TH E WO R L D’S O N LY C H A M PAG N E M AGA ZI N E No. 1 3 £ 2 5 • € 3 0 • U S $ 3 5 • C a n $ 3 5 • A u s $ 3 5 F I N E C H A M P A G N E M A G A Z I N E 1 3 100 Best Champagnes for 2019 • Champagne Hiking • Evolution of Luxury Champagnes • Jacques Selosse • Lamborghini Urus 1 1 0 -Y E A R A N N I V E R S A R Y I S S U E
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Page 16 FINE 100 Best Champagnes for 2019 Page 72 FINE Book 8 Page 121 FINE Drinkig History Page 152 FINE Novelty Page 132 Page 158 FINE Champagne FINE Lifestyle
FINE Treasure Page 102 FINE Legend Fi n e C o n t e n t s Page 94 9 Page 138 Page 140 FINE Event FINE Gargett FINE Contents 13 15 16 57 68 72 94 102 121 126 132 Page 164 FINE Lifestyle 138 140 148 152 158 164 Fine Editorial Avellan Fine Nuikki Enjoy a Well-Earned Pension, Mr. Robert Parker Fine 100 Best Champagnes Best Champagnes for 2019 Fine 100 Best Champagnes Best Champagnes for 2010–2017 Fine Rendez-Vous Sebastien Besson, CEO of Armand de Brignac Fine Book Champagne Hiking Fine Treasure Heidsieck & Co Gôut Américain 1907 – The Shipwreck Champagne Fine Legend Jacques Selosse – the Cult Champagne Fine Drinking History Eugène Mercier, the Ad Man Fine Champagne The Evolution of Luxury Champagnes Fine Champagne Salon, Champagne for One Fine Event The Launch of Dom Pérignon Rosé Fine Gargett The Winds of Change in Champagne Fine Sommeliers’ Choice Top Sommeliers’ Favorite Champagnes Fine Novelty Thiénot Penfolds Champagne – Champagne with an Aussie Accent Fine Lifestyle Lamborghini Urus Fine Lifestyle The Matador’s New Clothes
CHAMPAGNE MAGAZINE WRITERS Editor-in-Chief Pekka Nuikki firstname.lastname@example.org Pekka Nuikki Editor-in-Chief Pekka Nuikki, founder and editor-in-chief of FINE Magazines, is an author and one of the leading experts on fine wines in Europe. He has published over thirty international wine and art books, among them In Vino Veritas I and II, books on investing in wines, Drinking History I and II on fine wines and their vintages between 1715–2010, a book about the Château Mouton-Rothschild – Wine and Art 1924–2003. Mr Nuikki is also an award-winning photographer, who has exhibited his artwork all over the world and he is among many other things the founder of tastingbook.com and BWW-Best Wine of the World -competition. He is also the luckiest man in the world, having hit seven hole-in-ones. Editor Essi Avellan MW email@example.com Publisher Juha Lihtonen firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer Jouna Stern email@example.com Cover art & illustrations Minna Liukkonen 10 Contributors Andreas Larsson, Jan-Erik Paulson, Rajiv Singhal, Ken Gargett, Markus del Monego MW, Richard Juhlin, Amanda Regan, Martine Balzani, Tuula Hällström, Nora Löfving-Lihtonen, Damien Reid Photographers Michael Boudot, Pekka Nuikki, Antti Korpela, Leif Carlsson, Pål Allan Translator Transfluent Oy Sales Juha Lihtonen firstname.lastname@example.org queries www.fine-magazines.com +358 (0)50 313 6263 Publisher Oy Fine Publishing Ltd Ahventie 4 02170 Espoo © Copyright: FINE Champagne Magazine Ltd ISSN: 1797-433X FINE Magazines does not keep nor return illustrations or other materials that have been sent in without request. The opinions of contributors or interviewees presented in this magazine do not necessarily correspond to the opinions of the publisher or editorial staff. We withhold the right to make any modifications in texts and pictures published in FINE Champagne Magazine. We reserve the right to refuse or suspend advertisements. Essi Avellan MW Editor Essi Avellan is Finland’s first Master of Wine. Recognized as an international wine authority and a champagne specialist, Avellan is the author of numerous champagne and wine books. She has also recently revised and extended the third edition of Tom Stevenson’s award-winning sparkling wine bible Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. Essi Avellan is a reputed wine judge, in addition to FINE Magazines and The World of Fine Wine tasting panels she has acted as the chair of Decanter World Wine Awards’ Champagne panel and is a jury member at Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. She has been awarded the title of Dame Chevalier Officier of Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne. Juha Lihtonen Editorial Adviser Juha is a manyfold sommelier champion in his home country Finland and was selected as the best sommelier in the Nordics in 2003. He has worked as a wine educator, a wine host on a radio show, and a wine buyer for major cruise line in Baltic Sea. He has written several books about fine wines and champagnes, and food and wine pairing. He is the co-founder of FINE Champagne Magazine, FINE Wine Magazines, Tastingbook.com and BWW – The Best Wine of the World Competition. Richard Juhlin Contributor Richard Juhlin is a Swedish Champagne writer, who has written a number of books that have been translated into several languages, including English and French. He holds the world record since 1998 in the number of champagnes tasted, having currently tasted over 10,000 different champagnes. In 1997 he was awarded the Chevalier d’Arc and in 2002 he was awarded the Merite d’Agricole by the French Ministry of Agriculture and upgraded to the highest level in 2010. In 2013 Juhlin received the highest rank in France when he was awarded the medal National Order of the Legion of Honour by French president Hollande. At present Juhlin is working as a freelance journalist, writing for several magazines such as Spectacle du Monde, La Revue de Champagne, Decanter, Wine International, Fine Wine and others. He has had the Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin at www.champagneclub.com for over 18 years with members from all over the world. Ken Gargett Contributor Ken Gargett is a former lawyer from Brisbane, Australia, who specialised as a banking lawyer practising in London, Washington DC and Sydney, and then finance, commerce and property back in Queensland. Even though from a family that did not drink wine, he became obsessed with wine while at university and moved to wine writing as a full time profession nearly twenty years ago. Since that time, he has been a regular contributor to the AGT Wine Magazine for many years. He has also contributed to various other magazines, such as FINE The Wine Magazine and The World of Fine Wine, and a number of books, including the Global Encyclopedia of Wine and his own guide, ”Don’t Buy Wine Without Me”. He won the Vin de Champagne Award back in 1993, and then in 2003 was inducted as a Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. In 2005, he was a recipient of the Len Evans Scholarship and has done extensive wine show judging in Australia. He was a co-founder of www.spitbucket.com. Outside wine, he also occasionally writes on cigars, fishing, travel and food.
Editorial T The ageing of the 2008s has proven to be slow yet graceful and many houses such as Louis Roederer and Dom Pérignon chose to release their 2009s first, giving much needed extra time for the tight, pure and racy 2008s. Today, ten years after, many of the iconic cuvées are finally ready to see the daylight. With rising global enthusiasm for fine Champagne, the best 2008s are now taking the market by an unprecedented storm. Louis Roederer Cristal, Dom Pérignon, Bollinger La Grande Année, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill represent some of the greatest commercial and vinous success stories with big leaps in prices yet inexhaustible demand. The potential is undeniable and not yet realised to the fullest extent. Hence many chef de caves are hanging on to a big chunk of their stocks with plans to release longer aged and late-disgorged versions of them. While waiting for the 2008s to mature to their prime, FINE Champagne offers its annual ranking of the 100 Best Champagnes, which cherishes both the wines’ current enjoyability as well as their future potential. I am proud to present the lush and exuberant Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 as our wine of the year! In addition to the entire delicious TOP 100, we will also take a look back to all of our glorious past winners since 2010. With a magazine bursting with exquisite champagnes, I raise a glass to 10 years of FINE Champagne! Essi Avellan Essi Avellan MW Editor Fi n e A v e l l a n he time has come to celebrate 10 years of FINE Champagne magazine! The first magazine was born in 2008 at a turbulent time for Champagne, when the economic crisis hit the global markets. The champenois had tough decisions to make. How much to produce of the 2008 vintage, whose quality was undeniably great but the times ahead looked particularly dark? The bravest or most financially stable houses went ahead with full speed, filling up the cellars to the maximum with prestige cuvées destined to develop into some of Champagne’s all time finest. 13
The World’s Biggest Wine Competition The World’s Biggest Wine Competition The World’s Largest Wine Competition THE BEST WINE OF THE WORLD COMPETITION WHERE THE BEST WINES AND CHAMPAGNES Awards the bestWORLD winesARE of the world in 2017 IN THE AWARDED Awards the best wines of the world in 2017 Join us now! Join Findus outnow! more: www.bestwineoftheworld.com www.bestwineoftheworld.com www.bestwineoftheworld.com
R obert Parker has been the most respected and influential wine critic in the world for the past thirty years. He has influenced the desirability of wines, the selling prices of the wines and also the way wine is made. Now that Parker has announced being officially retired, dozens of wine critics compete to become next Parker. The throne of the most influential wine critic is empty after him. The question is – will there be another Parker and if so, who? To assess that, the BWW 2018 – The Best Wine of the World -competition organized a voting for the world’s best wine critics. The 50 most famous wine critics were enrolled in the voting. They received over 250,000 votes from wine professionals around the world. The competition was tight, as only 800 votes separated the most voted critic from the tenth most voted one. The BWW competition takes place in the world’s largest wine information service, Tastingbook. com. The service was founded in 2012 for the belief that “in the future one thousand wine specialists’ tasting views have more importance than one wine specialist’s”. At that time, we did not believe, nor did we want, after Parker, that any individual wine critic to have the same power as he had. The autocracy flourished in the 18th century, and even though Parker was the Sun King of wines of his time, there is no place for a similar monarch in the wine world of the 21st century. The dictatorship of one wine critic is over as Tastingbook.com has launched a comprehensive wine point system, called Tb points. In this system the Tastingbook algorithm forms the Tb points from the average points of 50 most well-known wine critics, the average score of thousands of wine professionals, the quality of the vintage and the winery track record according to the price given to its wines. It is hard, if impossible, to create as unbiased, accurate, comprehensive and most up-to-date wine point system that Tastingbook has established with its Tb points. Tb points are freely available to everyone and can be downloaded from the Tastingbook.com winery pages with just one click. I wish you warmly welcomed to explore the Tastingbook world and enjoy what the world’s largest wine information has on offer. I do believe that knowledge is power, but it should belong to everyone! Pekka Nuikki Editor-in-Chief Fi n e N u i k k i Enjoy a Well-Earned Pension, Mr. Robert Parker 15
Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s 17 Text: Essi Avellan MW, Juha Lihtonen Illustrations: Minna Liukkonen For nine years in a row FINE Champagne has produced the ranking of 100 Best Champagnes, we have crowned a glorious set of winners. In 2010 the title was given to Armand de Brignac Brut Gold NV, in 2011 to Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002, in 2012 to Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000, in 2013 to Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2000, in 2014 to Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2002 and in 2015 to Ruinart Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002. In 2016 we awarded Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, which was followed in 2017 by Moët & Chandon MCIII NV. This year, we are proud to announce that Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 claims the title of ‘Best Champagne’.
18 C hampagne comes in variable types from prestige cuvées to vintages and non-vintages. Its styles range from blanc de blancs to blanc de noirs, rosés, and alternating sweetness levels. In the following we will guide you to make the best picks for each of the types and styles. Our aim with this annual ranking is to taste the entire offering on the international markets in order to select the champagnes that are showing best this very moment. The most important criterion is the quality of the wine and its accessibility today. In fact, we believe these to be the only characteristics that really matter to the consumer. Any champagne making it into the Top 100 in the rigorous tasting can warmly be recommended. After all, reaching an average blind tasting score of 89 points or higher is a fine achievement. We assess the wines on the 100-point scale. We do not give points for future expectations, which is the reason most top champagne’s points are likely to rise as it approaches maturity. As many age-worthy prestige cuvées are released young, they may not be able to show their true character at this early stage. These are the wines the consumer should forget in the cellar for a number of years and we often mention the wine’s cellaring potential in the verbal evaluation. Even though we encourage the producers to enter the most recent releases, any release that is still commercially available anywhere in the world can be considered, even if of limited availability. Contrary to many other wine rankings, this list of the 100 best champagnes is not based on a single tasting; instead, we wish to take into account all of the tastings that we had been privy to during the year. This gives us a comprehensive view of the quality and enjoyability of the wines and allows us to eliminate the odd “bad” bottle from our ratings. For the shortlist we had chosen some 250 champagnes and carried out a blind tasting. Results Average score of the wines making it to the Top 100 list was 89.72 points. Competition for the top position was tight; wine one beat wine two by just 0.33 points. The deserving winner was Dom Pérignon’s newly launched Rosé from 2006 vintage with average points of 95. It’s toughest competition were of impeccable breed: Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002, Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004, Dom Pérignon 2008 and Louis Roederer Cristal 2009. As many as three ‘Doms’ in the Top 5! Curiously Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002, that was our winning Champagne back in 2011, is going from strength to strength, finishing second now seven years after. Prestige cuvées expectedly occupied the majority of the top spots, and made up around a third of the whole Top 100 list. The non-vintage wines took an approximate 45 per cent of the positions, with the first of them – Barons de Rothschild Brut NV – achieving laudable 12th position. The other top performers were Bollinger Rosé NV (18th), Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV (20th) and Lanson Extra Age NV (21st). The vintage category is represented on this list by 22 wines, with Pol Roger Rosé 2008 (7th), Charles Heidsieck Vintage Rosé 2006 (9th), Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2008 (11th) and Comtes de Dampierre Grand Vintage 2008 (13th) amongst the very best. Our best grower champagne was Guy Charlemagne’s single-vineyard Champagne Grand Cru Les Coulments 2012 (19th), followed closely
Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s by José Michel Spécial Club 2012 (23rd). Then came Forget-Chemin Marie Forget Premier Cru NV (51st), H. Billiot & Fils Millésime 2012 (55th), Launois Père & Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV (63rd) and Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ NV (66th). On the cooperative front Palmer & Co had three champagnes in the coop top five, with Amazone de Palmer winning the category (overall ranking 15th), Fourth and fifth best coop champagnes were Palmer & Co’s Extra Réserve NV (33rd) and Brut Réserve NV (35th). Second best was Montaudon’s Vintage 2011 (16th) and third De Castelnau Brut Millésime 2006 (17th). Top vintages Most 2002’s are gone by now, but we still had a few great examples proving the monumental capacity of this generous vintage: PiperHeidsieck Rare 2002 (2nd) and Bruno Paillard NPU (47th). No 2003 made it on the list but 2004 then again produced many great performers: Ruinart Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004 (3rd), Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 (10th) and Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut Nature 2004 (26th). No 2005 made it on our Top 100 list but 2006s were plentiful. Our winning wine Dom Pérignon Rosé crowned its success. It was followed by Deutz Cuvée William Deutz (4th), Charles Heidsieck Vintage Rosé (9th), De Castelnau Brut Millésime (17th) and Pommery Millésime Grand Cru Royal (31st). The less famous vintage year 2007 provided some great highlights: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007 (14th), Paul Goerg Vintage 2007 (39th), Bollinger La Grande Année 2007 (44th) and Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2007 (50th). The fine, coolly elegant and energetic 2008 had 11 representatives in the Top 100: Dom Pérignon Brut 2008 (4th), Pol Roger Rosé 2008 (7th), Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2008 (11th), Comtes de Dampierre Grand Vintage 2008 (13th) and Deutz Amour de Deutz 2008 (22nd) as the best amongst them. The harmonious and supple 2009 offered pleasure in the form of Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 (4th), Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009 (42nd) and Pol Roger Vintage 2009 (54th). 2010’s most successful champagne was found on 60th place: Jacquart Cuvée Alpha. The truly challenging 2011 vintage was successful for Montaudon Millésime (16th) and Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque (58th). The promising 2012 does not yet have all its greatest champagnes out on the market, but the fine examples in our ranking included Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Coulments (19th), José Michel Spécial Club (23rd) and Taittinger Vintage (24th). The best example of the still highly youthful 2013 vintage was Janisson & Fils Millésime (62nd). The annual list of the 100 best champagnes available on the markets is based on tastings and ratings by FINE Champagne Magazine’s editorial team and selected expert guest judges. The final point score of each wine consists of the average of the blind tastings.> 19
