It’s French and
it’s from Champagne!
Champagne is different to all other sparkling wines!
passionate advocate of the sublime drink that is good Champagne I invite you to read on. If you care for joy, exhilaration, and delight; if you care for a drink to match any mood, or to draw you away from your darker self, you will find that Champagne is the only drink.
Please scroll down for recent (and not so recent) content.
November 19, 2015
Only a day in Champagne
A completely revised list. Please click here to read the article.
November 6, 2015
At the Apothecary 1878 Adelaide South Australia
Monday November 30, 2015
Annual Champagne & Sparkling Tasting
$58 per person including canapes
Reservations Essential – telephone +61 8 8212 9099
click here for details
October 31, 2015
Letter from Paris October 2015
Galaxy Guides Champagne Editor
Where to drink Champagne in Paris…a snapshot!
At the top of the Eiffel Tower, in restaurants, bars and hotels, in gardens, parks and galleries, department stores and grocery shops, in boats on the Seine – it’s hard to find a spot without champagne at hand in Paris.
Three star Michelin restaurants boast great champagne lists, and, even without considering the ambience, glassware, sommelier knowledge, and overall experience, the champagnes are definitely the best value fine wines on offer.
Train stations, too, have their share of brasseries with lovely champagnes by the glass (une coupe), half–bottles, bottles or magnums. You might care for a cuvée de prestige, a Pommery Louise, a Dom or a Cristal at the Brasserie Terminus du Nord, for example. This establishment is part of the Flo group, whose loyalty program is well worth joining if you’re in for a longer stay. Their restaurants are all over France (Brasserie Flo in Reims, for example, across from the railway station at the head of Drouet d’Erlon). Champagne specials adorn a tidy list in all venues.
Only time for one bar? It must be Le Dokhan’s at the Trocadero
in the 7th arrondissement. Choose your champagne first, and then the glassware, which is proffered on a silver tray. We found a 1991 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses on the list – not a great year, but a splendid bottle from one of the few vineyards that can produce vintage champagne just about every year, so favoured is its site.
Tired of shopping? Head for the Bar àBulles in the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann, one of many department stores to have a champagne bar. This one, obviously sponsored by Moët Hennessy, is a great place to sip a generous glass of Moët NV or Dom, Veuve NV through to La Grande Dame, Ruinart NV and the Dom Ruinarts both Brut and the sublime Dom Ruinart Rosé, Krug, even the Krug Vintage Rosé. It’s after midday, the sun is over the yard arm, and you could start with a particularly French, tart palated Mercier, sharply aperitif in style, before a tipple from the top, a luxurious and sensually satisfying Dom Ruinart. Savoury cheese pastries match well.
Une belle liste pour vous
Willi’s Wine Bar opened its doors in October 1980, and it’s still going strong. Don’t forget to buy one of their famous wine art posters while you’re there.
Le Muselet boasts nearly 100 different champagnes, presents thoughtfully arranged flights such as single grape variety or particular region, presents seasonal food well paired with selected bubbles. This restaurant specialising in champagne is rightly acclaimed in the French press.
Bistrot du Sommelier is the obsession of Philippe Faure–Brac, who was world champion sommelier in 1992.
Point Bulles (excellent food–champagne matches here)
Bar 8 in the Mandarin Oriental states its claim to fame on 40 different bottles. My advice is to skip the cocktails and avoid the headache.
Le Baudelaire in the quiet Hotel Le Burgundy, adjacent to the Michelin starred restaurant of the same name.
Ô Château OMG, a few by the glass, and always a flight to be sipped near Les Halles.
The Mini Palais
champagne and piano bar and…not least noteworthy, how about?
Taste at the bar, then shop for champagne. Reserve a table, taste a flight, be delighted, buy some to take away, and read the nice interview with the owner, the passionate and delightful Fanny Heucq, click here
Tired of going out? Want to drink in your apartment?
Here’s a big list of places which carry extensive stocks of champagne
Note that the organic, biodynamic Champagne Fleury offers tastings at their family run outlet.
Still have time and want a drinking project worthy of exploration?
You’ll find plenty of champagne at these bars, ordered for your convenience by arrondissement… click here to read more.
September 4, 2015
Kaaren Palmer’s Spring Champagne News please click here
August 16, 2015
highly recommended by Champagne Editor Kaaren Palmer.
Please click here to get full details and make a reservation.
July 10, 2015
Kaaren Palmer’s Mid–Year Champagne News… please click here
To read all past issues of Kaaren Palmer’s 2015 Champagne News please click here
May 29, 2015
Champagne tasting and wine auction to benefit UNICEF
Clever Little Tailor, 19 Peel Street, Adelaide…Sunday June 14, 2015
Steve Dundon (LVMH ̫ Moët & Chandon, Veuve
Clicquot, Ruinart, Krug), Brad Hickey (McLaren Vale Brash
Higgins winery) and Alister Robertson
(young sommelier–about–town) team together for this cause. Supported by some very charismatic characters the entire proceeds of this event will go to UNICEF.
Please click here to make a reservation and even if you can’t come make a donation. We’ll see you there!
May 28, 2015
Kaaren Palmer’s Champagne News please click here
April 24, 2015
Kaaren Palmer’s Champagne News
CHAMPAGNE and Flavour
Hugely important to Champagne is its terroir where the grapes are grown. But the influence of terroir on flavour could have more to do with the microorganisms in the soil than the geology – but perhaps the geology influences which micro– organisms are present. Certainly the acidity/ alkalinity of the soil fosters some bacteria over others. For those with a scientific leaning, a most interesting and thought– provoking article, even if you merely read the abstract at http://mbio.asm.org/content/6/2/e02527-14.full
THE well– priced champagne list (other venues, please take note!) at The Apothecary is nothing short of amazing for Adelaide, and the tasting plates are pretty good, too. Plus there’s the benefit of Paola’s friendly smile. Upstairs, the large tasting room has been converted into a sybarite’s dream of a Champagne Den, with lots of red, velvet, mood lighting, banquettes and chaises longues. It’s open Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm. The all– important champagne list is of course available amidst The Apothecary’s accoutrements 7 nights from 5pm. Our first order there? We admit to Krug and a glass of Billecart, delicious fat scallops, sardines on toast, pork terrine with delectable quinoa– based house– made crackers and beetroot relish, and slipper lobster tails (with orange cured pork, and a pumpkin puree). Altogether, a delicious couple of hours. https://www.theapothecary1878.com.au/
DEALING so much with the UK in pursuit of publishing, I have kept an eye on the season. If you are heading to the tennis at Wimbledon this year, or to the Polo, or, for the culturally inclined, to the Garsington Opera, you will be privy to the delights of a range of offerings from Champagne Lanson. Merely visiting London, however, spend an idle moment at Grosvenor House’s Red Bar in Mayfair. A glass of Lanson Extra Age comes with your choice from the bar menu. Have one for me – Cheers! Still in the Mayfair area? Check out the Connaught’s new champagne room with its double score of champagnes on offer, no less than six of which are by the glass. A 1914 Pol, perhaps? Or a quick flute of Krug Clos de Mesnil? Also, clearly visible from the river tour is the Oxo building, located on the southern riverbank between Blackfriars and the National Theatre. There, Moët are conducting their 90– minute ’academy’, hosted by a couple of British MWs. A quick overview of the Champagne region precedes a tasting of the Moët range. Bookings may be secured at http://www.moethennessy-selection.co.uk/en-GB/moet-academy-1/
PEOPLE who have been in my well-stocked cellar know that I have a particular fondness for the wines of Olivier Collard and his attractive wife, Caroline Picard, and not just because they delivered the warm coat which I left behind at their establishment in Villers–sous–Chatillon. Well, hooray, they have found distribution in Australia. The Blanc de Noirs (50/50 Pinot Noir and Meunier) is available from Nillumbik Cellars in Victoria for $60 per bottle – see http://www.nillumbikcellars.com
ELISE LOSFELT works as a winemaker for LVMH. There’s a good interview with the Atlanta Magazine at http://www.atlantamagazine.com/drinks/moet-chandon-winemaker-talks-grower-champagne-glassware-and-decanting/#sthash.DYSPOp4G.dpuf and I can’t help but agree with her sentiments that “when it comes to choosing a sparkling wine, I’ll never choose Prosecco over Champagne, even for price. I know if I pay three times the price for Champagne, I’ll have ten times more pleasure.” Hear! Hear!
Meanwhile in Champagne itself…
It’s the time of the year when a huge influx of buyers, journalists and a great body of people known as “the trade” descend upon Champagne in the traditionally beautiful weather (yes, it’s warmer and sunnier than the Adelaide Hills promises to be for the next week) and taste their way through a lot of the still wines which will come to make up the blends of vintage and non– vintage champagne for 2014. Newly released, finished champagnes are also on offer. The tradition began with a handful of growers who came together to taste each others vins clairs, the still wines, prior to blending. Now designated Champagne Week, there are more groups, and more venues, than anybody can sensibly visit in the time available. Now there are about a dozen groups of growers holding expositions, plus there are many associated functions and special tastings at wine bars and restaurants throughout the Champagne region. What a great way to experience the very different terroirs of Champagne! Notably absent this year is the Trait d’Union, which held its sessions in Australia in February. They won’t hold another until next year, at Champagne Jacquesson in Dizy.
Below: British wine writer and author of excellent The Finest Wines of Champagne, Michael Edwards, attends the wonderful growers’ group Terres et Vins de Champagne, when it was held in Aÿ. This year, it was at the lovely Palais de Tau in Reims.
THEY are allowing us into the famed abbey at Hautvillers, not just the little church. Who? The owners, Moët & Chandon, via their offshoot Champagne Dom Pérignon, are offering educational sessions at a price during open days in June, July and October. The abbey once owned all the vineyards thereabouts but the French Revolution, which secularised the French nation, put a stop to that. Apart from being able to see the interior of the abbey itself, it will be a chance to taste amazingly old and wonderful champagnes. And NO, Dom Pérignon did not invent champagne.
OTHER news from Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy is that a cache of old Ruinart champagnes have been discovered in a cellar in Alsace. It’s a rare find because old stocks disappeared during the occupation by enemy forces during World War Two. Alsace was spared some of the depredations as it was regarded as rightfully belonging to Germany. Indeed, may of the inhabitants speak both French and German equally well even today. Read about the find at my favourite where–to–find–that elusive–champagne site http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2015/04/oldest-ruinart-champagne-unearthed-in-alsace
CONGRATULATIONS to Antoine–Roland Billecart for his elevation to the role of Commander of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, the body which recognises those who play such a large part in the global success of champagne. Billecart will serve a two–year term as titular head. Billecart succeeds Champagne Deutz’s Fabrice Rosset. Merci, messieurs!
WANT something to entertain you while you are doing a manual task? Chef Cindy Wolf and Baltimore restaurateur and vintner Tony Foreman discuss Champagne, history, place, the drink and its production, the difference between sparkling wine and champagne, the grower trend, and the cuisine of the area on WYPR (The Baltimore and Maryland area’s National Public Radio in the US). http://wypr.org/post/champagne-0 Although there are a few points that require clarification, even correction, it's a pretty good trio of chats. NB Gerard Boyer retired from Champagne many years ago. The current chef is the very, very good Philippe Mille.
March 24, 2015
Kaaren Palmer’s Champagne News…please click here
March 5, 2015
We would like to support
an excellent Champagne education event
THE WORLD OF CHAMPAGNE AT THE ED CELLARS with James Smith
Join lovers of all things that sparkle and bubble for an introduction and tutored tasting of the various styles of Champagne.
On the first night we will taste and discuss the houses styles of non–vintage Champagnes including Louis Roederer, Le Mesnil and Canard Duchene. Discover the nuances of opulence of Blanc de Blancs, the taut refinement of zero dosage, the art of blending with Pinot Noir Chardonnay and the grace of Rosé.
Night two will be dedicated to vintage Champagne as we explore vintage variation and house styles from Récoltant–Coopérateur and Récoltant–Manipulant. Join in the appreciation of Pol Roger, Dom Perignon & Egly–Ouriet amongst others.
Jim is a well–known wine education consultant, wine writer, lecturer and presenter of short courses and seminars on Champagne for the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (France) and the Champagne Bureau (Australia).
