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A TASTING OF GROWER CHAMPAGNES AND SPARKLING WINES

Christine Graham • 11/30/11        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

The Vienna Wine Company and WineWise Oakland, California presented a tasting of  Grower-Producer Champagnes  and Sparkling Wines from Terry Theise Estate Selections and WineWise in October at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Champagnes and Sparklers are delicious, hand-crafted and estate-bottled, grown and produced by a vintner or by a family.  Generally, the Champagnes imported by Terry Theise sell for about $40-100 for non-vintage and $55-140 for vintage.  The sparkling wines sell for a range of $15-35 for non-vintage and $30-40 for vintage.

CHAMPAGNES

Cote des Blancs

Pierre Gimonnet.

Pierre Gimonnet comprises 28 hectares of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir in Cuis, Chouilly, Cramant, Ay, Mareuil sur Ay and Oger, producing about 21,000 cases annually.  The majority of the vines are over 40 years old, with the oldest parcel in Cramant at 100.  The Gimonnet family has been growing grapes in Cuis since 1750, selling the fruit until in the early 20th century, Pierre began to vinify the fruit himself.  His wines are well-made, showing the classical character of the northern Cote des Blancs.  The high standard has been maintained from generation to generation, passing first to Pierre’s son Michel and now to his grandsons, Olivier and Didier.  Didier says  that “For me, we must have concentration, but also balance, elegance and harmony.  The seven wines are polished, elegant and sophisticated, suave, creamy and silky, with a fine minerality, rating from highly recommended to extraordinary.

 

Pierre Gimonnet 2005 Fleuron Blanc de Blancs. Light gold in color, this elegant, finesseful wine is juicy, fresh and sweet, with gorgeous fruit showing fine depth and complexity, notes of pear, lemon, mineral, flowers and spice and grand length – Extraordinary.  4-yellow-stars

Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Oenophile Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut. A gold-colored wine, it is round, flowery, buttery and toasty, laced with minerals, lemon and spice — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Special Club Blanc de Blancs. Made primarily from old vines up to 90 years, it is yellow in color, showing pear, lemon, spice, chalk, flowers and minerals, with good concentration, complexity, depth and length — Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars

gimonnet 2002

Pierre Gimonnet 2002 Millesime de Collection Special Club. The wine has lovely aromas and flavors of berries, orange blossom, lemon, nuts and spice, with crisp acidity, good depth and a lengthy, fruity finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Paradox. It is full-bodied, elegant, deep and round, with lovely berry fruit, flowers and spice, hinting of chalk and mineral, culminating in a fruit and spice-laden finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Pierre Gimonnet NV 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs. The wine is bright, lively and refined, showing rich fruit, plum, mineral, lemon and spice, ending in a fresh finish with good length —  Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Pierre Gimonnet 2006 Cuvée Gastronome. Very appealing, the wine is fruity, layered, vibrant and elegant, with lemon, apple, flowers, chalk, ginger and mineral — Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars

 

Jean Milan.

Jean Milan has 6 hectares in the heart of the Cote des Blancs, producing 9,000 cases of 100% Chardonnay from Oger, using 100% oak barrels.  It is a family operation with father and brother involved in the vineyards and cellar, mother in the office and Caroline doing sales and marketing.  The wines have good body, with a lead pencil quality, well-balanced and concentrated, with nuances of grass, fruit and honey.   Of the five wines tasted, three are outstanding, and two are highly recommended.

jean milan

Jean Milan NV Speciale Blanc de Blancs. Pale yellow in color, it is clean, fresh and dry, with crisp acidity and accents of mineral, citrus, nuts, smoke and chalk, very refreshing, vibrant and long – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Jean Milan 2005 Symphorine Blanc de Blancs. This wine is very aromatic, full-bodied, elegant, rich and fruity, imbued with apple, spice, mineral and chalk carrying through to the finish — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Jean Milan NV Cuvée Tendresse Blanc de Blancs Sec. The lovely wine is complex, dry, flowery and vibrant, with brioche, a note of honey and citrus, and a fresh, bright finish – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Jean Milan NV Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs. It has rich, refined, silky fruit, with flavors of orange, toast and dried fruit, in a creamy texture, with good length – Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars

Jean Milan NV Cuvée Millenaire Blanc de Blancs. A light gold, the wine is round, creamy, and fresh, revealing peach, grapefruit, spice, mineral and chalk, ending in a toasty finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Pierre Peters.

