By champagnediscovery, May 9 2017 10:23AM

The villages of Champagne are now a hectic mix of grape picking, transportation and pressing with the ebb and flow of people, tractors and little white vans. The 2017 harvest is well under way but once again it has been far from plain sailing.

In the lead up to Champagne Week in April, the region was hit by a bout of devastating frosts with temperatures plunging to -10 degrees overnight. In years gone by, such frosts at this time of year may have been far less of an issue than they are today and the reason for this is climate change. Vines are now budding several weeks earlier than they have in the past meaning the plants are far more susceptible to these later frosts, 2017 were the most severe since 2003.

It would appear that Chardonnay vines across the region have been virtually wiped out with all varietals suffering drastically. Some producers may be in luck with secondary budding on some vines but this will be a waiting game. The damage precipitated by the frosts is far more reaching than the 2017 harvest alone. Come pruning time, it will be very difficult to establish how or what to prune. Indeed the vines may be so badly damaged that the effects will last for two or three years before the plants are able to recover sufficiently. The pictures below show a healthy vine bud on the left and one damaged by frost to the right.

Once again, summer hail brought more destruction to the berries with further hail hitting some areas the day before harvesting to devastating effect.

Following on from an extremely difficult 2016, it appears as if the Champenoises have another challenging challenging year. We sincerely hope that the 2017 harvest does at least bring quality fruit even if, once again; yields are low. Our fingers are well and truly crossed!


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Mar 31 2017 07:24PM

In recent editions of “Champagne of the Month” we have made reference to producers whom have been awarded the Haute Valeur Environnementale. Here is a brief explanation of the program.

The HVE is the most demanding level of an environmental certification scheme for farmers in France. The scheme focuses on four principles, each of which is driven by strict performance criteria that must be met by farmers in order to achieve certification.

These are:

• Preservation of biodiversity

• Phytosanitary strategy (plant health)

• Fertilizer management

• Water resource management

As well as monitoring what materials are used, waste is also audited to ensure a high level of environmental performance.

More and more producers in Champagne are gaining this accreditation, contributing to a bright future for sustainable viticulture in the region.


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Dec 23 2016 05:49PM

It has come to that time of year when we review some of favourite champagnes, tasted for the first time by us in 2016. We were very fortunate to once again drink and taste a plethora of incredible champagnes this year - whilst some are completely new cuvées to us, there are a few new vintages too.

Marc Augustin – “Feu”

Etienne Calsac – “Les Rocheforts”

Chevreux-Bournazel – “La Parcelle”

Corbon – Millésime 1996

Déhours – “Lieu-dit Brisefer 2007”

Dhondt-Grellet – “Le Bâteau 2012”

Doyard – “Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Millésime 2009”

Charles Dufour – “La Pulpe et la Grain – Part 2 (2009)”

Pierre Gerbais – “L’Audace”

Goutorbe-Bouillot – “Clos des Monnaies”

Olivier Horiot – “5 Sens”

Huré Frères – “4 Elements Pinot Meunier (2012)”

Benoît Lahaye – “Le Jardin de la Grosse Pierre 2011”

Laherte Frères – “Les Vignes d’Autrefois 2011”

Legras & Haas – “Les Sillons 2012”

Lelarge-Pugeot – “Millésime 2005”

Franck Pascal – “Sérenité 2010”

Pierre Péters – “Les Chéillons 2008”

Fabrice Pouillon – “Solera 9710”

Ernest Remy – “Oxymore 2008”

Savart – “Dame de Cœur 2012”

Jean-Marc Sélèque – “Les Solistes (Meunier)”

Jacques Selosse – “Le Bout de Clos – Ambonnay”

Guillaume Sergent – “Le Chemin des Chappes”

Vadin-Plateau – “Bois de Jots”


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Dec 8 2016 03:00PM

Œnothèques and oddities:

Older wine and for that matter champagne can be a delightful tasting experience, albeit one which so often passes us by. A lack of suitable storage and more often than not, a lack of patience can interfere with many an enthusiast’s collection.

Whilst it is possible to purchase older vintages and prestige cuvées; you either have to take a risk via a well-known online auction site where storage conditions may be debatable; or alternatively stump up the high premiums demanded from reputable dealers or auction houses.

Another option is to look out for re-released – late disgorged wines that some producers make available. These can be a more reasonable and less wallet busting introduction to the joys of well-aged champagne and have the advantage of additional ageing in the bottle where the wine remains in contact with the lees.

Bollinger are famous for their late release vintage RD (recently disgorged) cuvée which retails for around €275 per bottle. The excellent Jacquesson et Fils however re-release their numbered non-vintage range (single harvest plus reserve wines) as Dégorgement Tardif, retailing at a very reasonable €78.

Some producers would rather wait for as long as it takes until they feel the vintage has attained the ideal point of maturity before releasing, such was the case with Corbon and their sublime 1996 which has been afforded a mere 20 years. Others, such as Michel Loriot will give you a glimpse of old vintages like the unforgettable tiramisu in a glass that was their 1959 Pinot Meunier, disgorged a couple of days prior to our 2015 tasting. A 1985 Corbon, tasted 30 years later was incredibly fresh, vibrant and just beginning to develop some gorgeous tertiary aromas.

Over the years, we have invested in electronic wine cellars (not having access to a real cellar) so as to protect our treasured collection. My parents on the other hand developed a unique way of aging an old bottle of ‘R’ de Ruinart 1993, purchased during a visit to the house in 1999.

For several years it was stored in the kitchen before being transferred to the garden shed with all the climatic and temperature fluctuations such storage brought about, before spending its later years in an old fridge in the same garden shed. Despite all of this and no doubt testament to the quality of the Ruinart Chef de Cave, when drank at Christmas last year; it showed particularly well. Some oxidative notes to begin with (unsurprisingly), soon gave way to a beautifully rich, honeyed and intense character. It was both a surprise and a real treat. It had led a stressful and completely unorthodox life when compared to bottles stored in ideal conditions but despite this, had still managed to grow old gracefully!

N.B. We do not advise ageing champagne in garden sheds!


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Oct 24 2012 02:05PM

Welcome to our website. My wife and I are Champagne enthusiasts who love both the wine and the region. We have been touring the area for the last eighteen years, as often as our funds have allowed! We are not professionals but ordinary, working people who have simply become immersed in our passion. This passion has pushed us to try to improve our techniques by studying and gaining qualifications with WSET. We currently hold distinctions at Level 2 and will be embarking on the Level 3 course later this year.

For the last ten years or so, we have been focusing our attention on the hidden gems, the stars of Champagne. Those smaller, quality conscious producers and grower-producers (domaines) who create excellent, seductive wines that are full of character.

Like many people we are becoming more interested in the provenance of our food and drink and champagne is no exception. It is now quite commonplace to find producers who work organically and biodynamically.

We are always on the look-out for the next new houses and cuvées to excite our senses. This website will hopefully share some of our experiences and arduous tasting expeditions!

Regular contributors to the Champagne-Ardenne forum on Tripadvisor, we can be found hiding behind the moniker: PsychoWarthog.

We hope you enjoy the site and will follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also contact us via the ‘Contacts’ tab on the homepage. We will endeavour to respond as quickly as possible and are happy to answer any questions or help with trip ideas.


Lee and Gita

"Don't wait for that special occasion to drink champagne. Create that special occasion by drinking champagne".

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