By champagnediscovery, Sep 1 2020 07:45AM

As I sit here writing these words, many of the Champenois have already hung up their secateurs; having completed the 2020 harvest. It will go down as the earliest on record with the official start date being Monday 17th August although picking actually begun in some crus on Thursday 13th. This makes the 2020 harvest a record breaking year, the earliest ever in the region’s history.

The warm dry summer ensured early grape maturation and fruit quality is high although the hot weather caused a fair amount of loss through sun damage. The biggest issue the Champenois face is two-fold: a vast drop in sales/export due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting reduction in yields. The UMC (Union des Maisons de Champagne); the body representing the larger houses – négoce were seeking a considerable drop in the permitted yield. The SGV (Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne); the body representing growers and grower-producers – récoltants were seeking to keep yields closer to the recent levels – 10,200kg per hectare (2019) and 10,800kg per hectare (2018). These levels are already considerably reduced with average yields around 12,000 kg per hectare. The final figure agreed upon was just 8,000kg per hectare.

There is a delicate balance or what could be argued an imbalance between the négoce and the récoltants, the latter of which have a genuine concern for their sustainability with payments for 2019 deferred to 2020 and 2021. The maisons are ensuing this line due to the huge hit in sales they have suffered but percentage-wise; grower-producers have been hit substantially harder. With far less grapes and bottles to sell in 2020, further income delays for the growers and a vast reduction in export sales there is rightfully considerable concern for their future.

So, if you enjoy the wines of top quality smaller domaines, please continue to support them by seeking out their champagnes through your local importers. If you are yet to dip your toe into the World of grower-producers and do not know where to look, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction. Obviously, being from the UK we are best placed to offer UK based advice but do know a couple of excellent importers to Australia and aware of a few in the US.


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Apr 17 2020 03:52PM

The 2020 edition of Champagne Week, or to give it its formal title “Le printemps des champagnes” has of course been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For Gita and I, the week is the highlight of our year and the first period of leave we book from work. We love having the opportunity to catch up with vignerons whom we have come to know over the years to chat all things wine and often more. The chance to discover new (to us) faces and wines is also exciting – the week always throws up some great moments and surprises. Along the way, we have made friends with fellow visitors and will dearly miss meeting up with them; in particular enjoying late evenings eating and drinking the odd bottle of champagne or two at our favourite spots. In short, there is so much we will miss.

As a result, we have decided to celebrate Champagne Week chez nous. The idea is to unite with fellow champagne lovers all over the World thanks to social media and to share a bottle or two. Ultimately to connect the best we can and to thank the many amazing winemakers of Champagne who continually help to give us happiness and pleasure in these uncertain times. For this reason we have set up the Facebook group “Le printemps virtuel des champagnes 2020”.

Our idea is to select a bottle (at the very least) from one of the tasting salons on each day and share it via the Facebook group or other platforms. Tag the winemaker to show your appreciation of their efforts and to let everyone know what a great champagne you are enjoying.

The calendar:

Friday 17th: Les Fa’Bulleuses.

Saturday 18th: Grands Champagnes, Meunier Institut, Les Pépites des Independants, Secraie des Vignerons du Sézannais.

Sunday 19th: Bulles Bio, Champagne Terroirs etc, Empreintes Côte des Bar, La Transmission, Les Mains du Terroir, Passion Chardonnay.

Monday 20th: Club Trésors, Des Pieds et des Vins, Génération Champagne, Le Cercle des Créateurs, Origines Champagne, Terres et Vins de Champagne, Verzenay Grand Cru de Champagne.

Tuesday 21st: Académie du Vin de Bouzy, Champagne for You, Grands Cru d’Exception de Champagne, La Route du Champagne, Les Artisans du Champagne.

Wednesday 22nd: Dégustation Panoramique aux Riceys, Grands Champagnes.

We look forward to sharing a bottle with you and to see what you are drinking. With love and best wishes - keep healthy and drink champagne!

*Our week of champagnes can now be viewed in Champagne of the Month*


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Mar 19 2020 11:19AM

At the end of an arduous year of tasting, we like to remember those cuvées we tasted for the first time and really made us sit up and take notice. Here is our 2019 list:

Jacques Selosse - Millésime 2005 - magnum (100% CH)

Hubert Paulet - Pinot Noir 2004 (Champagne of the Month January 2020)

Etienne Calsac - Les Revenants (Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbane)

Barrat-Masson - Les Volies (50/50 PN/CH vinified in 600l hogshead)

Remi Leroy - Saignée Les Crots 2013 )rosé PN 72h maceration, 100% fûts)

Vadin-Plateau - Intuition (CH, PN, M - Cumières, Hautvillers, Champillon)

Jérôme Déhours - Œnothèque Maisoncelle 2003 (lieu-dit Mareuil-Le-Port)

Huré Frères - 4 Elements Chardonnay 2014 (lieu-dit Rilly-la-Montagne, vinified in 600l hogshead)

Pierre Péters - L’Etonnant Monsieur Victor Mk12 (100% CH, perpetual reserve 2012-1998, aged under cork)