DATE: Wednesday 11 & Wednesday 18 March, 2015
TIME: 6 – 8pm
VENUE: The Edinburgh Cellars – in the BIG CELLAR
COST: $175.00 for both 2 nights
MATERIALS: Each evening features the tasting of eight Champagnes Notes are provided he Tea
Olives, breadsticks & Olive Oil with Ciabatta bread will be provided
Bookings are essential and numbers are limited.
Eventbrite or direct with the cellars by calling 8373 2753
It’s a fact that drinking champagne is a distraction to writing about it after the consumption of a mere two glasses, and there has been plenty of partying Chez Palmer, therefore a dearth of news being passed on. The cellar which was neglected for so long during the sojourn in France has improved in that time, and now we’re truly reaping the rewards of integrated fruit flavours and softened acidity overlaying the hints of nuttiness, toffee and caramel, chocolate and spice on the lingering finish of this most seductive of beverages.
Meanwhile in Champagne, snow has been falling, and wintry cold has descended on the vineyards after a mild December.
A quick roundup of the news sees champagne from the most awarded sparkling winemaker in the world, Régis Camus, selected for the Oscars for the next three years. So it’s Piper–Heidsieck in all its incarnations for all those glamorous people.
Something to whet your appetite? Check out Lanson’s atmospheric little clip on facebook – insight in the blending of Black Label…please
Besides being a handy source of finding elusive bottles, wine-searcher.com
also provides a platform for insightful articles on aspects of the champagne industry. Did you know, for example, that the influential Anselme Selosse, who has influenced a generation of young winemakers, has his succession plans well under way with his son, Guillaume. You can read interview, in which Anselme touches on his philosophical approach to winemaking click here
Incidentally, last year Anselme told me that he is visiting Australia later this month, and looks forward to connecting with some of the original inhabitants of the place.
Another visitor, to Melbourne, at any rate, is Jean–Hervé Chiquet, who is hosting a great value session ($150) with his Jacquesson champagnes courtesy of the City Wine Shop in Spring Street, Melbourne on Wednesday 25th February, 6.30 – 8.30pm. If you’re keen, phone Rebekah +61 3 9654 6657 during business hours. The 2004 releases of the single vineyard champagnes will be on tasting, as well as numbered cuvées 736, 737 and 738 (based on the well-regarded 2010 vintage). The late disgorged 733 also makes an appearance. Jean–Hervé is a generous communicator, easy to understand, and unfortunately unable to attend the Springfield Champagne Club’s own Jacquesson session on the 15th of February, when beautifully cellared numbered cuvées 734, 735 and 736 will be poured along with two incarnations from Avize side by side (the 2000 and the 2002), and the late disgorged 1988 – a superlative year, and a very, very special treat. The Chiquet brothers’ move to tiny quantities of selected single vineyard wines made in very small quantities leaves plenty of scope for making the numbered cuvée (their excellent non–vintage blend). Photo courtesy of Champagne Jacquesson
It was, while quaffing a glass of two of the party–pleaser Mumm Cordon Rouge NV, that I recalled that Didier Mariotti, the chef de cave ,gave us his take on matching champagne with food in the South China Morning Post, something dear to the heart of the Galaxy Guides web–site to read more please
Left Anselme Selosse copyright © Vic Pugatschew www.photessence.com
The first pour by the glass at Adelaide’s Intercontinental was decidedly disappointing, obviously poured from a bottle that was far from fresh. The replacement was as generous as the first glass, and excitingly sparkling. So do stand up for yourselves and demand the service that honours the best sparkling wine in the world.
Great article on Champagne Louis Roederer in December’s Decanter on–line magazine. The way of the future, says cellar-master Jean–Baptiste Lecaillon is biodynamic. At the bottom of the article, don’t miss the links to news about the release of a new Roederer champagne, a Brut Nature 2006, with label in the naive art style by no less than Philippe Starck…to read more please click here
Also click here for the correct link to the Roederer masterclass.
The wet summer last year, writes the Drinks Business, in fact favoured biodynamics…click here to read the article. http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/10/wet-summer-favoured-biodynamics-in-champagne/
What a wonderful way to spend a weekend in Champagne! To find out just what I mean please
And last, what we lovers of champagne have known for a very long time. Grower champagnes are exciting, and here to stay. The Drinks Business picks up the story…to read the full story please
- When we stayed at the fine Victorian hotel in St Pancras station, we enjoyed many good moments. Searcy’s Wine Bar in the station is the longest in the world, so it’s said. It was there that we drank a bottle of Bollinger in my dear mother’s memory, keeping our knees cosy under the bench seating courtesy of the heating under the table, while watching the comings an goings of the Eurostar. And, I do confess to counting the very large number of champagnes on offer please click here and promising myself a return visit very soon. The hotel bar is pretty impressive, too, with our favourite beverages by the bucket.
Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides
December 23, 2014
Christmas Cheer and Greetings to All
What a wonderful champagne year it has been to have enjoyed many special delights at Le Wine Bar in Reims, just on the Place du Forum, corner of ’our street’, Rue Nanteuil. To gasp at the end of that street at the sight of the Place Royal and its fine buildings and monuments, for one’s heart to jump into one’s mouth at the sight of our familiar and loved cathedral, where French kings were crowned. Cut to one of my favourite restaurants, Version Originale, whose owners permitted me to try any champagne on their extensive list — by the glass. My Reims, my other home town…je t’adore.
Preparations for Aussie Rules watching are made easy by the fromagerie around the corner.
How Champagne Ages — a special and much appreciated lesson from Champagne Henriot.
Every season in Champagne is special…the vines look dead in winter, but they are resting and gathering strength. With spring, the growing points sprout small buds, which burst into leaf. As the greenery becomes more prolific, the vines puts out the precursor of the bunches of grapes. It’s floraison, the flowering of the vines accompanied by a lightly penetrating perfume. The slopes, both steep and undulating, gladden the eye. ’Will spring frosts be severe? Will it be warm enough? Dry enough? Windy if wet? Not too frosty? Will summer storms be kind? Hold off the golf—ball sized hail…, should we prune severely for concentration of fruit flavour, or chase a price per generous kilogram? Should I remove leaves near harvesting to allow the sun to ripen the grapes, or will they become shrivelled and burnt? ’ These are the preoccupations of the grape growers worldwide, but even more so in the marginal and often unforgiving climate of Champagne.
Bleak cool wintry weather on the Côte des Blancs. It was unusually mild in 2014.
At harvest I was privileged to accompany some chefs des caves heroes of mine, to observe the nuances of pressing, the close association between House and grower, the praise given and received. To bring my secateurs to the heavy bunches of healthy Chardonnay in the only walled vineyard remaining today within the ancient (and now destroyed) city walls of Reims, to feel the weight in my hand as I severed the stem, and place it reverently in the pannier — felt sacred. An immense sense of relief accompanies harvest lunches across Champagne, livelihoods being dependent on what nature provides. This year was good, a fine few weeks of harvest following a cool and moist summer after a rapturous, almost Mediterranean spring.
The Sézannais, Champagne published with the kind permission of Victor Pugatschew, Fine Wine Consultant Champagne & Photographer…image copyright © Victor Pugatschew
September 17th, 2014, the harvest is in full swing. Bruno Paillard of the eponymous house, discusses picking logistics with one of his vineyard managers.
My Book is finished, the editing in progress, a couple more maps being commissioned. It can expect to be between hard covers by around August. Be prepared for an education in delight as you are coaxed at the beginning and find yourself urging for more!
So, what have we for Christmas besides recommendations to find expensive or unobtainable delights? By these, I mean the exquisitely crunchy, deeply juicy 2002 Salon or the regal Lanson Noble bottlings. Obtainable and well—priced for a special treat is the 2004 Grande Année by Bollinger, for which you do well by allowing to open for ten minutes before tumbling it into your glass, where it reveals its olfactory splendours.
My Top Ten for this year consumed in Champagne, where champagne tastes even better.
Please ignore the order, but all of these were exceedingly delicious
2004 Bollinger Grande Année
1999 Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra
1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millénaires
1995 Duval—Leroy Femme
1999 Mumm René Lalou (after thinking last year that it would never be as good as the 1998)
2004 Roederer Cristal Rosé
NV Egly— Ouriet Vieilles Vignes from the Les Crayères vineyard in Ambonnay
2000 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses
2002 Piper— Heidsieck Rare
and…NV Dosnon & Lepage Brute Recolte for a delightful freshener
plus discoveries and renewed pleasures such as:
Nicolas Maillart’s ’ordinary’ NV, Platine and his Rosé NV. Allow plenty of breathing time, and wondering time, for his ungrafted vine, vintaged Cuvée de Prestige, Les Francs de Pied.
Marguet Père et Fils
Agrapart everything, but especially his Avizoise
Tarlant Zero Dosage and much else from the talented Tarlants
A wonderful surprise — Champagne Alexandre Bonnet in Les Riceys in the far south of Champagne
And, finally, for all those grower champagnes so numerous and sometimes so good…we keep drinking you in the same way we keep trying chocolates with different centres. Some are better than others, but how will the world discover them? There are some good ’unknowns’ out there, but if the producer is a taciturn French—only speaker, they are harder to uncover.
Growers yet to be discovered!
Kaaren’s Rules on How to become a Cult Champagne Grower
1. Make good champagne, age it on lees for at least double the minimum required, use very good corks, and allow six months on cork before sale.
2. Speak English, or have a (preferably bi—lingual English—French) wine expert bring your champagne to the attention of the world wine press.
3. Provide information — the blend, the season, the method of vinification, the time on lees during secondary fermentation, the dosage, the disgorgement and resting time on cork before shipment.
4. Emphasize your terroir, then, turn it on its head — champagne is all about the blend, and how it’s greater than the sum of its parts. How do you blend yours? Or tell us about your single vineyard, and how you make it more interesting (unless it Clos des Goisses).
5. Attention to labelling — terroir maps are good. Traditional labelling is better than modernity, and allows us to imagine an extensive heritage of developed expertise.
6. Talk about your vineyards’ names, your lieux—dits, and what the name means, their geology and soil, their microclimate, their vines and grapes and your vinification techniques.
7. Link yourself to your historical roots by telling the story of them, and the political and historical context.
8. If you have a double or triple barrelled name, choose just one pasrt of it - the name that is easiest for English speakers to say. That’s your market, unless you want to sell on price to the French market.
9. Beware names that have another meaning in English. ’Sanger’ for example is slang for ’sausage’ in English, also the slang name of a male body part.
10. Emphasize your point of difference, why your champagne should be chosen over your neighbour’s, but without carping. Be ingenuous.
Richard Juhlin’s champagne choices for this time of year may be discovered in a Decanter article please click here
The glass debate continues and Riedel add to the confusion with yet another glass to their collection specifically marketed as the improved, possibly the best, glass with which to drink champagne. Yes to be tested in 2015 we will be doing extensive research into which glass is the real deal…holds the bead, defines the nose and delivers the ever changing chameleon of taste and nose that a great champagne can deliver over the course of a glass. To read about the new Riedel glass please click here
The diversity of choice for champagne glasses is quite astonishing…image published with the kind permission of Victor Pugatschew, Fine Wine Consultant Champagne & Photographer…image copyright © Victor Pugatschew
I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and the very best for 2015 when we are planning several very special Champagne events…Kaaren Palmer
December 1, 2014
A Night to remember!
In the mid–seventeenth century, during the reign of Louis XIV, there arose an aristocratic society which extolled the virtues of the slopes of Champagne and their produce, the remarkable wines of Champagne. Known as the Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne, its crest depicts the bowl of a conical champagne glass, called a ’Pomponne’, from whose base springs three beads representing the three famous hillsides of Aÿ, Avenay and Hautvillers, on a stem reminiscent of the stalk of a bunch of grapes. Three beads representing grapes render the insignia symmetric. The colour of the beads and the broad ribbon which encircles the neck reflect grapes at different stages of maturity and the different levels of the Order.
Today, the organisation lives on with renewed vigour, celebrating champagne in general and in its diversity, and recognising the restaurateurs, sommeliers, connoisseurs, writers and famous personalities who have demonstrated a particular affection for the sparkling wine which enhances every occasion and elevates it to the memorable.
