Category Archives: Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Champagne Ed Mc Carthy on Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagnes

Ed McCarthy then spoke about Vintage Blanc de Blancs. They are made from the best  grapes from the choicest vineyards. The aromas  and flavors are more concentrated and  are more full bodied.

Ed

Ed McCarthy and friend at the WMG Champagne Tasting and Lunch.

They are aged longer which adds more complexity and the grapes are from one vintage which is always an above average year or an excellent one. He said that for him vintage Champagne was the better buy conceding the quality but added not every occasion calls for vintage Champagne. He likes vintage Champagne with dinner and non vintage Champagne as an apéritifs.

Vintage Blanc de Blancs

img_1992

Champagne Ayala 2008 Grapes are from 5 villages on the Cote des Blancs: Oger, Avize, Cramant. Vertus and Cuis. The wine rests in the cellars for 6 years after disgorgement, in order to develop complexity, intensity and roundness on the palate. It has hints of grapefruit, pastry dough and a hint of spice. Ed likes this house a lot but did not think the bottle he tasted was drinking that well. $85img_1993

Philippe Gonet, Belemnita, Grand Cru, 2005 this is the flagship cuvee of the house.  Single site in Le Mesnil sur Oger, planted in 1929.  9 years on the lees, 3 grams dosage, only 300 cases produced. Very complex wine with honey and truffle notes and secondary aromas.   Belemnita is the name of this cuvee which is their top as DP is to Moet or Comtes is to Taittinger. This champagne has an extra-brut dosage and is only made in exceptional years. It has tiny bubbles with hints of dried fruits, honey, grapefruit and a touch of hazelnuts and cashews $300

img_1995

Domaine Dehours, Brisefer, lieu-dit, 2005, 1.3 ha site specific plot in Mareuil le Port in the Marne normally planted to Meunier. This site was planted to chardonnay. Aged on the lees for 7 years. 3 grams dosage. Neutral barrel fermented. This is a wine with citrus flavors and aromas, with hints a grapefruit and apple and a touch of vanilla.  $95. 

img_1996

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 The wine matures on the lees for five years and left for a minimum of 6 months after dégorgment to attain maturity. Ed said there is no dosage and no malolatic fermentation. The wine has floral notes and hints of white fruit, almonds and mint. $85img_1999

Champagne A. R. Lenoble 2008 Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Chouilly. The dosage is 4g/l. Only 10% of the wine is vinified in wood and there is a very light dosage. The wine has hints of pear, apple and a touch of lemon. $64img_2001

Champagne Bruno Paillard 2006 Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blancs, all with a 100% classification. The fermentation method they use was established generations ago for Champagne “Demi Mousse”. When the still wine is decanted for the second fermentation in the bottle, less sugar and yeast is added than for traditional Champagne. This results in a less powerful bottle fermentation, producing a pressure of 4.5 kg instead of the normal 5 or 6. The dosage is 5 grams residual sugar. Ed said this is perfect for Blanc de Blancs because it enhances the finesse of the Chardonnay and adds freshness and elegance. This is a complex, elegant Champagne with an array of aromas and flavors with hints of citrus, white fruit, a touch of brioche, toasted almonds and good minerality. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste. $90img_2003

Champagne Pol Roger 2008 made from grapes from the Grand Crus of the Cõte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouillu, Cramant, Avize and Oger. There are two débourbages (settlings) one at the press house immediately after pressing , the second “a froid” in stainless steel tanks at 6C for 24 hours. A slow fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with each variety and each village kept separate. There is full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9C in cellars 33 meters below street level. It remains here until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand a rarity in Champagne today. The wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot and a touch of apple. Produced in limited quantities, this cuvee has been aged for 7 years in the cellars before release. $115. This Champagne was showing very well. img_2004

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. They age their wines for a long period before release. It is located in Reims, France. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grapefruit. Ed is a big fan of this Champagne house and of this wine. It was one on my favorites. $130img_2006

Champagne Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2002. This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed had mixed emotions as to whether it was worth the money. He added it may be one of the best Blanc de Blancs made but it needed more time especially in an exceptional vintage like 2002. There was some controversy about this wine, Ed really liked it but I felt the bottle I tasted was off. $325img_2007