 

Pierre Peters has 18.5 hectares of 100% Chardonnay in the Cote des Blancs, producing 14,000 cases.  The firm was established in 1940 but the family has been growing grapes here in Le Mesnil Sur Oger over 100 years.  Additional grapes are grown in Oger, Cramant and Avize. The wines produced are full-bodied, deep, elegant, and textured, with exotic fruit, laced with butterscotch, honey and nuts.  Made from Grand Cru fruit, they display a Krug-like profile.  The two wines tasted are outstanding.

Pierre Peters 2004 Cuvée Speciale Les Chetillons Grand Cru Le Mesnil.  Made from over 70-year-old vines, it is pale yellow in color, the wine is very aromatic, with spice, flowers, brioche, oyster, lemon, mineral and peach, revealing an exotic mandarin orange character, with a long finish – Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars

pierre peters

Pierre Peters NV Cuvée Reservée Blanc de Blancs. Light yellow in color, it is beautifully perfumed, offering orange blossom, brioche, mint, spice, flowers, chalk and earth, rich orange blossom, spice and chalk and is full, round and powerful — Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars

 

Varnier-Fannière.

 

Varnier-Fannière grows 100% Chardonnay on four hectares in the Cote des Blancs, producing 3,000 cases.  Denis Varnier produces wines from 55-year-old vines grown in Avize, Cramant and oger.  The wines are prized for their lovely and intense fruit and flavors, elegance and finesse.  The four wines tasted range from highly recommended to outstanding.

varnier

Varnier-Fannière NV Cuvée Saint-Denis Blanc de Blancs. Made from 70-year-old vines, pale yellow, the wine has lovely aromas and flavors of apples, spice, smoke, caramel and nuts and is round and rich, ending in a refined chalky finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Varnier-Fannière NV Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. The straw-colored wine has a delightful bouquet and charming flavors of pear and honey, hinting of ginger, accented with flowers, spice, chalk and mineral and is round and rich, very fruity and long – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Varnier-Fannière NV Rosé Grand Cru. A lovely, delicate, fruity wine, it is aromatic, polished and bright, with precise fruit of red berries, melon, spice, mineral and chalk — Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Varnier-Fannière NV Cuvée de Jean Fannière Origine Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut. Made from 40+ year old vines, the wine reveals floral honey, pear, spice, herbs and minerals and is deep, concentrated and rich, ending in a lovely, dry finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Vallée de la Marne

 

Gaston Chiquet.

 

Gaston Chiquet, also in the Vallée de la Marne, has 23 hectares, growing 20% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier and 45% Chardonnay.  The wines are sourced from vines grown in Ay, Mareuil sur Ay, Hautvillers, Dizy, Crugny and Nanteuil la Foret.  Nicolas Chiquet planted his first vines in 1746 and since then eight generations have farmed the property, with Gaston establishing the firm in 1935.  It is now run by Claude and his two sons, Antoine and Nicolas.  The seven wines tasted, rating highly recommended to outstanding, are gorgeous, refined, rich, creamy and delicious, with beautiful fruit definition.

gaston chiquet 2000

Gaston Chiquet 2003 Millesime Brut. This lovely, delicious wine displays berries, flowers, spice and brioche and is powerful yet refined, thick, rich and layered, balanced and long – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet 2002 Special Club. Light gold in color, the wine is beautiful, focused and refined, with notes of dough, nectarine, flowers, ginger, anise, citrus and smoke, laced with chalk, mineral and lessy traces, and is harmonious, full, balanced and very long – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet NV Rosé Brut. This reddish-colored wine is gorgeous, harmonious, bright and full, with notes of pomegranate, roses, spice, chalk and mineral, ending in a long, fruit-laden finish – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet NV Tradition Brut. It is very aromatic, sweet, clean, fresh and lively, with juicy fruit of pineapple, pear, lemon, melon and notes of dough – Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet NV Cuvée de Reserve. The wine is warm, rich and creamy, with notes of toast, butter, chalk, flowers and juicy fruit – Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet NV Blanc de Blancs d’Ay. Light in color, it has aromas and flavors of quince, apple, yeast, spice, flowers, smoke and dough and is round, with some complexity – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Gaston Chiquet 2004 Special Club. Light yellow, this wine is bright, spicy, toasty and flavorful, with citrus, ginger, apple, honey and flowers, showing complexity, depth and length – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

René Geoffroy.