On Wednesday 19th November, the inaugural Sydney Chapter was held at the Opera House. To the sound of trumpets, and with the glittering waters of Sydney Harbour as a backdrop, Commander Fabrice Rosset of Champagne Deutz, flanked by other dignitaries from Champagne, declared the Chapter open. His cape flung itself back as he raised his Pomponne a number of times to dub new Chevaliers and induct them into the Order. It was a very proud moment for me when I was declared a Dame Chevalier d’Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne, and the legendary winemaker Didier Depond from Salon Delamotte placed my ribbon and its crest around my neck. For each of us, a brief history was read with great feeling by our sponsor. I was in illustrious company!
After the pomp of the ceremony, of course we were treated to outstanding champagnes especially for the occasion, a champagne reception and a superb champagne dinner in the Bennelong Room at the Opera House.
During the reception, while we mingled and gave and received congratulations, we were privileged to drink 2004 Gosset Grande Vintage and Laurent–Perrier Rosé, both in magnum, and 1999 Perrier–Jouët in jeroboam, each of great merit.
For each course, a row of black suited sommeliers appearedat the top of the stairs, presenting the champagne on offer for the ensuing course. The smoothly stunning 1999 Cuvée William Deutz accompanied seared scallops, pancetta and almond cream. Next course of snapper fillet with corn purée and red vein sorrel almost rose to the occasion for the magnificently juicy and long–palated 2002 Salon, while Lanson’s 1998 Noble Cuvée Brut was a glorious accompaniment to roast rack of lamb, warrigal greens and roasted beetroot. It was a good idea to eat the dessert of fresh berries, meringue and raspberry sorbet in advance of the Billecart–Salmon Brut Rosé. Time and again, our sommeliers refilled our glasses.
How I wished that the night would last forever! I admit to floating back to our hotel while levitating slightly above the footpath. My feet told me the next day that I had in fact worn very high heeled sparkling sandals to match the occasion. Champagne, however, assuaged the discomfort.
Dame Chevalier d’Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne
October 24, 2014
Tom Stevenson writes an intensely moving and knowledgeable tribute to Thierry Roset of Champagne Charles Heidsieck, taken from us recently by a swift, silent and deadly aneurism. We have expressed our private sympathies to the team at Charles, via our friendship with Catherine Curie, and we have drunk to his memory from our cellar. You could do worse than buy a bottle of Charles Heidsieck today, and read about this good and talented man whose champagne you drink. Please click here to read this moving tribute.
The late Thierry Roset
September 19, 2014
Champagne News…harvest 2014
Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides
The harvest is upon us, with early rising, late nights, and little sleep. After two cool, wet months in July and August, we have been enjoying some fine autumn weather, sufficient to raise the alcohol level nicely –
although the leaves had already decided that they would start to change colour a little in the cooler spots. And suddenly, the vineyards are swarming with teams of people, the snip–snip of the secateurs sounds as if a swarm of insects is at work, the wide buckets are filled and emptied into the tubs, and the tubs are hastened to the truck for the express ride to the press–house.
The caterers are busy delivering food for the masses, and I find that France, too, has its own way of serving hearty fare heavy for the energy needed to complete an all–day task of bending and moving, lifting and turning. Lunch is a four–course affair, a simple starter such as a celeriac remoulade garnished with hard boiled egg, tender beef tongue in a vegetable sauce with many carrots and potatoes, plenty of bread and beautiful cheeses. The harvest cheese includes Maroilles, a washed rind
very flavourful cheese. There is champagne and red wine. Desserts are supermarket style, then coffee. Where is the post–prandial torpor? Not evident here! It’s back to work after a digestive conversation or two.
Being part of the harvest is an experience for the true devotee of champagne. Kneel down. Cradle the bunch in the palm of your hand, and separate it from the vine just where the green of the stem turns brown.
Feel that weight drop into your hand. Inspect said bunch for defects. Clos Lanson’s grapes are nigh on perfect. Repeat the same procedure many times, and after a couple of hours, realise that you will be aching for a day or two afterwards. But the team, the buzz, the excitement, the heightened energy, the narrow crowded roads, the huge rush to the press before the vinegar flies get to work…, what an experience!
Above, Festigny, in the Marne Valley, a Polish team at work with great diligence.
Nothing but perfection required here… Bruno Paillard checks his grapes via the taste test.
August 18, 2014
Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides
Just thought you’d like to know where some of the great champagne makers began their early training – Regis Camus (now at Piper–Heidsieck, probably still with a helping hand in Charles Heidsieck) once worked at Jacquart, and Michel Davesne (Deutz) at Palmer.
Speaking of Charles, it appears that the 2005 Charles Heidsieck will be released in the UK later this year, and hopefully for Australia, too. Judging by past history, it’s bound to be a winner. Details, please click here
Now, we all know that champagne is for all those moments – births, deaths, marriages, happiness, sadness, frivolity, success, disaster. The plan for a sleek and slick–looking champagne bar high above flood waters will mean that, even in the disastrous event of the Seine flooding, there will be somewhere high and dry where you can wet your whistle. As reported please read on
image copyright © Margot Krasojevic for the www.dailymail.co.uk
The multi–tasking talents of a woman have been called upon to take over from the retiring Commercial Director, Dominique Pierre at the giant champagne cooperative (Nicolas Feuillatte is their brand) at Chouilly. Madame Julie Campos’s most recent experience has been with Tain L’Hermitage, in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. Sadly, it was in the news this week that Mr. Nicolas Feuillatte himself has now passed on, having used champagne, no doubt, to preserve his health until the age of 88. May he rest in peace.
For a direct link to the results of the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships please click here
Expect to see some names which, you know and love, including some local ones.
The numbers are in – champagne is as popular as ever and there will be a small increase in the permitted harvest this year please click here to read the full article.
Lovely article about the beauty of ageing champagne, with thanks to the generous sharing of knowledge by Dominique Demarville, cellarmaster at Veuve Clicquot please click here to read the full article.
Instead of remuage, magnets! Magnetise the yeast lees into the neck of the bottle. The philosophy of constant improvement at work yet again…yes it’s true click here to read the full article.
Love Lanson, and here’s the latest bling camouflaging serious wine, as well as details of the coming release of champagne made from the grapes of the only clos within what would have been the old walled city of Reims. What is a clos, you may ask? In Champagne, it is a vineyard, which cannot be jumped by a horse and his rider…please click here to read the article. More details about clos, and other special champagnes are in Chapter 38 of my book which is nearing completion.
This year is the 100–year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. As Champagne was devastated by it, there is a lot of talk about it here in Champagne, with special exhibitions, and reminders on a weekly basis. Such as this article about the Second World War. War is war, after all…please click here to read on.
Living in Reims is a daily reminder to me of the horrors that the city faced. From the chipped and missing statues of the cathedral, one of the greatest Gothic monuments in Europe, to the chunks of missing masonry on buildings, the sudden gaps where buildings used to be, the strange rebuilding styles in some places – it’s a fascinating city to explore. After eight months, it’s beginning to feel like my city, and I shall miss it when I have finished my task here.
Kaaren Palmer…August 2014
July 18, 2014
Kaaren Palmer’s Champagne News
the best bar in the world to drink Champagne…well,
according to guru Tom Stevenson is Bar Vivant, 2225 E Burnside St., Portland, Oregon 97214…no web site but they are mentioned on Trip Advisor.
Every Monday is magnum day!
Skip champagne cocktails, drink the Real Thing, from Champagne, in France, unadulterated. I can vouch for Flute in Paris and Texture in London, but you can check out some other suggestions here: Champagne Bars
Leclerc–Briant has a new owner, but will they remain true to the established biodynamic principles? Yes, says Frédéric Zeimett, who worked for the big boys at Moët for 23 years, and has now purchased the brand and 7 hectares of vineyard. The difficulties of continuing after the sudden death of Pascal Leclerc–Briant in 2010, combined with the usual problem of French death duties and Napoleonic laws of inheritance, led to the loss of significant beautiful acreage to Roederer and Besserat–Bellefon. Zeimett intends continuing with grape purchases from fellow–biodynamicists…please
click here to read more.
Vincent Perrin is to succeed retiring Director–General of the Head Office of the Champagne Bureau (oft known as the CIVC), Jean–Luc Barbier, at the end of the year. An economist, international affairs specialist and career bureaucrat, he is sure to navigate carefully the relations between the Champagne Houses, the grape growers and small producers, and the cooperatives. He joins a model organisation, which has protected and promoted the name of champagne since World War Two. One of the latest cases, won to protect the name of champagne, occurred in Belgium, where Champs Cigarette Papers must cease and desist from associating their lung-disease assisting product with our healthful drink. With a champagne bottle was also pictured on the label, they were never going to get away with it.
Speaking of the CIVC, previous winners of forty years of the Australian Vin de Champagne have just spent four days as guests of the Champagne Houses and the Champagne Bureau in Épernay. Today, many don’t do a great deal for champagne, but undoubtedly their missionary zeal will be rekindled after such hospitality, and the Australian Champagne Bureau will actively engage and organise them in future. There, however amongst their number those who do a tremendous amount for both champagne (the drink) and Champagne (the place) — promotion, education, grass roots work –– and it was good to hear that some of those people were on the trip.
And the CIVC is promoting better environmental standards… to read more please
click here or on the CIVC web-site.
Yes, we are fans of wine–searcher if only because it helps us to source those hard-to-find brands. And what a great source of news it has become as well. Veuve Clicquot is trying under sea storage for champagne, perhaps prompted by the drinkability of very old champagne found in the dark, cold waters of the Baltic Sea. Wines will be monitored for the next 50 years – typically long–term vision from the House…please
click here to read more.
One of our favourite writers (OK, so our palates pretty much agree) has selected the best rosés for consumption. Best value from his list is probably the
Charles Heidsieck which we love. If you count the collected caps in the fishbowl which we are filling while we are in Reims, it’s easy to deduce that this superior beverage has been introduced to a number of people because one person cannot possibly drink so much and write a book at the same time.
Dosnon and Lepage is also to be recommended.
For the complete list, and other excellent insights into the current world of Rosé styles champagne, please click here
Australian politicians might deny it, but worldwide agriculture knows it’s happening. We are talking about climate change, and while La Champagne has been the beneficiary of a warmer climate, enabling vintages to be declared more often, there is naturally concern about the negative impacts…to read more please click here
Here is a lovely article about Angéline Templier, who makes beautiful champagnes from 11 or so hectares around Chigny–les–Roses on the northern side of the Montagne de Reims. Tasted by yours truly at one of the best grower salons in April, and available in our marketplace, their J. Lassalle Special Club is outstanding. Shared from the Financial Times, click here to read more.
Divine photos of my favourite place in the whole wide world, to be shared and enjoyed please click here to view.
And one photo from me to finish off, with many thanks to the generous Mackintoshes, Grant and Julia, for reminding me of just how delicious is Perrier–Jouët Belle Époque when combined with bottle age from the very good cellar at Les Crayères in Reims. It was lovely to take an evening break from the research and writing.
Wednesday July 8, 2014
Olivier Krug enchants Champagne devotees at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant with annecdotes and en–forme vintage information and Penfolds senior winemaker Steve Lienert (co–host fo the dinner) led diners through the nuances of the 1998 Magill Estae Shiraz all the more relevant because the grapes come from the vineyard immediately in front of the restaurant. Add to that 1983 Grange and the very delicious Grandfather Tawny. Such a fantastic complete dining experience with generous wine pours guests unanimously enjoyed this event.
If you love Champagne subscribing to Galaxy Guides is an excellent way of getting advance notice for special dinners in Australia.
From the left Steve Lienert, Penfolds Seior winemaker, Jane Gibbs, Penfolds winemaking support and Olivier Krug giving the thu
mbs up to 1983 Penfolds Grange.
Monday June 9, 2014
Champagne News June 2014
Born into the Champagne business from a family of vigneron–traders, Bruno Paillard decided to forge his own unique path, and founded his own house in the early 1980s. Right from the start, his philosophy was based on giving his Champagne the extended ageing on lees truly required for it — and presenting us with a product that, rather than demanding more cellar time, is ready to drink. Mention should also be made of the solera system of wines from prior years, begun in 1985, and forming 20—50% of any non–vintage Champagne (’multi–vintage’, it’s called). We had the good fortune to taste the result during our weekly visit to Le Wine Bar in the Place du Forum, Reims.