100 20 Best Champagnes for 2019 Ranking 1–25 1 Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 2 Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 3 Ruinart Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004 4 Dom Pérignon Brut 2008 4 Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 4 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz 2006 7 Pol Roger Rosé 2008 7 Krug Grande Cuvée NV (Base 2006) 9 Charles Heidsieck Vintage Rosé 2006 10 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 11 Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2008 12 Barons de Rothschild Brut NV 13 Comtes de Dampierre Grand Vintage 2008 14 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007 15 Palmer & Co Amazone de Palmer NV 16 Montaudon Millésime 2011 17 De Castelnau Brut Millésime 2006 18 Bollinger Rosé NV 19 Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Coulments 2012 20 Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV 21 Lanson Extra Age NV 22 Deutz Amour de Deutz 2008 23 José Michel Spécial Club 2012 24 Taittinger Vintage 2012 25 Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs NV
26–50 26 Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut Nature 2004 27 Lanson Gold Label Brut 2008 28 Armand de Brignac Rosé NV 29 Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV 30 Gosset Grande Réserve NV 31 Pommery Millésime Grand Cru Royal 2006 32 Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé NV 33 Palmer & Co Extra Réserve NV 34 Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs NV 35 Palmer & Co Brut Réserve NV 36 Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne NV 37 Duval-Leroy Extra Brut Prestige NV 38 Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne 2012 39 Paul Goerg Vintage 2007 40 Boizel Joyau de France 2004 41 Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne NV 42 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009 43 Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV (Base 2010) 44 Bollinger La Grande Année 2007 45 G.H. Mumm RSRV Cuvée 4*5 NV (Base 2010) 46 De Castelnau Brut NV 47 Bruno Paillard NPU 2002 48 Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Sublime NV 49 Lanson Black Label NV 50 Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2007 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Ranking 21
100 22 Best Champagnes for 2019 Ranking 51–75 51 Forget-Chemin Marie Forget Premier Cru NV 52 De Saint Gall Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV 53 G.H. Mumm RSRV Rosé Foujita NV (Base 2012) 54 Pol Roger Vintage 2009 55 H. Billiot & Fils Millésime 2012 56 Montaudon Brut NV 57 Taittinger Brut NV 58 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2011 59 Collet Brut Millésime 2008 60 Jacquart Cuvée Alpha 2010 61 Canard-Duchêne Charles VII Blanc de Noirs NV 62 Janisson & Fils Millésime 2013 63 Launois Père & Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV 64 Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec NV 65 Ruinart Dom Ruinart 2007 66 Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ NV 67 Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Cramant Grand Cru 2012 68 Henriot Vintage Rosé 2008 69 Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Essentiel NV (Base 2012) 70 De Castelnau Rosé NV 71 Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV 72 Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV 73 François Diligent Pinot Blanc Vrai Brut Nature NV 74 J. de Telmont Blanc de Blancs 2010 75 Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV
76–100 76 Lombard Brut Nature Le Mesnil-sur-Oger NV 77 Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2010 78 Soutiran Signature Grand Cru NV 79 Xavier Loriot Hypnotic Brut NV 80 A. Robert Brut NV 81 Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Millésime de Collection 2008 82 Taittinger Prélude des Grands Crus NV 83 Mailly Grand Cru Blanc de Pinot Noir Brut NV 84 H. Billiot & Fils Brut Réserve NV 85 Thiénot Cuvée Garance 2008 86 Bollinger Special Cuvée NV 87 Lanson Rosé Label Brut Rosé NV 88 Gamet Charactères Extra Brut NV 89 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2009 90 Didier Ducos Absolu Meunier NV 91 Comtes de Dampierre Grande Cuvée NV 92 Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines 2008 93 A. Robert Cuvée Le Sablon Brut NV 94 Montaudon Classe M NV 95 De Saint Gall Orpale 2004 96 Agrapart Minéral 2012 97 Michel Genet Brut Esprit Blanc de Blancs NV 98 Cattier Clos du Moulin Rosé NV (2006, 2007, 2008) 99 José Michel Cuvée du Pére Houdart RD NV 100 Georges Vesselle Blanc de Noirs NV Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Ranking 23
25 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s
TOP 10 100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 1 95p 2 Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 Stunningly concentrated and packed with succulent fruitiness, the wine already now shows a beautiful complexity of gunpowder, licorice and oriental spices complementing the plush yet firm Pinot fruit. Truly characterful but utterly sophisticated and packed with delicious, build-tolast fruit. When to drink: 2019–2040 Food pairing: Lobster Masala 95p Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 Evolving lemony colour. The superby rich coffee and tropical fruit nose comes with impeccable toasty generosity and dried fruit complexity. Lovely plushness and fleshy, chewy fruitiness. Long and concentrated finish full of age-mellowed fruit. When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Pan-roasted turbot with braised leeks 26 4 3 93p Ruinart Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004 Deep maturing onionskin colour. Overt and generous, Burgundian Pinot nose packed with finely reductive charred tones, smoke and wild flowers. Fresh and feisty palate with satiny texture. Still holds back on the palate of complex spicy extravaganza. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2040 Roasted quail with cherries and fennel 93p Dom Pérignon Brut 2008 Superbly showing toasty nose with fragrant smokiness, mint, licorice and heaps of freshly ground coffee. Tightly-wound palate with mineral crispness and mouth-watering salty tones. Still surprisingly creamytextured and mellow mouth-feel with plenty of vivacity energising the back palate. When to drink: 2019–2040 Food pairing: Smoked fish platter
TOP 10 100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 4 93p The amply and sweetly fruity nose is lined with yeasty complexity of baking spices, bread and toast. Lovely purity of Pinot driven red fruit on the richly textured palate of fine intensity and generosity. It all finishes on a high note of exemplary freshness. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2030 93p 2019–2040 Blinis with Carelian caviar, onion and sour cream Pol Roger Rosé 2008 Food pairing: Sauteed whitefish with creamy morrel sauce 7 Medium-deep orange-hued colour. Seductive nose oozing Pinot Noir aromas of age-driven complexity and exuberant cherry fruit. The nose comes with fine spice and licorice evolution. Full-on palate with plenty of character. Long saline finish with exemplary concentration. When to drink: Food pairing: 9 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz 2006 Lovely melange of pure, soft white fruitiness and bready complexity on the withdrawn nose of great elegance. The palate is more forward with super stylish silky, almost oily softness of texture, which comes with a fine mineral kick at the very finish. Needs time. Food pairing: 7 93p Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 92p When to drink: Food pairing: When to drink: 2019–2035 Grilled tuna steak with coleslaw Medium-deep peachy colour. Rich, overt, super toasty nose with extravagant coffee, dried apricots, wild flowers and exotic spices nose. Full, rich and rounded on the long velvety and concentrated palate, which finishes with a sweet tone. 2019–2030 Seared tuna with tomato and spring onion risotto Krug Grande Cuvée NV (Base 2006) There is an on-going interplay of expressive yeasty tones, oaky whiffs and rich vanilla-laden red fruit and spicy tones on the nuanced nose. This one holds back nothing. Curious malty and oat undertones. Rich and generous wine that captures ones attention from the first moment. Soft, mellow, viscous palate with super long finish. 2019–2030 Charles Heidsieck Vintage Rosé 2006 93p Food pairing: Lobster Thermidor 10 92p Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 Golden colour. Pronounced cream and vanilla laden nose with sweet tropical fruitiness and emerging toastiness. There is plenty of nuances on the evolving, and opening nose of ripe white fruits and yeasty and bready richness. Full-on palate where toastiness takes the centre role. Velvet-smooth and caressing. When to drink: 2019–2035 Food pairing: Smoked eel with bacon and apple Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s 4 27
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 11 12 92p Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2008 92p Barons de Rothschild Brut NV Enticing, sweetly fruity and charred pastry, honey and vanilla nose with opulent toasty generosity. Rich, sweetly body which surprises with its lovely energy and nervosity. Its superb intensity promises great future potential. Finely balanced whole of sweet coffee-toned white fruits, benefiting from some evolution. Polished texture of rounded, fleshy appeal. There is intensity, freshness and length. It all ends in perfect harmony. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: 2019–2035 15 91p Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007 Food pairing: 2019–2030 17 De Castelnau Brut Millésime 2006 There are generous age-derived notes on the toasty, bready and nutty nose of a Burgundian undertone of spicy vinosity and red fruit. Chewy fruitiness on the round, profound palate that finishes with an elegant, cool note in the long, aftertaste. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2025 Bread-crusted cod with remoulade and fries When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Pan-fried swordfish with grilled asparagus Palmer & Co Amazone de Palmer NV 91p Montaudon Millésime 2011 There is plenty of yeasty and agedriven complexity on the nose of great depth. Spices, toast, cashew nuts and dried fruits. Mellow, concentrated palate with velourlike caressing finish of generous length. The nose carries a fine toasty whiff over chalky notes and cool fruitiness. Fresh, intensely fruity, long and linear palate that finishes to a zingy end of brisk acidity. Stylish leanness and nervous energy. When to drink: 2019–2025 When to drink: 2019–2023 18 91p Soft and mild nose of supreme elegance. Stylish toasty and charred notes emerge to bring complexity to the brightly fruity whole. Intense, velvet-textured palate of exemplary length. Food pairing: White fish mousse canapes Food pairing: Pan-fired sole with a tarragon and lemon Seafood platter Comtes de Dampierre Grand Vintage 2008 16 91p Pristine green and yellow fruit on the vanilla-laden fruity, yet reserved and mineral nose. Highlighted acidity on the palate of leanness and feisty drive. Firmstructured and holding back, but already possesses the quaffing character. When to drink: 92p Food pairing: Toast Skagen Grilled scallops with lemon risotto 14 28 13 19 91p Bollinger Rosé NV Medium-deep peachy colour. There is cool restraint on the peachy nose of buttery pastry and sweet marmalade aromas. Finely balanced, smooth and creamytextured, succulent palate with a suitably dry finish. When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Salade Niçoise 91p Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Coulments 2012 Restrained and subtle on the first whiff but time in the glass and on the palate let it express so much more. Truly mineral style with textbook salinity. Light-weight yet intense palate with the finish revealing chalky-earthy tones and citric notion of acidity. When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Moules Marinières
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 20 91p 91p Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV Truly polished style with squeakyclean fruitiness of the sweet pastry and yellow fruit kind. Perfect harmony on the palate, which has both depth and harmony, in addition to its beautiful vibrancy and brightness of fruit. When to drink: Food pairing: When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Smoked whitefish with morrels Blini canapes with caviar, onion and sour cream José Michel Spécial Club 2012 Deutz Amour de Deutz 2008 Truly elegant style with reductive restraint and fine toasty-smoky complexity. Fresh and lightweight in the mouth, yet comes with laudable intensity. Pure fruitiness that lingers to a finish of invigorating freshness. When to drink: 2019–2025 24 91p 91p Lanson Extra Age NV Lovely nose with a melange of toasty bread and buttery patisserie. There is fine red fruit depth on the spicy-fruity palate of impeccable freshness and poise. Silky smooth and long. 2019–2025 23 30 22 21 Food pairing: Fried scallops with asparagus and pancetta 25 91p 91p Taittinger Vintage 2012 Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs NV There is lots of character on the intensely fruity nose of tasty candied fruit aromas and fresh red fruit tones of apple and cherry. The palate surprises with its freshness and feistiness making the whole seem lighter and increasingly elegant. Still youthful and nervous in its character, the nose has the purest peachy fruit and a mix of white flowers and herbaceous nuances. Superbly fresh and linear, still nervous palate with some tightness, craving for more time in the bottle. Clean and fruit-forward nose with candied notes of fruit drops and marmalade and sweet vanilla notes. Both the nose and palate are full of attractive fruit. The palate structure is just as pleasant in its freshness and fleshy fruitiness. Easy to drink and enjoy. When to drink: 2019–2028 When to drink: 2019–2030 When to drink: 2019–2022 Food pairing: Oysters with Mignonnette sauce 26 Food pairing: Fried whitefish with hollandaise sauce 27 90p Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut Nature 2004 Exuberant toffee laden nose off apple and peach fruit. The real elegance hits on the supple palate of lightness and freshness. The satiny texture and purity enhancing dryness crown the fine whole. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2028 Monkfish wrapped in Parma ham with red wine jus Food pairing: Fresh oyster platter 28 90p Lanson Gold Label Brut 2008 There is a lovely toasty and gunpowdery whiff to the mild, softly fruity nose. Great intensity of fruit on the radiant palate of lovely vibrancy and length. Fine cushiony mousse, too. Polished and succulent possessing further ageing capacity. When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Sashimi platter with ginger and soy 90p Armand de Brignac Rosé NV There is plenty of character on the plush Pinot nose of gentle spiciness and luscious red cherry fruit. Winey and bold on the mildly phenolic, nervous palate. Not the most elegant rosé expression but soulful and pronounced. When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Yellowfin tuna with a lime and white radish dressing
Le Temps devient Lumière
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 29 30 90p Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV 90p Elegant, sweetly fruity yet restrained white fruit nose with subtle toasty undertones. Lightweight, mineral palate with pronounced freshness. Delicate style with great purity of fruit expression. When to drink: Food pairing: 32 Food pairing: Ceviche of Cornish mackerel with horseradish cream Cured salmon with fennel, beetroot and dill Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé NV When to drink: Food pairing: Palmer & Co Extra Réserve NV Nice inbuilt complexities such as smoky charred tones, pastry and buttery aromas. Rich yet elegant, seamless palate that ends with a feisty freshness and fruity appeal . When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Smoked salmon pâté with crispbread, fennel and apples Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs NV Lots of yeast induced complexity here in the form of wax, flor yeast type aromas and bready notes. The palate is refined in its drive, freshness and linearity. Suitably long finish of a racy kind. When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Pan-fried scallops with celeriac and apple Soy and butter poached halibut and smoked eel Palmer & Co Brut Réserve NV 90p When to drink: 2019–2025 36 90p Food pairing: Hot-smoked salmon with crab and aioli There is age-built complexity on the nose of fine toasty character and opulent red and yellow fruit. Fresh but smoothly-textured, soft palate carrying long to a purely fruity finish of zesty dryness. 2019–2023 35 When to drink: 2019–2028 34 90p Medium-deep salmon pink colour. Pronounced sweet candied nose with fruit compote, strawberry and apricot aromas. Crisp and zingy palate of elegance and purity. Joyous, pleasurable yet elegant style. Pommery Millésime Grand Cru Royal 2006 Fine reductive-style toastiness on the purely fruity nose of white fruit and white flowers. The palate is seamless, polished and linear, perfectly in focus. Silky-textured with richness of fruit, but elegantly so. There is capacity for further ageing. When to drink: 2019–2022 33 90p 90p Gosset Grande Réserve NV Mild, elegantly spicy nose with opulent apricot, peach and plum fruitiness. Fine succulence of fruit on the intense, racy palate of accentuated acidity. Powerful and brisk. 2019–2025 32 31 Food pairing: Langoustine Royale with lemon caviar à la Lallement 37 90p Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne NV Supple, carefully constructed whole with soft vanilla laden fruitiness. Fresh and elegant palate that has all pieces at place. Harmonious and pleasurable. When to drink: 2019–2022 Food pairing: Crab custard, pink grapefruit, crab and mint salad 90p Duval-Leroy Extra Brut Prestige NV Overt, soft and mild nose of white flowers, yellow apple and stylish coffee shop and patisserie notes. Pear drops and candy. Fresh and long palate, with the pure fruitiness as its best feature. When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Linguine with prawns, lemon and parsley
