Tag: Champagne

Apr 04 2014

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

Posted on April 04, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

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.

Salon began his career as an apprentice cellar master in Champagne, but ambition soon took him to Paris where he became a very successful furrier and a connoisseur of fine Champagne. In the early 1900s Salon purchased a prime chardonnay grand cru vineyard in the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger commune of the Côte des Blancs, and then set out to prove that the terroir could produce a Champagne from chardonnay so complete that it would make the addition of pinot noir or pinot meunier unnecessary.

As fortune would have it, the terroir of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger is quite similar to Burgundy’s Montrachet, the home of the world’s most famous chardonnay. Both terroirs are blessed with high levels of chalk, which not only helps the soil to retain much needed moisture during the summer months but imparts the wine with very special aromas and flavours.

Martin believes this special terroir is what gives Salon a crucial advantage over other Blanc de Blancs: “The more I reflected upon it, the more parallels I could see with Montrachet: that minerality, the poise and definition, the need for time to unlock its complexity and nuances.” (Salon by Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, November 2006)

Ageability is indeed an important hallmark of the Salon style. This is a wine that spends at least 10 … Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

Champagne: Highlights from a Memorable Tasting!

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Talking about a recent dinner at El Bulli, possibly the most famous restaurant on the planet, Eric Asimov, wine writer for New York Times, said, “I would have stuck happily with Champagne throughout the meal. Not ordinary Champagne either, but superb, hard-to-find bottles like Selosse Brut Initiale, which retails for about $US125 but was on the list for $US165, or Jérôme Prévost for $US140, or maybe both.” El Bulli and a Meal for the Ages by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010.

Too often we don’t think of having Champagne with a meal. The big Champagne houses have done such good job of associating Champagne with celebratory events that we tend to drink it at parties and with hors d’oevres, instead of enjoying it with the main course.

Wednesday evening’s Vintage Celllars Double Bay Champagne tasting at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney certainly had a very festive air. Of course, being in the company of the most famous Champagne Houses in the world happily sharing some of their best bottles created a wonderful sense of occasion – heightened by a pretty elegant and knowledgeable crowd and an excellent array of delicious hors d’oevres!

Almost in hushed tones did we ask each other if we had tasted the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame 1998 or the Dom Perignon 2002 – my friend Richard’s pick of the evening!

Comparing vintage Champagne to the House style non-vintage cuvee is perhaps the best way to appreciate why spending a couple of hundred dollars more for the vintage is worth it!

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame 1998 had all the marvelous attributes you associate with fine vintage Champagne: a blend of nearly two thirds pinot noir and one third chardonnay, the wine is crystal clear with very fine bubbles. It … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Australian Sparkling: Rivals Best in the World?

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Only the French can call it Champagne but that doesn’t mean Australian producers aren’t intent on going head to head with their famous French counterparts to produce the world’s best bubbly.

In June the Tasmanian  House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of around $200, makes it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. House of Arras chief winemaker Ed Carr, for whom the the sparkling is named, believes his Australian sparkling is a true rival to fine French Champagne. About 60 per cent Chardonnay to 40 per cent Pinot Noir, the use of malo fermentation gives the wine a creamy-soft palate that is typically a hallmark of vintage French Champagne, but according to Carr, the complexity, that “special something” is the result of letting the wine age. (Jane Faulkner, Ageing shall not weary him, The Age, 16 February 2010)

Of course, only time will till whether Ed Carr can do for Australian sparkling what Max Schubert achieved for Australian Shiraz with the iconic Penfolds Grange. But before you dismiss Australia’s chances, consider the success of England’s West Sussex winery Nyetimber.

Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee 2003 scored the highest marks and took the gold medal in the Bollicine Del Mondo competition in Italy ahead of thirteen Champagnes including Louis Roederer (Millesimè 2000), the Bollinger-owned Champagne Ayala, (Dosage Zero), Pommery (Blancs de Blanc and Brut Apanage), Gosset (Grand Reserve), Joseph Perrier (Brut Cuvée Royale) and Devaux. The Nyetimber 2001 Blanc de Blancs, which was also entered, came 12th ahead of seven of the champagnes, making Nyetimber the only producer to have two places in the top seventeen.

Run by Italy’s leading wine magazine, Euposia, the competition attracts sparkling wines from around the world. Only open to traditional-method and … Read the rest