The incarnation, of what a non–vintage Blanc de Blancs can be, presented itself in the glass — crystalline and pale, greeny gold, with a fine and persistent bead. The aromas are pure luxury and very complex. Think potently heady spring flowers and honey, straw, cut grass, and toasted walnuts over which there’s a scattering of dried mandarin peel, and a sprinkle of powdered dehydrated quince. Dried apples, pears and peaches reconstitute themselves yet remain part of the whole. On the palate, a sharp–tilled yacht slices across the saline spray — lightly dancing and teasing with stabs of chalky penetration. Minerality, thanks to the low dosage, and vinosity to the fore, we think that this is much too serious to be an aperitif, but compelling thoughts intervene — of freshly shucked oysters with that mineral sea spray softened by a lower pressure bottling than is usual. Or imagine fat scallops in contrast. The light elegance and profusely complex flavours seem paradoxical, but the balance is perfect. Don’t talk for at least two glasses — concentrate on the wine. Thank you, Monsieur Paillard, for thinking to give us the disgorgement date on the back of the bottle. We know that you have been thoughtfully providing this information for over thirty years, long before it was recognised as being essential.
Time in Champagne is a wonderful opportunity to seek new Champagne experiences, but some Champagne leaves me wondering and thinking for a long time. More will be written about the Champagnes of Nicolas Maillart in next year’s book, but don’t wait til then to try the product. The young vigneron oenologist is based south–west of Reims at Écueil, but he also has access to some Bouzy vineyards belonging to a close relative. The Bouzy vineyards produce a delicious Rosé, and I am slowly tasting my way through the whole range after visiting the winery. The pinnacle of production occurs in ungrafted Pinot Noir, Les Francs de Pied, and it was the 2005 Champagne that left me thinking a lot, and deciding to explore further. The sandy soil hindered the vine disease, phylloxera, so the vineyard escaped early destruction in the early twentieth century, and replanting, which occurred in 1973, is always from ungrafted rootstocks, as opposed to American rootstocks. The Pinot Noir vines have therefore had plenty of time to evolve and adapt to their particular environment, as is typical of the variety.
It was very irritating that the best glass was the last of the bottle — so be warned, open the wine fifteen minutes or so before serving, and make sure that it’s not too cold.
Then your eye will delight in the promise of profuse golden bubbles, and your nose will be greeted by bees waxy furniture polish aromas mingling with honey, cooked and stewed fruits, cidery windfall late–harvest apples, and grilled nuts on toast. A pleasing dry edge in the mouth helps to balance all savoury richness and soft mouth–coating texture, as does a hint of salinity and good minerality. What surprised me was the overall impression of stylish elegance during such a feast, which seemed more wine than Champagne. As expected, the excellent length reveals more yet — mushroom being just one element — and kindle a rare desire for a litre–size bottle. A cheese from Burgundy — epoisses, perhaps, charcuterie, even mushrooms on toast would be interesting to try with it, but take the time to really savour this gem by itself.
Winemaking notes: Single south–facing vineyard in Premier Cru Écueil, long and slow first fermentation in barrel without MLF, plenty of lees stirring in (bâtonnage), no filtration, 2g/L dosage. Distributed in the U.K., the U.S., and Australia.
Other very good Champagnes we’ve enjoyed lately: A very complex Billecart—Salmon 1999 Blanc de Blancs, and an Afred Gratien 2000. Neither Champagne is to be trifled with. Time for reflection and contemplation is absolutely necessary, or you will have wasted your hard–earned money. Make sure that there is time for proper aeration, and that they are served around the 10—12°C mark.
Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie, named after the chateau vineyard of the beautiful Taittinger property which was purchased even before the Champagne house of Taittinger began, is much more accessible than the wines discussed above, and a great terroir experience in a full, soft style. Speaking of Taittinger, one of the great Champagne entrepreneurs of the twentieth century, Pierre–Emmanuel Taittinger, is set to retire within a few years, when he turns 65. He has steered the company through some very lean times to achieve great success.
Originally from Alsace, near the German border with France, the Taittinger family purchased a Champagne business, Fourneaux, in the 1930s, when the aftermath of the collapse of the Russian market during the Russian revolution, the Great Depression, and Prohibition in the U.S., brought tough times to Champagne. The house was lost to the family through a corporate takeover in 2006, but Pierre–Emmanuel, in the spirit of his forebears, was able to buy the business back and turn it into the commercial success it is today.
A full interview with can be read in June’s issue of Decanter. The full story of the family makes fascinating reading…to read further please click here
Something rather swish click on the image!!!
Absorbing reading about behavioural economics in Champagne — or why some Champagne houses find it easier to source grapes than others — from who else, but The Guardian? Please click here to read the full article.
Most non–vintage Champagnes contain wines from prior years as part of the blend. These wines are known as reserve wines. And most of us know that the sugar levels in Champagne have been falling, and that Extra–Brut, less than 6g per litre of Champagne, is a growing segment of the market. One reason for this seems to be the increase in quantities of reserve wines, which are used to flesh out leaner Champagne styles. The Drinks Business has the full story please click here
And a final item of gossip: David Henault, who worked years ago at Padthaway in South Australia and made us wonder why their sparkling Eliza was so good, has a new helper at the huge Nicolas Feuillatte cooperative. Guillaume Roffiaen, the chef de cave of the highly regarded Drappier, has departed, and taken up a new role there. Please click here to read the press release.
Monday April 14, 2014
We love Champagne Lanson’s crispy style, its freshness, complexity and longevity. That won’t change with a new initiative – further nuances aided by some of the wines being fermented, or some reserve wines stored, in very neutral wood from local forests. You can still expect the black label to have that pure lightly floral, fruity, juicy quality when young, and develop its almond, honey, dried fruit, toasty creamy personality after a little cellar time. It’s always been a champagne which ages gracefully, and no longer do I have to note the year I bought it, denoting N09, N10, N11 etc., on our cellar records, where N denotes non–vintage followed by the year of purchase. For some time now, I have been able to put the year of disgorgement instead, knowing that the champagne is from the harvest 4 years prior.
Long term cellar–master, Jean–Paul Gandon, revered as a wise man of Champagne, will be retiring soon, BUT don’t worry! Hervé Dantan, who did such good things at the Mailly cooperative, has joined the dynamic BCC Lanson Group. He has done a lot with storing reserve wines in wood, cuvée by cuvée. It will be fascinating to see how the story unfolds. More about the BCC Lanson group later!
Suffice to say that management have a way of attracting talent to their ranks, and if I am still writing when harvest arrives, there will be an interruption to attend and ’assist’ at Clos de Lanson’s little vineyard near the House of Lanson in the close suburbs of Reims.
Decanter Magazine have posted an interesting small interview with Richard–The–Nose–Juhlin, who has just been appointed to chair a regional judging panel for the Decanter World Wine Awards. He has also been made a member of the Legion of Honour by the French government in gratitude for his services to champagne, but that’s just an extra piece of gossip for you. To read the full interview please click here
Salon again. (That’s what we call our ’living room’ in France.) Didier Depond says that the 2002 is one of the best releases of Salon ever made. Be assured – it will not be ready for drinking for quite some time, but titillate yourself with Didier’s remarks, and be prepared to drink lots of other champagne in the mean time, especially Delamotte, when Salon does not declare a vintage…to read more please click here
Not too long ago, we tended to miss out on some of the top champagnes – and vintages – in Australia, but as demand in France weakens due to the financial crisis, (despite the Palmers’ contributions to the health of the French economy), we can expect to see more French interest in overseas markets such as ours. So it’s time to begin looking for 2008 releases from a really exciting year. Some of the rosés, of course, are available now, but we wouldn’t want to miss out on some favoured growers. The big House Brut won’t be available for a while yet – the nearest you’ll get is the 2007 Perrier–Jouöt Belle Époque. Already in Australia are 2008 rosés from Roederer (close to being first out of the blocks, as usual, and will respond nicely to some cork time) and Ruinart. The pressure (cellar space, cash flow, urging from customers) for popular growers to release their 2008 sees Vilmart Grand Cellier, Larmandier Bernier Terre de Vertus, Blanc de Blancs from Gimonnet (Gastronome), José Dhondt (Mes Vieilles Vignes, and pure Oger fruit – love it!), and Chartogne–Taillet’s single vineyard Heurtebise; of the Brut, a few have arrived from Chartogne–Taillet, a very popular domain on the outskirts of Reims. We, and a host of journo visitors to Champagne will expect to taste some of the about–to–be–released 2008s, and still wines from the last harvest, during a crazy few days in April, when all the grower groups hold tastings. There used to be only one group, which was manageable, then three, also manageable. Now, one needs to go into training, as there are at least eight over a few days. Here’s a sample from one of my favourite blogs please click here
If only for research purposes, treat yourself to the superb 2004 Bollinger Grande Année. It tastes wonderful in Champagne, and an anniversary is coming up, or a birthday for somebody. It was a recent and rare privilege to attend the Bollinger vin clair tasting with the team from Mentzendorff, Bollinger’s U.K. distributor. After a tour of the cellars and the nearby enclosed vineyard featuring vines growing crowded together as they used to be, and on ancient French pre–phylloxera root stocks, it was off to the cellars. There, galleries and galleries of reserve wines – in magnum, under gentle pressure less than full secondary fermentation, and on cork sealed with a clip called an agrafe – wait to be used in your Bollinger Special Cuvee. After the cellar tour, we had the fascinating joy of tasting selected still wines from the last harvest, followed by lunch with Bollinger champagnes. What a delight it was to enjoy the 2002 Recently Disgorged Grande Année alongside the 2004, to be able to note the underlying Bollinger theme across the range – complexity and intensity on a base of almond biscuit. Here is a lovely little clip to give a good idea that, yes, life can be perfect…please click here to read more.
Top Ten Contender? I would say definitely in the Top 10 of My Life So Far. Thank you, Francis Egly, for the experience and the sensation, for the imagination to do even more with Grand Cru Ambonnay. Your vineyards must be perfectly situated and tended, and you must have selected the best for Egly–Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Vignes Les Crayè:res Grand Cru NV. This made me think about great red wines – without dregs. From the enchanting appearance – golden, with tiny and plentiful sustained bead. Approach the glass, and be prepared – not kidding – to fall in lust–love. Aromas are complex – not overripe, but as if peaches, melons, red berries and champignons de Paris have invaded your dreams, been blended with citrus, cumquats, grilled and roasted new season almonds, then nougat; warm breadiness suffusing throughout. The palate is tightly structured to the aromas, with mouth–coating creamy rich texture, a slightly tannic edge – or wood influence – featuring a touch of vanilla, definite morello cherry, dried citrus peel and honey. Perfectly balanced, and very lengthy on the finish with power rather than acidity. Food match? Just savour it, of itself. Taking a bottle home to compare with what is available in Australia. There is no web–site, no public face – just a proud kingdom, where we might be lucky to partake.
Next News: Bruno Paillard’s vision of what a Blanc de Blancs should be, Nicolas Maillart ungrafted Pinot, Billecart–Salmon Vintage Blanc de Blancs, Afred Gratien Vintage, Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie – and more.
Monday March 10, 2014
The excellent Drappier family from the Côte des Bars is ever on the search for further improvements in their strong offering. Michel Drappier is developing Drappier’s own yeasts for the fermentation of their grapes. Yeasts occur naturally on the skins of grapes, but they are not all good. Drappier is carefully selecting a good example from his testing of the various strains found on his grapes at harvest. From those results, he will develop his own fermentation yeast natural to his vineyards and his grapes. The yeasts currently used were developed from yeasts on the skins of grapes not necessarily in his vineyard…, an interesting topic, which is explored further from a sensory perspective in the upcoming book! To read more please click here
Without dropping a nano–notch in quality, Deutz, now owned by Roederer, have now broken the 2 million bottles per annum figure. We know where a couple of dozen of those bottles are – including some 1999 William Deutz, and something we can all be in love with – Amour de Deutz 2003. Also available at le winebar at the end of our street. To read the full report please click here
Bling–sational, just add ice at…please click here to read more.
