When I was looking for a nice bottle of champagne with which to ring in the new year, I stumbled across this bottle of Nicolas Maillart Marie Hanze Brut Elegance NV in the Dekalb Farmers Market. While I knew nothing of this particular vigneron, I noticed that it was imported by Weygandt, a name I have heard before in connection with interesting French wines. In the end, it turned out to be the most interesting option, although I also bought a bottle of Mumm just in case.
After I got home, I tried to find some information about this particular bottle, but there does not seem to be much about it on the internet. While I initially thought it was a grower champagne based on this one article, a closer inspection of the label showed an "NM", or négotiant-manipulant designation, instead of the RM designation that I associate with grower champagnes. All my research seems to indicate that Nicolas Maillart is certainly a small producer, but perhaps the vigneron must buy more grapes than is allowed under RM. In any case, this particular champagne is certainly not widely available and made by a smaller, up-and-coming vigneron with a record of making respectable champagne.
My tasting notes focus on two main points: nuttiness and citrus. Of the former, I found a strong presence of toasted hazelnuts and marzipan, while of the latter, I noted lemons supported by a bracing and lingering acidity. This champagne also has a very fine bead: sea-foam rollicking amidst the breaking surf, though not an aggressive carbonation that attacks the tongue. As a result, this champagne would be fantastic as an aperitif, a quaff to start the night, rather than one to end it. Although I would have preferred a champagne with more body for the occasion, it was a lovely champagne to share with family that night.