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millénaires 1995 Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blanc, 4 Grand Cru and 1 Premier Cru. The wine remains in the cellar for 15 years before release. Ed said that they were one of the few houses in Reims that have a magnificent, 2,000 year old Gallo-Roman cellar to age their wines. This is complex Champagne with aromas and flavors of dried and candied fruits, dates, and notes of hazelnuts and almonds.  $195

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under AR Lenoble Champagne, Ayala, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Charles Heidseck Blanv de Millenaires, Dehours Champagne, Gonet Champagne, Louis Roederer Brut, Perrier-Jouet, Pol Roger, Prestige Cuvee Champagnes, Tattinger Champagne, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Uncategorized

Blanc de Blancs Champagne with “Champagne” Ed Mc Carthy

“Champagne Ed” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, presented 18 Blanc de Blancs Champagnes for the Wine Media Guild’s tasting and lunch at The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC.

Ed said that Champagne Blanc de Blancs (white from white) could only be made from Chardonnay grapes.

img_2019

Ed McCarthy

Many Champagne houses believe in the traditional philosophy that blending is better and therefore do not make a Blanc de Blancs. About 5% of all Champagne made today is Blanc de Blancs. Even though most Blanc de Blancs are lighter in style than the traditional blended ones, they can age and are best from 8 to 10 years from the vintage date.

Fuller bodied Blanc de Blancs from the Grand Cru villages, such as Krug Clos du Mesnil, Salon and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, can age for 15 to 20 years or longer.

Champagne has a 300-year history but there was no Blanc de Blancs before 1920. It was Eugene-Aime Salon, founder of the house of Salon, that made his first vintage in 1921. Though popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Blanc de Blancs almost disappeared after Salon’s death in 1943. Taittinger in 1952 came out with the now famous Comtes de Champagne, a Blanc de Blancs, and the vintage appeared in 1957. Blancs de Blancs was here to stay.

The dosage for these lighter in style Blanc de Blancs is usually 5g/liter. It is the lightness and dryness that makes them perfect as an aperitif or with a first course like fish and seafood. Most Blanc de Blancs are more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the high price of the Chardonnay grapes.

Ed said that the great years for vintage Champagne are 1996, 2002 and 2008, which are on the market now.

The Champagne img_1986

Champagne Barons de Rothchilds NV in magnum. The grapes come from the Còtes des Blancs.  40% of reserve wine is used. There is a low dosage and long aging after disgorgement, 6 to 9 months. Cellar aging is for at least 3 years. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with white fruit notes and hints of apple and almonds. $207img_1987

Champagne Collet NV most of the grapes come from the Cote des Blancs region and is made from 6 crus. It is aged for a minimum of five years in hundred-year-old chalk cellars, which is longer than the regulations require. The dosage is 7.5 grams per liter. It has floral notes, with citrus aromas and hints of grapefruit and wild flowers. $55 img_1988

Champagne Mumm de Cramant NV  There are almost 218 hectares of vineyards rated 98%, which are mainly on the eight most renowned Grand Crus: Aÿ, Biuzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Cramant, and Mailly-Champagne. 25% of the production comes from here, 75% is from independent growers. The grapes are picked between the end of September and mid October; about 100 days after the vines have flowered. As required by champagne appellation rules, picking is by hand. After pressing, the must is stored in vats for two weeks between 18°C and 20°C alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation always takes place but is not required by the appellation rules. In the cellars the liqueur de triage triggers a second alcoholic fermentation and the bubbles gradually form. As the bubbles form, the pressure inside the bottle increases, reaching as much as 6 bars.

Ed said that in this wine there was less pressure so the bubbles were not as forceful. It was one of the first Blanc de Blancs Champagnes introduced in1930. It is fresh, crisp, dry, light bodied with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a touch of white peach. $64img_1989

 Champagne Henriot NV  This is one of Ed’s favorite houses and one he feels does not get the attention it deserves. It is a blend of grapes from the Cote de Blancs and the villages of Mesnil- sur – Oger, Avize, Chouilly and others. The assembly consists of 30% reserve wine, the percentage can change depending on the vintage. This is wine with hints of orange blossom, honey, apricot and a touch of brioche. $55  Ed says that this Champagne House deserves to be better known.img_1990