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 38 39 90p Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne 2012 90p Overt nose of appley fruit complemented by lovely patisserie delicacy and marmalade sweetness. Round, fleshy body well balanced by its freshness. Long, taut taste which finishes on a suitably dry note. When to drink: Food pairing: 40 Smoke and toast interplay on the earthy mineral, fragrant nose of lemony fruitiness. Elegantly harmonious, fleshy palate with linear structure leading to a long fresh, zingy finish. 34 Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne NV 90p Evolving nose of big fruitiness complemented by complex bitter almond and sweet marshmallow notes. The nose comes with a touch of oxidation. The palate has fine freshness but also certain age-derived mellowness. Long, intensely fruity finish. When to drink: Food pairing: When to drink: 2019–2030 Bollinger La Grande Année 2007 Full-on rich and concentrated nose of red fruit and earthy-spicy tones. Big palate, winey and rich with quite a concentration. Long, mellow yet suitably fresh finish with potential for further emerging complexity. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2030 Guinea fowl with liquorice braised leeks and morels Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV (Base 2010) Medium-deep lemon colour showing some evolution. Lovely soft and sweet fruitiness of apple and yellow plum complemented by emerging toastiness. Big, velvetsoft palate with fine intensity and length. When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Chicken, leek and mushroom plate pie 46 45 89p 89p Food pairing: Roast partridge with cabbage, citrus and spiced sausage Scallops with curried parsnip purée 44 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009 Deep rosé colour. Pinot Noir comes across strong on the polished red fruit nose of gentle spicy and toasty undertones and fragrant fruit. Very correct palate on the winey side. Lovely nervosity and freshness. There is potential for more. 2019–2028 Food pairing: Seared cod with asparagus, crab beignets and samphire 43 42 90p When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Pan-roast cod with confit Jersey Royals and pancetta Poached lobster tail with butter sauce Boizel Joyau de France 2004 Evolved nose of Pinot-toned appley and spicy fruitness. Hint of oxidative development. Overt, expressive palate of depth and generosity. At the end comes the brisk acidity and freshens the intense candy-toned fruitiness. When to drink: 2019–2028 2019–2023 41 90p Paul Goerg Vintage 2007 89p G.H. Mumm RSRV Cuvée 4+5 NV (Base 2010) Mild and fresh nose with soft, creamy tones complemented by a pronounced gently spicy licorice note. Sweetly fruity and candied palate with lovely nervosity and fine palate weight. When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Deep fried calamari with Dijon cream 89p De Castelnau Brut NV The nose is lead by chalky mineral notes as well as sweet, candied fruity tones expressing some evolution of a pastry and nutty kind. The mouth-feel is fresh and supple with vibrancy of fruit leading to a persistent, pristinely fruity finish. When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Sushi assortment
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100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 47 89p 89p Bruno Paillard NPU 2002 Oak and evolution come across strongly on the nose of sweet apricots, oriental spiciness and dried fruit complexity. Full-bodied palate of immense concentration, vinous in style. Full-on long palate. When to drink: Food pairing: Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Sublime NV Pan-fried lamb sweetbreads with pea purée Food pairing: Forget-Chemin Marie Forget Premier Cru NV Food pairing: Crispy focaccia oysters with oyster mayonnaise Turbot au gratin with samphire and rhubarb compote G.H. Mumm RSRV Rosé Foujita NV (Base 2012) 89p Pol Roger Vintage 2009 Overt, generous nose of patisserie and red apple tones complemented by lemony nuances and spicy layers. Round, fleshy palate of delicious, succulent fruitiness. Long and lingering finish. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Chargrilled langoustines, bisque and pickled fennel When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Fettuccine with sea bream tartare and black truffle 55 Medium deep salmon pink colour. Fresh and fruit-forward nose of sweet cherry and raspberry fruit. Vigorous, energetic palate with succulent red cherry fruit and candied tones. Long and lightweight palate. 2019–2025 De Saint Gall Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV Medium-deep lemon colour. Overt, soft and layered, gently spicy nose with patisserie tones. Charred notes and earthy mineral notions. Crisp, zesty, energetic palate with medium length. Correct with some complexity. When to drink: 2019–2022 54 89p 89p Pale lemon colour. Clean, fresh and soft yellow fruit nose with apples, white flowers and vanilla. Full-on fleshy palate with a touch of phenolics on the back palate. Dry, crisp finish with fluffy mousse. 2019–2030 53 Food pairing: Smoked salmon blinis with caviar 52 89p Deeply fruity red apple, forest floor and spice nose high on licorice notes and oaky whiffs. The palate has big concentration and calm mouth-feel of silkiness yet a phenolic bite of tannin at the very finish. Long, characterful aftertaste in a Burgundian genre. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Singapore chicken satay Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2007 Lanson Black Label NV Elegant nose of restrained characters. Peach and marshmallow fruitiness. The palate is fresh and compact yet comes with depth and succulence of fruit. Crisp, balanced acidity and suitably long, pleasant length. When to drink: 2019–2028 51 89p 89p Smoky-charred, sweetly fruity nose on the reductive side. There is charming sweetness and mellowness on the oily, calm, round and viscous palate. A real charmer in a sweet style complemented by agederived complexity. 2019–2028 50 36 49 48 Food pairing: Smoked monkfish with oyster mousse 89p H. Billiot & Fils Millésime 2012 Lovely delicate nose of apricots and fragrant roses with chalky minerality pushing through. Highly drinkable palate of the quaffing character offering fine racy acidity and drive. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2028 Scallops, radish, peanut and lime
THE NEW CHAMPAGNE GENERATION
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 56 58 57 89p 89p Montaudon Brut NV Nicely toast-lined nose of sweet fruitiness of the fruit drop and winegum kind. Yellow apples and peaches. Not hugely complex or profound but pleasurable and all pieces well at place. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2022 Freshly fruity nose of green and yellow apple, vanilla and white flowers. There is gentle toastiness pushing through the pure fruitiness. Sweet, succulent fruit on the lightweight palate of elegance. Zingy lemony freshness brings a nice edge to the wine. Smoked salmon and leek quiche When to drink: 2019–2024 89p 38 Food pairing: Food pairing: Scallops wrapped in prosciutto ham with butternut squash Scallops with Ibérico ham and parsley foam 63 89p Janisson & Fils Millésime 2013 Elegant, sweetly fruity nose with chalky mineral layers and vanilla notes. A compact, well polished palate of medium finish. Nicely constructed, clean and pleasurable. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2025 Smoked trout, green papaya, lime and salmon roe 89p Jacquart Cuvée Alpha 2010 Canard-Duchêne Charles VII Blanc de Noirs NV Deep, yeast enriched nose on the reductive side. Red berries, apple, pastry and licorice nuances. Rich and ripe, fleshy palate. Suitably dry, well-integrated, long, linear finish. Intriguing and full of character. When to drink: 2019–2025 2019–2024 62 Food pairing: Gravadlax of salmon with lime sorbet Rich, soft, yeast-laden nose with stylish gunpowdery notes and ripe apricot fruit. Fresh, feisty palate with nice mineral touches. Long finish with a flick of vanilla. Sweetly fruity nose of candytoned characters, apple jam and marmalade notes. Nice depth on the medium-bodied, fleshy palate that comes with fine energy. Long palate of good fruit purity. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2030 61 89p Collet Brut Millésime 2008 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2011 Somewhat restrained nose on the reductive side. Smokiness complements the delicate white flower, lemon and vanilla fruitiness and chalky minerality. Elegant, fresh and light-weight palate with medium finish. Food pairing: Roasted halibut and langoustine bisque sauce 60 59 89p Taittinger Brut NV When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Crunchy chicken karaage steamed buns 64 89p Launois Père & Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV 89p Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec NV Plenty of chalky notes push through the lemony nose with green apple and earthy-spicy complexity. Strong palate with fine intensity but there is also an element of rusticity to it. There is charming gentle toastiness over peach-laden fruit, cardamom and pastry complexity. The palate is supple and generous but at the same time highly sweet, masking some of its finesses. When to drink: 2019–2023 When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Steamed langoustines with oil, lemon and mayonnaise Food pairing: Tuna with coconut, chilli, mango, apple and lime
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 89p 89p Ruinart Dom Ruinart 2007 Ripe fruity, evolving, expressive nose of yellow apple, peach, lemon and chalky minerality. Rich, firmly structured palate, which has a good deal of intensity built into it. Long, tight finish that speaks of potential. When to drink: Food pairing: Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ NV Food pairing: Smoked swordfish with onion ice cream Wild sea bass with pea and mint soup Pale peachy colour. There is elegant cool fruitness to the red berry nose. Equally, there is something sugar-coated in it with smokiness emerging. The palate comes with fine, layered peachy fruitiness and excellent acid structure. When to drink: Food pairing: Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Essentiel NV (Base 2012) Turbot, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke and truffle Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV Pale lemon green colour. Fresh yellow apple nose with chalky minerality, baking spice and earthy complexity. Fresh and feisty palate, light-weight but vigorous. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2026 Scallop and prawn roulade with caviar 89p De Castelnau Rosé NV Medium-deep lemon. Charmingly charred, sweetly toasty nose with tropical, pineapple fruit and white pepper spicy tones. The palate has age-mellowed suppleness. Lots of character here. Medium-deep peachy colour with onionskin tones. The fruit-packed nose is already expressing some evolution as well as earthy mineral characters. Full and rich palate with caressing, velvety texture. When to drink: 2019–2028 When to drink: 2019–2022 72 89p Food pairing: Yuzu scallops Food pairing: Herb-crusted baked salmon and pineapple kachumber 2019–2030 71 When to drink: 2019–2030 70 89p Henriot Vintage Rosé 2008 Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Cramant Grand Cru 2012 A meadow with a rich variety of flowers is the first impression. Then comes strong minerality of the chalky kind. The palate is lightweight yet tightly woven with an ethereal notion to it. Tight and nervous still. When to drink: 2019–2025 69 89p 89p Lovely, soft white fruit nose with charming toastiness emerging. There is subtlety to the whole, a refined delicacy on the palate that comes with the quaffing character. 2019–2035 68 40 67 66 65 Food pairing: Herbed seafood biryani 73 89p Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV Ethereal and elegant, super pure fruitiness of white flowers, gunpowder, yellow apple and peach. Quite a fruit bomb but in a delicate, restrained way. Driven, linear palate that finishes with a mineral note. When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Smoked salmon mousse with crème fraîche, lime and dill 89p François Diligent Pinot Blanc Vrai Brut Nature NV Strong, ripe fruity nose, slightly lifted with nutty evolution. The palate is superior to the nose. Velvety yet structured palate of opulent fruit. Succulent yet dry finish. When to drink: 2019–2021 Food pairing: Linguine with broccoli rabe and Sicilian red prawns
PLEASE, DRINK RESPONSIBLY
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 74 76 75 89p J. de Telmont Blanc de Blancs 2010 89p Overtly fruity, fruit drop and cotton candy nose with lemon and lime notes. Deliciously succulent fruitiness on the long, concentrated and zingy palate. When to drink: Food pairing: 42 Food pairing: 2019–2025 King prawn kebabs with pea brûlée and rocket 80 Soutiran Signature Grand Cru NV A. Robert Brut NV Fresh yet refined coolly fruity nose with some green, vegetal notes. Feisty, slightly sweet palate of straightforward fruitiness. The finish has a touch of rusticity deducting from overall charm. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2022 Langoustines with peas and mandarin 89p Xavier Loriot Hypnotic Brut NV Rich and generous nose full of ripe red fruit and supple spicy tones. Fleshy, round, full-on palate that is more about power than finesse. Long, concentrated palate full of fruit. Elegant nose of lemony and appley fruit. Positively pure fruitiness and nice bite of acidity bringing a kick of freshness to the intensely fruity palate. Long, fresh, palate-cleansing finish. When to drink: 2019–2022 When to drink: 2019–2025 Food pairing: Fjord Trout, mussels, ginger and lemongrass broth 81 89p Food pairing: Fresh seafood platter 79 89p Pristine charred fruity tones on the coolly fruity nose of lemon and yellow apple fruit. Elegant, supple palate with fresh, perky acidity and a vanilla laden fruity finish. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Warm salad of lobster with black truffle oil Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2010 Lombard Brut Nature Le Mesnil-sur-Oger NV Medium-deep lemony colour. Muted but fresh nose on the floral side. Restrained on the palate, that is taut, lean and long. A stylish mineral bite comes at the very finish. When to drink: 2019–2024 Langoustine ravioli, braised endive and langoustine jus 78 89p 89p Opulently toasty, ripe and expressive nose that comes with a rustic earthy-mineral edge that deducts some from the charm. Round, fleshy, satiny palate that carries on. 2019–2023 77 Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV Food pairing: Crab cakes 82 89p Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Millésime de Collection 2008 Attractively soft, natural tones on the bright fruity, pure and lemony fresh nose. Well-built, linear palate with a feisty acidic backbone. Very correct, even polished, and built to last. When to drink: 2019–2030 Food pairing: Crab and smoked salmon salad with avocado, fennel and apple 89p Taittinger Prélude des Grands Crus NV Absolutely flawless fruit purity on the soft, vanilla laden white fruit nose backed up by subtle, emerging toastiness. Elegant, smooth-textured yet zingy palate. Seamless palate carrying on to a sweetly fruity, crisp finish. When to drink: 2019–2028 Food pairing: Sea bass with prawn tortellini, fennel purée and white wine sauce
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 83 85 84 88p Mailly Grand Cru Blanc de Pinot Noir Brut NV 88p Pale lemon colour with a peachy tint. Soft, overt nose with appley fruit, baking spices and vanilla. Crisp fleshy palate with medium length of pleasant succulence. When to drink: Food pairing: H. Billiot & Fils Brut Réserve NV Bright lemon yellow colour. Mild apple and pear nose with chalky mineral undertones. There is some austerity on the palate that seems tight-packed and lean. Fresh, dry, long-lasting finish. 2019–2023 Food pairing: Seared tuna with tofu and miso 87 Thiénot Cuvée Garance 2008 Overt appley nose with baking spices, vanilla and earthy mineral complexity bringing nuances. Full and round palate with lovely succulence of fruit, fleshy-chewy characters and vivacity. Long, clean length with freshness and intensity. When to drink: 2019–2028 When to drink: 2019–2021 Oysters with beef and horseradish jelly 86 88p Food pairing: Salmon fish cakes with rocket, capers and lime dressing 88 C 88p 44 88p Bollinger Special Cuvée NV Medium-deep lemon. Quite a serious nose in a reserved style, red apple, sous-bois, peppery spiciness and pastry richness. Linear and tight on the structured palate of good energy. Long and fruity finish ending with a note of lemony freshness. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2026 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2009 Medium-deep lemon colour. Mild, refined nose with pastry complexity, floral and lemony fruit with marsh mellow and yellow plum. Fragrant and fruity with a touch of toast. Brisk palate of fine length and good fruit intensity. Supple, yet built to last. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2030 Sea trout with scallop tortellini and scallop velouté Gamet Charactères Extra Brut NV Deeply fruity nose on the oxidative side with toffee apple, wood and lemon notes. Positively oldfashioned in style, structured and less on the fruity front. Mediumlong, dry finish. When to drink: 2019–2022 Food pairing: Grilled octopus with green beans and potatoes Food pairing: Cod with roasted onion cream and artichokes 90 88p 88p Medium-deep peachy colour. Stylish nose with patisserie, ripe peaches, dried fruit, marmalade and a touch of toast. Fleshy and rich palate with lovely energy. Long, succulent taste with fine intensity. A character of its own but in an easy-drinking, pleasurable style. When to drink: 2019–2022 Pan-fried halibut with smoked bacon and girolle 89 Lanson Rosé Label Brut Rosé NV 91 88p Didier Ducos Absolu Meunier NV Overt, dominantly appley nose with floral fragrant tones and sweet, candied, lifted nuances. Round, fleshy-chewy palate with exemplary freshness and longenough finish. When to drink: 2019–2021 Food pairing: Asparagus and chervil quiche 88p Comtes de Dampierre Grande Cuvée NV Sophisticated, mildly fruity nose with ripe peaches, lemons and wild flowers. Charming and seductive in its freshness and persistence. The very finish shows some disintegrated tones but overall, a stylishly subtle and polished wine. When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Roasted langoustines and oyster purée M J CM MJ CJ CMJ N
Visuel pub Fine magazines.pdf 1 16/04/2018 08:42:10 C M J CM MJ CJ CMJ N
100 BEST Champagnes for 2019 94 93 92 88p Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines 2008 88p Pale lemon colour. Here is a wine of refinement and lightness that comes with brisk lemony fruitiness and the most delicate yeastcomplexed notions of bread and toast. Very correct on the energetic palate of fine fruit purity and suitable dryness at the mediumlong finish. When to drink: Food pairing: Food pairing: 2019–2026 97 88p Deep onion-hued cherry colour. Full-of-fruit cherry and raspberry nose. Winey palate with lovely spicy tones. Rich, round, mouthfilling palate of substance. Some phenolics on the back palate. When to drink: Food pairing: 2019–2026 Breasts of quail with pea purée and marjoram jus 88p Michel Genet Brut Esprit Blanc de Blancs NV Lovely delicate fruitiness on the nose; apple, white flowers, vanilla and fruit drops. Voluptuous and rich palate full of attractive fruit. A balanced and characterful whole ending with fine mouth-watering freshness. When to drink: 2019–2028 When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Prawn soba noodle salad with yuzu and avocado 99 Cattier Clos du Moulin Rosé NV (2006, 2007, 2008) Agrapart Minéral 2012 Clean, ripe fruity nose with mild, appley fruit with baked peach complexity. Full-on zesty and vigorous palate with plenty of concentration. Long and structured, finishing on a lemony and chalky note on the dry ending. Lasagne of crab with Beurre Nantais 98 88p Food pairing: Asparagus, salami and Parmesan with hay hollandaise Scallops with cucumber, lime and baby leaf Curious coconut tones on the toffee apple, spice and chalky-mineral nose. Concentrated, sweetly fruity palate with plenty of substance. Full, rich and long but comes with energising acidity. When to drink: When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Scallop, coriander and lime canapés De Saint Gall Orpale 2004 Montaudon Classe M NV Very correct as a whole, verging on neutral in its sweet fruity touches of medium fruit intensity. The palate is fresh and fleshy but finishes with a sweet note. When to drink: 2019–2023 96 88p 88p A fresh and fruity nose of appley and lemony fruit.The palate has more power to it and comes with feisty acidity bringing vibrancy to the sweetly fruity palate. 2019–2028 95 46 A. Robert Cuvée Le Sablon Brut NV 88p José Michel Cuvée du Pére Houdart RD NV There is plenty of evolution on the nose that is on the oxidative side. Time in the glass opens it up bringing forward fine yeastcomplexed nutty and bready notes. Highly appley nose with plentiful red fruit and baking spice tones. Structured, muscular palate and very dry finish starting to loose fruit. Time to drink! When to drink: 2019–2019 Food pairing: Bellota ham with avocado and asparagus salad 100 88p Georges Vesselle Blanc de Noirs NV Medium-deep lemon colour. Mild, muted nose with appley notes but also a degree of characterful rusticity. Fruity, spice-complexed, long palate with lemony fruit accentuating tartness at the very finish. When to drink: 2019–2023 Food pairing: Crispy chicken canapés Food pairing: Tandoori scallops with chickpeas and yoghurt AP_N
