GROWER CHAMPAGNE CLUBTasting Notes
Each month we give you a two bottle introduction to the sparkling grapes of Champagne. Meet the grower-producers that are simultaneously stretching and embracing tradition. Fall in love with this category of extremely rare, nerdy and delicious wines- we promise to teach you all we know.
THE LONG AND WINDING RUE
Larmandier-Bernier “Longitude” Extra Brut Premier Cru / Chardonnay / Côtes des Blancs, Champagne, France NV
As fruity as an all chardonnay champagne could possibly be, the glass starts in with mouthwatering white peaches straight from the tree. That peach fuzz gives a lot to chew on, topping off that fresh baked bread. The bubbles bring on a refreshing splash of salinity as a chaser, somehow leaving the glass empty, yet again!
Pierre Paillard “Les Parcelles XIV” Extra-Brut / Pinot Noir + Chardonnay / Bouzy, Champagne, France NV
The nose leads with all red delicious apple skin and fresh walnuts. The palate is deliciously decadent and fluffy like a toasted challah loaf, topped with a zesty sprinkling of cinnamon and clove, and a wee dab of apricot preserve.
TWO LIVE CRUS
Paul Bara “Réserve” Grand Cru / Pinot Noir + Chardonnay / Bouzy, Montagne de Reims
These bubbles are so starry clear and crystal bright, but the palate is pure Pinot through-and-through. Boy does this blanc taste red; from strawberry rhubarb to red delicious apple and even an exotic cinnamon spice like Maitake mushroom. If you close your eyes you’ll swear you’re drinking red berries; goji and currants and golden raspberries complete with their furry skin and the crunch of their seeds. When you drink a champagne like this that just never ends on the palate, it is such a memorable joy.
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 1er Cru / Chardonnay / Vertus, Côte des Blancs
Rich and delicious grain cereals (ie grape nuts) float on a cloud of lemon curd, with a helping of toasted brioche with a side of green melon; yes indeed, champagne is part of a balanced breakfast, 9 out of 10 wine nerds agree. This is so ample and rounded especially for a no dosage brut nature, it’s not angular and lean but has plenty of acidity to tickle the tongue, with just the right balance of fruity and biscuity. That limestone comes in for a landing, bright and bold like a minerality meteor shower.
IT’S MAGNUM SEASON!
Tarlant “Zero” / Brut Nature / Chardonnay + Pinot Noir + Pinot Meunier / Vallée de la Marne, Champagne, France NV
Tarlant is an acid-lover’s dream; it leads with a flash of electric, energetic vim and takes you down the rabbit hole to the butter and biscuits of a proper Mad Hatter’s tea party. Some subtle floral delights (red roses perhaps?) and brilliant bubbles flash with the allure of a truly dry champagne. And oh how we love a big bottle of bubbles…that large format scuba tank / rocket ship / fire extinguisher, that magnificent magnum, that fun-for-all-occasions big ol’ bottle. It is always a celebration no matter who, what, when or where it is popped… just beware the jabberwock, I mean Jerobaum.
HEUCQ AND SELEQUE
André Heucq ‘Phase 2’ Rosé / Pinot Meunier / Cuisles, Vallee de la Marne, Champagne
Is there such a thing as a Pinot Noir ice pop? Because if there were… I realize this Meunier, but for taste recognition example purposes, you get the idea. Ripe fruit, for sure, but oh so much more. Rainier cherries but with a touch quinine, Lychee fruit entangled with grapefruit rinds. Voluptuous and textured, with the deep satisfaction of a lingering finish that is more reminiscent of a dry red wine.
Jean-Marc Sélèque / Pinot Meunier / Pierry, Les Côteaux Sud d’Epernay, Champagne NV
Beautifully reflective color in the glass that is barely pink, and almost electric. Dried strawberries and rose petals on the nose with bright precision. At first taste, bitter orange peel and rose hips. Ripping acid and highly mineral driven make this Champagne a textural funhouse for nerdy terroir lovers. Lastly the yeast complexion is quite delicate – a perfectly flaky french puff pastry.
FRANKLY MEUNIER, I DON’T GIVE A DRAM
Vincent Charlot / “Le Fruit de ma Passion” / Extra Brut / Mardeuil, Vallee de la Marne, Champagne, France 2014 / Pinot Meunier + Pinot Noir + Chardonnay
Copper wire in color and effusively bubbly, the red fruit just crackles out of this glass. Meunier tosses on the cooking spice over loads and loads of ruby red grapefruit, crispy red delicious apple and even caraway seed, almost to the point of rye whiskey. Fresh and a little flirty, this is a showy fruit of passion.