Lalique Icy Large Champagne Cooler – $4,320 AUD (US$3,900)…please click here to see more wonderful Lalique pieces and read about their history
As interesting as it is to detect the elements of a wonderful blend, sometimes we just have to acknowledge that a perfect champagne is more than the sum of its parts, as in Jacquart’s Cuvée Alpha. Indeed, we are seeing more small parcel and commune only champagnes than ever before, and it is possible to find excellent examples. But the wizardry of the blend remains compelling. To read more please click here
As we were saying about the wizardry of the blend…to read the full article please click here
When Salon don’t release a vintage when we think that the year might have been good enough, it’s the year to look for a Delamotte. Didier Depond tells us what we need to know, reported in the useful Drinks Business…please click here to read more.
And the last word goes to the doyenne of British wine writing, and always an enjoyable read,
Jancis Robinson. We love having our prejudices confirmed, and she seems to be something of an expert in this area. Ms. Robinson’s pertinent notes on dosage and age are accompanied by a list of our favourite grower champagnes. To read more please click here
Friday February 27, 2014
Dosnon & Lepage – well, it’s probably just Dosnon soon, but even so – we hunted down a bottle from this very small estate in the village of Avirey–Lingey, in the Deep South of Champagne. The south that provides 20% of all the grapes, but is as unsung as the grape which, further north, produces perhaps 35% of champagne requirements, Pinot Meunier.
Échelle de cru is 80%, which means the grower receives 80% of the suggested price per kilogram of grapes grown in their village, compared to the Grand Cru villages, which receive 100%.
So now some producersare making and marketing their own champagnes, like they do with wine from very small estates in Burgundy. And some are very good at it. Here’s (another) one.
Davy Dosnon cultivates 2.15 hectares, and is converting to biodynamics and natural fertiliser (the soils are so poor in Champagne that generally a little something is required to get the vines started, but vines need to struggle so they don’t overdo it). Young Monsieur Dosnon himself grows 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Severe pruning, and a secondary green leaf prune during the high growth phase, curtail the yield and concentrate fruit quality and flavour. Grass is grown between the rows of vines to compete with the shallow roots of the vines and drive the tap roots deep into the ancient calcareous limestony clay–ey hard soils.
Grapes are also bought from 5 nearby hectares to augment production. Unfortunately, I have no information about those vineyards.
After harvest, which is always about a week earlier than the north of Champagne (it’s so close to Burgundy, almost on the very border of Chablis), there’s traditional pressing with minimal fruit handling. First fermentation is in old Burgundian oak barrels, extending to eight to ten months. No fining or filtering, just settling and draining off. Then the wines are blended and bottled, topped up later with a low dosage.
It sounds fine, but what’s it like? Another rustic effort?
The Récolte Brute is anything but brutish. 30% Chardonnay, 70% Pinot Noir, non vintaged, 4 grams of sugar per litre of wine is an extra brut amount. But what’s it like?
The sound of hubble bubble is alive in the bottle. It snaps, crackles and pops as if it’s a Blanc de Blancs, but it’s not frothy. In the glass, it’s a pure clear straw colour, clean and bright. Ripe pear and yellow apple aromas waft from the glass as the beads of mousse break on the surface, with fresh lemons and limes. The first glass literally floats over the palate with a sigh – light, elegant, fresh without being piercing. But it’s also very balanced and integrated. The wine opens with aeration and a little warmth, and the palate becomes more rounded. What begins as a pristine, exquisitely light, dancing–down–your–throat aperitif segues into Act II. Pinot comes to the fore, filling the mouth with a promise of morello cherry, and a richer, fuller body. Reserves (amount not disclosed on their web–site) are delicately handled to maintain the fresh, mineral edge. The oak hasn’t interfered.
Sushi and sashimi are perfect for it.
to visit the Dosnon & Lepage web site please click here and just remember it works a bit like brain training!!!
Not as long on the finish as many champagnes, but utterly delightful. We know that it had more life in it, more layers of flavour, but the bottle is finished.
1% of Dosnon and Lepage sales go towards greenie environmental initiatives. Not 1% of their profits, but 1% of their sales, which of course is a much bigger number. This usually–Adelaide–Hills–dweller likes that.
Krug red wine? Yes, it’s a fact. But it’s from Gumpoldskirchen, Austria… read more
Sunday February 16, 2014
Essi Avellan’s update of Tom Stevenson’s revised book is awesome – informative, tightly edited, and no bullshit. Mind like a steel trap, one of only 2 MWs in Scandinavia. I haven’t read it all (it’s weighty, AND meaty), and a must–to–own for the Champagne tragic.
Esse Avellan…image copyright © Esse Avellan
news from France
Arnaud Lallement Restaurant L’Assiette Champenoise has been given his third gong. It’s not official yet, but we knew it would happen sooner or later – probably ten minutes after the Michelin inspectors tasted the shaved foie gras.
To read my 2011 (and shortly to be revised review)…please click here
At the end of our street in Reims is a great little wine bar which feels so comfortable. Le wine bar by Le vintage…please click here to read the full review.
Monday February 3, 2014
Michael Edwards reviews the Tom Stevenson update
A review of Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & sparkling wine (Absolute Press)
Although certainly a fully revised and updated edition of Tom Stevenson’s standard reference work on Champagne and all things effervescent, this opus is more than that, it’s very much Essi Avelan’s book. Given Tom’s Olympian blessing – “the best champagne taster I have seen” – Essi shows her prowess in comprehensive, precise and jargon-free tasting notes that are very largely up to the moment. Then, delightful surprise, you sense her authority and influence in the 50– page introduction that is an assured step-by-step guide to the traditional method, matters of terroir and the elusive quality of Champagne and beyond
…please CLICK HERE to read the full article
Tuesday December 31, 2013
greetings from Reims where we arrived a day ago to stay for several months while I finish my book about Champagne. Focusing on this will mean less content from me and no Galaxy Guides Champagne events until I return to Australia towards the end of the year. However, dates will be set for two special Champagne events towards the end of the year and Champagne susbscribers notified by email.
I would like to thank you for your continued support and Champagne obesssion and look forward to sharing our life in Champagne from time to time in the coming months. Wishing you all the very best for 2014,
regards Kaaren Palmer
finding the perfect match…beyond Champagne and oysters by Richard Juhlin who, as always, is clever and insightful…please click here to read the full article.
And, ever informative and interesting reading Juhlin’s own Champagne Club…please click here
left Richard Juhlin and above Juhlin’s latest Champagne Guide…click on the image for purchasing details.
Images published with kind permission Richard Juhlin
copyright © Richard Juhlin
Billecart–Salmon partners with London’s two star Michelin, Hibiscus, to create a stunning menu for the full range of Billecart champagnes. That, and other historical information makes for an interesting article in Harpers UK…please click here to read the full article.
Agreeable New Years’ Eve suggestions from the well–respected Gayot food–wine site
Many categories of champagne are listed, so there is sure to be something good. Obviously prices are in U.S. dollars, so adjust accordingly. In Los Angeles, we have been drinking Piper–Heidsieck Extra Dry NV, which is a little sweeter than the Australian release, and Devaux NV, which tastes pretty much the same as what can be purchased in Australia – nice Pinot backbone, and good support from reserve wines.
For New Years– Eve in Reims, in the absence of having a handy cellar at the moment, we will be looking for something with a bit of bottle age – so we’ll no doubt select a vintage champagne which is older than the current release.
Monday December 16, 2013
Champagne News December 2013
Kaaren Palmer, Champagne Editor
- Tom Stevenson’s latest edition of Christie’s Encyclopaedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wines, which has been updated with the assistance of Essi Avellan MW
Richard Juhlin’s 8000 Champagnesis another not to be missed.
Now is the time to stock up on champagneswith all the competing pre–Christmas bargains. Don’t forget to buy enough to keep some for during the year AND the year after that. Yes, champagne with a little cork age is almost always extra interesting. Just ensure that it is stored in a cool, dark place and you shouldn’t have the problems elaborated by Tyson Stelzer in his latest Champagne Guide 2014 pre–15 (published by Hardie Grant, Richmond, Victoria, 2013; hard cover $39.95, e-book, $14.95).
Tyson’s energetic book is full of champagne information especially about “grower” champagnes, that is, those with R.M. (Récoltant Manipulant) on the label. Usually, there’s a potted history of the house, followed by news of which champagnes are being offered. Information usefully included features the composition of the wines, which year (s), the month and year of disgorgement if it’s available, special vinification techniques, level of dosage, and where he’s tasted it. Why is that last bit useful? Because it’s important to know that a champagne has been carefully transported, under refrigeration through the tropics, into Australia.
For the big brands many have provided excellent info – Veuve Clicquot, for one, and I must say that the NV bottles I have enjoyed recently (two just this week in Melbourne) have been superb. Other Grandes Marques have been less forthcoming about their grape sources and the composition of each champagne. How excellent it is to see that my enjoyment of the champagnes of Jacques Picard is reflected in Tyson’s enthusiasm – one place where I agree wholeheartedly with the points awarded by Himself to each champagne. And one can’t fail to be enchanted by the gorgeous photography.
Unfortunately, the information on where to source the champagnes is missing from this year’s edition, but web sites like
wine-searcher.com often have the information on where to purchase the wines.
And please note that Tyson appears to have a predilection for the Chardonnay grape, which comprises less than one third of the plantings in Champagne. Those who concur can have a lot of fun drinking their way through the book. Salut!
Another very worthwhile book with an excellent and consistent template followed for each champagne is Exclusif Champagne by Jean–Michel Garnier. Although in French, it’s easy to follow for any reader of French menus. Featuring 233 producers and 838 cuvées, I find it indispensable. All the information, which one would like to see on a back label, is presented in concise clear format, with a cursor indicating the balance between sugar and acidity. For purchase, see the usual on-line bookstores. For more information, Exclusifchampagne.cpm
Salon 2002 is going to be served in First Class on Japanese Air Lines from mid–December, a pre-release on the official release to the rest of us mere mortals, certainly in Australia. While it will be superb, as it is one of the longest–lived champagnes due to the intensity of the clean acidity of its Le Mesnil Chardonnay, in another 10 – 20 years, it will be sublime.
For those of us whose purses don’t extend to Salon, might I suggest that the sister wine of the house, Delamotte, is an excellent selection. Moreover, if you can find some older bottles which have been well stored, you may well pay “old” prices. Having discovered three such in Prince Wine Store, South Melbourne, they are a snip at $130 AUD per bottle for the 1999 Blanc de Blancs, and to my mind the equivalent of a Cuvée de Prestige. (Perhaps there’s another carton lurking there…). So last Saturday night saw us with our “champagne bucket” saucepan, as we have been in Melbourne for the list cycle of Wagner’s Ring, and musing on the complexity and length in the flute, a “Ring in a Glass”…
In the years when a Salon vintage has NOT been declared, it seems like a good idea to hunt for the Delamotte, as the fruit which would have gone into Salon will appear in the Delamotte. 2000 was the last year in which this occurred.
Today sees us departing for Los Angeles, just in time for the opening of the Petrossian and Champagne Bar…which champagnes? “A wide range” includes Cristal.
For armchair travel featuring champagne, fine food and our personal recommendation of L’Assiette Champenoise as a luxurious stopover in Reims. To read my review…please click here
So many places in Melbourne now sell champagne by the glass, that a special walk is hardly necessary. On Southbank, Ruinart “R”, Veuve Clicquot and Billecart NVs are all served in perfect condition.
- Hooray! Pol Roger is adding disgorgement date information to its bottles. This is excellent news for champagne lovers, especially those of us who enjoy the complexities, which develop after time on cork. It will enable us to choose to drink lovely Pol for exquisite freshness or decadent maturity.
- Commendable research in the Flavour Journal, dealing specifically with champagnes, grape dominance, and the influence of branding. Just how hard is it to remove one’s prejudices from our sensory perceptions? How hard is it to pick the dominant grape in the absence of colour and effervescence clues? See flavourjournal.com and, along the same lines, our perceptions of value in blind tastings: a very interesting article in the
Daily Mail UK
- Going to London any time soon? After you have finished the mighty list at the champagne bar at St. Pancras Station, have a look at Champagne Cult in Widegate Street near Liverpool Street Station, then 10 Cases at 18 Endell Street, Covent Garden, for a select range beginning with Palmer NV and ending with Dom Oenothèque 1996. Travelling via Singapore? Perrier–Jou ët now have a dedicated champagne bar in
The Mansion, an opulent bar at Scotts Road off Orchard Road. Belle–époque by the glass, anyone?