 

René Geoffroy has 14 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne growing grape varieties of 41% Pinot Noir, 37.5% Pinot Meunier and 21.5% Chardonnay that produce lovely, vibrant, fruity, red-grape dominated wines.  Approximately 10,400 cases are sourced from vines in Cumières.  The Geoffroy family was winemakers as long ago as the 17th century.  Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy produced these five lovely, very attractive, fruity wines ranging from highly recommended to outstanding.

rene geoffroy 2000

René Geoffroy NV Cuvée Volupte. (80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir from 2006, disgorged 2/11) Light yellow, this wine is very fragrant, dry, racy and vibrant, packed with pear, peach, nuts, butter, brioche, earth, chalk, ginger and coconut, a classy, refined, charming wine —  Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

René Geoffroy 2006 Cuvée Empreinte. (76% Pinot Noir, 14% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier, disgorged 2/11)  A light colored wine, it is aromatic, round and very dry, with lovely notes of smoke, spice, chalk, herbs, apple and cherry, with a soft, elegant finish – Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars

René Geoffroy 2002 Millesime Extra Brut. This light gold wine is dry, powerful and balanced, laced with exotic tones, vanilla, anise, lemon, peach, herbs, brioche, smoke, flowers and wood, generous and long — Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars

René Geoffroy NV Rosé de Saignée Brut. It is a very pretty, big, full, fruity wine, etched with flowers, brioche and smoke, offering good depth, complexity and length — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

René Geoffroy NV Cuvée Expression Brut. This is a stylish, silky, medium bodied wine, revealing spicy berries and flowers, with some depth and complexity and a dry finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Henri Goutorbe.

 

Henri Goutorbe and his son René grow 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier on 22 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne, producing 10,000 cases from the areas of Ay and Mareuil sur Ay.  Their wines are big, rich, ripe, fruity, yet refined, with floral nuances.  The four wines are highly recommended to outstanding.

goutorbe

 

Henri Goutorbe Millesime 2004. This light gold wine is refined, elegant, silky and harmonious, with lovely notes of lemon, flowers and berries – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Henri Goutorbe NV Rosé. Disgorged 10/10, a lovely pink color, it fresh, clean and bright, with lots of delicious, silky red fruit.  Having just been disgorged, give it time and it will be even better – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Henri Goutorbe 2002 Special Club. Gold in color, it is rich, balanced and harmonious, with chalk, spice, butter, flowers, berries and truffles – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Henri Goutorbe NV Cuvée Prestige. This yellow hued wine offers generous rich fruit, toast, hay, brioche, peach, flowers and truffles, some complexity and depth and a nice finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Marc Hebrart.

 

Marc Hebrart has 15.5 hectares, growing 70% Pinot Noir grapes in the Vallée de la Marne (vineyards of Mareuil sur Ay, Avenay Val d’Or and Bisseuil) and 30% Chardonnay from the Cote des Blancs (vineyards of Chouilly and Oiry).  He and his son Jean-Paul make 8,750 cases of wines that are charming, full of hand-selected, mineral-etched, juicy fruit.  The five wines range from highly recommended to outstanding.

marc hebrart

Marc Hebrart NV Selection. A bright, graceful wine, it offers berries, spice, lemon, orange and apple, with notes of pastry, flowers and chalk, and is rich, full, aromatic, very fruity and flavorful – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Marc Hebrart NV Rosé. Reddish-pink in color, it is very pretty, delicate and elegant, with lovely aromas and flavors, offering delicious red berries, spice, mineral and chalk – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Marc Hebrart 2006 Special Club. A yellow colored wine, it shows peach, pear, honey, herbs, spice, lemon, smoke and traces of chalk and mineral in the nose and the mouth – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Marc Hebrart NV Cuvée de Reserve. The wine is complex, offering peach, pear, apple, flowers, spice and mineral, very fruity and flavorful, with a lemony finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Marc Hebrart NV Blanc de Blancs. This pale yellow wine has very attractive scents and similar flavors of apple, mint, pear, anise and slight salty, chalky notes, showing good depth and length —  Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Montagne de Reims

 

L. Aubry Fils.

 

Aubry has 17 hectares in Montagne de Reims, growing grape varieties of 30% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay, with a wine-growing legacy from 1790.  Case production is 11,700 from vines grown in Jouy-les-Reims.  The twin brothers of Pierre and Philippe Aubry make wines that are classy, flowery and graceful, with some sweetness.  Until 2001, Aubry sold a third of their grapes to Veuve Clicquot.  The three wines range from highly recommended to extraordinary.

