Champagne de Vigneron is alive and well – searching for vinous Champagnes that speak loudly of the terroir and the wine maker. Arriving in March are some terroir focused wines for Melbourne clients. Stunning wines from Philippe Glavier, Hélène Beaugrand, Patrick Voirin, Jérôme Bourgeois-Diaz and Marie-Noëlle Ledru. Subscribe now here to get onto the newsletter.
My interest is to find vinous Champagnes that speak loudly of the terroir and the wine maker. Sure there are many nice correct easy drinking Champagnes out there. And most of the 4,000 growers make that genre of Champagne. That is not my interest. For me Champagne needs to be a ‘fine wine’ and sit alongside the great wines of the world. Texture, weight, finesse, length, elegance, minerality, complexity, balance, profound, subtle are just some of the adjectives I use to describe any fine wine. Champagne is no different and my quest is to find these for loyal Melbourne clients.
April is a busy time in Reims and Epernay with a number of grower groups running exhibition salons. Most tastings are now in Reims.
Origines de Champagne – 16th and 17th April – Pierry
Le Cercle des Créateurs de Champagnes Confidentiels – 16th April in Epernay and 17th April in Reims
Bulles Bio – 17th April Reims
Les Mains du Terroir de Champagne – 17th April Reims
Des pieds et des vins – 18th April Reims
Terres et Vins – 18th April Reims
Generation Champagne -le lundi 18 avril de 9h30 à 18h30 at le mardi 19 avril de 9h30 à 14h30 au Cellier à Reims
Degustation Bouzy Rouge et Champagne Rose – 19th April Reims
Passion Chardonnay – 19th April Reims
Les Artisans du Champagne – 19th April Reims
Club Tresors – 20th April Reims
Les Pepites des Independants – April 20th Reims
Not yet confirmed are:
Verzenay Grand Cru de Champagne – 18th April ??
Les Riceys tasting in Aube – 21st April ??
Champagnes et Terroirs group ??
Trait d’Union ??
A nice masterclass run by David Donald – using my stock of 1996 Champagnes. My notes are my personal view.
- 1996 Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs.
This is the regular bottling. Pure and mineral but still showing quite a bit of acid. Maybe a tad hard at the moment but appears to have the ability to age for a few years more for sure. Lovely mousse.
- 1996 Bonnaire Prestige Blanc de Blancs.
Creamy and quite open. Quite approachable now and a very nice drink. Opened up a bit stinky but after 20 mins we saw some nice purity and elegance.
- 1996 Fleur du Passion Dibolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs.
This cuvee uses oak maturation and blocking of malo to add some real complexity and precision. Nose shows honey vanillan oak – more like a white burgundy. Palate is tight and long. A joy and drinks well now. One of my favourites of the night. Superb.
- 1996 Claude Cazals Blanc de Blancs.
Open and straight forward. Slightly heavy handed oxidised style of the grower is the hall mark of the wine. A nice drink and in excellent condition.
- 1996 Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs.
Bold style, on the riper end of the spectrum and maybe shows a certain lack of elegance compared to other blanc de blancs in the bracket. In perfect condition and very enjoyable.
- 1996 Pierre Peters Cuvee Speciale Blanc de Blancs.
Very tight and very savoury in style. Nose opened up very sulfide and took 20 minutes to clean up. Very fine mousse and great length. More like a young white burgundy in style. Great potential to improve yet.
- 1996 Jacquesson Avize Blanc de Blancs.
Hints of coconut and chocolate on the nose. Massive weight and intensity all held in check by great acid. Very fine mousse. Superb.
- 1996 Agrapart l’Avizoise Blanc de Blancs.
Quite lean and tight, fine mousse and great complexity. Appears a little hard and angular which suggests it needs more time still. Crazy stuff. Yes it needs more time!
- 1996 Vilmart Cuvee Creation.
Now the terroir changes from the Cote des Blancs, to the Montagne. The different profile is immediately obvious. This bottle revealed the intensity of the Vilmart sweet oak in spades. Sweet oak is not my favourite sorry.
- 1996 Renee Geoffroy Cuvee Prestige.
The honeyed richness of Cumieres fruit is immediately obvious. Ripeness and richness with gentle acid keeping the balance in check. Nice drink but maybe a little simple.
- 1996 Paul Bara.
The standard bottling. A lovely classically dosaged old Champagne. Toasty and in great balance.
- 1996 Paul Bara ‘Comtesse de Marie de France’ Blanc de Noirs.
Pure and precise with great perfume. The red fruits are subtle but penetrate the taste buds. Perfect balance and great length. Superb.
Monday October 12th at Black Events Melbourne.
There were two sessions – Trade first then public in the evening. There was a mix of the usual big house brands, small house brands and growers. Sadly across all market segments, big house and growers we saw variations in integrity. Some cuvees were fresh and some were clearly tired old poorly stored stock. Certainly very obvious across the big brands, but even some grower Champagnes were old and tired.
Getting information as to cuvee composition was hit and miss. Some reps knew everything and some new nothing and had to refer to Tyson’s book to work out the facts. But still it was a fun event.
We are still seeing numerous wines being disgorged at way too high dosage levels. Though there are some nice trends among the big houses to produce extra-brut cuvees finally.