Category Archives: Champagne

Jul 07 2016

Masterclass with Didier Mariotti, Chef de Cave, G.H. Mumm

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By

Did you know that half of the Champagne produced every year is consumed in France? And outside of France, Australia is one of the world’s biggest markets for Champagne (8 million bottles a year) and our thirst for the drop is growing rapidly – up 24% last year alone!

G.H. Mumm’s Chef de Caves Didier Mariotti (Head Winemaker is the less cool English translation) shared these and other fascinating  tidbits at a recent masterclass on the G.H. Mumm lineup at Vintage Cellars, Double Bay.

The lineup of wines for us to try was stellar: G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge NV, G.H. Mumm Le Rose NV, G.H. Mumm Le Millisime 2006, Blanc de Blancs de Cramant NV, G.H. Mumm Rene Lalou Cuvee 1999.

Unfortunately, the delightfully fresh Blanc de Blancs de Cramant is not easy to source in Australia and was unavailable to buy on the night. Only 50,000 bottles are made each year and the French are reluctant to let it leave their shores! A pity, because this wine is a brilliant expression of Didier’s winemaking philosophy – its hallmark characteristic being simplicity, not complexity!

In Didier’s opinion, to achieve a sophisticated, yet simple (perhaps ‘pure’ is a better English translation?) expression of the chardonnay grape from a single vintage is extremely difficult, because you can’t disguise mistakes by blending in reserve wine.

The grapes comes from just one village – the Grand Cru vineyards of the chalk hillside village of Cramant in Côte des Blancs. (Mumm has been making a blanc des blancs from this area since 1882.)  To produce a wine that is sharp and crisp yet still has an interesting minerally mid-palate, Didier deliberately bottles the wine at a lower pressure and adds only a small dosage (less than 6 grams).

The wine’s perfume was superb – a delicate mix of scented white blossoms with lemon and fresh fruit. Didier explained that he and his four winemakers receive olfaction and taste training twice a year, sometimes from a perfume expert… [Read More]

Jan 01 2015

Krug Champagne Masterclass

Posted on January 01, 2015 | By

Krug is to Champagne as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is to Burgundy and Petrus is to Bordeaux. (Tyson Stelzer, The Champagne Guide 2014-2015)

Vintage Cellars Ultimo’s Krug Masterclass was one of those occasions I will never forget. Fortunately, I’ve had a number of opportunities to sample top vintage cuvées from the celebrated Champagne Houses, but the chance to taste the Krug Clos du Mesnil 2003 (rrp $1,299.99) and the Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 1998 (rrp $3,299.99) was a very rare privilege indeed!.. [Read More]

Apr 04 2014

Salon Brut Le Mesnil: “The Champagne Lovers’ Champagne”

Posted on April 04, 2014 | By

The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin describes the Salon Brut Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs as “the Champagne lovers’ Champagne.” Even in the rarefied world of prestige vintage cuvees, Salon is in a class of its own!

Founded by Eugène Aimé Salon in the early 20th century, Champagne Salon makes only one wine and only in years when the vintage is deemed to be exceptional.  Just 38 vintages, an average of about four a decade, have been released since the first commercial vintage of 1921… [Read More]

Feb 02 2014

Time to Toss Out your Champagne Flutes?

Posted on February 02, 2014 | By

I just read an interesting article in this month’s Decanter about whether the Champagne flute should be abolished? Maximilian Riedel, 11th generation of the famous family glass maker, told Decanter that he wants “the flute be obsolete by the day I pass away.” (Riedel is only 36, so it you have a preference for drinking Champagne from a flute, don’t worry just yet!)

So what’s all the fuss about?

In a previous post, The Benefits of Decanting Champagne, I explained the growing trend for decanting Champagne in the world’s top restaurants… [Read More]

Dec 12 2013

Australia’s Top 5 NV Sparkling ‘Champagne Style’ Wines

Posted on December 12, 2013 | By

The Sydney Morning Herald’s wine critic Huon Hooke recently remarked that “with champagne prices plunging like an England cricket fan’s morale (yes, Australia is still in the lead!) you might think there is no contest for your festive season bubbly dollars.” (Swap toil, trouble for fizz and bubble, SMH 3 December 2013)

But, as Hooke goes on to say, Australia also produces high quality, great value sparkling wines using the traditional methode champenoise. Indeed, the number of boutique wineries making sparkling wine in Australia has grown dramatically over the past few decades… [Read More]

Dec 12 2013

Agrapart & Fils Champagne: It’s all About Terroir

Posted on December 12, 2013 | By

In a recent article in Wine-Searcher, Try wines from these up and coming producers to get ahead of the curve, Tim Atkin’s singled out Agrapart & Fils Champagne as of his 10 favourite under-valued producers:

Pascal Agrapart is one of the rising stars of the Côte des Blancs, making (mostly) bone-dry, oak-fermented Blanc de Blancs from old-vine chardonnay. Look out for their Les 7 Crus, a blend of grapes from all seven villages in which the family owns vines. 

I first discovered Agrapart &.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2013

Taittinger Champagne: Few can compete in terms of value and cachet!

Posted on November 11, 2013 | By

Taittinger’s Australian distributor, McWilliam’s Wines, recently hosted a dinner to showcase the Taittinger Champagne range in the splendid dining room of the Sydney’s Pullman Quay Grand overlooking the Harbour Bridge. Champagne expert Tyson Stelzer was on hand to talk about the historic Champagne House – the 6th largest in Champagne and one of the few remaining independent, family-owned and managed estates.

Apart from the excellent selection of Taittinger non-vintage and vintage Champagnes, matched beautifully to a four course menu,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2013

Beyond French Champagne: New Zealand Vintage Sparkling!

Posted on February 02, 2013 | By

With so many great deals on French Champagne in Australia at the moment, looking beyond the French for a bubbly may seem like a hard ask. But for good value vintage sparkling, New Zealand is seriously worth considering. Unlike their French counterparts, top-rated vintage New Zealand vintage sparklings can be found for less than $50 a bottle.

Take the Deutz Marlborough Cuvée range for example. Three of their vintage releases – the 2008 Cuvée Méthode Traditionelle Blanc de Blancs, the 2009 Cuvée Prestige Cuvée, Marlborough and the 2006 Cuvée Méthode Traditionelle Rosé – .. [Read More]

Nov 11 2012

The Coming of Age of Rosé Champagne: Vintage Cellars Double Bay Champagne Gala 2012

Posted on November 11, 2012 | By

Wine critics’ opinions of rosé Champagne vary widely. Last year Jancis Robinson MW made the following comment: “My tastings suggest that a huge proportion of rosé champagne is a fairly cynical product that does not have any special positive attributes but merely ticks the visual box (sometimes only just) of being pink. In fact I would go so far as to say that the average quality of pink champagne is lower than that of the average white champagne, despite it being more expensive.” (Rosé champagne –.. [Read More]

Dec 12 2011

Pol Roger: The Preferred Champagne of Top Bordeaux Winemakers!

Posted on December 12, 2011 | By

The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin notes that on his visits to Bordeaux the proprietors of the châteaux typically serve Pol Roger: “Sure, if they are out to schmooze then Cristal is poured, but when they want to share a champagne that they like to drink themselves, then Pol Roger is the bubbly doing the rounds.” (To the House of Defiance: Pol Roger 1914 – 1998 by Neal Martin, October 2007,

I’ve just finished reading Anne Sebba’s fascinating biography of Wallis Simpson,.. [Read More]