Champagne Ruinart NV Chardonnay is the very soul of the winery with grapes coming mainly from the Cote des Blancs, and Montagne de Reims terroirs. In the cool of the underground chalk tunnels, the wine slowly matures in the bottle. In 1768 Ruinart acquired former Gallo-Roman chalk quarries (the Crayères), hollowed out under the city of Reims to a depth of 38 meters. The site extends over three levels with eight kilometers of galleries. There is a constant temperature of 11°C with no vibrations and a perfect humidity level. This is Champagne with nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apple and apricot. $72img_1991

Champagne Gosset Grand Blanc NV  Ed said this was the oldest continually operating Champagne house but it is not as well known as it should be. The grapes come from 15 different Premier and Grand Cru vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. The wine is on the lees for a minimum of four years before disgorgement.  The wine has floral aromas, with hints of white fruit, apricots, and a touch of lemon on the palate. $77img_2018

Extra Brut NV. Philippe Gonet, 3210, NV  Cuvee. The numbers stand for 3 years on the lees, 2 vineyard sources (50% Le Mesnil and 50% Montgueux.  Montgueux is chalky and is considered a non-classified GC of the south. The fruit is fuller but also has minerality from the chalk.  Le Mesnil gives tension, freshness and salinity on the mouth.  1 is for 1 cepage and 0 is for zero dosage. It is marked extra brut but there is no sugar added.  50% of the cuvee is reserve wine from a solara started 10 years ago. The wine has floral notes, a touch of toast and hints of apricot, peach and lime. It has a fresh and lingering finish.  $75.
img_2002

 Champagne Andre Jacquart Mesnil Brut Nature NV Malolactic fermentation does not take place, a minimum of 5 years on the lees before disgorgement and zero dosage. 70% of the wine is aged in old Burgundy barrels. Ed said that the grapes come from the best villages in Champagne. This is elegant champagne with hints of pear and peach with a long and fruity finish. Ed was very impressed with this champagne and it is a bargain at $70. Ed said this was the NV Champagnes with the most body, which is typical of their style.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Andre Jacquart Mesnil, Barons de Rothchilds Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Champagne, Collet Champagne, GH Mumm, Gonet Champagne, Gosset, Henriot, Ruinart Blanc de Blances, Uncategorized

The Best of Non-Vintage Brut Champagnes

The Wine Media Guild’s annual tasting and lunch at Felidia Restaurant of non-vintage Brut Champagne was a greatly anticipated event, thanks to the efforts of Ed Mc Carthy. Ed, the author of Champagne for Dummies, organizes and hosts this event, and this year managed to line up 26 Champagnes so that the guests were able to tastethem side-by-side.

Ed Mc Carthy and Michelle D. DeFeo, President Laurent-Perrier

Ed Mc Carthy and Michelle D. DeFeo, President, Laurent-Perrier

Ed did not begin to speak until he had tasted all 26 of the wines at least once. Ed said they are the standard of the house style and must be consistent from year to year. He also said that the Blanc de Blancs are lighter in style and more Champagne Houses are now producing them. Non Vintage Brut Champagnes are a good value for the money and priced between $35 and $60 a bottle.

The Wines:

Ayala Brut Majeur $40 made from 43% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Meunier. Bollinger owns this company. They only use up to 20% of their reserve wine in the NV. Complex and elegant with hints of apple, pear, bread crust and a touch of spice.IMG_9306

Marion-Bosser Premier Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $56 This is one of the few biodynamic houses in Champagne. The winery is on the right bank of the Great Valley of the Marne, against the peaks of the Montagne de Reims. The vineyards are all Premier Cru. The soil is chalk. The wine spends three years on the lees. The dosage is 5g/l. It is an elegant Champagne with hints of apple and good minerality. Ed liked it.

Piper – Heidsieck Brut $38 this is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It is a well-structured wine, fruit forward with hints of pear, citrus and grapefruit.

