Most years in December, I would attend the Wine Media Guild’s holiday Champagne tasting with Ed “Champagne” McCarthy, the author of Champagne for Dummies, as the speaker. The theme varied from year to year. It could be Prestige Cuvèes, Vintage, Blanc des Blancs, Rose, or a combination, but it was always a truly great sparkling event. Since that event won’t be happening this year, I am reporting on 12 wines that I have drunk over the last few months. Hope Ed approves of all of them.
Laherte Fieres “Les Grandes Crayères” made from 100% Chardonnay. The vines are on a Chavot mid slope with campanian chalk soil. The exposure is west. The grapes are picked by hand when fully ripened. Traditional pressing. Alcoholic fermentation is in barrels and malolactic fermentation does not take place. There is aging on the lees for 6 months. Disgorgement is by hand and the dosage is 3 to 4 gr/l. This is an elegant Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, apples and a touch of brioche. This producer is becoming one of my favorites.
Veuve Clicquot Brut NV made from 56% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier and 28% Chardonnay. This is easy drinking Champagne, toasty with black fruit aromas and flavors.
Gosset Champagne Brut Excellence made from 24% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Meunier from Ay-Chapmpagne, Chigny-les-Roses, Courmas, Cumieres, Avize, Cuis and Trepail. There is 100% malolactic fermentation. The wine spends 30 months in the cellar before it is disgorged. Dosage for the Brut is11g/L. It has hints of apricots, peaches, dried fruit and a touch of brioche.
Champagne Boizel 2007 made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. 3% of the wines were aged in oak casks. The wines were aged for 7 years on the lees. This is elegant Champagne with hints of apricot, biscuits, flowers, almonds and a touch of licorice.
Champagne Dom Pérignon 2008 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. This is a very impressive champagne with great balance, elegance and complex aromas and flavors.
Champagne Marguet “Shaman 14” Grand Cru NV made from 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay. The wine was bottled July 2016, and the disgorgement date was March 2018. There are no added sulfites and the dosage is 0. It has flavors of honeysuckle, lemon, apple and a touch of stone fruit.
Selosse Substance Avize is the essence in a single vintage from two parcels without regard to vintage variation. Always made from the same Chardonnay vineyards in Avize. A south facing slope and an east hill base. Made from a solera started in 1987. Each year 22% is taken from the solera. Dosage 0-4g/l. It has hints of apricots, pears, loads of wet stone minerality, white flowers, pumpkin pie spice, mulled cider and the signature oxidation. It may be the most unusual champagne I have ever tasted.
Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% . The Pinot Noir is added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle which is topped up with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar. It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and strawberries and touch of roses.
Suenen Champagne Oiry Blancs De Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut made from 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The soil is chalk. The vins clairs (clear wines) are fermented partially in barrel and spend 9 months on the lees. The dosage is 2g/L. This is a delicate dry wine with floral aromatics, hints of green apple, a note of yellow plums and a touch of lemon with high acidity.
Larmandier-Bernier “Latitude” Extra Brut Blanc De Blancs NV. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes which come from the same Latitude in the southern part of Vertus. There is 40% reserve wine in the blend and the dosage is 4g/l. The wine has hints of peach, white flowers, toast and a touch of almonds.
Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils “Fleuron” Brut 2009 made from 100% Chardonnay from premier cru Villages mostly in the Cöte de Blancs. Fermentation is in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine remains on the lees for 84 months. The wine has hints of apple, floral notes, a touch of lemon, with good minerality and balanced acidity.
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvèe 167EME EDITION This is a blend of 191 wines from 13 different years, the youngest is from 2011 and the oldest goes back to 1995. The final blend is 47% Pinot Noir 36% Chardonnay and17% Meunier. It is aged for about 7 years before it is released. The Champagne has hints of dried and citrus fruit, a touch of gingerbread, hints of hazelnuts, and brioche. It is Michele’s favorite Champagne.
Looking forward to a better 2021 and tasting again with Ed for the Wine Media Guild.