Champagne is quite rightly famous for its sparkling wines and we have found great pleasure in discovering the immense diversity of cuvées from so many World Class vignerons. What the region is less famous for is its still wine, known as “Coteaux Champenois”.
Red, white and rosé wines are produced by many of the talented producers whom are crafting champagnes of the highest quality. These wines are often overlooked by visitors to the region and experts alike; such a pity as they can be truly excellent in their own right. We would agree however prices can sometimes be prohibitive with many Coteaux Champenois challenging renowned Burgundy villages in the cost stakes; some red wines being placed firmly in the market alongside Pinot Noir from Gevrey Chambertin and whites alongside Chardonnay from Meursault. It is inevitable to draw direct comparisons with price and grape variety, especially from adjoining regions but there are always other factors which need to be taken into account including production costs and even rarity; take these wines on their own merit and they really can stand alone. In the April edition of Decanter magazine, the “Cuvée des Grands Côtes” from Egly-Ouriet was rated as "Highly Recommended" when reviewing the World’s best Pinot Noir (outside of Burgundy), it comes with a pretty serious price tag.
April once again saw the annual Champagne Week which now lasts considerably longer and has subsequently been rebranded as the Printemps du Champagne. Here numerous associations of vignerons host tasting sessions of champagnes, Coteaux Champenois and vins clairs – the still wine produced after initial fermentation.
This gave us the opportunity to taste many more still wines from Champagne. Once again, the Académie du vin de Bouzy session was a chance to try a large number of Bouzy Rouge wines. Bouzy – famed for its Pinot Noir is perhaps the most well-known village for red wine production. Once more the wines produced by Pierre Paillard and Benoît Lahaye were excellent. Our first taste of Gaston Collard’s wines had us suitably impressed and very good wines were also shown by Paul Bara, Maurice Vesselle, Camille Savès and Barnaut, the latter also producing a lovely still rosé from the small walled vineyard from the heart of the village “Clos Barnaut”.
Staying with rosé and moving down to the southern reaches of Champagne and into the Aube where Olivier Horiot crafts wonderful Coteaux Rosé, Rouge and Blanc from the village of Les Riceys. In Vrigny, on the Montagne de Reims, Lelarge-Pugeot produces a red along with two whites, one from Chardonnay, the other from the black Pinot Meunier grape.
The production of Coteaux Champenois isn’t just limited to the smaller domaines/grower-producers as famous houses such as Bollinger, Henri Giraud and Bruno Paillard produce still wines.
So the next time you are in Champagne why not try some champagne without the bubbles? A list of producers whose wines have gained a good reputation can be found below:
Barnaut: Bouzy Rouge Millésime and Clos Barnaut Rosé = €22.50
Bérèche: Ormes Rouge Les Montées = €45-54
Bollinger: La Côte aux Enfants = €86
Déhours: Les Rieux (blanc) = €28 and La Croix Joly (rouge) = €26
Benoît Déhu: La Rue des Noyers (rouge and blanc available) = €62
Egly-Ouriet: Cuvée des Grands Côtes (rouge) = €105
Gatinois: Aÿ Rouge = €33
René Geoffroy: Cumières Rouge NV = €26, 2009 = €33, Pinot Meunier 2012 = €32
Pierre Gerbais: Rouge = €18 and Cuvée Marie (rouge) = €63
Henri Giraud: Coteaux Champenois Blanc 2009 = €84
Gonet-Médeville: Ambonnay Rouge Cuvée Athénais 2011 = €45
Gosset-Brabant: Aÿ Rouge = €38
Olivier Horiot: Ricey Rouge 2009 = €28, Blanc 2010 = €30, Rosé des Riceys en Barmont = €29
Benoît Lahaye: Bouzy Rouge = €30
Larmandier-Bernier: Blanc Cramant Nature = €46 and Vertus Rouge = €53
David Léclapart: Trépail Rouge = €42
Lelarge-Pugeot: Blanc 2012 = €16.50, Blanc de Meuniers = €20.50 and Rouge 2011 = €23
Aurèlien Lurquin: Rouge Les Crayères 2012 = €48
Bruno Paillard: Blanc Mesnil Millésime 2012 = €42
Pierre Paillard: Bouzy Rouge = €27
R. Pouillon: Mareuil Rouge = €26
Georges Remy: Rouge 2012 = €32
Timothée Strœbel: Le Vin Tranquille (rouge) = €45
Prices not available for: Paul Bara, Gaston Collard, Camille Savès or Maurice Vesselle.
Lee and Gita
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