Archive for December 7th, 2017

December 7, 2017

The wines of Champagne, oh yes they are just done differently !

Yes, this is another post trying to expand on wines; and of course Champagne have been put into a sort of different category but we talk about wines it should mean Champagne too. They are just done with the sparkle in it you know…

And believe or not, the area which can be call Champagne ,also includes areas in Seine-et-Marne dept 77 ::)  The areas really are The Montagne de Reims (dept Marne 51) with the dominant grape Pinot Noir. The valley of the Marne (dept Marne 51, Aisne 02, and Seine-et-Marne 77) with the dominant grape Meunier; the ladders or hills call côte des blancs (Marne 51) with the dominant grape Chardonnay; and the vineyards of the ladder or hills call côte des Bars (around times of Bar-sur-Aube and Bar-sur-Seine in the Aube dept 10.

All this thanks to a monk , Dom Perignon (1638-1715) cellarmaster of the abbey benedictine of Hautvillers that handle different crus and the control of the must in the second fermentation. Of course, sparkling wine was done way before, but this event is the one that really took off the name and the pleasures of it for all of us. It is done basically with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes. Although some lesser known grapes are authorize but seldom use such as Arbane, petit meslier, pinot gris or fromenteau and pinot blanc; also , the gamay  in the dept 10 Aube.  By towns you can tell the quality as some towns are Grand Crus, and many more Premier Crus and then there are the Autres Crus or others.

There, is also some others like red white, and rosé wines in the coteaux champenois especially in the towns of Bouzy, Vertus and Damery. The Rosé des Riceys produce in the town of Riceys in the Aube dept 10. the sparkler crémant de champagne  with a smaller sparkler and less pressure in the fermentation. The grapes to make champagne is also, use to do an aperitif call Ratafia and hard liquior marc de champagne.

All officially about Champagne you can find here in English and many other languages;

The tourist offices of the area are

The main towns for visits ,tastings and just plain Champagne are in Epernay and Reims. Their tourist office are here:

The last year with statistics is from 2016, that indicates that France is still the leader in volume of Champagne with  157,7 million bottles of the total of  306,1 millions bottles coming out of there or simply the French market represent 51,5% of the Champagne production.

Some distinction on how the wines should be drank in a progressive way  from the lighest to the heaviest or richer. We start with a Champagne or body white whine like a blanc de blancs or muscadet and finish with a red wine sharp like Bordeaux or sweet wine such as a Vin Doux Naturel (muscat, rasteau or banyul) . OF course, you can keep the same wine for the entire meal. And as far as temperature goes served the dry whites between 8-10°C (about 50F), the more body whites such as Chablis, Vouvray, Montlouis, or Montrachet between 10-12°C (about 54F), the body fruity red like a côtes du Rhône villages, Chinon, Bordeaux Supérieur between 15-17°C (about 6OF) and the more complex full tannic reds like a Bandol, Côte Rôtie, Haut-Médoc, or Margaux between 16-17°C (about 65F), after decanting.

And some of my favorites in addition to the Mercier,Môet & Chandon, etc etc that we can enjoy here and I believe ,also, abroad are these:

Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée, from the former football/soccer player Michel Fauconnet in the house for 40 years with a mixing of crus avg 15 years and with  50- 55 %  chardonnay, 30-35 %  pinot noir, and  10-20 % meunier,including about 20-30 %  of reserves wines for about 38 €

Drappier Carte d’Or done in the town of Urville,in the border of the Aube and the Haute-Marne with impressive views of the cemetery of  Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises (Charles de Gaulle resting place). In addition to the regular bottle they do a Melchisédech a bottle of 30 liters good for about 150 persons a record of France and the World with an unique bottle for 4295€; the regular bottle is 32€ ; the blend is 75 %  pinot noir, 15 % chardonnay and 10 % meunier.

Leclerc Briant  Brut Premier Cru ; the house became a seller of Champagne of 50 years and settled in Epernay; finally in 2012 it was sold to an American couple that gave the management to the local Frédéric Zeimett. The innovation this year is a line of Classiques . The Champagne has mostly a blend of pinot noir 70 %, coming from three villages of premier crus. They are pioneers in the bio and biodynamic agriculture; bottle goes for about 48 € here.

Perrier-Jouët, Blanc de Blancs, done apart from the cuvees Belle Epoque, and showing the most of the chardonnay; done with a mix of several parcels of land on an extention of 65 hectares own by the house; mostly from Cramant and Avize; bottle goes for about 60 €

Ayala B de B 2010, the house settle in Aÿ from which the mark is not related to the name of the town but to a Colombian diplomat who  married a local and inherited the property. The house was purchased in 2005 by the group Bollinger. The brand is well appreciated in the UK. The winemaking is done by Caroline Latrive that gives it a soft dosage in the blends such as chardonnay that receives 6 grams of sugar per liter.  A blanc de blancs  brought out in small quantities from the best crus such as Chouilly, Cramant, Oiry, and Vertus). Goes here for about 49 €

Gosset Noir and Blanc, the oldest Champagne house since 1584! This year they come out with a Grand Blanc de Blancs brut fine and elegant and a Grand Blanc de Noirs Brut.  Doing an homage to the elegance of the pinot noirs where at least five crus goes into the elaboration of this wine with dominant areas of Ambonnay, Aÿ  ,and Verzy.  The wine spend 9 years in the cellars. the price here is 75 €  for the Blanc de Noirs ; and 54 €  for the Blanc de Blancs.

Piper-Heidsieck vintage 2008, queen Marie-Antoinette one day in 1785 received a bottle from the founder of the brand, and she will appreciate this bottle too. We cannot be sure but the cellarmaster Régis Camus, that blends this wine grape by grape and cru by cru has done a blend to dream of . It comes from 20 crus blending  chardonnay (52 %) and pinot noir (48 %) for about  39 €; one of my favorite Champagnes.

Tsarine Millésime 2012, the brand is of recent making but it comes from an old Champagne house founded by the canon  Frères,created in 1730.  It was purchased in 1991 by Philippe Baijot (Lanson). Tsarine  is done with a pretty bottle in twisted leaves . It is a blend of three grapes the usual ones and the winemaker done it the final twist with the pinot noir to built it , the meunier for the round fruity aromas and the chardonnay  to give it finesse; all for  33 €.

Enjoy the bubbly ,this is the season to be merrier or bubblier ::) Cheers!

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