- Not enough fizz?Can’t afford a glass washer for Christmas? Just use lots of hot water to rinse glassware, and dry with a dedicated linen towel, not the one, which was used to dry the last saucepan.
Wednesday October 30, 2013
south australian event
Apothecary 1878 Annual Sparkling and Champagne Tasting
Monday November 25th
6.00 pm until 7.30 pm
$58 pp including canapés…please
click here for full details
Tuesday October 29, 2013
south australian event
Monday 11 November, 2013
Join renowned Champagne expert and author, Tyson Stelzer for a Champagne dinner to celebrate the launch of his latest
edition The Champagne Guide 2013 – 2014. $150 pp food and Champagne, start time 7.00 pm…location Georges on Waymouth Street, Adelaide. Please click here to download the details, menu and Champagne matches…reservations essential.
Kaaren Palmer, Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides
Wednesday 30 November, 2013
Apothecary 1878 Annual Champagne
Tuesday 29 November, 2013
Grower Champagnes are becoming bigger business in Australia, as Le Figaro of December 5th 2012, points out. Perhaps it is our immigrant acceptance of difference, novelty and change, which seems to be inherent in people who are settled anywhere for less than 200 years. So it is with great interest that we note who of the Next Generation are at the cutting edge of delicious champagne. Sadly, not all are available in Australia, but, if you are travelling, seek them out for and be justly rewarded.
Young talents of Champagne
finalists in their categories
Marie and Benoit Doyard
image published with kind permission
- Marie and Benoit Doyard, Champagne André Jacquart
Marie and her brother are fifth generation winemakers; André Jacquart was their grandfather’s name. In 2004, Marie and her brother were very lucky to consolidate some inherited vineyards. The Doyards, another branch of the family, are separately well known as vignerons, but their common ancestor is Maurice, the growers' representative and fellow founder (in 1941, when Champagne was occupied by the Germans) of the governing body in Champagne, the Comité Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (the C.I.V.C).
In the 1950s, their terroir at Vertus (Premier Cru) was planted extensively to Pinot Noir, which was then often made as a still wine. Today, they have ’responded to what the soil has told them’, and they grow more Chardonnay. In addition, they have plots in Grand Cru Le Mesnil on the Côte des Blancs. Many small plots, and many strips of vines – with varying exposures to the southern sun, varying top soils and underlying depth of chalk – provide the complexity required. 2004 was their first ownership of the crop, so everything they produced was put into reserve wines. Today, primary vilification occurs in small oak barrels which have been used for 2 – 4 years in Burgundy; and their vines are 37 – 42 years old. Their hard work now begins to repay them.
Champagne André Jacquart, is readily available in Australia through Tim Stock at Vinous Solutions
firstname.lastname@example.org +61 2 9572 7285 —
Tim can tell you the name of the retailer closest to you, or try Australia’s best source for a wonderful variety of champagnes – www.champagnegallery.com.au or Philip Rich at Melbourne's Prince Wine Store.
- Pierre Gonet, Champagne Philippe Gonet
Le Mesnil Chardonnay, pristine, saline, piercingly pure. Keep this champagne in your cellar for a year or two, and know that the joy of anticipation will be trumped by bliss on tasting. When blended with their vineyards in Oger, there’s a soft delicacy married with the freshness. Where to find? Ask National Liquor Wholesalers, tel +61 2 9787 5733, who is their local stockist, and demand it. Also contactable
- Alice Voirin, Champagne Voirin–Jumel
Alice, assisted by her brother Patrick in the vineyards and at the blending bench, brings a delicacy and sensitivity to the beautiful Chardonnay which they grow in the Grand Crus of Cramant, Avize, Oger and Chouilly. Aromatic as only Cramant can be, in the best years bringing flowers of frangipani via the mousse flowering in the glass, yet balanced acidity giving length and harmony. Ross Duke, Bev, and Vic Pugatschew at
French Wine Imports identified the marque long before today.
Also available at
Champagne Gallery from the astute and knowledgeable David Donald.
Jérôme Coessens (from the Aube) has been a winner in the Pinot stakes, and demand for his wines means that they are not available readily in Australia, although they have been enjoyed at the wonderful champagne dinners orchestrated by Ann Oliver, culinary and web–mistress, not to mention Adelaide’s long–running Springfield Champagne Club.
This year, the coincidentally beautiful of face and palate, biodynamically inclined Frédérique Poret, of Champagne Dumenil has crafted a sumptuous rosé from old vines and 45 different small plots in Chigny–les–Roses, Rilly–la–Montagne and Ludes – her wines show a richness and balance deserving of distribution, not to mention matching cuisine, without spoiling the long lees time and post–disgorgement ageing which they currently enjoy.
- Alexandre Le Brun, Champagne Le Brun, a young gun just south of Epernay; many small plots across 3 hectares in 8 villages ensure a degree of complexity for his champagnes.
- Nicolas Salomon, Champagne Denis Salomon is located at Vandières on the right bank of the River Marne.
- Richard et Romain Colin, Champagne Colin (based at Vertus, Côte des Blancs, with vineyards at Bergères–les–Vertus, Cuis, Cramant, Oiry, Sèzanne, Venteuil, and Dormans planted 80% to Chardonnay, 10% to Pinot Noir and 10% to Pinot Meunier. Distributed across the English speaking world, but not yet in Australia.
- Nathalie Falmet, Champagne Falmet (Rouvres–les–Vignes, in the Aube. Availability: See
image published with kind permission
- Alexandre Salmon, Champagne Salmon (Chaumuzy, Ardre Valley, Montagne de Reims)
The Art of Champagne – the Blend
- Lucie and Sébastien Cheurlin, Champagne L & S Cheurlin (Celles–sur–Ource)
Children of Richard Cheurlin, award winning producer in the Aube, their vineyards have been producing since Roman times, and their family history as winegrowers goes back hundreds of years.
- Véronique et Richard Petit, Champagne Petit et Bajan (Avize)
- The Public’s Choice Winner of the Young Talents of Champagne Competition
Fabien Grumier, Champagne Maurice Grumier, (Venteuil) for his blend.
- Judges’ Winners
Chardonnay: Alice Voirin
Pinot Noir: Nicolas Salomon
Rosé: Nathalie Falmet
Blend: Lucie Cheurlin
October 25, 2013
Our most recent Champagne dinner and a little more about food and Champagne matching…plus where to drink Champagne.
- well drink it of course...to learn more please click on the image
- edited by Kaaren Palmer
Three Distinct Areas of Champagne Compared to More Complex Blends
- Puff pastry, truffled duxelle
- Spring pea velouté with pancetta
- Fresh and smoked Streaky Bay oysters, crumbed and fried cured scallop mantle, smoked oyster jelly
- Salad of bitter and sweet greens, Mozzarella
- Tenderloin of veal, veal jus, oyster mushroom, swede
- Double-cooked Gorgonzola piccante
and walnut soufflé, kumquat pearls
- Coessens Bland de Noirs
- Pistachio blancmange
strawberries ginger and citron ice cream
- to follow Kaaren's guide..click on the image
- click on the image for Kaaren Palmer's list
- click on the image and please scroll down
- even the French recommend Richard Juhlin...click on the image
- myth or magic we're looking for the stopper that really works...!!!!
- is rating well and we're trying to source retail stockists
- please click on the image for a wonderully eclectic list!
- Chicken liver custard, bone marrow, sea urchin emulsion, cured scallop mantle
- to see the entire menu click on the image
September 17, 2013
My favourite awards, the Decanter World Wine Awards, are out again. For all the details, please purchase the magazine, or refer to their website by
The Sparkling Winemaker of the Year Award, for the seventh consecutive year, went to Régis Camus, until recently in charge of all things Charles Heidsieck, and now improving the fortunes of Piper–Heidsieck.
International Trophy – Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires 1995
NV Champagne Trophy – Louis Roederer Brut Premier
NV Rosé Trophy – Paul Cochet Brut Rosé
Vintage Champagne Trophy – Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2004
Vintage Rosé Ttophy – Charles Heidsieck Rosé 1999
De Castelnau Blanc de Blancs Millésime Brut 2002
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV
Charles Heidsieck Vintage Brut 2000
Jaacquart Rosé NV
Lanson Noble Cuvée Brut 2000
Les Pionniers Vintage Brut 2000
Moët & Chandon Rosé 2004
Palmer & Cie Blanc de Blancs 2007
Palmer & Co Brut Millésimé 2004
Palmer & Co Brut Réserve NV
Piper–Heidsieck Brut Cuvée Rare
Piper–Heidsieck Cuvée Sublime Demi–Sec NV
Pol Roger Pure Brut Nature NV
Pommery Brut Ropyale NV
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2005
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2002
Amazone de Palmer Brut NV
André Roger Vieilles Vignes Brut NV
Canard–Duchêne Cuvée Charles V!! Blanc de Noirs Brut NV
Canard–Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV
De Castelnau Millésime Brut 2002
Charles Chevalier Brut D'Honneur NV
Charles Collin Cuvée Charles Brut NV
Charles de Cazanove Tête de Cuvée Brut NV
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV
Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne NV
Charles Orban Carte Noire Brut NV
Collet Brut Millésime 2004
Collet Grand Art NV
Cuperly Brut Prestige NV
Cuperly Grande Reserve NV
Déhu Grande Reserve NV
Devaux D de Devaux La Cuvée NV
Devaux D de Devaux Rosé
Dom Caudron Camille Philippe NV
Duval–Leroy Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004
Duval–Leroy Rosé Prestige NV
E. Rapenau Brut Rosé NV
Esterlin Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Fleury Extra Brut 2000
G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV
G.H. Mumm Brut Le Millesimé 2006
G.H. Martel & Cie Cuvée Victoria Rosé Brut NV
H. Blin Reserve Brut NV
H. Blin Rosé NV
Heidsieck Heritage Brut NV
Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Rosé Top NV
Henriot Rosé NV
Jacquart Brut Tradition NV
Jean Comyn Harmonie Brut NV
Jean Dumangin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV
Jean – Noel Haton Brut Extra NV
Lallier Brut Millésime 2005
Lanson Extra Age Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Lanson Extra Age Brut NV
Le Brun de Neuville Cuvée Chardonnay Brut NV
Louis Chaurey M&S Brut NV
Louis Dousset Original Brut NV
Madame de Maintenon Brut Rosé NV
Malard Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
Marc Initiale Noir et Blanc Brut NV
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1993
Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial NV
Napoleon Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
Oudinot M&S Cuvée Brut NV
Palmer & Co Extra Brut NV
Paul Goerg Brut 2002
Paul Goerg Cuvée Lady Brut 2002
Paul Laurent Pierre Darcys Brut Blanc de Noirs NV
Philippe Gonet Belemnita 2004
Pierre Darcys Brut NV
Pierre Paillard Brut Rosé NV
Pommery Apanage Prestige Brut NV
Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut 1999
Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie NV
Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie Brut 2006
Taittinger Prélude Brut NV
Thiénot Brut NV
Thiénot Brut Rosé NV
Thiénot Cuvée Alain Thienot Brut 2002
Trepo Leriguier Cuvée Solennelle Brut NV
Trepo Leriguier Songe d'une Nuit de Vendanges NV
Veuve Clicquot Rosé 2004
Veuve Monsigny No 3 Brut NV
Victoire Brut Prestige NV
The British supermarket chains also did well with their Buyers'’ Own Brands
In the bronze class, there were almost one hundred champagnes listed. Those who received a particularly good showing with more than a couple of champagnes included Alexandre Bonnet, the supermarket chains Asda and Marks and Spencer, Bauchet, the co–ops Beaumont des Crayères, H. Blin, Le Brun de Neuville and Chassenay d’Arce, Besserat des Bellefon Cuvée des Moines, the Boizel range, Charles de Cazanove, Collard–Picard, Dom Caudron, Duval–Leroy, Fleury, G.H.Martel, Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, Henriot, Jacques Copinet, Jean–Noël Haton, Paul Cochet, Prestige des Sacres, and Taittinger.