ICI LONDRES - Photographe : Elene Usdin AP_N_FEUILLATTE_CHAISE_FCM_236x297mm_2018.indd 1 19/04/2018 14:23
The Top 10s by style Non-Vintage Blend 48 Non-vintage (NV, sans année) champagne is the backbone of every champagne house's production, typically accounting for 80–90 per cent of the total volume. Hence, it is also their most important product, taking up the most time and effort. Maintaining the consistent style and quality of the house's non-vintage champagne year after year is a challenge, yet it is paramount, because the very idea of non-vintage champagne is that no vintage-related variation can be detected in the taste – thus allowing the consumer to select his or her favourite cuvée with confidence. In the varying climatic conditions of the Champagne region, consistent quality is achieved by using reserve wines from previous years. Moreover, non-vintage champagne must be ready to drink as soon as it has been released – the majority of champagnes are consumed immediately after purchase. Therefore, nonvintage champagnes usually consist of all three grape varieties – which are sourced extensively throughout the region. The cellarmasters of major champagne houses may blend more than four hundred base wines into their classic champagne in order to create a high volume of balanced, subtle champagne. The minimum maturing time of non-vintage champagne after bottling is 15 months, but most prestigious champagne houses mature their non-vintage for 2–3 years or longer in order to achieve the autolytic, toasty aromas typical of champagne. Overall placement Non-Vintage Blend Top 10 1 (12) Barons de Rothschild Brut NV 2 (20) Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV 3 (21) Lanson Extra Age NV 4 (29) Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV 5 (30) Gosset Grande Réserve NV 6 (33) Palmer & Co Extra Réserve NV 7 (35) Palmer & Co Brut Réserve NV 8 (37) Duval-Leroy Extra Brut Prestige NV 9 (43) Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV (base 2010) 10 (45) G.H. Mumm RSRV Cuvée 4+5 NV (base 2010)
There are a great many cooperatives in the region, but at the moment 67 of them make and sell Champagne under their own label. Although cooperatives account for just about 9 per cent of total Champagne sales, they process more than 50 per cent of all the Champagne produced, at one stage or another. The 67 producing cooperatives sell Champagne under an astonishing number of different brand names – 2,234. Still, the direction is towards building strong brands of their own, and the most commercially successful ventures include Nicolas Feuillatte, Jacquart and Devaux. But there are many eager quality-concious cooperatives on the rise: the champagnes of say Palmer & Co, De Saint Gall and Collet represent excellent value for money. Overall placement Vintage Blend Top 10 1 (11) Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2008 2 (13) Comtes de Dampierre Grand Vintage 2008 3 (16) Montaudon Millésime 2011 4 (17) De Castelnau Brut Millésime 2006 5 (24) Taittinger Vintage 2012 6 (27) Lanson Gold Label Brut Vintage 2008 7 (31) Pommery Grand Cru Royal 2006 8 (39) Paul Goerg Vintage 2007 9 (44) Bollinger La Grande Année 2007 10 (54) Pol Roger Vintage 2009 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Vintage Blend 49
Top 10 Prestige Cuvées Every bottle of champagne is a luxury product, but not everyone wants to settle for the classic non-vintage. The uppermost category in the champagne pyramid consists of prestige cuvée (Cuvée Prestige) champagnes. This category originated in 1873, when Czar Alexander II of Russia found no ordinary champagne to be good enough for him and ordered his own special blend in a crystal bottle from his trusted supplier, Champagne Louis Roederer. Nevertheless, Moët & Chandon was the first champagne house to release a commercial prestige champagne, the Dom Pérignon vintage 1921, which was released in 1936. The Cristal champagne by Louis Roederer as we know it today was launched after World War II. The category started as a niche branch but rose to its current status in the 1950s and 1960s, and it is continuously increasing in significance. In many markets, especially in the Far East, the current demand for luxury champagne clearly exceeds supply. 50 Overall placement Prestige champagnes are made from grapes harvested from the highest-rating Grand Cru villages, and often exclusively from Pinot Noir or Chardonnay as they have the longest maturation potential. In addition to the premium ingredients, the rich variety of aromas, as well as the intensive structure and small bubbles associated with prestige champagnes, can be attributed to the prolonged ageing in bottles on the lees. Due to its superb acid structure, champagne ages beautifully, and prestige champagnes in particular are at their peak long after release. Nearly all prestige champagnes, especially Cristal, Dom Pérignon, Philipponnat Clos des Goisses and Salon, require long cellaring before they reveal their true, rich, subtle and aristocratically stylish essence. Tasting soon after release may leave questions on the taster’s palate: the champagnes are often very tight and vacuously mineral, with only slight references to their future potential. It is a shame that such champagnes are released and consumed much too young – every year of patient cellaring is like putting money in the bank. Prestige Cuvée Blend TOP 10 1 (2) Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 2 (3) Dom Pérignon Brut 2008 3 (4) Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 3 (4) Deutz Cuvée William Deutz 2006 5 (7) Krug Grande Cuvée NV (base 2006) 6 (15) Palmer & Co Amazone de Palmer NV 7 (23) José Michel Spécial Club 2012 8 (26) Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut Nature 2004 9 (36) Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne NV 10 (38) Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne 2012
Even though rosé champagne has allegedly been manufactured in the Champagne region since at least 1775, it has never been as popular as it is today. Pink champagne has a rather girly image, but this does not reflect its actual style. As a matter of fact, rosé champagne is the most masculine champagne because of its wine-like and often stronger character. Rosé champagne can be made in two alternative ways: by macerating dark grapes in the juice (rosé de saignée) or by blending in some red wine from the Champagne region to a white base wine (rosé d’assemblage). More than 95 per cent of rosé champagnes are products of the latter method, which allows better control over the outcome, but neither of these methods can be raised above the other. It is often impossible to determine the manufacturing method when tasting the wine, although sometimes a saignée wine can be recognised due to its more tannic nature. Laurent-Perrier is one of the few Grande Marque houses currently using the saignée method in rosé champagne production. Rosé champagne is often approximately 20 per cent more expensive than white champagne, due not only to its trendy popularity but also to higher manufacturing costs. The production of mature, high quality red wines for rosé champagne is difficult and expensive in Champagne. In addition, the arrangements required for the extra vinification and smaller batch sizes are costly. Whether rosé champagne is worth the extra price is a question of style rather than of quality. Along with the increased popularity, the quality of rosé champagnes has risen significantly over the past few years. Rosé champagnes are available in a wide variety, ranging from fresh berry flavoured to highly developed, champagne-like wines. The colours may vary from pale pink to nearly as dark as red wine. The rosé champagnes that belong to the luxury category are the best of the best in the world of champagne. Cristal Rosé, Dom Pérignon Rosé, Laurent-Perrier Alexandra, Dom Ruinart Rosé and Pommery Cuvée Louise Rosé are all wonderful examples of the ageing potential, depth and multidimensionality of rosé champagne. These champagnes are true rarities. Furthermore, their prices are often twice or three times as high as those of their white counterpasts. Overall placement Non-vintage Rosé Top 10 1 (18) Bollinger Rosé NV 2 (32) Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé NV 3 (53) G.H. Mumm RSRV Rosé Foujita NV (base 2012) 4 (70) De Castelnau Rosé NV 5 (87) Lanson Rosé Label Brut Rosé NV 6 (102) Montaudon Grande Rosé NV 7 (103) Jacquart Rosé Mosaique NV 8 (104) G.H. Mumm Le Rosé NV 9 (105) Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV (base 2012) 10 (116) Henriot Rosé NV Overall placement Prestige Cuvée & Vintage Rosé TOP 10 1 (1) Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 2 (3) Ruinart Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004 3 (7) Pol Roger Rosé 2008 4 (9) Charles Heidsieck Vintage Rosé 2006 5 (28) Armand de Brignac Rosé NV 6 (42) Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009 7 (50) Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2007 8 (68) Henriot Vintage Rosé 2008 9 (98) Cattier Clos du Moulin Rosé NV (2006, 2007, 2008) 10 (130) Boizel Joyau de France Rosé 2007 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Top 10 Rosé Champagnes 51
Top 10 Blanc de Blancs The term blanc de blancs refers to wines made exclusively from white grapes, so in champagnes the grape is, in most cases, Chardonnay. This is a very common style: for example, the Côte des Blancs region is almost entirely dedicated to this grape and, consequently, local grower-producers automatically concentrate solely on blanc de blancs. Being an elegant and fruity grape, Chardonnay works very well by itself. At a young age, the wines may be markedly acidic 52 and feature a linear, even bony structure. With ageing, Chardonnay soon develops a lovely, toasty and creamy aroma. The young wines can be aggressive, and therefore many producers, such as G. H. Mumm, keep the pressure of Chardonnay champagnes slightly lower. These wines used to be called Crémant – for example, Mumm de Cramant was previously named Crémant de Cramant – but nowadays this term is reserved for sparkling wines made in other wine regions of France using the traditional method. Overall placement Non-vintage Blanc de Blancs Top10 1 (25) Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs NV 2 (52) De Saint Gall Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV 3 (63) Launois Père & Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand cru NV 4 (66) Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ NV 5 (72) Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV 6 (73) François Diligent Pinot Blanc Vrai Brut Nature NV 7 (75) Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV 8 (76) Lombard Brut Nature Le Mesnil-sur-Oger NV 9 (97) Michel Genet Brut Esprit Blanc de Blancs NV 10 (106) Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs NV Overall placement Prestige Cuvée & Vintage Blanc de Blancs Top 10 1 (10) Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 2 (14) Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007 3 (19) Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Coulments 2012 4 (22) Deutz Amour de Deutz 2008 5 (34) Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs NV 6 (65) Ruinart Dom Ruinart 2007 7 (67) Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Cramant Grand Cru 2012 8 (74) J. De Telmont Blanc de Blancs 2010 9 (77) Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2010 10 (81) Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Millésime de Collection 2008
Blanc de Noirs There are considerably fewer champagnes available in this category compared to blanc de blancs. Blanc de noirs champagnes are made exclusively from dark skinned grapes – Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. They are powerful and broad but occasionally heavy on palate. However, the best have structure and character that reminds more of the Burgundian red wine than champagne. Thanks to their style, they compliment various dishes rather than serve as an aperitif. Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Top 10 53 Overall placement Blanc de Noirs Top 10 1 (61) Canard-Duchêne Charles VII Blanc de Noirs NV 2 (83) Mailly Grand Cru,Blanc de Pinot Noir Brut NV 3 (90) Didier Ducos Absolu Meunier NV 4 (100) Georges Vesselle Blanc de Noirs NV 5 (119) G.H. Mumm RSRV Blanc de Noirs 2008 6 (124) Éric Taillet Bansionensi 100% Meunier Extra Brut NV 7 (129) Edouard Brun Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Aÿ NV 8 (133) José Michel Pinot Meunier Brut NV 9 (147) Palmer & Co Blanc de Noirs NV 10 (178) Sanchez-Le Guédard Spécial Club Clos St-Hélène 2011
TOP 10 Cooperative champagnes There are a great many cooperatives in the region, but at the moment 67 of them make and sell Champagne under their own label. Although cooperatives account for just about 9 per cent of total Champagne sales, they process more than 50 per cent of all the Champagne produced, at one stage or another. The 67 producing cooperatives sell Champagne under an astonishing number of different brand names – 2,234. Still, the direction is towards building strong brands of their own, and the most commercially successful ventures include Nicolas Feuillatte, Jacquart and Devaux. But there are many eager quality-concious cooperatives on the rise: the champagnes of say Palmer & Co, De Saint Gall and Collet represent excellent value for money. 54 Overall placement Cooperative champagnes Top 10 1 (15) Palmer & Co Amazone de Palmer NV 2 (16) Montaudon Millésime 2011 3 (17) De Castelnau Brut Millésime 2006 4 (33) Palmer & Co Extra Réserve NV 5 (35) Palmer & Co Brut Réserve NV 6 (39) Paul Goerg Vintage 2007 7 (46) De Castelnau Brut NV 8 (52) De Saint Gall Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV 9 (56) Montaudon Brut NV 10 (59) Collet Brut Millésime 2008
TOP 10 As a counterforce to the champagne houses, a number of smaller grower-producers are making and selling their own products. From an international perspective, growerproducers’ champagnes appear to be a secret closely guarded by the French, judging by the fact that only 12 per cent of these wines are exported. Compared to the champagne houses, the growerproducers’ philosophy when it comes to winemaking is very different. Their wines are made from their own grapes, often grown in a small area, making the extensive blending practised by the champagne houses impossible. Grower champagnes typically represent the taste profile of the wines from a particular vineyard, village or sub-region in the area. It goes without saying that not all grower champagnes are excellent – nor are all champagnes from champagne houses – but in recent years with the new generation of growers taking over the reins, a positive trend has emerged with regards to top-quality grower champagnes. Names like Jacques Selosse have paved the way to fame for other grower-producers. Many of the up-and-coming grower-producers have adapted a very natural approach to champagne-making, working intensely in their vineyards in order to maximise the quality of their products. Organic or biodynamic production is not unheard of, even if most growers practice viticulture according to the sustainable principles of lutté raisonnée. Grower-producers concentrate largely on producing terroir wines, i.e. denoting the special characteristics that the habitat has bestowed upon the champagne, often by sticking to natural yeasts and minimising the sulphur dioxide content and the sweetening dosage. The grower community in the Champagne area is undergoing constant changes, and there are still a number of ‘undiscovered’ quality growers in the region. Wine connoisseurs visiting with their eyes open will have a great opportunity to make interesting acquaintances. However, due to the restricted resources of the grower-producers and the lack of a worldwide distribution network, only a small share of the growers sent their champagnes to this tasting. Overall placement Grower champagnes Top 10 1 (19) Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Coulments 2012 2 (23) José Michel Spécial Club 2012 3 (51) Forget-Chemin Marie Forget Premier Cru NV 4 (55) H. Billiot & Fils Millésime 2012 5 (63) Launois Père & Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand cru NV 6 (66) Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ NV 7 (67) Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Cramant Grand Cru 2012 8 (79) Xavier Loriot Hypnotic Brut NV 9 (80) A. Robert Brut NV 10 (81) Pierre Gimonnet Spécial Club Millésime de Collection 2008 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Grower champagnes 55
Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 – A Magnetic Elan Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s The BEST Champagne for 2019 57 It seems that Dom Pérignon’s cellar masters Richard Geoffroy and Vincent Chaperon have discovered a crystal ball as they and their winemaking team have accomplished to produce five consecutive vintages both Dom Pérignon blanc and rosé in a row. It is unheard in the history of Dom Pérignon or any other prestige champagne. The true reason for this accomplishment relies on a vision that the team has had over decades. This vision is recreating Dom Pérignon year in year out. Without exploring and pushing the limits in every aspect in both viticulture and vinification, this could have never occurred. The winemaking team of Dom Pérignon exploited the experience of the challenging growing seasons of 2003 and 2005 and were able to create this complex and intense rosé with charming layeres and depth. The season was a roller coaster ride with very hot and dry summer, cold and moist August, and ending luckily with dry and warm September which lasted for four weeks and made the vintage. The grapes were riper than on average, but not at the level of 2003 or 2005. The 2006 Dom Pérignon Rosé stood out as the winner in 100 Best Champagnes because of its equilibrium of opulence and firmness. Extremely sophisticated vibrant champagne with satiny texture. The blend had 56% Pinot Noir and 44% Chardonnay. The rosé colour derives from 20–24% of red wine that was made of Pinot Noir from Hautvillers, Aÿ and Bouzy. The dosage is 6 g/l. The Cellar Master Vincent Chaperon describes the champagne followingly: ”Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2006 takes us by the hand with an elan that becomes magnetic.”