Frédéric Savart - Les Noues (100% PN lieu dit Écueil, vinified in 500l foudres)

Fallet-Dart - Clos du Mont 2004 (lieu-dit Charly-sur-Marne, 90% CH, 10% PN)

Lacourte-Godbillon - Les Chaillots 2013 (lieu-dit Écueil 100% PN, fûts from forest behind vineyard)

Perseval-Farge - La Pucelle (Champagne of the Month July 2019)

Rodez - Empreinte Noire 2007 (PN 5-6 parcel blend Ambonnay)

Vazart-Coquart - Grand Bouquet 2004 magnum (CH Chouilly)

Franck Bonville - Avize - Mesnil - Oger (3 x mono crus aged under cork, all 2012)

Chapuy - Unique Oger 2014 (CH, 42 months on lees, parcels worked by horse)

Lamiable - Héliades 2012 (80% CH fûts, 20% PN)

Legras & Haas - Les Sillons 2013 (CH lieu-dit Chouilly, vinified in foudres)

Pertois-Lebrun - Le Fond du Bateau no. 10 (CH lieu-dit Chouilly, 29% fûts)

Bonnet-Ponson - Jules Bonnet 2011 (PN Verzenay, Chamery)

Charles Dufour - Orange Sanguine (Champagne of the Month February 2020)

Lelarge-Pugeot - Gueux 2013 (70% M, 25% PN, 5% CH mono cru)

Thomas Perseval - La Mazure 2014 (90% PN, 10% CH, lieu-dit Chamery)

Etienne Sandrin - A Travers Celles (Champagne of the Month August 2019)

Moussé Fils - Terre d’Illite 2013 (95% M, 5% PN, 23 plots from Cuisles)

Pertois-Moriset - Les Jutées 2011 (Champagne of the Month December 2019)

Cazé-Thibaut - Les Fourches (Champagne of the Month October 2019)

André Heucq - Hommage 2014 (M lieu-dit Les Roches - Cuisles, fûts)

Eric Taillet - Bois de Binson (M 50/50 2012/13, aged sur pointes)

Demière - Soléra 23 (M perpetual blend since 1978, partial oak)

Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin - Bouzy Rouge Clos Colin 2012 (not for general sale)

Pierre Gimonnet - 2008 Collection in magnum (CH 60% Cramant, 30% Mont Aigu, 10% Cuis)

Charles Heidsieck - Chardonnay Montgueux (Côteaux from 4 crus collection)

Mailly Grand Cru - Les Échansons 1989 (old vintage)

Vincent Charlot - Clos des Futies 2009 (50/50 CH/PN, vinified in oak, walled vineyard Épernay)

Domaine de Bichery - Les Fontaines (100% PN 2015)

CH = Chardonnay, M = Meunier, PN = Pinot Noir


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Aug 31 2019 02:15PM

In April Peter Crawford who runs the website à la volée, hosted an old non-vintage dinner at Theo Randall’s on Park Lane. This would be a slight change of scenery for us with the champagnes all being produced by large houses. As our websit attests, we have been concentrating on the top quality smaller producers for sometime now. Having said that, we have known Peter on the Champagne circuit for a few years and there can’t be too many people around who have built up a knowledge and cellar of these old vintages to the extent he has. We knew we would be in good hands and in for a special night.

We kicked off with some appetisers and a trio of Yellow Label wines from Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin while giving us a chance to mingle and meet our fellow diners/drinkers. Beginning with the 2004 base, we moved onto the 1996 base and finished with the 1988 base.

To pair with the antipasti of thinly sliced black Angus beef, we had a Laurent-Perrier magnum with a 1995 base, Philipponnat “Reflet” from the 1990s a blend of two cracking lieux-dits: Clos des Goisses in Mareuil-sur-Ay and Les Chétillons in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. For many the Philipponnat was the standout wine of the evening, sadly for the few of us at our end of the table, the bottles we tried were overly oxidised. To complete the starter line-up was a Lanson magnum from the 1970s that despite the intense tertiary aromas had a beautiful acidity and paired very well with the beef.

Starter of slow-cooked veal cappelletti in a porcini mushroom sauce was simply divine. The trio of wines to accompany it were pretty fine too. An excellent Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle magnum from the 1960/70s was followed by a sublime Krug Grande Cuvée 1998 base which was the perfect accompaniment to the cappelletti. To finish, our standout wine of the evening: a Bollinger - believed to be from the 1940s.

Moving onto the fish course of roasted sea bream, we begun with two wines from the 1990s: a Pol Roger and a Ruinart. We then had a Taittinger from the 1980s in magnum before finishing with a delightful Charles Heidsieck from the 1970s.

Still the wines came, even the mango sorbet palate cleanser was paired with a beautifully fresh Laurent-Perrier rosé disgorged in 1998; so potentially a 1995 base.

Onto the cheese course and three more champagnes: Louis Rœderer Brut Premier, base 1998 in jereboam, Moët et Chandon Brut Impérial, base 1987 in magnum and a lovely Piper-Heidsieck jereboam from the 1980s.