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvèe $45 Made from 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. The grapes are a selection from 32 villages vinified separately in stainless steel or in barrel. There is a systematic use of reserve wines from previous vintages from 25% to 48% when needed. The wine comes from the first pressing of the grapes. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 3 months. This is almost double the legally required minimum. In all of Bruno Paillard’s Champagne, the dosage is kept very low, 5 to 6 grams of sugar per liter, so as to produce an authentic and pure wine, a true Brut. This is the flagship of the house and must remain true to itself in the good and bad years. One very large tank is used for the assemblage so there will be consistency.  The wine has aromas of citrus fruit, especially lime and grapefruit, that is so typical of Chardonnay. There are also aromas of red fruits like cherry and raspberry, so typical of Pinot Noir. This in one of Ed’s favorites and also mine.IMG_9413

G.H. Munn Cordon Rouge Brut $38 made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine has hints of orange peel, almonds and a touch of smoke with a nice long finish.

Lanson Black Label Brut $44 made from 35% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier. It is aged for at least 3 years and the dosage is 8/10g/l. The wine has hints of citrus fruits and a gentle touch of toast.

Perrier-Jouēt Grand Brut $37 Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay. It is crisp with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of toast.

 

 

IMG_9305

Christina L. Jacobs, Champagne Specialist, Moet Hennessy USA

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV $68. Chardonnay is the very soul of the winery with grapes coming mainly from the Cote des Blancs, and Montagne de Reims terroirs. This is a Champagne with nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apple and apricot.IMG_9296

Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV $55. This is one of Ed’s favorite houses and one he feels does not get the attention it deserves. It is a blend of grapes from the Cote de Blancs and the villages of Mesnil- sur – Oger, Avize, Chouilly and others. The assembly consists of 30% reserve wine, the percentage can change depending on the vintage. This is wine with hints of orange blossom, honey, apricot and a touch of brioche.

A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru NV $55. Ed said this was one of the few independent and family run houses in Champagne and arguably the best value in the tasting. The 18 hectares of vines are all situated on Grand Cru and Premier Cru lands. The cuvee contains 13% of reserve wine aged in oak barrels for 5 to 8 months. The wine spends 4 years on the lees. This is Champagne with hints of apple, pear, lemon and a touch of toast.

Champagne Brut Reserve Billecart-Salmon NV. Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles and a fruity delicate freshness.IMG_9294

Champagne Premier Brut NV Louis Roederer is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier from 50 different crus. It is aged for 3 years in the cellar and 6 more months after dègorgement.

Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Zero Dosage $60 Made from 55% Chardonnay and 45 % Pinot Noir. It is aged for at least 4 years on the lees.

There is less than 3g of residual sugar per liter and no addition of sugar syrup after bottle fermentation. It is crisp with hints of citrus and honeysuckle with nice minerality and acidity. Because it is bone dry, it is an excellent Champagne with food.

Tattinger Brut “La Francaise” $40. This is a blend of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir from 30 different vineyards. It has hints of apple and lemon with a touch of peach and almonds.

Deutz Brut Classic Champagne $45 made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in equal proportions. It has hints of apples and brioche with a touch of pear and lemon.

Duval-Leroy Premier Cru Brut $50 Mostly Chardonnay from premier cru vineyards in the Cote des Blanc in Vertus where the winery is located. It is aged of at least 3 years and has hints of pear, pastry dough and almonds.

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Andrè Jacquart Brut Experience Premier Cru $50 Ed said they only make Blanc de Blancs. The Chardonnay grapes are from Premier Cru Vertus (vinified in stainless steel) and from the Grand Cru village of Mesnil-sur- Oger (Vinified in older Burgundy oak barrels). No malolactic fermentation and the Champagne is aged for 5 years on the lees before disgorgement. It has hints of pear and toasted brioche with nice minerality

Leclerc Briant Les Chevres Pierreuses Premier Cru Brut $60. Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier from the Les Chèves Pierruses vineyards in Cumieres. It has 4.5 g/l sugar. Ed said only 3,000 bottles were made and he really liked it. The Champagne has hints of lemon and lime with a touch of cherry, peach and almonds.

Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Pascal Doquet Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut Le Mesnil -Sur- Oger $54. The winery is in Vertus near Avize. The vines average around 36 years old, the soil is chalky in the Le Mesnil sur Oger. Harvest is by hand. They farm organically and the yields are 20% to 30% less than appellation standards. Indigenous yeast is used. A minimum of 3 vintages makes up the cuvee. The wine usually goes through malolactic fermentation. An average of 50% of the blend is vinified in small, old oak barrels to oxgenate the wine. It is aged on the lees in bottle for over 8 years. Production is only about 6,000 cases. The wine has hints of yeast, marzipan and apple with a touch of lemon.

