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

By champagnediscovery, May 31 2019 05:19PM

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


Sunday and Le Printemps des Champagnes was now in full swing and time at a premium.

Les Mains du Terroir:

With two busy salons, it was always going to be difficult to see as many producers as we wanted to. Especially as there was an intriguing masterclass run by David Lefèvre discussing the effects of minerality on a wine, it’s alcohol and sugar perception. We were able to grab a quick catch-up with Janisson-Baradon and Lacourte-Godbillon before tasting Perseval-Farge whom we had missed on the last two years. We also had an excellent tasting with Eric and Mickaël Rodez and Jean-Pierre Vazart before moving on.

Bulles Bio:

The tactic here was to wait until the afternoon when the salon would be a bit quieter. Quieter it may have been but chances were you would have been able to find more room in a rugby scrum! Sadly, some of the wines had run out but we were still able to see a fair number of producers. We decided to skip most of the producers whom we had tasted at the London salon in October and even then time soon ran out. We started with a producer we know very well and love: Lelarge-Pugeot before moving onto the excellent Charles Dufour. Olivier Horiot’s wines were stunning as always and we tasted great wines with Benoît Déhu, Thomas Barbichon, Leclerc Briant, Pascal Doquet, Cyril Bonnet and Vincent Laval. The standout wines from these producers were: Lelarge-Pugeot “Gueux 2013”, Charles Dufour “Bulles de Comptoir #7”, Olivier Horiot “5 Sens 2013”, Benoît Déhu “La Rue des Noyers 2015”, Thomas Barbichon “Réserve 4 Cépages 2013”, Leclerc Bryant “La Croisette”, Pascal Doquet “Diapason” 2011/10 and Cyril Bonnet “Seconde Nature”. There was also a delicious Demi-Sec from André Beaufort of Polisy in the Aube; made with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay from 1998 with a dosage of 45gl.

Dinner with a good friend at Au Bon Manger rounded off a lovely day with two excellent bottles: Soléra by Olivier Horiot and Les Cognaux by Ruppert-Leroy.


Another busy day ahead with three salons so time management would be key!

Des Pieds et des Vins:

We started the day at a salon which continues to blow us away with the sheer talent and quality on offer. Sadly this year we were not able to try every wine and producer as we had at previous events. The producers we tasted with and wines that particularly impressed us were as follows: Etienne Calsac “Les Revenants”, Agnès Corbon “Brut d’Autrefois” 2017 vin clair (we were up to date on her champagnes), Vadin-Plateau “Intuition” and “Ovalie”, Bourgeois-Diaz “3C Collection” 2014, Barrat-Masson “Millésime” 2012 in magnum, Mouzon-Leroux “Angélique” 2012, Rémi Leroy “Saignée Les Crots” 2013, Guillaume Sergent “Les Prés Dieu X.O” 2012 and Thomas Perceval “La Pucelle” 2014.

Club Trésors:

An all too quick visit to Club Trésors where we were lucky enough to try some different wines of Jean-Pierre Vazart including a gorgeous “Special Club” 2010; before two excellent first tastings with Cedric Moussé, notably “Terre d’Illite”2013 and Pertois-Moriset “Les Jutées” 2011.

Terres et Vins:

Always a very busy and well-attended salon. The first hour and a half was limited to Vins Clairs only – the still wines from the 2018 harvest and the reason Terres et Vins began their tasting salon. This gave us the opportunity to taste further Vins Clairs which confirmed our opinion that much of these wines are already very drinkable and in some cases you would happily take the bottle now. Going back 5 years, much of the wines were highly acidic and difficult to taste, having now tasted some of these champagnes; we do wonder how the lower levels of acidity in the 2018 harvest will balance with the higher sugar levels from very ripe grapes in the end wine and of course the potential for ageing.

Another hectic day was completed with a quiet dinner at Le Boulingrin, complete with a bottle of “Terre de Meunier” from Jérôme Déhours.


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, May 20 2019 08:40PM

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


A relaxed arrival into Reims and time to pick up a few bottles at Cave des Sacres prior to visiting the tasting boutique of Club Trésors where some glasses of Pierre Gimonnet were duly dispatched! A relaxed chat with Carl Sherman ahead of what was likely to be a hectic week. The night was capped off at one of our favourite spots – Aux 3 P’tits Bouchons accompanied by a bottle of Nature et Non Dosé from Lelarge-Pugeot.


Benoît Marguet:

Having been invited for the past few years to Benoît’s vertical tasting of his Sapience cuvées we decided to add on a day at the beginning of our to finally put in an appearance. A cold and frosty start to the week saw us driving south from Reims onto the Montagne de Reims to Benoît’s winery in Ambonnay. A 2014 horizontal tasting of his lieux-dits was also available with Les Crayères, Les Saints Rémys, Les Bermonts and Le Parc alongside his village wines from Ambonnay, Ay and Bouzy. The vertical Sapience tasting had wines presented from each vintage from 2009 to 2015. An enlightening experience and lovely way to start the week.

Meunier Institut:

This was our first attendance at the tasting run by the Meunier Institut held at the Hôtel de la Paix. Whilst we had heard a few good things about some of the producers, this was to be our first experience tasting their wines. The producers and wines which stood out for us in particular were André Heucq with “Hommage”, Eric Taillet with “Le Bois de Binson” and Demière with “Soléra 23” – a perpetual blend started in 1978. Demière produces wines with slightly higher dosage than we would ordinarily prefer but this is offset by longer aging which adds a delightful richness to their champagnes. The association also had a mystery table where a few older vintages and curiosities were displayed. The 1973 from Eric Taillet, the Demi-Sec from Serveaux (approximately 40 years old) and the 1976 Marc de Champagne by Demiére – a cognac styled distillation were particularly good.

The day was completed with a bottle of Clos des Maladries 2014 from Etienne Calsac.


Lee and Gita

By champagnediscovery, Oct 31 2018 04:06PM

On Monday 29th October, we were privileged to attend the first ever organic champagne tasting held in London, presented by the Association des Champagnes Biologiques – the group whom host the “Bulles Bio” tasting during Champagne Week in April. Held at the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground, it was an excellent opportunity to taste some truly excellent wines from eighteen inspiring producers.

Being less of an intense and hectic experience that some of the salons can be during Champagne Week, it was great to be able to chat at length to winemakers to get an in-depth review of their year and in particular the 2018 harvest as well as the lowdown on all of their wines. Of course, it was also a good opportunity to catch up with friends, whilst tasting fifty-seven extraordinary champagnes, wines and ratafia.

The producers present at the event were: Robert Barbichon, Barrat-Masson, André Beaufort, Laurent Bénard, Jérôme Blin, Colette Bonnet, Bourgeois-Diaz, Vincent Charlot, L&S Cheurlin, Vincent Couche, Éliane Delalot, Pascal Doquet, Fleury, Val Frison, Olivier Horiot, Lelarge-Pugeot, Elemart Robion and Yves Ruffin.

This event has really whet the whistle for April’s tasting salons and perhaps reminded us that there are a few more wines needing to find a place in our collection!


Lee and Gita

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