The Best Champagnes 2010-2017 The Best Champagne for 2017 MCIII – more than a Champagne 58 Moët & Chandon's new super-premium champagne MCIII 001.14 was the clear winner of the FINE Champagne magazine's The Best Champagne for 2017 title. It was distinguished by its abundant, multi-layered and wine-like character among hundreds of champagnes. Although MCIII was only launched to the markets in 2016, the project emerged already in 1999 with the vision of Moët & Chandon's chef de cave Dominique Foulon. At that time Moët & Chandon had decided to set Dom Pérignon brand apart from Moët & Chandon, and Dominique Foulon had an opportunity to create a new luxury champagne in Moët & Chandon’s portfolio. His vision was to create a prestigious champagne that combines the centuries’ long blending skills in Moët & Chandon and represents a new icon wine from Champagne. Foulon's project saw daylight publicly in 2016 when Moët & Chandon launched the new super-premium champagne. MCIII was named as the champagne icon for the third millennium thanks to its unique blending concept. The concept was unprecedented. Foulon had made a blend of seven different vintage wines that had been vinified and matured differently. What made the blend so unique was that Foulon had used both still wines (vin clairs) as well as champagnes in the blend. The champagnes were unique library champagnes. This multi-dimensional blending concept has given MCIII its extraordinary complexity. It also gave the name to this champagne. The Roman numerals appearing in the name with Moët & Chandon's initials, symbolize the three dimensions of the champagne. The first dimension is the hot and rich 2003 vintage blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that had been vinified in stainless steel. This wine forms 40% of the cuvée and gives MCIII its intense fruitiness and structure. The second dimension derives from the blend of great reserve wines from vintages 2002, 2000 and 1998 which have been aged few months in the large oak barrels. These wines add subtle sweetness and elegance with a creamy texture into the cuvée. The third dimension derives from Moët & Chandon's Grand Vintage Collection champagnes from vintages 1999, 1998, and 1993, which adds the ultimate complexity and finesse in the cuvée. The first MCIII blend was made and bottled in 2004. After bottling, the blend went through the bottle fermentation and rested on lees in Moët & Chandon cellars for ten years. In 2014, the bottles were disgorged and launched finally to the markets in 2016. The first launched release was marked MCIII 001.14. The number code reveals the batch number and the disgorgement vintage. Moët & Chandon’s current chef de cave Benoît Gouez tells about the plan to release four different MCIII blends in every 3 or 4 years. This debut release was made only 20.000 normal size bottles and 1.500 magnums. MCIII 001.14 has a golden colour with refined small bubbles. The aromas are intruiging. The nose delivers wonderful flavours of complexity and maturity. It shows preserved citrus fruits, fresh apples and pears, ripe apricots and charming toastiness with coffee and hazelnuts. The palate is dry, rich and layered. The seven grams per liter dosage enhances the soft texture sensation with gentle bubbles and lovely toasty nuances. The evolved nutty finish is balanced with energetic fresh fruitiness. An epic, vinous champagne that reminds of a white grand cru Burgundy.
Grand Siècle – A Multivintaged Winner Full of Dimensions In the year 1812, the Laurent family traded from being coopers in the Montagne de Reims to making Champagne in Tours-surMarne. Decades later their son Eugène Laurent married Mathilde Émile Perrier, who found herself widowed young in 1887. She run the business successfully but had no children and her eventual death brought the house to Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, sister of Victor and Henri Lanson. There was no room for Marie-Louise at the Lanson family enterprise, so she took the courageous step of buying a champagne business in 1938 despite raising four children alone after her husband’s death. The business survived the Second World War in her leadership, after which Bernard de Nonancourt, Marie-Louise’s second son, took up running the business and built it up to be one of the biggest and best-known Champagne Houses. A great Champagne figurehead and believer in the region’s terroir and style of wine, Bernard de Nonancourt made LaurentPerrier to be what it is today. He visioned its style to be one of freshness and elegance and created its celebrated prestige cuvée Grand Siècle, which at the time of its launch in 1959 was one of the first luxury cuvées and the very first multi-vintaged one. Stylistically Grand Siècle is a skilfully crafted melange of vivacity, generosity and age-derived complexity. Until 2019, LaurentPerrier chose not to communicate the three vintages used for each multi-vintage wine, but each cuvée is naturally unique. A harmonious blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from three fine years, our panel was charmed by the current 2002, 1999 and 1997 blend’s ample yeast-layered complexity, lovely gunpowdery coolness and toasty exuberance. Led by the majestic 2002 vintage, the characterful blend is complemented by the mellow and rich 1999 and finely detailed 1997. Instantly impressive, but built to last, we toast to our Best Champagne for 2016. Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s The Best Champagne for 2016 59
The Best Champagnes 2010-2017 The Best Champagne for 2015 Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002 – "Blanc de Blancs Rosé" 60 I am sitting in the stylish meeting room at Champagne Ruinart congratulating the house’s chef de cave Frédéric Panaïotis for winning FINE Champagne’s Best Champagne in 2015 title with its Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002. Thrilled of course but the congenial Panaïotis is not taking much credit for it. ‘In fact, it was Bertrand Mure who was the true visionary of the house style’. He is referring to the cousin of Gérard Ruinart, who came to the resque of Champagne Ruinart in the 1940s in the aftermath of the stock exchange crash, the oil crisis and the Second World War. ‘When Mure came to the house, he had to start with nothing. There were only 20 hectares of vineyards and the Germans had taken the entire champagne stock’, remembers Panaïoits. ‘He crafted our pleasurable and inviting style, and it was already in his era that we started using high proportions of Chardonnay, which is our hallmark today.’ ‘We are actually sitting in Bertrand Mure’s old office right now’ Panaïotis surprises me, and suddenly I look at the room differently. ‘Mure had a long career at Ruinart and he was here even when I started in 2007. He came to the office as if it was his house even if it was long past his retirement! He sadly passed away in 2010’, Panaïotis remembers. Both of Ruinart’s celebrated prestige cuvées, Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé, were also Mure’s creations. First came Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs from the 1959 vintage. Taittinger had already made a blanc de blancs prestige cuvée, so Ruinart went about it with a different recipy, one that involved significant amounts of Montagne de Reims grand cru Chardonnay from Sillery, Puisieulx, Verzy, Verzenay and Mailly in addition to the classic Côte des Blancs components. The Ruinart family had historically owned vineyards in the Montagne de Reims and, in addition to paying tribute to this historical link, the enchanced structure and vinosity of Chardonnay from these villages was what Mure was after. For him, Dom Ruinart was to have a Burgundian tone to it, a stylish melange of minerality, power and texture. ‘I love the reductive style in both white burgundy and champagne’, states Panaïotis. And how convenient is it that he is in charge of a house that is famous for its pure, precise, reductive style? Frédéric Panaïotis was actually earmarked as the next chef de cave of Veuve Clicquot, but his predecessor’s sudden passing changed the game plan and moved him from Clicquot to Ruinart. ‘A house of this size and quality level suits me perfectly’ confesses the perfectionist Panaïotis. Even if none of Panaïotis’ own Dom Ruinart have yet hit the markets we can enjoy the fruits of his labour in the non-vintage cuvées. Increased precision is surely one achievement for this house that has been working intensely for perfecting the aromatic maturity of their Chardonnay grapes and on methods to minimize the lactic aromas of the malolactic fermentation in the champagnes. Since 2010 Ruinart has also started to close its Dom Ruinarts for second fermentation with natural cork, which is according to current knowledge the best closure for long term tirage. Chardonnay is hugely important for Ruinart but so it is also for Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, who are part of the same pool of sourcing. Who gets to choose first? ‘Sure, there is a fight for premium Chardonnay, but luckily the house styles and cuvées are built so that each of us has a distinct style we are after. It makes it easier’, explains Panaïotis. Triumphant blanc de blancs rosé But this time, it was not the blanc de blancs that won FINE Champagne’s ultimate title but its rosé version, Dom Ruinart Rosé, first made in 1966 vintage. ‘If any of you have some of the inaugural vintage lying in your cellars, please call me!’, urges Panaïotis, who is eager to get his hands on these rarer than rare bottles that have long been extinct at the house’s cellars. November 2013 brought about a very exiting news for Ruinart, whose archivists discovered proof of shipping ‘oeil de perdrix’ rosé already back in 1764. Thus, not only is Ruinart the oldest champagne house, it is now the first known shipper of rosé in Champagne. ‘And conveniently it summed up to exactly 250 years of Ruinart rosé in 2014, but we only had a couple of months after the discovery to plan it all!’ remembers Panaïotis. Even if Ruinart no longer makes an oeil de perdrix rosé, its Dom Ruinart is a unique piece within the world of champagne rosés. ‘It is a blanc de blancs rosé’, trifles Panaïotis referring to its Dom Ruinart core of 100% Chardonnay, which is completed by addition of some 15 per cent of Montagne de Reims red Pinot Noir. It is surprising how well this unexpected blend works. The Chardonnay soul is still sensible on the wines linear, mineral palate but the nose is one of beautiful Burgundy Pinot Noir, even much more than the presentage added would suggest. Due to the long maceration, the red grapes give a lot of character to the wine and a unique personality of its own. The 2002 white Dom Ruinart is gorgeous in its coffee-toned smoky-mineral and opulently fruity character but this top year’s rosé charmed us even further by its beautiful complexity of struck-match, spice and Burgundian Pinot tones and the firm and vivaceous palate of great class and future potential. Impressive already, but I can’t wait to see all the layers it will develop over time. It should be in full bloom for the house’s 300th anniversary in 2029. Hopefully Frédéric Panaïotis will be there to share a bottle with me then.
The Best Champagne for 2014 ”I consider myself as ‘grower de luxe’, as at Roederer we are in the unique position to combine the best of both worlds. On one hand I am a grower, looking after the terroir in our exceptional vineyards. But I am also a negociant who follows the philosophy of blending with an aesthetical vision of what a Roederer wine is”, Vineyard Manager and Cellar Master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon of Roederer begins. Cristal is born in the vineyards. Roederer owns over two hundred hectares of vineyards which cater for two-thirds of their grape needs. According to Lécaillon the majority of recent developments at Roederer have been in vineyard operations. To him intensity in the wine comes straight from the vineyards, resulting in Roederer limiting the crop heavily and focusing on mature vines. As a result, the grapes from their own vineyards produce juice with one percent higher potential alcohol. Most importantly, there’s less tart malic acid in their own grapes. Roederer strives for the highest possible acidity, but it is essential that it is accompanied by a fully ripe fruitiness. The house belongs to the five-percent minority of Champagne producers who do not use malolactic fermentation to soften wine acidity. But they go so much further with the Cristal Rosé. Roederer is the first major Champagne House that has gone into biodynamic viticulture. They currently have 115 hectares converted or in conversion to biodynamic cultivation. Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon does not declare himself as biodynamicist but rather ‘a curious person’. He said: ‘This is my personal fascination. Back in 2000, the team believed this would not be possible. Now we can say it is possible, but very difficult. We are all thrilled of this success that opens new horizons for our viticulture and in the end, for the quality of our wines.” Approximately 30 percent of Cristal Rosé’s base comes from the biodynamic Pinot Noir plot in Aÿ. The 70 percent share of extremely ripe Pinot Noir grapes gives the wine its delicate hue. The berries are not crushed, only destemmed and then let to macerate at cool temperature for 5–6 days. When the fermentation begins, the juice is racked off the skins after 2–3 days. Then some 30 percent Chardonnay from Mesnil and Avize is added to this already very pale red wine. A minor amount of red wine is used to fine-tune the colour. The colour of the rosé does not necessarily give any clue to the taste. Cristal Rosé is nearly as pale as its white version. Yet again, the wine is chewy, muscular and extremely vinous and Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2002 – A Perfect Cut well-built. To Lécaillon it is all about playing with the tannin presence for the structure but without letting it take over the finesse. Fermentation for Cristal wines is carried out 80 percent in stainless steel and 20 percent in large, old oak casks that help to enhance the wine’s structure and complexity. Another Cristal secret is the lees contact encouraged in the vats. After some 5 to 7 years en tirage, the wine is disgorged replacing the lost volume with 8–10-year-old superior Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reserve wines. Dosage is customarily in the 8–11g/l range, varying slightly vintage to vintage. After recorking, the wine is left to rest for six more months in the cellar. Sweet Cristal was first crafted for the Tsar Alexander II of Russia in the late 19th century. However, the Russian revolution crashed the market and no Cristal was produced between 1917 and 1927. In 1928 a small batch – using the current packaging – was produced under a licensed trademark, but the product was not a luxury blend. It was intended more for personal consumption than as a prestige wine. After this, Madame Olry-Roederer began the ambitious development of the house’s flagship champagne. Cristal Rosé was added to the portfolio in 1974. Today, 6,000– 8,000 precious bottles are made on the finest years. Cristal is divinely elegant and restrained, with an astonishingly ripe fruitiness. At the same time it is backed up by an unmatchable acidic backbone. It is the most consistent and long-lived of all champagne prestige cuvées earning it the place on the top of my list. The rosé is more approachable young whereas the white version craves time. The charm of the Cristal Rosé has lot to do with the contrast of the pale colour to such a muscular and vinous texture. 61
The Best Champagnes 2010-2017 The Best Champagne for 2013 Charles Heidsieck Millésimé Brut 2000 – A Serial Winner 62 A podium position is nothing new to Charles Heidsieck, which has been the number one ranked Champagne brand in major international wine competitions throughout the last decade. But in this year’s FINE Champagne TOP 100 ‘Charlie’ hit the jackpot with its three cuvées – Millésimé 2000, Brut Réserve NV and Rosé Millesimé 1999 – making it into our top four. It is the richness of the Charles Heidsieck style, the wines’ aged, sweet opulence that charms in blind tastings, but it seduces in open tastings, too. With a track record of excellent cellar masters, the founding blocks of Charles Heidsieck’s top form of today were laid by the late Daniel Thibault, who was snatched from Henriot to Charles Heidsieck when Rémy Martin acquired the house in 1985. Rémy Martin supported Thibault’s vision of creating what was targeted to become the best non-vintage on the market. Thibault started collecting an enormous stock of reserve wines, aiming ideally for 40 per cent of reserve wines in the blend. Also, the wines held back for future blends were to be much older than the usual 1–2 years, averaging 4–5 years and including some 12-year-old wines. It is these reserve wines that allow Charles Heidsieck to craft their non-vintage cuvée into a rich, seductively toasty, honeyed wine of great depth. Its toasty nature fools many into thinking there is oak involved in the manufacture. But the wines see only stainless steel vats and are kept for an extended amount of time in the vessels on the lees, which brings the richness of flavour and texture to them. Piper Heidsieck became a part of the group in 1990, and since then a merging of the two houses has taken place. The company is now P&C Heidsieck, with all vinification taking place under the same roof at the new, ultra-modern winery. After Daniel Thibault passed away unexpectedly in 2002, the winemaking responsibility was given to Régis Camus, who had worked together with Thibault for years. If anything, the quality has only increased during Camus’ time, winning him numerous titles as the Sparkling Wine Maker of the Year. In 2012, Thierry Roset, who had been working with the two previous cellar masters for 23 years, was promoted to look after Charlie as the cellar master, while Régis Camus still oversees the winemaking of both Piper and Charles Heidsieck as the cellar master of PiperHeidsieck. Although Charles Heidsieck is the higher ranked of the two, Piper was the obvious choice for Régis, to whom Charles was always Daniel’s baby and Piper his. Unfortunately Thierry Roset passed away and Cyril Brut was selected as his successor in 2015. Simultaneously with the cellar master change from Camus to Roset, the Charles Heidsiecks were dressed in new bottles and labels with some alterations in the wine, too. The assemblage remains as the classic equal blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The blend was reduced from 120 villages to a still outstanding but selected assembly of 60. The blending is followed by a highly respectable eight-to-ten years of ageing on the lees. Even though the non-vintage Brut Réserve is a real masterpiece, the entire range is superb. Our winner this year, Charles Heidsieck Vintage, gets an even longer lees ageing time, extending to over ten years. We have been enjoying the vintage 2000 for years already, with the wine showing divine quality year after year with no signs of tiring. The third superb Heidsieck this year was the Rosé 1999, which, in accordance with the house style, is particularly rich, toasty and gastronomic. But, as Charles Heidsieck has learned, there’s a long way from winning competitions to the shopping baskets of champagne drinkers. P&C Heidsieck's new owners since 2011, EPI, and the team of Charles Heidsieck need to keep working hard to bring the brand into the limelight for consumers, a position deserved due to both the quality and pricing of their cuvées.
The Best Champagne for 2012 Consistently great but from time to time simply divine, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne has consecutively been an apt contender for the title of the best champagne on the market. All recent vintages have been successful; the intense 1996 being one of the finest of the vintage, the 1998 possessing classic Comtes elegance and the 1999 demonstrating a more softer side of Comtes. But in 2000 Taittinger and its reputed cellar master Loïc Dupont hit jackpot. This warm, overt vintage produced many heavy and overly ripe champagnes, but in Comtes the richness given by the year is bound to a velvet-smooth texture and a fine, fresh acidity that creates an exiting tension one wishes to marvel time and again. Comtes de Champagne possesses a flawless track record all the way down to its inaugural vintage, 1952. It is reputed to be the first prestige cuvée blanc de blancs, if one does not count the then small mono-cru blanc de blancs Salon. Today it rivals for the title of the best blanc de blancs quite level-headedly with Dom Ruinart, Salon and Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires. Why blanc de blancs then? It was already Pierre Taittinger who believed in Chardonnay. Following his instinct, he created the light and elegant Chardonnay-dominant floral and perfumed style as Taittinger’s trademark. Consistent with this vision, the house’s prestige cuvée was to be a 100 percent Chardonnay whose emphasis is on Avize and Mesnil fruit. The wine is produced in a reductionist style in stainless steel vats but since the 1989 vintage a fraction of the wine has been aged in fairly new oak barrels for four months. This gives a boost to the wine’s creamy texture and enhances its hallmark toasty qualities. After bottling the wines are transported to the ancient GalloRoman chalk cellars of Saint-Niçaise to ferment and mature. The St-Niçaise abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution and much later the Taittingers bought the ruins and built their cellars into these monumental historical surroundings. Today, the underground cellar network at St-Niçaise is used entirely for maturing Comtes de Champagne. The rest of production takes place at the modern winery facilities at Rue de la Justice. Great champagnes are traditionally named after people. Taittinger makes no exception having chosen to honour the region by naming their prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne – Counts of Champagne. The origins of the Counts of Champagne lie in the 7th century feudal society. Originally, before the 11th century, the Counts of Troyes had had the ruling but during the time of Thibault II the power shifted to the Champagne County Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2000 – Claims the Crown 63 whose Count had his residence in Reims. Thibault II was a mighty man ranking only second to the king. However, it was especially during the times of Thibault IV Champagne flourished. He arranged famous 49-day festivities that brought prosperity to the region. The story of the Champagne Counts came to an end finally when the crown and the Champagne County were unites as Louis X rose to power. Taittinger, still owning the historical Comtes de Champagne residence today, named their prestige cuvée to honour this history. Complex story but complex is the wine, too. The champagne’s smooth, layered character develops over 10 years’ ageing period in the cellars. This, the wine’s attractive 10 g/l dosage and sufficient post-disgorgement rest make Comtes de Champagne such an attractive champagne already upon release. We toast to congratulate Taittinger. This house that has recently returned back to family hands, has quickly built a strong spirit with Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger at the helm supported by both of his children Clovis and Vitalie. Perhaps it was the family spirit that made Comtes de Champagne 2000 and Vintage 2004, which took a fabulous second ranking, go the extra mile.