A very late Spring in Champagne was not looking good, plus there was some bad hail damage to pockets of vines, but July and August have been warm and sunny. In fact, the weather has been warming for the last twenty years, bringing harvest dates an average of two weeks earlier and increasing the alcohol in the grapes by .8% (statistics courtesy of the C.I.V.C). The strength of the harvest will enable reserves to be quarantined for future use in years that may not be so favourable.
Tim Hall of Scala Wines, U.K., is my favourite contestant for the 2013 European Ambassadors’ Award. His web–site
www.scalawine.com contains plenty of well–written and interesting material on our favourite topic, the fine wines of Champagne.
Those of us who drink a lot of Champagne sometimes try to pick the dominant grape in a blend. We’re sometimes right – it’s a one out of three chance, after all. But we’re sometimes wrong! How does a Pinot Noir from Mailly, Champagne, taste so like a Chardonnay? The answer, says esteemed winemaker and frequent drinker of the best Champagnes, Pamela Dunsford, is because .“you’re dealing (with) Pinot Noir neutralised by making (it) as a Blanc de Noir (white wine made from black grapes) and low ripeness fruit, so that the variety definitions are quite subtle, and Pinot Meunier is low aromaticity. That’s why reserves, wine –making style and villages etc. are so significant.“ And so says Oxford academic, Charles Spence, who reported on a study carried out by the University of London’s Centre for the Study of the Senses. Amateurs and experts alike were both at a loss to pick the percent of Chardonnay. To read more fully on the topic reported, and some of the Champagnes reviewed, that useful site for finding the best value Champagne, please
click here for more details.
But keep trying! You will have a lot of fun trying to improve. Also see this article for more information about how to improve you tasing memory bank…please
Europeans, particularly the French, are not drinking as much Champagne in these post–GFC and their zero growth GDP times. The CIVC, the body which regulates Champagne production, have reduced the amount allowed to be harvested this year, down by 5%. Bollinger will also be hit, although their sales are up please
CLICK HERE to read more.
Selling less in France has not deterred the birth of a new brand,
Brimoncourt (be patient as the site is remarkably slow to load), born of a number of idle moments of wealthy entrepreneurs Alexandre Cornot and Arnaud Dupuis–Testenoire, who have set up shop, so to speak, in historic Aÿ, Grand Cru village of the Marne Valley. This is their “sophisticated response to convenience and boredom“. The rosé and blanc de blancs are due for release in September.
A new favourite, Alpha, the latest cuvée de prestige from Jacquart, the co–operative of the co–ops, which can select from 7% of the entire vineyard area in La Champagne…can’t wait for it to reach Australia!
Watch out for rising star, Mlle. Floriane Eznack. This young woman of surpassing talent will make her mark.
Finally, it’s public, although we heard a year ago. Laurent d’Harcourt, who loves visiting Australia so much that he brought his whole family on holiday here, is the new CEO now that Patrice Noyelle has retired. He is part of the enrichment from outside the family, extremely genial, as bi–lingual as Jacquart’s new winemaker Floriane Eznack, generous with information, and a formidable brand ambassador with a product which remains as popular as ever in Australia. All the Pol cuvées are outstanding value, are generally released later than the other Grandes Marques, and respond beautifully to further cellaring.
Moët & Chandon, whose latest released NV is currently drinking more beautifully than it has ever done, have released a clip from their winemaker, Benoît Gouez, about the release of their 2004 rosé. For an insight into blending, it’s fascinating listening for any Champagne student. Try not to be distracted by Benoît’s new look, as if he’s ready to slip back to an earlier century…
Mathieu Kauffmann has resigned as chef de cave at Bollinger, reports La Revue du Vin de France, after a disagreement with his replacement, Gilles Descôtes…
click here to read more.
BTW, drink Bolly on the terrace at the Paris Shangri–La Hotel while gazing at La Tour Eiffel. It’s a hot, hot summer over there, with the Weather Channel predicting 40 degrees C on Saturday, not quite the beginning of the “summer holidays“, which occur in August. Merde!
A couple of good food–match–with–Champagnearticles have found their way into print for those who need yet further confirmation that Champagne is a wonderful food wine.
To read more on the subject use the following links www.washingtonpost.com and
www.latimes.com, where Richard Geoffroy suggests food matches for Dom. We have been referring, with good success, to a wonderful new book, Champagne et Gastronomie, at this stage only available in French, by wine educator Franck Wolfert and Richard Marchal, the scientist working at the University of Reims, who discovered that botrytis rot in grapes causes a lack of fizz.
June 13, 2013 at
the drinks business Gabriel Savage introduces Bollinger’s new chef de cave Gilles Descôtes …to read the full article please
June 12, 2013 at
www.decanter.com Georgina Hindle opens the champagne and food matching debate with an excellent video Veuve Clicquot Champagne and food pairing with Dominique Demarville…to read the full article and watch the video please
June 7, 2013
just to tease you read Chapter 3 of Kaaren Palmer’s book
A Year of Champagne…a journey with friends
May 31, 2013
some of Britain’s best!
Hot dogs and Champagne at Bubbledogs…“a Champagne bar that doesn’t serve caviar!”…please click here a lot of fun!
A simply fantastic list at Texture…please click here to read more
the disgorgement debate continues…
Disgorgment dates the Drinks Business takes it on…please click here to read the drinks business Patrick Schmitt’s excelent article and make sure you read to the end, which ends with a mention about some of the trading of still wines which goes on in Champagne. Know as ’sur latte’, in reference to the slats on which bottles champagne rests during its secondary fermentation, it is a murky business indeed…!
May 17, 2013
Champagne editor Kaaren Palmer reviews dinner by Heston Blumenthal…please click here to read her review.
May 13, 2013
Champagne editor Kaaren Palmer is currently travelling in Europe…at this very minute on the Orient Express. Amongst tastings in Champagne, dining out in France and especially important visits to Noma and The Fat Duck it will be a very busy time
so new content will be occasional for the next two months.
May 6 2013
Victoria Wizard writing for
TelegraphWine reports that “Three glasses of Champagne a day could improve your memory. A regular glass of champagne could improve your memory, according to scientists.”…please
click here to read the full article.
Geoffrey Dean writing for
Harpers Wine and Spirit Trade Review reports on the eitement around the 2012 vintage. “Although it is still too early for a clear consensus to emerge among the Champenois, a good number are getting so excited after the recent assemblage of the 2012 vintage that it is even being compared to those of 1959, 1969 and 1990.” To read the full article please
recently added The Bentley Bar to Sydney’s where to drink Champagne…please click here to read more.
Also…we both agree Press Food + Wine Adelaide has a very nice Champagne list… click here to read more. We also like the fact that there aren’t a lot of rules e.g., food all day, plenty of wines by the glass, small serves that encourage sharing and grazing, good bread (although one needs at least twice as much butter) at least it doesn’t taste of the fridge. Sweetbreads, despite a tad too much star anise, were utterly divine and I can’t wait to eat them again! But, guys…how long would it take to shell a few peas!!! AO per favour Kaaren Palmer!
Small nit picking about the peas, but we love Press’ chef and co–owner Andrew Davies’ offal dishes.
March 23, 2013
Jacob Jaffney writing for the Wine Spectator finds that researchers believe Champagne boosts brain power… CLICK HERE to read his full article.
Malika Dalamal writing for Zagat's blog writes about a very cool new Chamagne bar at Selfridges#8230;just what one needs to keep up the stamina for shopping… CLICK HERE to read the full article it looks very swish.
The Corner Restaurant at Selfridges…image © copyright Zagat
March 15, 2013
Vale Henri Krug, where to drink Champagne and much more Champagne news…please scroll down for more recent Champagne news!
March 3, 2013
Just in time for the Adelaide Festival Kaaren’s revised Adeaide by the Glass…please click here to get the list.
February 9, 2013
Kaaren Palmer reviews
Providence Los Angeles
5955 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
telephone +1 323–460–4170
February 3, 2013
Providence, 2 star Michelin
Wonderful champagne list of expensive goodies, plus some interesting fave grower champagne, Pehu–Simonet’s Blanc de Blanc and Rosé, Selosse, Jacquesson Dizy and Dégorgement Tardif, Grande Année 2002, Clos des Goisses 2001 (bad year, but the best possible vineyard probably means it’s really good), plus another page full. We BYO’d ($30 corkage) Laurent–Perrier Grand Siècle, which slipped down like molten silk.
There’s not much sense of occasion in this restaurant, despite wall–to–wall staff. Only one ladies loo for all the diners – would not be legal for that number in Oz. But we were pleased to have been able to wangle a booking at short notice via Teresa’s management.
Our meal started with one of those jellied spheres on a too cold spoon. A strange sweet mango–ish beginning, followed by not light enough choux which had its strong rather pasty cheesy interior injected into it some time before. Next to it was a creamy emulsion in a small glass. Into this was poured some tepid sweet potato soup. Mix together with a plastic straw and suck. Hmmm, I’m thinking, but everybody else is raving about it. And I don’t like the taste of warmed plastic.
We ordered àla carte prix fixe US $85 pp as not all of us wanted the tasting menu. I said that the chef could just feed me.
On the table was some smoked trout spread flecked with salmon roe and chopped herbs, with a very thin rectangular seedy biscuit. Delectable combination, great textures.
Good breads, a choice of three, a foccacia–like ’seaweed’ bread, white rolls and bacon rolls. Good butter, salt on the side.
Perfect oysters, freshly shucked, delicious. Two small, four big, superfluous dressing. US $21 per serve. Kevin’s Maine lobster was far too salty, and the accompanying hearts of palm, avocado and nori salad prettily plated. US $10 supplement. The Alaskan King crab the other side of the table attracted US $32 supplement.
I was served dainty and very tasty small scallops, simply cooked, circling the plate with an attractive garnish of pea sprouts, pistachio, yellow petals, Japanese turnip braised and in puree – loved it!
For four of us, there were generous serves of beautifully prepared fish (Kevin ordered duck in the vain hope that it would be as good as that at home). We passed around tastes. No food miles saved here! The cod had been flown in from Norway, the sea bass from Rhode Island. My serving was a large amount of gorgeously textured monkfish (US $10 supplement) of delicate flavour, with small, but rather firm potatoes and a flimsy dusting of fresh black truffle, presented theatrically under a silver cover. The truffle lacked aroma.
To me, the desserts looked pretty ordinary, but three disappeared without trace. Kevin and I treated ourselves to the cheese trolley US $10 supplement. The American artisan cheeses were a revelation, some of them unpasteurized. Superb textures and flavours and all cheeses in perfect eating order.
VERDICT: Worth a return trip. Fair value. KP
January 28, 2013
Letter from Los Angeles
Have found some excellent champagnes at a specialist called ’du Vin’. Enjoyed 1998 René Lalou, thrilling and seductive nose, palate to match, steeped in honeyed elegance, evolving to a palace of delights, but it was so dark at Gordon Ramsay’s at the London, that we needed a torch to read the menu. The champagne was great though and only $30 corkage.
Gordon Ramsay’s influence might still be in the kitchen but they are cutting down their wine list and dumbing the whole thing down, from staff training through to what’s on offer…to visit their web site please CLICK HERE
We have lobbed into LA during a restaurant promo week so bad luck and good luck. But lunch at Ramsay’s with $25 for 3 courses for lunch, $45 for dinner was a bit of a steal and allowed us to indulge further in our wine selections (as if we needed encouragement!). Lunch example chicken dumplings, pork belly with lobster, coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet. All very good but
noisy and crowded, possibly due to the generosity of the special offers.
Nevertheless divine mushroom risotto with a scallop (not bad, but not as good as our local Paul Polacco’s) and a quail egg, the best of thee courses.
Forgot to bring link for camera to kev’s computer. I’d say the kitchen is hanging on by it’s fingernails as the house made bread was tired, the butter some collapsed oats from this morning. As soon as one person is finished, the plate is whipped away, making the other person feel they must scamper to catch up.
Amarone, traditional Italian proved and excellent find and
two good Jewish delis within walking distanceof the London…more later. KP
Champagne news January 5, 2013…is available from THIS LINK
…20 November 2012
East End Cellars are importing and distributing one of our favourite growers, José Dhondt. José Dhondt do not have a web site but you might enjoy this utube video ,
, from Grand Cru Oger on the Côte des Blancs. The NV, 2007 and Rosé de Saignée are all available. Fino at Willunga feature the NV on their wine list, and indeed it is drinking beautifully and has travelled well. Pure pleasure!