J P Lamiable Brut Grand Cru Blanc De Noix $50 made from 100% .They farm 6 hectares where the Montage de Reims, Cōte de Blances and Vallèe all converge. Primary fermentation takes place in stainless and enamel tanks to preserve freshness. Maturation is in enamel tanks for 6 months. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged on the lees for 5 years. It has hints of pear, peach and almond with good acidity and minerality. It is Champagne that can age and goes very well with food.IMG_9292

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve $60 Made from 75% Pinot Noir / Pinot Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of brioche and almonds.

Moēt and Chandon Brut Imperial $40 made from 50% Pinot Noir 40% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. It is medium dry with black fruit flavors and aromas with a touch of toast.IMG_9295

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut $45 made from 56% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier and 28% Chardonnay. Ed said it is very easy drinking Champagne with dark fruit aromas but improves with a year or two of aging.

Paul Roger Brut White Label $42 Made from equal parts of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from the first pressing. Each final blend contains a minimum of two vintages with the youngest components being a minimum of three years old. Average dosage is 12 g per liter. This is a complex creamy Champagne with aromas of fruit and toast.IMG_9291

 Gosset Grand Reserve Brut $60 made from 46% Meunier, 38% Pinot Noir and 16% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier grapes. It is a well full-bodied Champagne, complex in aromas and flavors that will age very well. Ed said that this house founded in 1584 is the oldest continuing wine firm in Champagne. The Gosset family no longer owns it but Ed said it is a Champagne house that should be better known.

Bollinger Special Cuvèe Brut $60 made from 60% Pinot Noir 15% Pinot Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. Reserve wines of up to 15 years in age are added to the base wine and it is aged 3 to 4 years before release. This is a dry, full bodied champagne with rich, complex flavors that become more toasty with age.

3 Comments

Filed under Ayala, Billecart- Salmon, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Bollinger Champagne, Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Henriot, Lanson, Non- Vintage Brut Champagnes

More Blanc de Blancs with Champagne Ed

At the Wine Media Guild Blanc de Blancs tasting at Felidia Restaurant, Champagne Ed McCarthy divided the Blanc de Blancs in two groups, the lighter drier ones (see Part I) Blanc de Blancs with Champagne Ed , and those with more body and more dosage. He said that the fuller bodied Blanc de Blancs have more complex flavor and are more suited to go with a main course like lobster, game birds, or a full flavored poultry dish than with an aperitif.

The Champagnes IMG_6625

Pascal Doquet Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru 2002 $85 The vines range from 3 to 77 years old, averaging about 36 years at present. The 1.67-hectare vineyard is located in the Le Mesnil sur Oger, the exposure is east and the training and pruning is Taille Chablis ( slanting bush vine system, without the support of a central  post ). The yields are 30% lower than the maximum allowed by Champagne. Harvest is by hand. Only indigenous yeast is used. The wine usually goes through malolactic fermentation, with an average of 50% of the blend is vinified in small old oak barrels to oxygenate the wines. A minimum of 3 vintages makes up the cuvee. The dosage is 7g/liter. It has hints of apple, lemon and a touch of yeast. IMG_6627

Larson Extra Age Blanc de Blancs $115 The grapes come from the Avize, Cramant, Oger and Le Mesnit-sur-Oger Crus. The wine is aged for at least five years and the dosage is 8g/liter. There is no malolactic fermentation. This champagne has hints of white flowers, pear, white peaches and a touch of brioche. Ed said this was one of the best Champagnes at the tasting.IMG_6626

Paul Roger Blanc de Blancs 2004 $115  The grapes come from the Grand Cru vineyards of the Cötes des Blancs, Oiry, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize and Oger. Harvesting takes place from September 12-28.  The wine undergoes two debourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second a debourbages a froid in stainless steel tanks at 6°C for 24 hours. A slow cool fermentation at 18°C takes place in stainless steel with each village kept separate. The wine undergoes full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending.  Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C. They are one of the few Champagne houses that does the remuage (riddling) by hand.  The wine is aged in the cellars for 9 years before release. This is rich full-bodied wine. There are aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and lime peel with a hint of white flowers and toasty notes.IMG_6630

Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2004 $130 The grapes come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oire in the Cotes des Blancs. The unblended wines are aged entirely in stainless steel to retain their pure character. This is followed by 7 years of bottle aging in the cellars before release. Ed said that this is a rather full-bodied champagne for a Blanc de Blancs. This is an elegant Champagne with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of raisins and bread. He added that the champagne is drinking very nicely now.IMG_6613

Perrier- Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2002 $325 This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed had mixed emotions as to whether it was worth the money. He added it may be one of the best Blanc de Blancs made but it needed more time espicially in an exceptional vintage like 2002.IMG_6631

Gosset Célébris Blanc de Blancs NV $175 Ed said this was the oldest continually operating Champagne house but it is not as well known as it should be. The grapes come from 15 different Premier and Grand Cru vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. The wine is on the lees for a minimum of four years before disgorgement.  The wine has floral aromas, with hints of white fruit, apricots, and a touch of lemon on the palate.IMG_6632

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995 $180   Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blanc, 4 Grand Cru and 1 Premier Cru. The wine remains in the cellar for 15 years before release. Ed said that they were one of the few houses in Rheims that have a magnificent, 2,000 year old Gallo-Roman cellar to age their wines. This is complex Champagne with aromas and flavors of dried and candied fruits, dates, and notes of hazelnuts and almonds.  IMG_6633

Henriot “Le Cuveè Des Enchasteleurs 1999 in magnum $550 This champagne was offered by Danna Shapiro who represents Henriot. It is not a Blanc di Blancs but it was an offer Ed could not refuse! 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from six Grand Crus: Mailly, Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize, and Chouilly on the Côte des Blancs. The Name “Enchanteleurs” refers to the cellar workers in the days when vinification was carried out only in barrels. Their work consisted in particular of piling up the casks on wooden beams. It was said they put the casks on chantiers (gantries), that they enchantelaient. They traditionally enjoyed the privilege of making for themselves a little Champagne cuveé produced from the finest wines. It has hints of candied citrus, peach with a touch of honey, peach and hazelnut.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Champagne, Deutz Blanc de Blances, Gosset, Henriot, Lanson, Pascal Doquet, Perrier-Jouet, Tattinger Comtes de Champane

Blanc de Blancs with Champagne Ed

“Champagne Ed” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, presented 17 Blanc de Blancs Champagnes for the Wine Media Guild’s tasting and lunch at Felidia restaurant.

Ed Mc Carthy

Ed Mc Carthy

Ed said that Champagne Blanc de Blancs (white from white) can only be made from the Chardonnay grape. Many Champagne houses believe in the traditional philosophy in Champagne that blending is better and therefore do not make a Blanc de Blancs. About 5% of all Champagne made today is Blanc de Blancs. Even though most Blanc de Blancs are lighter in style than the traditional blended ones, they can age and are best from 8 to 10 years from the vintage date.

Fuller bodied Blanc de Blancs from the Grand Cru villages, such as Krug Clos du Mesnil, Salon and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, can age for 15 to 20 years.

IMG_2398

Wine Media Guild Members Tasting Champagne

Champagne has a 300-year history but there was no Blanc de Blancs before 1920. It was Eugene-Aime Salon, founder of the house of Salon, that made his first vintage in 1921. Though popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Blanc de Blancs almost disappeared after Salon’s death in 1943. Taittinger in 1952 came out with the now famous Comtes de Champagne, a Blanc de Blancs, and the vintage appeared in 1957. Blancs de Blancs was here to stay.

The dosage for these lighter in style Blanc de Blancs is usually 5g/liter. It is the lightness and dryness that makes them perfect as an aperitif or with a first course like fish and seafood. Most Blanc de Blancs are more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the high price of the Chardonnay grapes.

Ed said that the great years for vintage Champagne are 1996, 2002 and 2008, which are just coming on the market now.