aubry

Aubry 2005 Le Nombre d’Or Campanae Veteres Vites. This wine is a cuvée of both forgotten and regular grape varieties: 25% Pinots Blanc and Gris co-fermented, 20% Petit Meslier, 15% Arbanne, 15% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier, hence the name which translates as “the old vines of the countryside.”  This remarkable composition of grapes has produced an intriguing, unique, exotic wine that is very perfumed, concentrated, luscious, smoky, intense, fleshy and richly flavorful, with notes of pear, spice, citrus, flowers, herbs, honey, citrus, chalk and mineral — Extraordinary.   4-yellow-stars

Aubry 2006 Cuvée Nicolas Francois Aubry Sable Rosé. This rich, seductively perfumed wine, is rich and generous, with aromas and flavors of berries, orange, spice and citrus, and is harmonious, balanced, long and delicious – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Aubry NV Rosé. It is exotically perfumed, silky, complex and classy, laced with berries, pastry, lime, anise, apple and mineral, dry and graceful – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Aubry NV Brut. The wine is clean, bright and fresh, with crisp acidity, hinting of mineral, apple, cherry, smoke, lemon and toast, ending in a fruity finish, with a note of wax – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Aubry 2005 Ivoire et Ebene Brut. The wine is rich, harmonious, fruity and flavorful, with notes of pear, anise, herbs, spice and earth, and is medium bodied, round, balanced and long – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Henri Billiot.

 

Henri Billiot grows 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay on 5 hectares in the Ambonnay region of Montagne de Reims.  He is producing 3,750 cases of wines of bright, fresh, ripe, deep red-grape fruit.  Serge Billiot makes wines with a racy mineral acidity and a savory yeastiness.  The five wines tasted range from highly recommended to extraordinary.

Henri Billiot NV Cuvée Laetitia. This Tête de Cuvée is named after Billiot’s daughter who is set to take over the domaine eventually.  Pale gold in color, the wine is gorgeous, concentrated, balanced and rich, laced with exotic spice, green plum, seashell, toast, butter, citrus, light herb, cherry, flowers and mineral.  This is a unique wine, solera in style, a blend of 20 vintages.  It is powerful, deep, textured and racy, with a long, lingering, rich finish – Extraordinary.   4-yellow-stars

billiot

Henri Billiot 2004 Millesime. Light yellow in color, it is very fragrant, powerful, bright and lively, showing berries, mint, anise, flowers, mineral and chalk — Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Henri Billiot NV Rosé. A reddish pink color, the wine shows good fruit intensity, yet is silky and elegant, with berries, ginger, flowers, spice and earth, and is a lovely, delicious wine, with a smooth, tasty finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Henri Billiot NV Reserve. It is voluptuous, richly fruity and flavorful, complex and round, with a long, creamy finish – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

 

Chartogne-Taillet.

 

This domain grows grape varieties of 38% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay on 11.5 hectares of very old vines in Montagne de Reims.  Fiacre Taillet was a wine grower here in the 16th century.  Still a family business, today it is run by Philippe and Elisabeth Chartogne and their son Alexandre.  Production is 7,500 cases from vines grown in Merfy..  The wines are fresh, silky and rich with tart, spicy, concentrated fruit.  The five wines range from highly recommended to outstanding.

chartogne taillet st anne

Chartogne-Taillet NV Blanc de Blancs. It is rounded, silky, rich and toasty, generously fruity, packed with pure, precisely defined fruit, white tea, flowers, chalk and dough, balanced, harmonious and elegant, with a long, fruity finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Chartogne-Taillet NV Rosé. This lovely wine is fruity, with strawberries, cherries, apples, flowers, currants, citrus, mineral and spice and is creamy, layered, dry, rich and balanced – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Chartogne-Taillet 2004 Cuvée Fiacre. Yellow in color, it has refreshing, attractive aromas and flavors of pear, tangerine, citrus, melon, peach, spice and honey, and is silky, balanced and long – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Chartogne-Taillet 2004 Millesime. This wine, yellow colored, shows notes of spice, herbs, nectarine, pear, flowers, cherry, ginger, berry, orange, and a buttery note and is generous, concentrated, round and balanced – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Chartogne-Taillet NV Cuvée Sainte Anne. This wine is dry and firm yet still rich, round, supple and creamy, with notes of apple, mineral, ginger, chalk and an oystery character – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Jean Lallement.

