Category Archives: Bruno Paillard

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

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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

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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. 

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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

 

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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

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.

 

 

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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.

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

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.

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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,

 

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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

Champagne Bruno Paillard Reims- France

Francois Colas, the brand ambassador for Bruno Paillard, met our train from Paris. He told us that before we visited the winery he wanted to take us to see the vineyards. Even though it was raining he felt that we must see the vineyards in order to understand the Champagne region and Paillard Champagne in particular.

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Matthieu Pingret and Francois Colas

The region of Champagne is very rainy, he told us as we huddled under umbrellas overlooking the vineyards. The vineyard manger, Matthieu Pingret, was there to give us a walking tour.

Francois said that the harvest usually takes place 95 to 100 days after the vines flower though in the end it really depends on the weather. The harvest was a few days later this year because the weather was nice and sunny. The grapes are crushed in the vineyard right after picking.

Paillard has a total of 79 acres from 15 crus (villages) of which 35 acres are in Grand Crus and Premiers Crus.

Young Vines

Young Vines

Matthieu explained that the vineyards were in the heart of Champagne and the Crus on the best chalky subsoil. They do not use chemical weed killers, but use plowing or sowing depending on the plot to improve the root system. Only organic fertilizer is used and only when necessary. Only wooden stakes are used for the vines. He said that they grow grass between the rows of vines because it helps to absorb the moisture because there is a lot of rain. As if to prove his point, it began to pour and we returned to the car.

Alice Paillard, Bruno’s daughter, greeted us at the winery. She said that her father began the company in 1981 and that they are the youngest and still one of the smallest Champagne houses. They do not produce a Sec or Demi Sec but only Brut Champagne.

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Alice Paillard

She said that Paillard is unlike other Champagne houses because their winery was only on one level. The others have cellars at different levels and have to decide which bottles are stored in the lowest level, which is the best area. Because the Paillard winery is completely temperature controlled, a choice does not have to be made and all of the wines are stored in the best possible conditions.

Alice took us into the room were the riddling, remuage in French, was done. Traditionally the rotating of the champagne bottles to loosen the sediment thrown off by the second fermentation was done by hand. This process caused the sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle for disgorgement, the ejection of the sediment under pressure, which leaves the wine perfectly clean. Alice said that her father was the first in Champagne to use a automatic riddling machine called a “gyropalette.” The champagne bottles are put in a large square metal container, which rotates the bottles as if it was done by hand. On completion of the process of riddling, the bottles are neck down and ready for disgorgement, with no difference in quality. She added that now almost all Champagne houses use this machine because it is much more efficient. IMG_6474

According to Alice, in the past the workers called disgorgement the operation because it consisted of three stages: the sediment in the neck of the bottle that is collected by the riddling is forced out by pressure when the temporary cork is removed, the dosage is added to the wine and the final cork is inserted, then comes rest and the recovery after the operation. The bottles are placed in wooden racks to res and recover.

If it is a young wine it will recover sooner and can be drunk sooner. If it is an older champagne it needs much more time to recover and more rest before it is drunk. She added that most people drink Champagne too soon after it has been disgorged. IMG_6470

This is why Alice pointed out that the date of disgorgement is so important. She recommended that the wine should be drunk at least 6 months or better several years after this date. That is why every bottle of Bruno Paillard Champagne and very carton they are shipped in have the date- month and year that the “operation” took place.

We walked into a room with many barriques but I knew from the smell that they were not new barrels. New barriques give off a cloying vanilla odor that I find offensive requiring me to leave the cellar. Alice said that they buy used barriques from two French white wine makers. These barrels were three years old and they could be used for six or seven more years. IMG_6461

When asked who the winemaker was, she said everything was under the personal supervision of her father, Bruno Paillard.

Tasting Champagne with Alice Paillard.IMG_6473

Brut Premierè Cruvèe 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. Alice said this was almost double the legally required minimum. She said like all their Champagne the dosage is kept very low, 5/6 grams of sugar per liter, so as to produce an authentic and pure wine, a true Brut. She added that this was 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. Alice said 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.IMG_6475

Brut Millèsime “Assemblage” 2004 made from 48% Chardonnay and 52% Pinot Noir. The grapes come from 9 different villages, the proportions are a secret.  Alice said that 2004 was an excellent vintage for them. The dosage is only 5 grams per liter. Disgorgement took place in 2012–the month and date are on the back label. The wine rested in the cellar for 12 months before release. This was very impressive Champagne with a complex structure and hints of blackcurrant, blackberries, cherry and a touch of honey.IMG_6480

Blanc de Blancs Rèserve Privèe Grand Cru made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blances, all with a 100% classification. Alice 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 then 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. Alice 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_6472

Rosè Première Cuvèe the wine is composed of a majority of Pinot Noir and is produced from the first pressing. The Pinot Noir juice in its two forms: a rapid pressing with the juice separated from the skins immediately produces the white wine. The red wine is obtained by fermenting the skins with the juice for a complete extraction of the color- from Verzenay, Bouzy, Mailly or Les Riceys according to the year. Alice said there is also a significant percentage of Chardonnay, from the north of the Côte des Blances added for freshness. Both the percentage and location was a secret. There is 6 grams of sugar per liter. Minimum maturation in the cellar after disgorgement and before shipment is 3/4 months. Like all of the Bruno Paillard wines, the month and year of disgorgement is on the back label and the shipping carton. The wine is fruity with hints of raspberry, strawberry, cherry and violets. There is a long and delicate finish. The color of the wine is salmon pink.