The Best Champagnes 2010-2017 The Best Champagne for 2012 Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 – A Rare Surprise 64 This time the title of the World’s Best Champagne is awarded to the Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002. Perhaps in anticipation of its future success, the label of the bottle is a golden crown. The PiperHeidsieck Rare 2002 was unanimously voted as the best in view of all of its qualities, and was the number one wine of both the final and semi-final blind tastings. Piper-Heidsieck is known as a highly communicative, marketing-oriented champagne that caters to the tastes of the Hollywood élite. Its most renowned champion, Marilyn Monroe, famously claimed to start all her mornings with Piper. Champagne designs from acclaimed artists have always been a part of the Piper selection. The legendary goldsmith Carl Fabergé designed a bottle decorated with diamonds, gold and lapis lazuli to celebrate the house’s 100th anniversary as far back as 1885. Since then, Piper bottles have been clad for instance by Van Cleef & Arpels, JeanPaul Gaultier and Victor & Rolf. In 2009, Piper-Heidsieck rekindled the decadent Russian-Parisian ritual of drinking champagne from a shoe – this time from a crystal stiletto designed by Christian Louboutin. Such marketing tricks often reveal deficiencies in the quality of the wine, but that is certainly not true of Piper. At least not anymore, as the quality has consistently increased since Rémy Martin (now Rémy Cointreau) bought the house in 1990. Today, Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck are one company, but to distinguish between the two houses’ brands, they each have their own styles and marketing approaches. They are like a pair of brothers; the serious, mature, and charming gentleman Charles Heidsieck, and the silly, boyish and lively party animal Piper-Heidsieck. These differences are maintained even in the houses’ basic selections, for which Piper selects open, fruity and light champagnes. The Piper style charms the most inexperienced of champagne lovers but will not bore even a seasoned palate. Despite its easily approachable style, Piper has a depth that develops during ageing. The Heidsieck name is undeniably confusing, as Champagne also contains a third representative: Heidsieck Co. & Monopole. All three houses stem from Florens-Louis Heidsieck. When he died, his nephew Christian Heidsieck took over the firm established in 1785, while another nephew, Henri-Louis Walbaum, started up Walbaum, Heidsieck & Co. in 1834. The son of Florens-Louis’s third nephew, Charles-Camille, went on to establish Charles Heidsieck. When Christian Heidsieck’s widow married HenriGuillaume Piper in 1937, the estate was renamed Piper & Co, although it still sold champagne under the Heidsieck name. The name Piper-Heidsieck was settled on in 1845. Although the Rare champagne was first produced in 1976, it has never found a place as a luxury champagne for the masses. It has not even been produced very often, as the only prior vintages are 1979, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1997 (Le Secret), 1998 and 1999. The champagne changed course around the turn of the millennium, as for a few years it became the non-vintage blend Cuvée Rare. Even though the Cuvée Rare was charming, it is significantly easier to market luxury vintage champagnes, and their ageing process is more practical to follow. Having spent a while in a dark suit, the Rare is again clothed in a very chic golden bottle. We hope that the gala dress, the top vintage of 2002 and its success in FINE Champagne Magazine’s Best Champagne for 2011 will bring the Rare Millésime to the lips of more and more champagne lovers.
The Best Champagne for 2010 Fi n e 1 0 0 B e s t C h a m pa g n e s Armand de Brignac Brut Gold – A Touch of Midas The first ever ’The 100 Best Champagnes” ranking resulted in a surprise winner. The winning champagne was a novelty known by selected few, Armand de Brignac Brut Gold. This flashy golden bottle with an eye-catching Ace of Spades emblem was announced winner just ahead of G.H. Mumm Cuvée René Lalou 1998. This ”bling-bling” champagne appeared in public for first time on rap artist Jay-Z’s music video ”Show Me What You Got” in 2006. It initially was a well-kept secret by its creator, Champagne Cattier, but today it is a champagne of great international following and fame. The Cattier family has some 20 hectares of vineyards. The family has owned the estate since 1793, though it is only since 1918 that they have produced and marketed champagne under their family name. Patriarch Jean-Jacques Cattier oversees the house’s limited wine production alongside his son and chief oenologist, Alexandre Cattier. Father and son wanted to create a high-quality prestige cuvée, produced using the most traditional methods. Their idea was to create a multi-vintage blend, with each bottling comprising three distinct vintages from exceptional years. They wanted to pay tribute to the emblematic villages of Champagne, which are known for the high quality of their grapes that are all rated Premier Cru and Grand Cru and located in Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne. The Cattiers use only a very small fraction of the first pressing of these grapes. Three distinct vintages are used for each bottling of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold. The dosage is further enhanced by ageing it in one-year old Burgundy barrels for nine months, in order to impart a touch of soul to the champagne. MOTHER AND CHILD The ‘de Brignac’ name was registered by the Cattier family in the early 1950s. It was chosen by Jean-Jacques Cattier’s mother, who had been reading a novel featuring a character of the same name. "In 1950, my mother had an idea to create another brand and, by that time, she had already decided to one day do something different to what we were doing at Champagne Cattier. She did not know then exactly what, but she really liked the character in the novel and used his name to create something new. Around twenty years ago, we thought that it was time to re-launch this initial project my mother and pay tribute to her. Unfortunately, 65 she passed away before Armand de Brignac was released. The concept of Armand de Brignac was originally very simple – we just tried to make the best possible champagne with the best possible presentation,” explains Jean-Jacques Cattier. In November 2014 Armand de Brignac brand was acquired by Shawn Carter, aka Jay Z. The Cattier family oversees the production of the brand. The debut blend of Blanc de Noirs was ranked as the best blanc de noirs champagne in The Best Champagnes for 2016.<
68 The Man with an Ace Up His Sleeve – Sebastien Besson, CEO of Armand de Brignac Text: Juha Lihtonen Photos: Armand de Brignac The flashy Ace champagne, better known as Armand de Brignac, is nowadays one of the most prestigious luxury champagne brand in the world. It made its first appearance in 2006 when it was launched in Jay-Z’s ‘Show Me What You Got’ music video. After the launch it became quickly favored by famous actors and music artists from Leonardo DiCaprio to Rihanna and Drake and Super Bowl to Stanley Cup winners. Despite its fame among celebrities, the brand did not gain interest among the wine professionals until FINE Champagne Magazine recognized Armand de Brignac Brut Gold as The Best Champagne of the Year in 2009. The success was followed in 2016 by Armand de Brignac’s debutant cuvée, Blanc de Noirs Platinum, which was ranked as the best Blanc de Noirs champagne of the year by FINE Champagne Magazine. More aces were pulled up in 2018 when Armand de Brignac Demi-Sec was assessed as the best sweet champagne in BWW – The Best Wines of The World 2018 competition. We met the man with aces up his sleeve Sebastien Besson, CEO of Armand de Brignac, and asked the secret of his poker hand.
Armand de Brignac is one of the most exciting prestige cuvées in the world right now and we are glad that its exceptional quality is continuing to be recognized by wine connoisseurs. The demand for our champagnes in all markets is far exceeding the growth rate of the overall prestige champagne category, and we are continuing to push the paradigm with new presentation rituals that deliver a luxury consumer experience unlike any other, such as releasing new expressions of our Demi-Sec, Blanc de Noirs and Blanc de Blancs in magnum formats. What is it in the brand and its champagnes that make it so unique? The ability to be true to the strong foundations and traditions of champagne making, while at the same time, tipping some of the stale category conventions. Our bottles are unapologetically bold. It conveys a personality that runs deep for Armand de Brignac – we do things our way. This attitude powerfully connects for our consumers around the world, who are risk-takers themselves and always on their own quest for excellence. What is the message that you want to deliver to consumers through your champagnes? Enjoy life, drink the best, share it with others, do things your own way and be proud of your achievements. What was it in the brand that attracted Shawn Carter’s interest in the first place? What made him to become a brand owner? Why Armand de Brignac is not a vintage champagne? Shawn ‘JAY-Z’ Carter was introduced to Armand de Brignac during its initial release, and it became his champagne of choice. It was unlike anything on the market. The family of highly skilled winemakers, with almost 400 years in champagne, producing the best champagnes they have ever made, combined with the powerful brand identity and packaging, were all compelling reasons to acquire the brand. Since Mr. Carter became the owner in 2014, we have carefully executed a strategy driven by his precise brand vision. His clear guidance to our 13th generation family wine growers, is to continue to create the very best champagnes possible. This is a wonderful mission for any winemaker, the freedom to create, push and always achieve more and more. The Armand de Brignac style is a trio of vintages – always three unique harvests that provide more layers and character than a singular vintage expression, and more personality and identity than a non-vintage blend. Our trio of vintages approach was initially introduced by Jean-Jacques Cattier’s father back in the 1950s, on another very high-quality champagne he produced from a family-owned vineyard Clos du Moulin. When Jean-Jacques envisioned this new tête de cuvée project, he wanted to bring this family signature to the prestige champagnes of Armand de Brignac. The mastery required for this approach is intense, as the individuality of each harvest cannot be hidden or blended away across multiple years and the perfect balance must be found in the selection of three harvests that are remarkable when assembled together. Do you have plans to expand the Armand de Brignac selection still from the current five cuvees? Where do you want Armand de Brignac brand to be positioned in consumers’ mind? You never know what the future may hold! The Armand de Brignac teams are always playing with new ideas and there are a few potential gems in the cellars. Only time will tell if any of these will be exceptional enough for us to release, and we have patience to wait for only the very best. As the champagne you choose for the moments of ultimate success and achievement. If Armand de Brignac brand was a car brand, what would it be? It would be a very balanced assemblage of the elegance of Hispano-Suiza, the quality and details of a Rolls-Royce Phantom and the beauty and power of a Vintage Bentley.< Fi n e R e n d e z - Vo u s What does Armand de Brignac as a brand present to you? 69
COME AND DISCOVER « There’s always a story behind each dish, of the men and women, farmers, fishermen, market-gardeners, or winegrowers — people who share the same passion as I: the passion for products of outstanding quality. Finely seasoned, beautifully cooked, and with a subtle harmony of flavours — that’s the way to respect these products and pay tribute to them. To me, this is what fine cuisine is all about.» - Arnaud Lallement 40, AVENUE PAUL VAILLANT-COUTURIER 51430 TINQUEUX firstname.lastname@example.org +33 (0) 326 84 64 64 ASSIETTECHAMPENOISE.COM
CHAMPAGNE HIKING by Richard Juhlin Text: Juha Lihtonen & Richard Juhlin Photos: Pål Allan & friends The world is full of winebooks that take us to fascinating birth places of fine wines. The well-esteemed champagne specialist and author of various champagne books – Richard Juhlin – decided to do something 72 different. Instead of guiding the readers to Champagne region, he offers a chance to travel with him to hundred exotique places around the globe with champagnes in his new book Champagne Hiking.
Champagne Hiking is easy, he says and arguments it in his prologue of the book followingly: Take your bottle, and drink it outdoors. Yes, it is this simple, but there is also a myriad of details that have to work together to create maximum enjoyment. You see, all of your senses play their part. Of late, there is an increased understanding that all of our senses contribute when we experience pleasure. Factors such as location, company, and mood will affect the overall experience. When attending a play or a concert, this has long been a matter of course, but within the world of gastronomy this is a fairly recent realisation. This revolutionary idea is championed by fantastic food creators such as Heston Blumenthal, at “The Fat Duck”. As the guests take the first bite of a wonderful seafood dish, they might be offered sounds of waves hitting the shore, seagulls shrieking, and a light mist smelling of the sea. If he could, he would move you to the beach where the oysters were collected. While physical transportation is impossible, the divine champagne in the cooler bag will momentarily move your being to the optimal location, one bottle at the time. A hundred years ago, a bottle of champagne would fetch the price of a year’s salary for the ordinary worker. Today, a cleaner can pick up a weekend bottle of Laurent-Perrier for the equivalent of half a day’s work. Champagne has been democratised, and interest in the world’s most spectacular wine is growing dramatically. The same is true about travel. Difficult to believe as it may be, 70–80 years ago most of the people in the world never travelled abroad. Only the richest and most privileged could afford to spend their holidays in a foreign country. And even for this western elite, Asia, Africa, and South America were only fantasy worlds they read about in Tintin or The Jungle Book. Air traffic has revolutionised our travels to such a degree, that our neighbour may very well be on vacation in Mongolia, Suriname, or Delap Uliga Darrit. It is almost disheartening to realise that there are hardly any locations on our planet that we can’t visit. The fact is that any destination is only two days away from the nearest airport. Our understanding of nature and wonders of the world created by human kind increases every time our neighbours tell us gripping stories, or when media shower us in delicious images from the most spectacular corners of the Earth. An unfortunate downside of this easy access to the world is that some of the most desirable locations have been run over by tourists in such quantities that the magic is lost. For this reason, I have tried to avoid the worst tourist traps on my champagne-fuelled dream journey around the globe and instead searched for locations that can facilitate champagne contemplation in the most true sense of the word. The book will in an unexpected way show you that travels and champagne is a difficult combination to beat. The journey can be half across the world or a short walk into the back garden. The prestigious looking coffee table book is exciting artwork with beautiful photos in exotic places by Pål Allan supported by Juhlin’s diary-based narrative. However, this book is not only a piece of artwork, but an initiative of Juhlin’s innovative, interactive ’Champagne Hiking’ concept. The concept is simple. Read the book and plan your next trip to one of its glorious sites with a bottle of suggested champagne. Take the Champagne Hiking notebook with you for making notes and download the Champagne Hiking app. In the app you can share and update your experiences of the champagne to Juhlin’s champagne hiking community. To get you on champagne hiking mood, we picked ten places from the book and introduce them in the following pages. For more information: www.champagneclub.com email@example.com Fi n e B o o k S o, what is Champagne Hiking? Juhlin sums it up in one sentence: “The environment impacts the wine experience”, and continues: ”My hunt for new champagne experiences has brought me to the most beautiful and exciting places. My favourite memories are linked to the moments when I enjoyed well selected champagnes in harmony with the beauty of nature. For a long time I have been analyzing why a certain champagne tastes best at a particular time in a particular place. Travelling to optimize champagne experiences is the starting point for this book. I have called this concept CHAMPAGNE HIKING.” 73
74 " The majestic champagne attacked our senses like the initial movement with wind instruments in Sibelius’ masterpiece, Finlandia." HAIKKO MANOR, Finland Champagne: Krug Vintage Time: Any sunny day, May to August. F inland might not be the first country that springs to mind where wine is concerned, but then you haven’t heard of Pekka Nuikki. He has probably put together more monumental wine tastings than any other person on Earth. This jack-ofall-trades has a tremendous well of wines to choose from, and few have tasted, photographed and written about as many old noble wines as Pekka. The themes range from the 100 best wines from 1961 to the 100 most famous wines of the twentieth century. For this occasion, he gathered people from India, China, Brazil, Australia, Japan, the USA and all corners of Europe, to review the principal champagnes of the 90s. A boat trip in the beautiful archipelago outside Helsinki opened the first day, after which we arrived at Pekka’s domains where we were treated to a live performance of world-class classical music and a Cristal Jeroboam before we covered a hundred old red French gems. Then off to the Haikko Manor just outside of Porvoo, a Finnish-Swedish city where a small part of my family have roots. Haikko was every bit as quiet and magnificent as my parents in law told me, from their wedding days, and it is not without reason that the President of Finland receives the most prominent foreign guests here. The building is reminiscent of the White House in Washington but comes with a much more beautiful natural garden than its American counterpart. The history of the mansion traces back to the 14th century, but over the years the buildings have burned down, and this grand creation hails from 1965. My first wife is Finnish, so I have spent many summers in this beautiful and melancholy country and can certify that the air, lakes and glades are made for Champagne Hiking during the summer months. That said, it is sometimes difficult to find good restaurants and luxurious accommodation. This is why I appreciate the Haikko Manor. The kitchen utilises the very best Finnish produce, transforming them into modern art with classic roots. The unobtrusive service staff respect the visitor’s integrity and blend perfectly with the natural work of art that a stay here constitutes. Before we took on the best champagnes of the 90s, Pekka, me and one of my biggest sporting heroes, the elegant Norwegian Ski World Champion Thomas Alsgaard, sneaked away with a bottle of Krug and enjoyed some Champagne Hiking in a comfortable grassy slope in front of the mansion. I had no idea that Thomas, like so many major sporting heroes, had a taste for fine wines. We were short of time, but this Nordic trio made the most of the moment. Refreshing oxygen-saturated winds, with a touch of rose fragrance mixed with lichens and moss, newly cut grass and beach meadow, provided the strings when the majestic champagne attacked our senses like the initial movement with wind instruments in Sibelius’ masterpiece, Finlandia. The parable was aptly chosen, and Pekka promised us that he would play the mighty composition next time we got together to gulp down Krug Vintage. If I have summed up Pekka right, this will happen. The mere thought of it gives me goose bumps!