Jean Lallement has 4.5 hectares in the Verzenay region of Montagne de Reims, growing grape varieties of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay.  Jean-Luc and his parents, Jean and Louisette Lallement make intense Pinot Noir-based Champagnes, that are rich, straightforward, dry and focused, showing distinctive terroir.  Only 1,700 cases are produced from close to 30-year-old vines.  The three wines tasted are outstanding or highly recommended.

lallement

Jean Lallement NV Brut. Gold in color, this wine offers aromas and flavors of pear, apple, smoke, citrus, herbs, nuts, flowers, bread and mineral and is rich, clean, vibrant, aromatic and polished, with fine length — Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Jean Lallement NV Reserve Brut. A gold-colored wine, from 60-year-old vines, it is sensational, focused, finesseful, rich and spicy, with red currant, red berry, smoke, citrus, mineral and quince, ending in a long, fruity finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Jean Lallement NV Rosé Brut. A plummy pink color, it is pretty, structured, dry, rich and creamy, etched with blackberry, strawberry, mint, flowers and green tea – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

A.Margaine.

Arnaud Margaine has 6.2 hectares in Montagne de Reims growing 10% Pinot Noir and 90% Chardonnay, in the region of Villers-Marmery, producing big wines of lovely tropical fruit, with mineral and floral notes.  These five wines of Arnaud Margaine  are highly recommended to outstanding.

margaine rose

A. Margaine 2006 Special Club Blanc de Blancs. Pale yellow in color, it has a lovely perfume, displaying expressive fruit, flowers, mineral, pear, lemon, spice and chalk, balanced, complex, bright, concentrated and harmonious, ending in a long finish — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

A. Margaine NV Rosé. This pretty, charming pink wine is intensely fruity, full-bodied yet delicate and very refreshing, hinting of berries, oranges and spice, offering great charm — Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

A. Margaine NV Extra Brut. Light yellow in color, it is very aromatic, with chalk, mineral, flowers and nuts, fruity and flavorful, silky-textured and long – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

A. Margaine NV Cuvée Traditionelle. It is very attractive, balanced, vibrant, stylish and dry, showing flowers, apple, cherry, chalk, spice, lemon and candied ginger, with good length – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

A. Margaine NV Demi-Sec. This wine is delicately sweet, with flowers, spice, melon and exotic fruit, ending in a mouthcoating finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Pehu-Simonet.

 

This 8-hectare estate founded by Julia Pehu is now run by David Pehu and his wife, growing grape varieties of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay in Montagne de Reims, producing 4,000 cases.  The grapes are sourced from vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Sillery, Mailly and Villers-Marmery.  The five wines, which are generous, big, a bit fleshy, yet fresh and polished, are highly recommended to outstanding.

pehu simonet rose

Pehu-Simonet NV Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. This very attractive wine, 100% Mesnil, is racy and refreshing, with scents and tastes of mint, earth, mineral, chalk, lemon zest and peach, finishing long — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Pehu-Simonet NV Selection. Pale gold color, the wine has aromas of sandalwood, straw and lime with flavors of lime, flint, smoke, flowers, mineral and chalk and is firm, rich, balanced and long – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Pehu-Simonet NV Rosé. Pinkish-red in color, it is fruit-forward, bright, rich and spicy, with crisp acidity, laced with pink peppercorn, brioche, red fruit and mineral, well-balanced and delicious, with a long fruity finish – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Pehu-Simonet NV Transparence Extra Brut. Light gold in color, this wine is bone dry, thick, full-bodied, round, balanced and offering generous fruit and spice – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Pehu-Simonet NV Blanc de Noirs. Made from old vines, this is an appealing wine, fruity and flavorful, hinting of plum and spice, with medium body and good length – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Vilmart & Cie.