 The ChampagnesIMG_6617

Marion-Bosser Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut $55. This is one of the few biodynamic houses in Champagne. The winery is on the right bank of the Great Valley of the Marne, against the peaks of the Montagne de Remis. The vineyards are all Premier Cru. The soil is chalk beleminter from the Mesozic era. The wine spends three years on the lees. The dosage is 5g/l. It is a elegant Champagne with hints of apple and good minerality.IMG_6621

A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru NV $55. Ed said this was one of the few independent and family run houses in Champagne. The 18 hectares of vines are all situated on Grand Cru and Premier Cru lands. The cuvee contains 13% of reserve wine aged in oak barrels for 5 to 8 months. The wine spends 4 years on the lees. This is a Champagne with hints of apple, pear, lemon and a touch of toast. IMG_6619

Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2007 $78. Grapes come from five villages in the Cote des Blancs: Oger, Avize, Cramart, Vertus and Cuis. The estate is 35 hectares in the heart of the Grand Cru of Montagne de Reims. The wine spends 6 years in the lees before release. Ed said that they were now owned by Bollinger but everything is done on the Ayala estate. This is Champagne with hints of citrus, pineapple and white flowers.IMG_6480

Bruno Paillard Réserve privée Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV $65 made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blancs, all with a 100% classification. Ed said they use a fermentation method established generations ago for Champagne, “Demi Mousse.” When the still wine is decanted for the second fermentation in the bottle, less sugar and yeast is added than for traditional Champagne. This results in a less powerful bottle fermentation, producing a pressure of 4.5 kg instead of the normal 5 or 6. The dosage is 5 grams residual sugar. Ed said that this is perfect for Blanc de Blancs because it enhances the finesse of the Chardonnay and adds freshness and elegance. This is a complex elegant Champagne with an array of aromas and flavors with hints of citrus, white fruit, a touch of brioche, toasted almonds and good minerality. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste.IMG_6618

G.H. Mumm de Cramant NV $66. There are almost 218 hectares of vineyards rated 98%, which are mainly on the eight most renowned Grand Crus: Aÿ, Biuzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Cramant, and Mailly-Champagne. 25% of the production comes from here, 75% is from independent growers. The grapes are picked between the end of September and mid October; about 100 days after the vines have flowered. As required by champagne appellation rules, picking is by hand. After pressing, the must is stored in vats for two weeks between 18°C and 20°C alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation always takes place but is not required by the appellation rules. In the cellars the liqueur de triage triggers a second alcoholic fermentation and the bubbles gradually form. As the bubbles form, the pressure inside the bottle increases, reaching as much as 6 bars.

Ed said that in this wine there was less pressure so the bubbles were not as forceful. It was one of the first Blanc de Blancs Champagnes introduced in1930. It is fresh, crisp, dry, light bodied with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a touch of white peach.IMG_6616

 Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV $68. Chardonnay is the very soul of the winery with grapes coming mainly from the Cote des Blancs, and Montagne de Reims terroirs. In the cool of the underground chalk tunnels, the wine slowly matures in the bottle. In 1768 Ruinart acquired former Gallo-Roman chalk quarries (the Crayères), hollowed out under the city of Reims to a depth of 38 meters. The site extends over three levels with eight kilometers of galleries. There is a constant temperature of 11°C with no vibrations and a perfect humidity level. This is a Champagne with nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apple and apricot.IMG_6635

Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV $55. This is one of Ed’s favorite houses and one he feels does not get the attention it deserves. It is a blend of grapes from the Cote de Blancs and the villages of Mesnil, sur Oger, Avize, Chouilly and others. The assembly consists of 30% reserve wine, the percentage can change depending on the vintage. This is wine with hints of orange blossom, honey, apricot and a touch of brioche.IMG_6626

Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2007 $70. Ed said that even though the 2007 was drinking very nicely, the 2008 a better vintage, was going to be released at the same price. The firm is based in Ay, one of the 17 top-rated Grand Cru villages of Champagne. 75% of the grapes come from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. The estate is spread over five villages. Each blend is in the same elegant signature bottle, in which it was aged on its lees for a minimum of three years. This is another of Ed’s favorites and also one that he feels is underrated. This is a Champagne that has a certain creaminess with hits of citrus fruit, white peach and a long finish.

Next time, the “bigger’ Blanc de Blancs,

 

2 Comments

Filed under Ayala, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Deutz Blanc de Blances, G.H.Mumm de Cramant, Henriot, Marion-Briant Champagne, Perrier-Jouet, Ruinart Blanc de Blances