The 2011 Champagne Bureau Champagne Tasting was held in Sydney on Monday 22 August for members of the press and trade. The Champagne Bureau represents the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, or CIVC, a body set up with the protection of the French government to coordinate the common interests of wine growers and producers in Champagne.
38 Champagne houses were represented with over 100 Champagnes showcased. Two sessions took place at the State Room of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, with the morning session catering for the media and the afternoon for members of the trade.
State Room, Hilton Hotel
Gourmantic attended the two and a half hour media session where 43 different champagnes from independent growers and grandes marques were tasted.
Champagne René Geoffroy
Champagne René Geoffroy is an independent wine producer in Cumières and the first of the grower Champagne houses we taste.
The Non Vintage René Geoffroy Cuvée Expression Brut is a blend of 50% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Using zero dosage, this is a fresh and dry style of wine that goes well as an apéritif. René Geoffroy Millésime 2000 has 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Chardonnay with a dosage of 2g per litre. Dry but more bodied than its predecessor with a longer finish, it has more yeasty and creamy characteristics, one of the early favourites of the tasting. 100% Pinot Noir make up René Geoffroy Cuvée Rosé de Saigné, a wine that is made using the saignée method, which is bled off its skins during the maceration of the grapes and fermented as pink juice. A light style rosé with hints of strawberries.
Champagne Chartogne-Taillet is another grower Champagnes and comes from the town of Merfy.
The 2002 Chartogne-Taillet Millésime is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay with a dosage of 7 grams per litre. A richer and more yeasty from the higher sugar content, this wine has a little more sweetness with a longer finish. Another one of the favourites. Chartogne-Taillet Le Rosé Brut is made of 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay using 15% still Pinot Noir. A more textural and bodied rosé, with hints of strawberry and cream.
Champagne Henri Billiot Fils
Champagne Henri Billiot Fils is another independent grower and comes from the village of Ambonnay. The wines are 100% Grand Cru with mostly Pinot Noir from ancient vines.
Champagne Henri Billiot Fils Cuvée Tradition Brut is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. This is a bright and vinous wine, a dryer style with higher acid. Henri Billiot Millésime 2004 is also a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. Disgorged earlier this year, this is a rich and creamy full bodied wine that has been aged sur lie. Henri Billiot Cuvée Rosé Brut is made with a 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay with 8% of still Pinot Noir used as dosage.
Champagne Duval-Leroy dates back to 1859 and a result of a merger of two champagne growers. Located in Vertus, in the heart of “La Cote des Blancs”, the company is headed by Madame Carol Duval-Leroy, who has been likened to a modern-day Madame Clicquot.
The Duval-Leroy 1999 vintage is made from 100% Chardonnay and exhibits dry and yeasty characteristics. Duval-Leroy Brut Rosé, a wine we had tasted at the Champagne Jayne Glamor on the Go Champagne Experience, is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay has light fruit on the nose and a well-balanced vinosity on the palate.
Champagne Gatinois is a small but significant grand cru classé champagne house located in Aÿ. Highly rated in France, the estate produces 50,000 bottles and supplies champagne houses including Bollinger. Seven hectares of grand cru are spread over 27 parcels all facing south on slopes and hilltops overlooking the Marne River.
Gatinois Tradition Non Vintage uses juice from the first press and is aged 3.5 years sur lie. Three vintages are used, 2/3rd from the 2006 and 1/3rd from the 2004/2005. This is richer and bigger than many Blanc de Blancs and has a characteristic pinkish colour from the blend of 90% Pinot Noir with 10% Chardonnay. Gatinois Millésime 2002 also uses first press juice and is aged 5 years sur lie. This wine has and has 6 grams per litre as dosage. This vintage was disgorged in July/August 2008 and exhibits a vinous and elegant style with good body.
Champagne Pascal Doquet
Champagne Pascal Doquet is a small producer and an up-and-coming name in champagne with a production of 75000 bottles a year.
Pascal Doquet Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Cru is their top NV cuvée, a blend of two-thirds 2002 and one-third 2001 and disgorged in July of 2010. Made with 100% Chardonnay from Cotes de Blanc with a dosage of 7 grams per litre, the reserve wines are aged in oak until ready to be released. Intense and complex on the palate, the wine has good length. Pascal Doquet Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Cru 2002 comes from the best vineyard in Le Mesnil which is located next to KRUG’s “Clos du Mesnil”. Also made with 100% Chardonnay and 7 g/l dosage, the wine is only released when it is ready. Complex, intense and full of character, this wine is one of the favourites on taste.
Champagne Larmandier-Bernier is a fully biodynamic and certified grower’s champagne made from 100% Chardonnay.
Larmandier-Bernier Blanc de Blanc 1er Cru is a light and dry style of wine, using a low dosage of 4g which gives it crisp notes. Larmandier-Bernier Cramant VV Grand Cru 2005 comes from the grand cru village of Cramant and is a richer style of wine that lingers on the palate. We found the taste a little difficult to define. There is certainly a richness in length and possibly a minerality due to the deep rooted vineyards and the age of vines being around 60 years (average age in champagne is 20-25 years). Only 20 cases are currently brought into Australia. Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus 1er Cru Non-Dosé comes from Vertus and has zero dosage which makes it very dry and a style of wine to enjoy with food and drink in long hot summers.