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76 LANDMANNALAUGAR, Iceland Champagne: Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection Time: June to August. H ave you heard of the “Rainbow Mountains” in the north-west of China? If not, Google it and be amazed by possibly the world’s most surreal attraction. A candy striped, porous mountain in any and all colours and combinations, taken straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It made our wish list, of course, but we couldn’t find the time to fit it into our schedules. This is why I was particularly pleased when I saw that there was a similar, geological twin on Iceland. That it wasn’t even that far to go from the island’s other major attractions was the icing on the cake. How to get there was another matter unless you joined the six-day hike from Porsmyr. Pål managed to find a winding road that the map promised would get us there. In the middle of nowhere, the map wanted us to enter a gravel pit. We hesitated for a long time, but when we saw a couple of large Range Rovers we plucked up courage and followed in their trail; thus began the road trip from hell. It wasn’t that the road was particularly challenging, but the quality of the road surface was abysmal. Off-piste is a word that comes to mind. Certain parts of the route, huge holes made the car shake to a degree I wished we were wearing body belts. Other times we entered puddles of water with indeterminate depths or slid over glaciers, and before we reached our intended destination, the road simply ended in a small lake. You may think the Icelanders are completely bonkers to hold such uncivilised roads, but as it happened the road opened for the season that very day, closing at the first snowfall of the season a few months later.
Fi n e B o o k " In meeting with the wine, the serenity and picturesque desolation of the atmosphere took on a welcoming guise." 77 The Icelandic Gods (Æsir) must like us, once again our timing was perfect. The sun shone at maximum power, warming us and making the snow melt away by the bucketful. When we found an irresistible location on top of a volcano, only the smell of strained brakes interfered with the peaceful purity of the air. Only eleven degrees in the shade, but 25 degrees in the sun where we could sunbathe our unique champagne. Exciting to notice that low temperatures and the Polar altitude do not create Goût de Lumière. A real advantage for any passionate Champagne Hiker. The 1988 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection turned out to be to be one of the tastiest champagne bottles we opened throughout our work with this book. This fantastic vintage, with its indescribable balance between acidulous youth and toasted maturity, is always excellent and in this latedisgorged version from Moët’s cellar more powerful than almost any other. In meeting with the wine, the serenity and picturesque desolation of the atmosphere took on a welcoming guise. Neither sooner nor later, have I to the same extent regretted accepting the role of designated driver. From our volcano, we were able to get a glimpse of the striped mountains in the distance. Yellow mountains with narrow streaks in the sharpest red, green and violet. We confined ourselves to one glass and started to walk along the ridge, to reach the other side of the valley and get up close to the rainbow mountains. That was when the Norse Gods blessings started to fade. The terrain became increasingly difficult to negotiate, and when a snowy slope got the better of me I managed to hold onto the bottle, but the two glasses were lost, leaving us no choice but to return to our car. Not reaching the rainbow mountains was anticlimatic, of course, but we had nothing to complain of as we found a lush, green valley and continued our hiking, splashing our feet in a hot spring remarkably free from sulphur. Foolishly we saved some wine for dinner at the hotel restaurant in Reykjavik later that evening. Wrong decision since the horrible road had shaken every single bubble and life out of this magic bottle by the time we arrived back home. The genie had been let out of the bottle.
RÅBJERG MILE, Jutland, Denmark Champagne: Dom Pérignon Time: A sunny day, June to August. W hile collecting locations for my joyful Champagne Hiking, one of the first types of nature I rejected were deserts. But that was before I remembered that we have a mini desert in Scandinavia. The main reason for avoiding deserts are their excessive dryness, disruptive shifting sands and scorching sun. Råbjerg Mile, a collection of smaller desert like areas surrounded by heath and woodlands next to the sea, does not show any of these hostile characteristics. Our location is just 20 minutes south of Skagen and is, in fact, a highly migratory dune expanding significantly each passing year. Having celebrated Pål’s birthday the day before, and feeling a bit worn out after our 78 " bewildered debauchery at Skagen, expectations were low. The weather didn’t help to lift our spirits and having run out of champagne, we had to get a Magnum of some sort we imagined would fit Råbjerg Mile. When I discovered a Dom Pérignon waiting for me in the wine cooler, I knew we were on to something good. The most famous wine in the world, with a huge aromatic and tactile span, would combine with the odd fragrance profile of the dry sand and heather to accentuate new and exciting wine qualities. The exotic fruits, oscillating between kiwi, orange, papaya, and pineapple were noticeably subdued in benefit of the balsamic, almost sandy, notes with toasted, slightly burned elements of coffee beans, pine nuts, and bread. The combination of champagne and location gave rise to such pleasures that I have had to revise my view of Champagne Hiking in the deserts." When we reached the pinnacle of the 40-meter high dune you can see on the picture, sand was flying around our legs, and it became pivotal to find a sheltered place to capture the locations aroma amplifying fragrance, without the glass filling up with sand. The combination of champagne and location gave rise to such pleasures that I have had to revise my view of Champagne Hiking in the deserts. With the right weather and choice of champagne, this type of hiking enriches our concept very considerably. I look forward to following you and your friends’ hiking experiences at the deserts of Sahara, Gobi, and the Atacama on the app, and I will sooner rather than later try my luck with a Magnum Dom Pérignon among the scenic sand dunes of Namibia.
THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY, Northern Ireland W hen Pål and I planned our travels for this book, we didn’t always manage to book flights with Scandinavian Airlines and consequently found ourselves at the mercy of less scrupulous airlines. Going from Stockholm to Dublin should not have to include dual stopovers. The choice of seat neighbours is, on the other hand, not necessarily the fault of the airline. My Dublin trip was disastrous in this respect. Going to Frankfurt, there were two passengers throughout the fully booked plane with coughs that sounded like Krakatoa had an eruption. The champagne expert, with a morbid fear of germs, got one on either side, of course. For the flight to Dublin I got a window seat, and for the longest time, it seemed as if there would be an empty seat between myself and a quiet older lady. My hope for a quiet and undisturbed journey was abruptly dashed by the late arrival of a strange individual, who subsequently wolfed down a loathsome packed lunch and finished it off by placing a poop-coloured and stinking banana in front of me. The air hostess came to my rescue and cleaned up the mess, but that was only the beginning. For the remainder of the flight, the concerned party casually let rip the most repugnant and sulphurous stinkers a fragrance expert could Fi n e B o o k Champagne: Léclapart l´Apôtre Time: April to September. ever imagine. The idea of a fragrance liberating, spontaneous hijacking came and went. What a relief to get out into the fresh, Irish air before we installed ourselves in our right-hand drive rental car for a few hours of cosy landscape exploration. After a pit-stop at McDonald’s to pick up some ice, we headed due north. Once you become a hardcore Champagne Hiker like us, you will notice that the hunt for ice is central and often the most difficult part of a mission. I first heard of the Giant’s Causeway in the early 1990s, when my then live-in partner was on tour with the Opera Ballet. When she came home, she barely spoke of the performances, just the surreal rock formations on the Northern Irish coast that had left a lasting impression. She told me that all of the 40,000 stones are hexagonal, after a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago when lava overflowed the tougher basalt, leaving these incredible formations. She also told the amazing tale of the Scottish giant that challenged an Irish giant to a duel, but since neither of the giants could swim, the Irish giant built a pedestrian bridge where the duellists could face off. She was right. With its natural, architectural perfection, the Giant’s Causeway is probably the most unique attraction Europe has to offer. This is a fact that had not escaped the attention of the multitude of Chinese tourists that showed up, making philosophical champagne contemplation impossible. As you can see from the stunning photo, Pål did, however, find a brilliant location, where the stones difference in height and colour made them look like a giant church organ. The unique beauty and the perfect weather in combination with the roaring waves that drowned all other sounds, and the cool, crispy sea winds made me relax despite being surrounded by selfie-indulgent Instagram-junkies. Still, it seemed that Pål and I had managed to establish our territory, and the others kept a respectful distance. I have rarely been given the opportunity to absorb the grandeur of a situation in such a meditative and undisturbed fashion. In addition to the perfect aromatic blending of heather, seaweed, iodine and L’Apôtre, the symbolism of the natural meeting is something that would not be lost on winemaker David Léclapart. His organic champagnes have a natural origin shared by this location. Spanning millions of years, the encounter between the mighty stone pillars and the dried out inland sea that created the district of Champagne is as staggering grandiose as it is tangible. 79
ABBEY SAINT PIERRE D’HAUTVILLERS, Champagne, France Champagne: Dom Pérignon P3 Time: April to October. T 80 he British were the first to deliberately produce sparkling wines, and the first French sparkling wine did not originate in Champagne but in Blanquette de Limoux, already in the year 1531. The non-sparkling wines from Champagne were well renowned by the time Pierre Pérignon arrived at the convent of the Hautvillers in 1668. Yet it is no exaggeration to name Abbey Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers the cradle of champagne. This is where the complex method to create a quality sparkling wine by blending different wines, adding yeast and sugar, and sealing durable bottles with Spanish cork was developed and refined. Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon and his contemporaries lay the foundation of an unlikely success story, that would become the most famous wine in the world. Since 1921, Moët & Chandon produces the prestige cuvée carrying the monk’s name, orchestrated since 1990 by my good friend Richard Geoffroy. In addition to the historical aura of the monastery courtyard, there are few locations in Champagne that can rival Hautvillers splendour and serenity. The small premier cru village is beautifully suspended above the vineyards and Epernay further down the Marne Valley. Both the monastery and the church, housing the famous monk’s tomb, are mandatory pilgrimage sites for all true champagne lovers. Richard and I have often visited the monastery with our VIP guests, carrying out deep, deep vertical tastings of the world’s most famous wines. As much joy as this bring, I get an even greater pleasure from the rare occasion when I can breathe in the chalk soil that inspired Dom Pierre to create his premium cuvées. The stone wall, the gravel paths with ancient trees in the background, and the vast landscape with Cramant in the south and Aÿ toward the east are just cut out for a superior Champagne Hiking. This time Richard served up a stylish table with a white cloth as a backdrop to the bright, golden champagne glasses we were about to scrutinise. Many are the times when we have discussed at length, which is the foremost vintage of Dom Pérignon. The 1960s is, without a doubt, the golden decade. Richard roots for 1961, while I usually have had the greatest experiences with the ‘64. I have a different favourite among the P3 (Plenitude 3) Magnums. This fact had not escaped Richard No.1, which is his nick name. Imagine my joy when I realised he had brought this very wine to our meeting. The 1966 Dom Pérignon P3 Magnum has an unreal elegance and aroma, lifting it to heights where no words can properly describe its expression. If I nevertheless were to try, there is only one suitable word: perfection. Afterwards, Pål let us know that he had managed to produce a plenitude of bad shots since we were so immersed in the wine tasting that we totally ignored his instruction. As you can tell from the picture Pål had to resort to a “behind the scenes” approach, Annie Leibovitz style. To drink the premier wine on location, in perfect condition, under favourable weather conditions, along with its creator, is, of course, an unattainable dream for most. I, therefore, hope you take it the right way and share our joy instead of viewing this privileged moment with destructive envy when I tell you that the experience gave me a veritable “wine orgasm”. Rather look forward to visiting the estate, and purchase a bottle of P3 for you and your friends. I assure you that if Richard No. 1 is nearby, he will take the time to impart a golden splash of wisdom, experience and sparkling enthusiasm in a way that only he can.
Fi n e B o o k " To drink the premier wine on location, in perfect condition, under favourable weather conditions, along with its creator, is, of course, an unattainable dream for most." 81
METEORA, Greece Champagne: Larmandier-Bernier Vielle Vignes du Lévant Time: April to June, and September to November. E 82 ver since I first saw Roger Moore take a fall from one of the surreal cliffs in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, I have longed to go there. When I read (Swedish cartoon bear) Bamse to my children, his grandmother living on the High mountain, I assume that author Rune Andréasson used Meteora as a model. How else could he have come up with the bizarre mountains, where the houses on top appear to defy gravity. Travel agents far too often talk about “hidden treasures”, but when it comes to Meteora, it is no exaggeration. Despite the fact that the unique mountain area, in the centre of the Greek mainland, is one of the world’s most beautiful and distinct jaw-dropping locations, very few in addition to the proud Greeks have heard of this geological treasure. Strange as it may seem, we almost overlooked Meteora for this book. When I, in September of 2017, submitted my script we realised that the pictures of my sister at Alhambra weren’t up to par, so we quickly had to organise a new trip. Pål was busy editing, giving Susanna another opportunity, this time as a photographer. As my dear friend Henrik, with whom I have been Champagne Hiking since the dawn of time, did not appear in any of the pictures in the book, the nostalgic and skilled trio getting into the rental car at Thessaloniki International Airport had been settled. Driving through bear filled plane forests, suddenly they appeared. Gigantic, soft, rounded, and greyish black Darth Vaders made out of sandstone, the unreal and intricately beautiful mountains competing with the Chinese Rainbow Mountains and Avatar Mountains for the title of World’s Most Breathtaking. We took turns laughing and being dumbfounded. When we arrived at Meteoritis Hotel, we noted with relief that the small village of Kastraki was safely nestled between the mountains and that the distance to the sights was negligible. All we needed to do was finding a spot perfect for our purposes. One problem immediately identified was that it would be impossible to capture the grandeur in a photo. To do this incredible landscape justice, it should be filmed by helicopter or experienced in real life. The photo must show the contrast between the greenery and the figurative stone sculptures. Likewise, the stunning depth of the gorge, and not least the floating monasteries on top of the cliffs. How could this be achieved with one single shot? 24 in total originally, only six monasteries remain, quite sufficient to add an extra dimension to the landscape in the seamless meeting between nature and civilisation. The first monastery, Great Meteoro, was built in 1340 when the Greek Orthodox monks sought protection against the Albanians and the expanding Ottoman Empire. One by one, up until the 16th century, the impenetrable monasteries were built stone by stone, without the use of blueprints. Despite numerous earthquakes, a few of the oldest and most magnificent buildings are still standing, astounding and fascinating architects such as my sister to this day. Already the first evening we tried a Sunset Hiking, certainly ridiculously beautiful but far from perfect as the rock we had picked proved to be a tourist magnet, having us crowd like puffins on the ledge. We may be a little too critical, as the situation on the ridge, where like-minded people pushed to get the best position in anticipation of the natural spectacle, was reminiscent of the fantastic atmosphere at an outdoor concert. We decided on a different location for the following day and promised each other we would try it out at various times of the day, with the sun in different positions. At dawn, we walked out on the small, floating spit above the Varlaam monastery for the first time. A procedure we repeated several times that day, in front of a large crowd of fascinated and concerned tourists. We tried three different champagnes and spat them out over the 400 meters high rock. Mid-day the light was too hard, affording us the opportunity to do a long, demanding hike up to the avatar monolith Adlachti, and another meal of fantastic, grilled, local vegetables at Gardenia, a jewel in the centre of the village. Like big parts of the village, the hotel manager had become deeply involved in our project, after lunch driving us up to our location, where at five o’clock magic happened. The light was perfect, and then the monasteries closed its doors meaning that the tourist coaches returned to Bulgaria and Romania. Time and time again I overcame my vertigo by looking down on Henrik’s dark mop of hair instead of letting the precipice pull me out over the edge. Since we were drinking champagne for real, we had to get to picture as soon as possible. I am willing to suffer for the art, but taking a massive fall is overdoing it slightly, so we moved back some thirty
Fi n e B o o k 83 metres to the right, where we would have an uninterrupted and safe view over some of the planet’s strangest creations. We were in total agreement on the animals depicted by various rock formations until Henrik, almost in a state of fury, scolded me for finding the wrong bulldog rock in between three distinct monkeys. The next two hours we consumed most of our three champagnes, of which we preferred the Larmandier-Bernier Vielles Vignes du Lévant, combining stylish naturalness and an embracing body. The style was perfectly tailored for the magical place. A different, slightly more complex wine, muddled the impressions, unfortunately, since the landscape’s huge variation almost overloaded our senses. In Pierre Larmandier’s hands, the old vines of Cramant return a huge creaminess, which could become too burdensome if not for the minimal dosage and respect for the inherent, razor sharp, and chalky fingerprints of the vineyard. Very pleasant! My last Champagne Hiking for this book was a unique crescendo, at one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating places. Grateful of the harmony and grandeur, a vague and uneasy sensation still lingered over our euphoric bodies, sadly not caused by the flight of doves that silently passed. Later that evening, in solitude on the balcony, close to Olympus and the high culture of the ancient Greeks, the landscape basking in the loveliest of moonlight, I realised that the storm cloud hovering over us was the difficult to erase concerns regarding the flare-up on the Korean Peninsula, what dimension it will take on, and what the fall-out for this beautiful and unique planet will be.