 

Vilmart, with 11 hectares in Rilly la Montagne in the Montagne de Reims, growing 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, was established in 1890 and is now run by Laurent Champs.  Production is 9,000 cases.  The wines all show a purity of fruit, with a high acidity, from no malolactic fermentation.  Since the base wines are aged in wood, they resemble Krug, with Burgundian flavors.  They are fabulous, creamy, packed with flavor, have a Muscat aroma, a structure of fine fruit, and a note of biscuitiness.  The wines tasted range from highly recommended to extraordinary.

vilmart

Vilmart 2002 Coeur de Cuvée.  Made from 50-year-old vines, aged in barriques, (80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir), bright gold in color, this wine is intensely perfumed of exotic spice, lemon, honey, butter, nuts and truffles.  The flavors are similar, with added notes of orange, toast, coconut, vanilla, honeysuckle, anise and mineral, with an oystery finish.  It is gorgeous, very rich and concentrated, long and complex — Extraordinary.  4-yellow-stars

Vilmart 2006 Grand Cellier d’Or. Yellow in color, it has a lovely perfume of apple butter, spice, espresso, pear, citrus, flowers, smoke, vanilla and mineral, that translates beautifully to the palate, a vibrant and luxurious wine – Outstanding. 3-yellow-stars

Vilmart 2000 Cuvée Creation. It is bright and lively, with berries, seashell, herbs, spice, nuts, coffee, lemon and vanilla, with notes of sweetness and tartness, firm structure and grand length – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars

Vilmart NV Grand Cellier. This wine is creamy and silky, balanced and structured, with aromas and flavors of mint, smoke, spice, herbs, oak, honey, citrus, apple, brioche and flowers –Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Champagne – Ardenne

Forest-Marie.

 

The domain of Forest-Marie, located in the village of Trigny, grows Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.  Owner Thierry Forest makes wines of soft, subtle, fresh fruit.  His wines range from highly recommended to outstanding.

Forest-Marie NV Cuvée St. Crespin 1er Cru. This pale colored wine shows good depth, concentration, crisp acidity and length, offering red and yellow apples, candied ginger and nuts and is clean, fresh, bright and delicious — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Forest-Marie NV Rosé. This is a pretty pink wine that is clean, fresh, bright and soft, hinting of apples, flowers, herbs and spice – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Forest-Marie NV Blanc de Blancs. Pale yellow in color, this wine is soft, rich and long, with fine acidity, offering aromas and flavors of apple, biscuit, fennel, shells, pear and spice, ending in a fruit-laden finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Forest-Marie NV Tradition Brut. This is a rich, intense, soft, round wine, with some power, hinting of apple, pear, caramel and toast – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

SPARKLING WINES

Austria

Weingut Brundlmayer.

 

Brundlmayer has a 70-hectare estate in the Kamptal region, producing both red and white wines as well as lovely sparklers, made in the classic method, from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner.  Willi Brundlmayer is renowned not only for his great personal charm but also for his winemaking skill, good business sense and reputation for being an innovator rather than a follower.

Brundlmayer NV Sekt Extra Brut. A bright yellow-colored wine, it is crisp, clean, fresh and dry, with good acidity, hinting of apple, stone fruit, citrus, yeast, spice and mineral, with a creamy finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Schloss Gobelsburg.

 

Schloss Gobelsburg is a 38-hectare estate, the oldest winery in the Danube region, producing sparklers from Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gruner Veltliner.  Michael Moosbrugger has led the estate out of its decline and is producing wines of richness, elegance and complexity.

Gobelsburg NV Reserve. Dark yellow in color, this wine is smooth and velvety, with notes of citrus, pear, apple, vanilla and spice, ending in a fruity finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

France

Pascal Bellier.

 

This estate is located in the Cour-Cheverny area of the Loire Valley.

Pascal Bellier NV Reveries Brut Rosé. This reddish-pink wine made from Pinot Noir grapes is very appealing, hinting of aromas and flavors of clean, fresh, bright red fruit and spice, with traces of minerals and yeast – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Domaine Fouet.

 

Patrice and Julien own this 15-hectare domaine St. Cyr en Bourg in the heart of the Saumur Champigny appellation in the Loire Valley which has a family tradition of six generations of winemaking.  They use modern techniques while showing a respect for tradition in making  attractive sparklers, with a lovely personality.

Domaine Fouet NV Cremant de Loire. (80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Cabernet Franc)  Light yellow, this lovely wine is racy, vibrant, harmonious and elegant, offering rich spiced apple, honeysuckle, and citrus, with crisp acidity and a long, textural finish — Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars

Domaine Fouet NV Cremant de Loire Rosé. (100% Cabernet Franc)  Pinkish/peach in color, it is graceful, full-bodied, round and supple, with floral and spice-etched red fruit – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Vincent Raimbault.

 

This domaine in Vouvray in the Loire Valley has been family owned since 1904.