Updates to where to drink Champagne by the glass in Adelaide — coming soon, but STOP PRESS reports that Billecart by the bargain glass $14 is available at the
Stirling Cellars and Patisserie next to Foodland in Johnston St. Also check out the excellent Champagne list in the Stirling Hotel Grill Restaurant.
The Stirling Hotel Cellars and Patisserie
image copyright © The Stirling Hotel
…18 November 2012
Without disgorgement dates, how do we know it’s fresh?
The new Bollinger NV bottle is now available in Australia, so finally, in the absence of disgorgement dates, we know it’s fresh, just from the bottle shape.
The new bottle has a narrower neck, and therefore less of the surface area of the champagne is exposed to the tiny amount of air trapped between the cork and champagne when the bottle is upright.
to read more about the change of bottle shape…please CLICK HERE
…10 November, 2012
Decanter’s… Giles Fallowfield reports
Moving on Ayala president Herve Augustin resigns.
Augustin has recently overseen a restoration of Ayala’s fortunes and of the image of the brand, which had fallen into decline in the 1990s, leading the house to its best financial performance in many years in 2011…to read the full article please CLICK HERE
…3 November, 2012
Adelaide Apothecary 1878’s Annual Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting 2012
Monday 26th November 6.00 pm to 8.30pm
$58 includes canapés…please
CLICK HERE for full details and booking information
Decanter travel guide: Champagne, France
Wednesday 8 August 2012 by Decanter Be the first to comment
Apart from the famous wines, this region is rich with world heritage sites, history and art. Giles Fallowfield bases himself in Reims for a busy long weekend. Read the full guide to Champagne, including the best houses to visit, plus top places to stay, eat, shop and relax. Published in the Decanter August 2012 issue…please CLICK HERE to read the full article.
Celebrate International Champagne Day at Deviation Road Winery with their sparkling winemaker Kate Laurie, Kaaren Palmer, Jim Smith and Nick Ryan for a Sunset Champagne Masterclass on Friday October 26th 2012 at 5.45pm
Explore a range of grower champagnes alongside the famous Grande Marques and discover the personalities that make up the tapestry of champagne.
Bracket 1 — Aperitif Style Champagnes
Often drier, lighter and very crisp, these wines leave you wanting more…!
Bracket 2 — Influence of Oak
Many makers are reverting to the traditional use of old oak barrels for either fermenting or ageing their base wines. How does this affect the aroma and taste?
Bracket 3 — Rosé
Often overlooked, but Rosé champagnes offer a richness on the nose, and depth of flavour on the palate that make it perfect for any occasion.
Deviation Road Cellar Door, 207 Scott Creek Rd, Longwood (Via Stirling)
$110 per person payment required at time of making booking full details tomorrow. Numbers are limited reservations can be made with Mary Ranford +61 8 8339 2633 or with email email@example.com
last week…29 September, 2012
AFP – Gerard Liger–Belair lives in a bubble and he doesn’t care who knows it.Champagne physicist reveals the secrets of bubbly.
France24 International News
18 September, 2012
French scientist Gerard Liger–Belair works on a glass of Champagne in his laboratory, on September 13 in Reims, eastern France. Teaching at the University of Reims, Liger–Belair worked with scientists Guillaume Polidori and Philippe Jeandet to find out the exact role of bubbles in the aroma and taste of champagne and engineered glasses to give measurable bubble flow patterns.
Bubbles are his passion. And they have given the 41-year-old French scientist arguably the best job in all of physics. To read the full article please CLICK HERE
Friday 21 September, 2012
Champagne: where the party’s really at
Matt Walls for Tim Atkin MW
September 16, 2012
Sometimes I feel very lucky to be living in the UK when it comes to getting hold of good wine. Since the UK has historically been an importer of other countries’ wines, rather than producer of its own, the UK wine industry has tended to be open-minded and meritocratic when it comes to the wines it sells. This has led to a diverse range of countries, regions, grapes, producers and vintages, giving us excellent choice, and on the whole, carefully researched wide selections for at least the more established wine producing regions of the world. But there is one major region where we are letting ourselves down, and ironically it’s right on our doorstep: Champagne.
Please click here to read the full article
Tim Atkin is not just an important wine person but a brilliant photographer to see some of his stunning work please click here
keeping the fizz in families…Sunday 16 September, 2012
Tom Horrow for www.campdenfb.com
August 9, 2012
The Krug family has long held to a charming tradition at the birth of each male child: before the infant is introduced to the mother’s breast, it receives a thimbleful of champagne. When on their deathbeds, in a rite similar to the Catholic sacrament of Extreme Unction, family members receive another thimbleful, more if requested. Thus the opening and closing moments of their lives are saluted with the endeavours of their family, the work of several lifetimes.
The wine world is intimately connected with family. Please click here to read the full aticle
the big news…September 7, 2012
Champagne harvest to start next week
4 September, 2012
the drinks business
“Speaking to the drinks business, Laurent Fresnet, cellar master for Henriot, said that he was hoping to begin harvesting on 12 September, with many other houses apparently looking to begin by the 15 or 17 September.
He added: “It will be small in quantity but potentially very nice in quality – fingers crossed” not to be drawn on the subject of vintage he merely proclaimed he was “more optimistic this year than others recently” despite the difficulties.
Champagne’s vineyards have been hit repeatedly this year by hail, frost and disease but a warm, dry August has helped salvage the situation somewhat.
please CLICK HERE to read the full article
Champagne harvest quota announced
© acp/Alan Julien
Uncertain times for Champagne.
Posted Wednesday, 05 September, 2012
Miserable spring weather and falling sales have prompted the Champagne region to reduce its harvest quota this year.
please CLICK HERE to read the full article
August 25, 2012
fabulous news Champagne editor Kaaren Palmer is the South Australian finalist in the amateur section of the 2012 Vin de Champagne awards and Kate Laurie, winemaker Deviation Road is the South Australian finalist in the professional section of the 2012 Vin de Champagne awards…please
CLICK HERE to read about the awards and finalists from other states.
August 17, 2012
Champagne suffers the worst season in decades. “Bad News for the Bubbly: Champagne Suffers Worst Season in Decades
Aug 17, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
Freakish weather conditions have hurt champagne producers, and experts warn that the prospects for the coming harvest look increasingly dim.
” reports The Daily Beast…
CLICK HERE to read the full article.
10 August, 2012
There are ample reasons to visit Chicago starting with a pilgrimage to Grant Atchatz’ Alinea but Glenn Murray writing for www.chicagonow.com reports RM, West Loop’s highly-Anticipated Champagne Salon opened its doors August 2. Sought–after sommelier Jason Wagner, 32, who formerly served as Wine Director alongside 28–time Michelin Star recipient Joël Robuchon, has announced that his progressive hospitality project, RM, will officially open to the public on August 2nd. Alongside the nationally–revered nightlife visionaries of Element Collective, Wagner will launch the 1,500 square foot high style champagne salon and spacious outdoor patio, which is discreetly tucked-away at the foot of a secluded cobblestone alley at 116 N. Green Street…to read the full story please CLICK HERE
RM, West Loop’s Champagne Salon, Chicago
image copyright © www.chicagonow.com
A great way to enjoy France’s Champagne region…Just launched last week by France’s Champagne region is the wine tourist friendly OenoPass…to read the full article please CLICK HERE
David Rosengarten writing for the www.huffingtonpost.com writes “Another Sparkling Innovation From Champagne’s Most Prestigious Producer”…to read the full article CLICK HERE
Reuters report Vranken–Pommery Monopole records growth in its turnover in the second quarter of 2012: up 5.5%…to read the full article please CLICK HERE
The games might be almost over but worthwhile remembering the London 2012: St Pancras Grand Champagne Bar was refurbished in time for the London Olympic games…to read the full story please CLICK HERE
4 August, 2012
Finally the consumer will know just how old their NV champagne is, by looking at the disgorgement date and subtracting the amount of time the House puts the champagne on lees. The main harvest will be the year before that.
“Research conducted by Paillard shows that Champagne goes through ’five or six different ages’ following disgorgement. It begins with a fruit–dominated phase, before moving to flowery notes, then spices and then toasted aromas, before progressing to candied fruit and, finally, roasted notes. It can take five years for the first spiced notes to appear, the research said.” To read the full article please CLICK HERE
29 July, 2012
Only a day in Champagne Kaaren Palmer outlines how to make the most of that day…click here to read the full story and for more Champagne news and two dinners check out our July what’s hot
20 July, 2012
MUMM LAUNCHES BLANC DE BLANCS Champagne by Gabriel Savage, The Drinks Business…GH Mumm has replaced its 130–year old Mumm de Cramant cuvée with its newly introduced Mumm Blanc de Blancs… CLICK HERE to read the full article.
Champagne bubbles improve flavour
by Richard Woodard, Decanter writes…Champagne’s bubbles are more than mere decoration – they contain up to 30 times more flavour than the wine itself, scientists have discovered.
A study of five Champagnes and high–quality sparkling wines revealed that the liquid in a glass of Champagne and the bubbles have very different chemical fingerprints… CLICK HERE to read the full article.
July 6, 2012
As more and more grape growers and wine producers turn to the old ways and take on biodynamic farming, Giles Fallowfield in Decanter reports that Louis Roederer is now Champagne’s biggest biodynamic producer… CLICK HERE to read the full article.
Diana Goodman puts forth a lovely tongue–in–cheek article with a lot of historical references. One hundred rules on how a gentleman drinks Champagne… CLICK HERE to read the full article.
June 22, 2012
Reported by Giles Fallowfield in Decanter Friday 15th June – One of the worst hailstorms in recorded Champagne history has hit the southern Côte des Bar region, destroying this year’s grape crop.
For us, that means delicious Drappier will suffer. About 100 of their 187 hectares was destroyed, affecting next year’s prospects as well, with about 50% damage to another 50 hectares. Also affected are 91 ha in Bergères, 210 ha in Baroville which includes the co–operative Barfontac and the grower–maker Philippe Fourrier, and 156 ha in Meurville, 6 kms south of pretty mediaeval Bar–sur–Aube, home to respected grower &EACUTE;tienne Christian. Supplies of Drappier’s Grand Sendrée may become constrained, which makes recent special offers of one of our favourites doubly attractive.
A large family–owned distributor in the UK, the PLB Group, has joined the grower champagne promotion by signing up Cattier, Dampierre, Edouard Brun, Legras & Haas, Lamotte and Malard, all of which have Premiers and Grands Crus Champagnes. As reported by Harpers, they are part of the great Families of Champagne selection by the U.K.’s PLB Group Ltd.
Of these, only Cattier and Dampierre are available in Australia…watch this space!
At Lanson there is a really good history time line, with excellent notes, a video clip with Gerard Basset MW showing how to serve champagne and discussing Lanson’s styles, and a host of other good features… CLICK HERE to take a look. Unfortunately, we are not offered two of Lanson’s wonderful creations, the Noble or the Extra Age series, in Australia. Nor the historical releases. Sob! Monsieur Basset also discusses malo–lactic fermentation, and storing champagne.
May 29, 2012
Cannadian sommelier and writer François Chartier applies scientific principles to food and wine pairing. We link you to a fascinating article published on www.wine-searcher.com……please click here to read the article. For new Champagne news galore please click here
François Chartier selling the science and wine matching story!
Image from the wine–searcher web site
Heading for Paris? Make sure you follow Kaaren Palmer’s fabulous guide for drinking Champagne in Paris and we have also expanded the Where to Drink Champagne into a separate navigation. To read more about Champagne in Paris… CLICK HERE
There is also plenty of information for Australia and we have had especially good feedback from Kaaren’s Melbourne Champagne walk…use the where to drink Champagne on the right hand side navigation.
champagne and food
Champagne and food, the delicate art of matching food to Champagne is a particular passion of mine and I am delighted to finally be able to activate this section in Champagne.
In the coming months/years will will be building a library resource for our readers where you will be able to search your Champagne house and find our suggestions…even sometimes a fabulous recipe!
Please use the Champagne and food navigation on the right hand side.