Champagne Gosset is one of the oldest champagne houses and was founded in Aÿ in 1584 by Jean Gosset. The first thing we notice is a move away from the classical label design into a more modern look. This is a familiar wine that we have tasted on several occasions at the Ultimo Wine Centre Annual Champagne Tasting.
We taste the Gosset Grande Réserve, a blend of 46% Chardonnay with 39% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, an elegant and fruity style with a creamy texture. Gosset Grand Millesime 2000, a long time favourite, is a blend of 57% Chardonnay and 43% Pinot Noir, with a delicate nose and strong notes of ripe fruit. Gosset Grand Rosé, a blend of 57% Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is an elegant style rosé with notes of strawberry and cream.
Champagne Paul Bara
Champagne Paul Bara is a grand cru that was established in Bouzy in 1833.
Paul Bara Brut Réserve 100% Grand Cru is made from 80% Pinot Noir, with aromas of ripe fruit, a fruity and aperitif style of wine. Paul Bara ‘Spécial Club’ Rosé 2004, with 80% Pinot Noir, is a vibrant style rosé with great body and length, one of the favourite rosés on taste while the Paul Bara Grand Rose De Bouzy 100% Grand Cru is more of an aperitif style with a red fruit bouquet.
Founded in 1798, this small Champagne house in Dizy was awarded a gold medal in 1810 by Napoléon 1er for the beauty and richness of its cellars. With an annual production of 350,000 bottles, Champagne Jacquesson‘s production is deliberately limited in keeping with traditional methods.
Jacquesson Cuvee No 734 NV is based on the 2004 vintage and has 54% Chardonnay 26% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir. Aromatic, light on the palate and easy to drink. Jacquesson Vintage 2000 is made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from Champ Caïn vineyard. Fruity on the nose, with a creamy and long finish. Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2000 has 100% Chardonnay and comes from 3 grand crus vineyards in Avize, La Fosse, Champ Caïn and Nemery. This wine exhibits complexity and good length and has a low dosage of 3.5g per litre.
Champagne Ruinart is the oldest champagne house dating back to 1729, the time when champagne was first put into bottles. The bottle shape is the type that was used in the 18th century.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is the flagship wine made with 100% Chardonnay from premier cru and grand cru vineyards. 25% of reserve wine is used from the previous vintage and it is aged 2.5-3 year sur lie. A fresh and lively wine, great as an aperitif and a good accompaniment to seafood. The bottle is transparent to reflect the light and colour of the Chardonnay. Ruinart Rosé is made from a blend of 45% Chardonnay (high %) and 55% Pinot Noir. The higher than normal percentage of the Chardonnay makes it fresh and not too vinous compared to other rosés. From the Pinot Noir component, 19% is vinified as red wine. A fresh style rosé that is not sweet but has body which makes it very drinkable.
Champagne Mumm is well known for its non vintage Mumm Cordon Rouge, and its red ribbon label, a blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay. A fresh and full bodied champagne that goes well on any occasion.
Mumm Cuvée R. Lalou 1999 is a 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir blend that is aged 10 years sur lie. This wine has great complexity yet it remains lively and young. A prestige cuvée and great gastronomic wine. The colder it is, the more citrusy notes are prevalent. One of the favourites on taste. Mumm ‘Mumm de Cramant’ is made from 100% grand cru Chardonnay from the town of Cramant. Aged 2 years sur lie, it is a fresh wine, with citrus on the nose and a little chalkiness and minerality. Another of the favourites on taste.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët from Epernay is renowned for its Cuvée Belle Epoque and its iconic flower bottle created in 1902 by Emile Gallé.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2004 is made from 100% grand cru vineyards in Cramant and Avize. A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, aged 6 years sur lie, it has a fresh and silky style, a wine of celebration enjoyed at the marriage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte began as a family owned business that turned into cooperative of 5200 families who now own it known it.
Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve Particuliere is a blend of 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier, rated as number one in France and number three in the world. Made from grand cru and 1er cru fruit more than any other house in France, it is aged 3 years sur lie.The wine has toasty and yeasty characteristics. Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes D’Or 1998 is a tribute to an unnamed opera singer nicknamed Diva and comes in a collectors’ item bottle. made with 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir, it is aged 10 years sur lie and has rich and yeasty characters. One of the favourites on taste.
Nicholas Feuillatte Palmes D’Or Rosé 2002 is a rich and fruity rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir aged 8 years sur lie.
Champagne Pommery Summertime Blanc de Blancs is part of the 4 seasons range of which we tasted the Blanc de Noirs at the Pommery Champagne Cube. Made with 100% Chardonnay and aged 36 months sur lie, this is a light and fresh style, easy to drink for any occasion.
Pommery Cuvée Louise 1999 is a tribute to Madame Pommery’s daughter who was born before Mr Pommery passed away. Made from 4 specific cru champagnes, this 65% Chardonnay 35% Pinot Meunier blend is the newest on international market in the last 4 years and has been in Australia for 6 months.A prestige cuvée with elegance and finesse, one of the favourites to drink on hot summer nights.
Other Champagnes tasted but not featured in this review include Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Lombard & Cie, Champagne Louis Roederer and Champagne Bollinger.
Champagne Bureau Australia
Gourmantic attended the press session as media guests.
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