Finally, ricotta cheesecake with pears marinated in Marsala was paired with a sumptuous Pol Roger Rich from the 1960s.

What a night!


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Jun 28 2019 08:37AM

A chance for us to look back and share our highlights from Le Printemps des Champagnes 2019.


Les Artisans du Champagne:

An early start to make our way to Les Crayères for Les Artisans and a chance to revisit Jean-Marc Sélèque who was making his debut at the salon. He has trimmed down his range and the wines are on great form, in particular “Soliste Meunier” 2014. Pierre Gerbais was a delight as always, we love the old vines Pinot Blanc

“l’Originale” which is made from very old Pinot Blanc. Other standout wines included: Frédéric Savart “Les Noues”, Huré Frères “4 Elements Chardonnay” 2014, Doyard “Révolution”, Christophe Mignon “Millésime” 2013, Jérôme Déhours “Œnothèque lieu-dit Maisoncelle” 2003, Pierre Péters “L’Etonnant Monsieur Victor mk12” and Pierre Paillard “Les Maillerettes” 2013.

Grands Crus d’Exception:

A chance to revisit some producers we hadn’t tasted for a while as well as some first tastes. Olivier Bonville’s wines were a joy to return to, especially “Les Belles Voyes” 2012. We loved our first real tasting of Pertois-Lebrun, in particular “Le Fond du Bateau No. 10” 2010. Other notable wines included: Chapuy “Cuvée Unique Oger 2014”, Legras et Haas “Cuvée Exigence No. 9 Brut Nature”, Lamiable “Héliades” 2012, Ernest Rémy “Millésime” 2007 Extra Brut Pinot Noir, Richard-Fliniaux “Premices – d’Une Nouvelle Géneration” and the “Grande Réserve” from Barnaut which includes a perpetual blend dating back to 1874!

Académie du Vin de Bouzy:

We love this night, a change of pace and style with the red Côteaux wine “Bouzy Rouge” taking centre stage partnered by rosé champagnes from producers within the commune of this famous Montagne de Reims village. We often find a few older vintages but the producers we visited this year brought much younger wines. There was a somewhat surprising stand-out debut producer at the event. Nestled among the small producers was one of Champagne’s biggest producers: Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin! The 2012 Bouzy Rouge from their “Clos Colin” was excellent and a real shame they do not market it; the 2008 La Grande Dame Rosé wasn’t too bad either. The 2004 Bouzy Rouge and 2008 “Clos Barnaut” Bouzy Rosé from Barnaut were very good as was Georges Rémy 2015 “Les Vaudayants” and the 2012 Bouzy Rouge from Paul Bara.

That nights impromptu dinner at Au Bon Manger with friends was unexpected…the late night that ensued was to be expected!

Wednesday was always going to be a lot more relaxing. Unfortunately we were unable to get to La Transmission tasting due to its early finish but we were able to enjoy two fantastic masterclasses hosted by Emilie Jeangeorges. Firstly we were treated to some new releases from three very different producers: Pierre Gimonnet, Mailly Grand Cru and Charles Heidsieck. Pierre Gimonnet brought an Extra Brut with longer cellar ageing and a 2008 in magnum from their collection – both excellent. Mailly Grand Gru presented the Composition Parcellaire Extra Brut 2012 and l’Intemporelle Rosé 2011 which was a very good example from a tricky vintage. Charles Heidsieck sprung a surprise by debuting four single village white côteaux from the villages of Montgueux, Oger, Vertus and Villers-Marmery.

The class that followed showcased older vintages; all of the wines were excellent but it was those from 1989 which stole the show from each producer. Pierre Gimonnet’s 1989 in magnum was disgorged just three days prior without dosage and was an absolute stunner. The 1989 Les Echansons from Mailly Grand Cru was utterly delicious and we were also treated to a heady non-vintage “Mis en Cave 1990” (1989 harvest) from Charles Heidsieck. These wines all proved that good champagnes not only have excellent ageing potential but offer a delightful experience to the drinker. The other wines presented were: Pierre Gimonnet “Special Club Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay” 2009, “Millésime de Collection” 1999 in magnum. A preview of Charles Heidsieck “Vintage” 2008 and two more 1989s from Mailly Grand Cru – Vintage and Rosé de Mailly.


Time to return to the UK but not before a quick visit to Olivier of Champagne Hubert Paulet. We have been big fans of his luscious Cuvée Risléus since it’s first release labelled without a year despite being a vintage 2001. A vintage labelled version then followed in 2002 and the third incarnation – 2004 has recently been released. Olivier likes to age his wines for a little longer than most and isn’t afraid to add a bit more dosage. The best wines for us were the 2004 Risléus of course, along with a powerful 2004 Pinot Noir and unctuous 2006 rosé. All of Olivier’s vines are located within the village of Rilly-la-Montagne and his wines are well-worth seeking out. Sadly there will not be a 2018 Risléus as Olivier wasn’t happy with the acidity levels in his Chardonnay grapes that are used for the blend. The good news is that there are plenty of fine vintages to enjoy now! Superbly constructed wines that are ideal partners to food.


Lee and Gita

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