NV Vincent Raimbault Vouvray Brut. Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, according to Méthode Traditionnelle, this pale yellow-colored wine, is bright, clean, fresh and vibrant, revealing aromas and flavors of lemon, grapefruit and flowers – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

 

Domaine des Roches.

 

This 21-hectare estate in the Macon area of Burgundy since 1941, has been making appealing sparklers according to Méthode Traditionnelle,  from hand-harvested Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Domaine des Roches NV Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs. Pale yellow, this 100% Chardonnay wine is elegant and finesseful, showing complexity and depth, hinting of spiced pear, sweet apple, brioche, toast and cardamom spice and is soft and dry – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Domaine des Roches NV Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this pink-colored wine is fleshy, rich, round and full, offering pink grapefruit, red cherry, nectarine and spice – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Germany

Ch. W. Bernhard.

 

Hartmut and Petra Bernhard have just over 10 hectares close to Bad Kreuznach in the Rheinhessen region, near the border of Nahe.  The winery, which produces dry and sparkling wines, has over 400 years of winemaking tradition.

 

Bernhard 2008 Riesling Sekt.  This pale yellow wine is bright, clean, fresh and dry, with pinpoint acidity, and attractive aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, melon, spice and mineral – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Greece

Domaine Tselepos.

 

A small family-owned business in the area of Perpatiara in the heart of Arcadia, it was established in 1989 by Yiannis and Amalia Tselepos.  Annual production is 40,000 bottles of Amalia Brut, made of 100% Moschofilero according to the Méthode Traditionnelle.

Tselepos NV Amalia Brut. A light yellow-green wine, with a fine bead, it is bright, clean, fresh and crisp, with aromas and flavors of roses, yeast, spice and honey – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Spain

Pere Ventura.

 

This estate in the Penedes region dates to 1898 when Ventura Vendrell’s great grandfather Manuel Montserrat Font was at the forefront of the birth of Cava.  Pere Ventura founded the winery in 1992 in St. Sadurni d’Anoia, south of Barcelona, the capital of Cava.  Ventura produces Cava of fine quality, elegance and personality, savvy sipping sparklers from traditional grape varieties, Xarel-lo, Parellada, Maccabeo and Trepat.

Pere Ventura NV Tresor Cava Nature. (Xarel-lo, Parellada, Maccabeo) Pale in color, the wine is rich, crisp, fresh, fragrant and complex, with rounded white fruit, citrus, yeast and honey, with moderate acidity and a minerally finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Pere Ventura NV Tresor Cava Rosé. (100% Trepat)  Salmon-pink in color, the wine is fresh, lively, fragrant and dry, showing good fruit intensity, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, roses, spice and yeast.  It is rounded, supple and long – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars

Pere Ventura NV Maria del Mar Cava Reserva. (Xarel-lo, Parellada, Maccabeo, Chardonnay)  This straw-colored wine is rich, full, mature and stylish, made from 15 year old vines, with long aging on the lees, hinting of peach, vanilla, dried fruit and pastry, creamy in texture, with a creamy finish – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

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4 comments for “A TASTING OF GROWER CHAMPAGNES AND SPARKLING WINES”

  1. Sir, in a future post can you please explain how you can note on so many wines at a single tasting. Do you take notes at the time? General observations that you fill in later? Are you tempted to drink an excellent wine.., risking messing up your notes for what comes next? These are a ton of tastings. Many aren’t even available in the States! Thanks, and great post as usual.

    Posted by Frank k | December 1, 2011, 10:12 pm
  2. Great article tho I would love to have seen the price per bottle to gauge what to look for in each price range..

    Posted by Dr. Ron Light | December 4, 2011, 11:11 am
  3. Thanks for the comment, Ron. Glad you liked the article. I did start to put a price range on the bottles but prices were all over the board for east and west coasts, states and regions and wine stores. There was a big variation between small wine shops, big wine stores and warehouse-type stores. Christine

    Posted by Christine Graham | December 13, 2011, 4:21 pm
  4. Thanks for your interest, Frank. You are quite right about the problems of doing tasting notes for so many wines. That is why we rarely do it. However, I think it is important to do it for some wines, such as Champagne, German and Austrian, because it’s difficult to have access to a significant number of these wines. I take brief, short hand notes while tasting the wines, then, after tasting all the wines of a single winemaker, go sit down and expand on what I wrote. The amount of wine given to taste is quite small so drinking it or spitting it is not going to mess up the notes. Christine

    Posted by Christine Graham | December 13, 2011, 4:30 pm

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