’s holdings are impressive, averaging 45 years in age.
Denis’ holdings are in three grand cru villages in the northern Côte des Blancs. He has as much land in Cramant as he does in Avize, with a smaller holding in the village of Oiry. His wines are precise and terroir expressive, in the direction of Avize “graphite”, while also being delicious and pleasurable. They exude class and fastidious detail. For a taste of absolute Avize, taste the Cuvée Saint Denis hailing from a single-site of 70 year-old vines, from the monocru "Clos de Grand Pere."
The Avize slopes are planted entirely with Chardonnay. The grapes from the steep slopes provide better and more delicate wines, but, in blending, the more robust specimens from the relatively flat terrain lower down in the village hold their own. Essentially, Avize produces rather more powerful wines than the slightly more fragrant ones from Cramant or Le Mesnil. . . . The nutty and roasted aromas are not to be found among its neighbors, leaning more to chocolate, leather, and truffles, and improving with age.
Grape / Blend
Avize Grand Cru; Vigne du Grand Père, 70+-year-old vines, Champagne, France
93 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The October 2019 disgorgement of Varnier-Fannière's NV Brut Grand Cru Cuvée Saint-Denis continues to show very nicely, revealing aromas of ripe citrus fruit, yellow apple, fresh apricot, wheat toast and marzipan, followed by a full-bodied, broad and powerful palate that's elegantly fleshy and nicely concentrated. It's an expressive, textural Champagne that exemplifies the house style.
93 Points - Vinous
The NV Brut Cuvée Saint Denis is another fabulous wine in this range. It emerges from 70 year-old vines in the Vigne du Grand Père lieu-dit in Avize. Orchard fruit, pear, lemon oil, graphite and crushed rocks build as this chiseled Blanc de Blancs shows off its remarkable pedigree and personality. This release is a blend of 60% 2015 and 40% 2014. Dosage is 10 grams per liter. Disgorged: October 30, 2019. Drinking window: 2020 - 2028
92 Points - Wine & Spirits
Denis Varnier makes this wine from an estate block in Avize, where the vines are 65 years old. This disgorgement is a beautifully focused Côte des Blancs Champagne, rounded by pale cranberry and white chocolate flavors, severe in its equally pale, earthy austerity. It has the linear, laser-like acidity of chardonnay grown in limestone, targeted at oysters.
92 Points - Wine Enthusiast
Although not indicated on the label, this is a blanc de blancs. It veers toward bone dry, while maintaining just a hint of ripe tropical fruit to round out the crisp, mineral texture. It could age over several years.
91 Points - Wine Spectator
Hints of bread dough and dried currant lace this juicy Champagne, with flavors of persimmon, honey and light smoke on the lively bead. Disgorged September 13, 2013. Drink now through 2019.
Product size: 750ml