 

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Champagne Ed McCarthy at the Wine Media Guild

Champagne Ed McCarthy at the Wine Media Guild

“Champagne is the most glorious beverage on the planet-at least it is for me,” is the opening line in Ed’s book Champagne for Dummies. Ed was the speaker at the Wine Media Guild’s annual holiday Champagne tasting and lunch. The only thing Ed likes better than talking about Champagne is drinking it. Ed arranged for the members of the WMG and their guests to taste and then drink with lunch an impressive array of Prestige Cuvee Champagne.

The Whole Salmon

The Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch always takes place at Felidia Restaurant in NYC. All three courses at lunch featured salmon including ravioli and the main course, a 26-pound salmon, which was quite a sight when it was brought into the dining room.

Ed explained that a Prestige Cuvée is the best Champagne produced by the Champagne house. These wines are made from the best and most expensive grapes from the best vineyards, usually from all Grand Cru or a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages. They are aged longer in the producer’s cellar than their other Champagnes.

14 Prestige Champagnes were included in the tasting and lunch:

Ayala 2002 La Perle d’ Ayala Nature  Made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from Grand Gru and Premiere Cru vineyards. 2002 was a great year for Champagne. Ed said that it was the best year since 1996 and these were the two best vintages in the last 20 years. In 2002, the beginning of the year was a little difficult because of a lot of rain particularly in July. Indian Summer started on September 7th, which allowed for an exceptional maturity for the grapes. The harvest was average in volume, but the quality of the fruit was excellent, allowing for this wine to be made without dosage. The wine is aged for at least 5 years in the cellar and is aged under real cork, rare in Champagne today. Elegant small bubbles, light style with hints of white fruit and citrus, dry with good acidity.$145

Alfred Gratien NV “Cuvée Paradis” Produced from 65% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir and 17%Pinot Meunier. This is a small house and their wines are very difficult to find in this country. The wine is fermented in 228 liter oak barrels for 6 months and spends 6 years in bottle. This is a non-vintage prestige cuvée and Ed found it to be elegant and more sophisticated and classier than some of the very good, but heavier Vintage Brutes. It has aromas and flavors of white fruit, honey and nuts. Ed described it as elegant and having intensely concentrated and complex flavors with hints of white fruit, toast and gingerbread, and a long aftertaste. $130

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 Blanc de Blancs The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as cuvee is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles”. Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 litter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. Ed said that this was a good but not a great year for champagne but the wine was showing very well and it is their flagship Champagne. He described it as being full and rich.  It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. $130

Perrier-Jouet “Fleur de Champagne” 2002 50% Made from Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier in the popular “Flower Bottle”. The wine needs some more age before it can really be appreciated.$160

Piper- Heidsieck “Rare” 2002  Made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from twelve 100% rated Grand Cru Villages. This needs at least 15 years from the vintage date to develop fully. It was interesting because I found aromas and flavors of spice and ginger with citrus fruit and good acidity. $175

Roederer “Cristal” 2004  55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. Ed said that it is made with grapes from their own vineyards, almost all of which are Grand Cru. The best champagne Ed had last year was the 1988 Crystal. It seems that most of the Prestige Cuvee champagnes need at least 15 years from the vintage date to be ready to drink especially those from the 2002 vintage. This was a big,rich champagne and I have to agree with Ed that it is too young. $195

G.H. Mumm “Cuvée René LaLou” 1998   The wine is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  This wine was ready to drink and I did not think it will improve with age. $155

Gosset  “Célébris” 1998  Made from 64% Chardonnay 35% Pinot Noir. They avoid malolatic fermentation and always perform riddling and disgorging of prestige cuvees and large formats by hand.  Ed described it as a delicately flavored champagne, with intense tiny bubbles and wonderful floral aromas with vanilla and lime flavors and a great aftertaste $155

Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siecle” NV    Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. I believe Ed said it was from three different vintages. This was one of my favorites and the best buy at $115

Deutz “Cuvée William Deutz” 1999 62% Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier This wine is drinking very well right now. It was one of Ed’s favorite wines at the tasting and I have to agree. $175

Pol Roger “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill”1999  $195 Made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30 % Chardonnay from their Grand Cru vineyards. Ed felt it still needs 4 or 5 more years to be ready. He described it as being rich, firm and austere but also with finesse and complexity. This was another of his favorite wines and I have to agree. $195

Bruno Paillard Nec-Plus-Ultra (N. P. U.) 1995 Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. It is only made in great vintages and the grapes come from 5 Grand Cru villages. Ed said they only use the first pressing. The wine is fermented in small oak barrels and then rests in these barrels for 9 months. The wine remains on the lees for at least ten years. On the back label there is the disgorgement date so you know when the wine left the winery. The dosage is reduced to a minimum. The wine had flavors and aromas of ginger, honey orange blossom and a hint of brioche on the palate. This was the most expensive wine at the tasting.

$240

Charles Heidsieck “Blanc des Millénaires 1995 $ Blanc de Blancs.  Ed said that it was an excellent champagne with surprising weight and power for a Blanc de Blancs $185

Henriot “Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 1995  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from six of the most prestigious Grand Cru vineyards.  Ed said it was excellent and one of his favorites. It was my favorite Champagne of the tasting. It is rich with citrus aromas and flavors and hints of wild peach, hazelnut and a touch of honey. It is aromatic with a great finish and aftertaste. $ 145

Last year Ed was the speaker for a tasting and lunch for a group called the NY Wine Press. I attended as a guest. I must like this wine because it was my favorite at that tasting also.

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Filed under Ayala, Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Henriot, William Deutz