Guillaume Sergent / “Chemin des Chappes” / Blanc de Noirs / Extra Brut / Reims, Champagne, France NV / Pinot Noir + Pinot Meunier
This is a lively conversation between the Pinots, a back and forth of tart red raspberry and bright pomegranate with mouthwatering acidity and seaspray. River stone and petrichor percolate on the nose, and salted celery and underripe strawberries show the nerve and precision that blanc de noirs so rarely achieve.
FARMING ZEAL IN FARMER’S FIZZ
Benoit Marguet “Shaman 15” / Pinot Noir + Chardonnay / Ambonnay, Champagne, France NV (2015)
Starfruit brightness counterweighted with an earthy walnut skin and toasted challah richness. A whole spectral array of snappy fruit, savory herbs and exotic minerality, almost like it is being reflected through a cosmically calculated crystal prism.
1.Pouillon et Fils Brut Réserve / Pinot Noir + Chardonnay + Pinot Meunier / Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Champagne, France NV
Champagne like this transcends words, it feels more like an experience, like watching lightning in the rain. The wine hits almost like a classic Manhattan cocktail: the rich deep velvet texture balanced by an herbal bitter bite, all wrapped up with that red-fruited burst of amarena cherry on top.
TERROIR TRANSPARENCY IN CHARDONNAY
Guiborat ‘Téthys.16’ Grand Cru
Cramant, Champagne, France NV (2016)
All jasmine flowers and citrons and the perfect white melon (found by smelling the rind in the produce aisle.) Tart mango, almonds and river stones chime in with perfect harmony on the palate and then it fires the salivary glands into overdrive.
Barrat-Masson ‘Fleur de Craie’ Extra Brut
Sézannais, Champagne, France NV (2016)
Crunchy, chalky and snappy. Green apple tartness with both the scent and flavors of lime leafs. The minerality is gunpowder-y as well as earthy white sage and a touch of saltiness. This would be magic sauce with oysters or some good sashimi.
TWO SHADES OF ROSÉ
Champagne Henriet-Bazin Rosé
Villers-Marmery, Montagne de Reims, Champagne, NV
Ripeness and structure in perfect harmony. The texture on this wine goes well beyond your average rosé.Blackcurrants and black pepper, licorice and citrus peel, brioche and blood oranges. 70% solera reserve wine really adds a ton of layers that create an ever evolving profile.
Pierre Gimonnet & Fils ‘Rosé de Blancs’
Cuis, Côte des Blancs, Champagne, France NV
Steely nerve, chalky minerality, Meyer lemon zest. The soft touch of red juice blended in just gives the proper hint of tart plums and pluot. Both tart and somehow creamy at the same time, such a unique flavor here that suits the dichotomy of flavors of this great wine.
BUBBLES FOR THE PEOPLE
Stéphane Coquillette ‘Carte d’Or’ 1er Cru / Chouilly, Champagne, NV
A deeper blue fruit note to it than you’d ever expect. It merely hints on the nose but on the tongue there is pomegranate and fresh picked blueberries. Crisply perfumed of jasmine and a bit ginger spicy in texture, it also displays a round ripeness that creates an awesome counterbalance.
Champagne Saint-Chamant Millesime 2008 / Blanc de Blancs / Épernay, Champagne, NV
This Champagne is voluptuous, bordering on hedonistic. Rich creme brulee with burnt sugar top, baked apple, tangerines and lemon glazed scones. Vibrant acid finish, but with complex tertiary notes on the mid palate that reveal the wines age. Ten years resting in a bottle on its lees has developed a fabulous textural depth.
AN INTRODUCTION TO GROWER CHAMPAGNE
Champagne Laherte-Frères Blanc de Blancs / Brut Nature
Chavot, Champagne, NV
Bracing and bright with key lime, young mango, smoky flint and a bit of uncooked dough, and all the chalky minerality you could ever desire. Delightfully balanced with enough ripeness, complexity, and fruit driven texture to keep that ripping acidity well in check.
Champagne Georges Laval ‘Garennes’ / Extra Brut
Chavot, Champagne, NV
Citrus rinds, hazelnuts and yellow miso – Pinot Meunier brings us a touch closer towards the umami side of the palate. This is a thoughtfully crafted and meticulously nurtured 60% reserve wine. Certified Organic.