“The promotional mailing you do not want to miss”, producer visits from Champagne.
There are around 3000 small champagne producers, growers and similar, but only about 300 so-called “houses”. The “houses” are the big, well-known brands but it is mainly among the others, the small producers that you today find the most exciting champagnes. BKWine Magazine’s reporter Sven-Olof Johansson went on a voyage of discovery among what Franska Vinlistan, a specialist importer, offers and found many goodies.
It may be only a handful of newsletters that attract one’s attention, that contain something exciting and even creates a certain anticipation. When Franska Vinlistan’s mail arrived with an invitation to an event with producer visits from Champagne, it is quite impossible to ignore it. The drink itself is, of course, tempting but it is a special pleasure to meet the producer behind the wines. Much like going to the cinema and sitting next to the film star. The tasting room at the residence of the French ambassador is also particularly suitable for the sparkling beverage.
The most striking impression after today’s exercise is the value and importance of ageing champagne. A question of taste maybe, but I think we can agree that a couple of years in the cellar has an effect. By coincidence, I served a Paul Bara, Comtesse Marie de France 2004 last weekend. Purchased four years ago. We can think about on the mousse for a moment; a silky mouthfeel when thousands of fine, small bubbles lightly and effortlessly dances around the mouth.
The same wine (no it is never the same wine) was served today, on the Champagne Day, from the vintage 2006. The mousse was more aggressive, intense and almost blocked other subtle impressions. With that I mean nothing negative, Paul Bara Comtesse Marie de France 2006 was one of my favourites but peeking at the back label showed when the disgorging was done, less than a year ago. The disgorging is an extraordinarily brutal process and the poor wine naturally needs time to recover.
Virtually all wines that were served during the day were disgorged last year and the producers naturally want to get sales going. This is where views go in different directions but if you let a “standard” champagne age for two or three years, then you should see that a lot of new nuances emerge.
Exactly the same effect was what I experienced with Paul Déthune, Cuvée Prestige Grand Cru where we recently opened a bottle purchased two years ago. The bottle we tasted today also had a more lively mousse which I think gives an unfair picture of a very good wine for 50 euro. The message is simple, buy and age a bit. When we are still at Paul Dethune’s, a brilliant option was served for those who like blanc de noirs with their Paul Déthune Grand Cru with base year of 2015 for 48 euro. Delicious apple nose with clear “red” tones. I can almost guarantee that you pinpoint it as a blanc de noir in a blind tasting.
At one and the same table, four producers shared the space to show us tasters thirsty for knowledge what they had. David Léclapart, Marguet, R Pouillon and Jaques Selosse. The latter hardly needs any further presentation, but when Selosse Initial has skyrocketed to 140 euro, it may be time to look for something else. David Léclapart served David Léclapart l´Amateur Premier Cru 2014 with an intense and exciting nose and razor-sharp acidity that completely shouted for further ageing, 45 euro. Marguet served Marguet Shaman Rosé Grand Cru 2014 in a glass filled with summer notes. Beautiful and with a feminine elegant touch that in a delicious way crashed with the bone dry effect of zero dosage, 38 euro. A completely new acquaintance was R Pouillon Brut Réserve 2014 where a warm and rich nose was combined with a pleasant acidity and expressive grapefruit in the end for a mere 33 euro. The wines were presented by a knowledgeable and entertaining Anders Landström.
There was also a number of wines from the highly acclaimed 2008 vintage. Among others, the evening’s flagship from Jacquesson, 2008 Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain with a magical smoky nose, flint and freshness which also felt young in a wonderfully vital way. When the winemaker Laurent Chiquet filled the glass with Jacquesson 2008 Dizy Corne Bautray, he smiled and called it “the right grape from the wrong village”. Captivatingly vital with a lovely length. Both of the above-mentioned wines were bottled in 2009, disgorged in April 2018 and were offered at a price of 150 euro from Franska Vinlistan. Connaisseurs who have a penchant for high acidity should pull the cork now and enjoy, but the wine will undeniably have a lot to gain from ageing.
For those of you who live a bit outside Stockholm, the opera tickets can be exchanged for a tasting next time you spend a weekend in the capital. A couple of hours among wine growers, spittoons and other wine enthusiasts is a small journey in itself. Stéphanie Ducloux from Paul Bara is a bred and borne professional and always gives an equally warm welcome. Sophie Déthune offers so much of herself and happily laughs at her husband who gets to stay at home at the winery since his English is a bit rough. The taste and feeling of the high acidity remain in memory when I thank them and start strolling along Strandvägen towards the town.
The tasting was arranged by Franska Vinlistan, a specialist importer and internet wine merchant.
Sven-Olof Johansson is a wine enthusiast in Stockholm with a long history of wine tasting experiences.
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If you want to know more about champagne, about the grapes, about the wines, about the gastronomy, and especially about the exciting grower champagnes, then you can read BKWine’s unique book, Champagne, the wine and the growers, provided you read Swedish…, packed with information and recommendations.
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