EN ROUTE TO CAPE HORN, Region de la Antárctica, Chile Champagne: Tasting of three Pinot based champagnes Time: December to March. 84 N ext on our list is South America, perhaps the most exciting and probably the most beautiful of continents. Unfortunately also often the most dangerous. I would have liked to hike the Inca Trail, explored the Amazon jungle and enjoyed a Cristal on top of Sugar Loaf in Rio, or at Angel Falls in Venezuela, but I abstain because of the drug-related criminality. Fortunately, most of the attractions must be dropped anyway for climatic reasons. Only a narrow strip in the south of Patagonia meet my criteria for a perfect Champagne Hiking. I would even suggest that at certain times of the year this is probably the planet’s most optimal hiking area, so a book about the 100 best Patagonian sites is not a utopian fantasy. Next to this text is this book’s most striking image. For obvious reasons, champagne tasting in the middle of a desolate road at world’s end is not one of the most comfortable ways to do Champagne Hiking. Yet, this sleek godforsaken place made our selection, as a symbol of adventurous travel and quests for places with meditative presence. We were naturally intrigued to see if it was possible to fully concentrate and try champagnes in a Spartan, minimalistic environment with perfect air, under trusting supervision of a vigilant driver. It worked surprisingly well. Once each, we had to gather the equipment and get it out of the way to let a car that from a distance first appeared almost stationary get past us. 36 hours ago I practised bench press at the gym on Bosön before the taxi, as usual, picked me up outside my home. An Avocado sandwich, energiser and cappuccino at Joe and the Juice at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, ritual consideration of all flight times and stopovers.
close to the northern tip of Antarctica. I am ashamed to admit, but I had no idea that Cape Horn is a small group of islands impossible to reach by car. When we couldn’t get further south, we turned around and found a suitable location for this impromptu and mischievous idea. We had some duplicate bottles cooling in our ice bucket, so the number of champagnes should be sufficient unless we suffered cork defects during the rest of the journey. We organised the tasting in a rush, and suddenly I had my nose in three fantastic Pinot scented champagne glasses. Most striking was the deafening silence, tranquillity and surreal purity of the air. All three champagnes got a crispy, ultra-pure harmonic note of newly washed bed sheets hovering over the plump and potent fruit. Paul Bara Comtesse Marie de France drowned the others and only in my mouth did Gosset Celebris catch up with its caressing roundness and honey saturated final twist. Drappier Grande Sandrée appeared more animal and smokier than when we later came to enjoy it in splendid isolation at one of the most magnificent locations in the world, Torres del Paine. The detailed sharpness, here in the middle of the road, was undoubtedly sharper than at my dinner table at home. Each wine revealed more nuances than they usually do, which both surprised and fascinated us. As you probably have noticed, there is a logical order to the location in this book, and in accordance, South America should have been followed by North America. As you probably also understand, a father of five can hardly spend two years on the road, meaning that our many trips have been interspersed with frequent “base camp” stops at home. Vernal equinox at home, autumnal equinox down here, a strange feeling. A little confused and disorganised after an intensive period of work, we touched down in Punta Arenas, the world’s southernmost city of significance. Our otherwise fruitful cooperation with BMW did not pan out this time, as their nearest office was in the capital Santiago, light-years away. Instead, we got into an ordinary rental car and headed towards the most southern location on our journey to “circumnavigate” the world, Cape Horn. This mythical islet rock, to be rounded by every sailor with self-respect. Pål’s grandfather never missed an opportunity to let the rest of the family know that he was a proud Cape Horner, so Pål had huge expectations on the stormy and iceberg infested place The icy winds from the Antarctic and the cold asphalt against our behinds were less enjoyable. From an objective, aesthetic point of view, the location was not particularly beautiful either. The flat landscape and the low, greyish vegetation reminded us of the hostile Finnmark up north in our part of the world. Jo Nesbö’s graphic description of a hunched, windswept Sami from his book Midnight Sun, came to mind as cut out for this environment, and that’s when I saw some bipedal creature move towards us against the horizon. In spite of the lack of heat, colours and beauty I loved these quiet moments when time stands still in a landscape without beginning or end. We exited our bubble in time and returned to the vehicle’s embracing warmth. Pål told me of the disrespectful treatment of the indigenous peoples of Tierra del Fuego, as large seabirds and the South American ostrich Nando – Ah, it was a bird, not a Sami! – crossed the endless plains outside of the windscreen at a leisurely pace. Fi n e B o o k " All three champagnes got a crispy, ultra-pure harmonic note of newly washed bed sheets hovering over the plump and potent fruit." 85
CUERNOS DEL PAINE AND LAGO PEHOÉ, Patagonia, Chile Champagne: Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises Time: December to March. Any other time, the flat tyre would have had us worried throughout the night, but the show on the evening sky granted us an harmony that led us to forget both time and space. When I got up for breakfast, Pål had already disappeared. During the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen, he returned with a smile on his face. The hero of the day had the same name as the guitar hero of my youth, yes he’s called Carlos Santana! He mumbled something in Spanish, inspected the vehicle and produced the spare tire that we had not been able to find. He got down on the ground, got up and patted Pål on the back a few minutes later, contended with a few pesos for saving our entire trip. Our saviour! 86 This meant that we could devote our day to explore the terrain and the potential locations for the book in peace. Despite inclement weather, we agreed that this was perhaps the most beautiful landscape we had seen. New Zealand would later prove even more varied and beautiful, but in a limited area as in this national park, Torres del Paine, we had never seen anything quite so magnificent. Rock formations, so diverse that they had a different expression from every angle. Lakes in all colours imaginable and turquoise waterfalls wherever we looked. All the time new cloud formations and weather conditions. Cria herds of the llama species guanaco and flocks of the ostrich bird nando roaming the dark green hills, stands of flamingos in the dark blue salt lakes under the watchful eye of condors and shy cougars. Unlike most natural aradise, the area is mostly free from tourists. Plenty of backpackers and natureloving ramblers, of course, but the area is so large that it devours us all to make it look almost desolate. Cuernos del Paine, likely the world’s most beautiful mountain composition, in the light of morning and mirrored in Lago Pehoé, where we stayed, was the obvious choice for perhaps the world’s most magnificent champagne, Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises. A magnificent champagne for a magnificent
" weather here can be extremely erratic, we dared not wait for the morning but decided to open our rarity that same evening. Unfortunately, as we opened the bottle, the weather turned sour interrupting the beautiful moment and forcing us to find shelter Cuernos del Paine, likely the world’s most beautiful mountain composition, in the light of morning and mirrored in Lago Pehoé, where we stayed, was the obvious choice for perhaps the world’s most magnificent champagne, Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises. " from the rain under some trees. When the clouds finally dissipated the temperature had plummeted to 6 degrees, but the sunset collaborated with the mighty, smoky giant in our glasses, almost making us forget we had to wear hats and mitts. Another unforgettable hiking experience richer, we retreated indoors to the log fire and another large helping of steak and rice. The Chilean wine had to wait as we wanted to retain the taste of world-class champagne. The experience was monumental, but we lacked photos. Quarter to seven the next morning, Pål had prepared the photo equipment pending dawn. Incredibly privileged, we had brought a second bottle of Vieilles Vignes Françaises, and I was ready to remove the cork at a moments notice. A little too overcast still. Probably won’t work. Look at the rain, over there by the western side of the glacier. Then, as if by magic, the sun broke through, and I used my thumb to rid yet another gem of its cork. The impressions were the same. The champagne, smoky and slightly one-dimensional at first, then transformed into a Wagner-esque barrage of darkness, depth and grandeur. Truffles, Moroccan leather, olives, cough medicine, tar, walnuts, morels, and wild game meat are all apparent characteristics of this mammoth. The lake was glassy as flamingos swept past a couple of feet above the surface. Dancing clouds created shadows that made every nook and cranny of Cuernos del Paines come to life. An avalanche, barely visible, rumbles in the far distant. Cuernos is the heart of a mountain formation created during several geological periods, blending layers of bright and black species of rock in gravity-defying shapes as fantastic as anything Gaudi could have created. In part reminiscent of Romsdalshorn in Norway, as a whole similar to Lake Pukkaki and Mount Cook on the South Island of New Zealand, but at the same time unique and magnificent like no other. Not a big fan of champagne breakfasts, as you know, we saved the rest of the bottle for the evening. The quality of the photos suffered, but the experience was even more splendid. Our ‘06 was young enough to become even more harmonious and enjoyable having been opened for a day. Notes of small, purple plums, Gravensteiner apples, blood orange and nut chocolate, helped form a glorious crescendo as the sun let the moon take charge and cast a magical, silver blue light over the most beautiful mountains the gods have ever carved. Fi n e B o o k location. Every champagne lover will have heard of this legendary beverage from the vines in Aÿ, which miraculously escaped phylloxera, but few have had the opportunity to experience its surreal array of power and unshakeable strength. Knowing that the 87
MOSSMAN RIVER, Queensland, Australia Champagne: Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs Time: June to October, weather permitting. 88
The rain had cleared the air, but as luck would have it, we had sunshine and clear blue skies during our seance. The Magnum with its enamelled flowers that might as well had grown in the waterfront, and the golden colour similar to the water we swam in, was incredibly aesthetically pleasing. I still don’t know how much of my experience was mental suggestion, and what was real. Alltold, it was one of the biggest experiences in the book. As usual, I had only a glass or two before we were interrupted. An electrical storm, a whisper in comparison with what we experienced in Danish Gilleleje, still vio- lent enough to have us leave the water. We sealed the bottle with a champagne stopper and finished it when seated comfortably at one of Australia’s best restaurants, Nautilus, in Port Douglas the same evening. The charming head waiter informed me that two companies had inquired if the guy with the champagne was indeed Richard Juhlin. Only once in a blue moon would someone in Sweden ask me for an autograph, but in this jungle city no less than four autograph hunters showed up at the same time. The world is a strange place. Nautilus is an elegant outdoor restaurant that lets nature come all the way to the tables. We had just toasted an extremely successful day in one of the mightiest bottles of champagne the world has to offer when the largest beetle I have ever seen landed on Henrik’s neck. The ladies at the next table screamed, but the always cool Henrik stayed perfectly still until the 12-centimetre long rhinoceros beetle decided to take off. During our lovely meal a small, marsupial called bandicoot would pay a visit. Many would have been upset, but we loved these exotic elements. We feasted on delicious crocodile meat with great satisfaction, establishing that we were the most dangerous of predators. Hey, hang on a minute. I’ve completely forgotten to describe the champagne! To begin with, the wine appeared significantly fruitier and less toasted under the sun’s influence during the day. The temperature was similar at night, but the sunlight in combination with the amount of time that the bottle had been opened produced two completely different expressions. Quite frankly, I did not experience the same enjoyment as during my Tarzan adventure. The champagne, with its characteristic coffee bouquet, stringent chalky notes, and creamy floral scent, was on the other hand probably even more delicious at Nautilus. In brief. It tastes and smells the way it looks. Did the evening end there? No, excited and up to speed after the historic day, we simply had to try a good quality red wine together with the kangaroo meat that was being served. A famous Australian beast would be the obvious choice, but having discovering New Zealand based Felton Road’s divine Pinot Noir wines in Vietnam, I surprised the guys and picked this gold nugget from the neighbouring island. A decision we wouldn’t regret. Fi n e B o o k T he next day Alf, and his Range Rover had another fantastic excursion waiting. This time the journey was a lot shorter. Initially, we figured our second hike in Queensland would be the massive Great Barrier Reef, covering an area as large as Germany, but we changed our minds. Going snorkelling in this troubled paradise was wonderful, but we could not find a shaded location good enough for Champagne Hiking. Silky Oaks, a luxury rainforest resort just a stone’s throw away proved more cooperative. You may remember that my childhood was filled with dreams of jungle adventures. One of them was based on a TV show where a Swedish nature enthusiasts, Jan Lindblad, wrestled with an anaconda in one of the Amazon River tributaries in Guyana. As I descended from the resort up in the trees to the refreshing Mossman River, I immediately got thinking of the dramatic black and white TV images of the 1970s. When Alf told us that a temperature far below the magical crocodile limit of 27 degrees meant the river was completely safe, I let loose. The rain pouring, Pål watched in amazement as I ripped off my clothes and like a contemporary Johnny Weissmuller swam against the current to the other riverbank. My son Henrik, half man half dolphin, did not mind the new assistant position bringing bottles and glasses to his boyhooddreaming father. I had just made myself comfortable on top of a rock, with my feet in the running water, when another dream of mine became a reality. Wanting to find out where the sun was, I looked up at the canopy only to see two majestic, deep-blue Ulysses butterflies head straight for us. Throughout our hiking the swirled around us as if waiting for an invitation to share Hervé Deschamp’s Magnum masterpiece Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs. 89
MILFORD SOUND, New Zealand 90 Champagne: Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Alexandra Rosé Time: November to February on a rare day free of rain.
Fi n e B o o k 91 " Love, sorrow, life and death, light and darkness, longing and satisfaction. It all flashed before me as my feet got wet and my eyes drowned in the vast beauty while my mouth and nose experienced a wine orgasm "
92 Fiordland is probably New Zealand most spectacular region, with Milford Sound as its most famous place. The landscape is incredibly varied, with everything from fiords and rainforest, to majestic mountains and glaciers. Deciding on Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound is a matter of taste, and guessing where the very unreliable weather is most likely to behave itself. The extensive raining is bothersome but is at the same time the very reason for the lush rainforest that embeds the mountain slopes in a magnificent and colourful greenery. In the end, we picked Milford Sound, with Mitre Peak, the world’s highest sea cliff. The long road is unmatched in terms of beauty. We determined this despite a lack of sunshine and only short breaks in the downpour. The drive back and forth was mercilessly long, still we had to stop now and then just to breathe in the oxygen-saturated air take in nature’s opulent expression. The last stretch felt extra-long, and waiting to go into a tunnel tried our patience significantly before a few lovely, endemic parrots in the shape of cheeky and intelligent keas, and the rare and flightless kakapo cheered us up. One of the real benefits, in comparison with significantly weather friendlier Australia, is that there are no predatory animals in New Zealand thanks to the isolated location and cool climate. The many unique animals found here do not need to protect themselves from predators, so the birds need not necessarily be able to fly. The rain was impairing visibility to an extent where we could only see halfway up the steep hills that surrounded us. Would the Grand Finale of our trip around the world turn out to be a fiasco? Despite rumbling stomachs and travelweary brains, we were filled with euphoria as soon as we saw the narrow straits sandwiched between the pyramidal sea cliffs in front of us. Clouds were still hanging over the mountains, partially covering the peaks, but the sea was clear, and the rain had subsided. A sense of unreality grabbed hold of me. Were we here for real? The air’s fragrance profile was confusingly similar to that of our country place in Roslagen, Sweden, after a June rainfall, but before us was undeniably one of the most beautiful locations in the world, even more majestic in real life than in photos. I have always wondered why so many images from here, show so much of the ordinary shoreline and seaweed around the photographer’s feet. We rushed past the typical photo locations and were, incredible as it might sound, almost alone in meeting the rapidly rising sea. The water moved a couple of metres per minute towards us and photo equipment as I removed the cork from my carefully selected champagne, the languorous, pinkish version of Laurent Perrier’s brilliant Grand Siècle rarity, Cuvée Alexandra Rosé. Suddenly I lost it. I started to laugh and cry. Liberated, I let the emotional outburst seise me and simply tried to follow its illogical chaos. Love, sorrow, life and death, light and darkness, longing and satisfaction. It all flashed before me as my feet got wet and my eyes drowned in the vast beauty while my mouth and nose experienced a wine orgasm. Is this it? Is this stunning trip around the world complete? For a brief moment, this is the largest and happiest Champagne Hiking of my life. Sadly, harsh reality called, and once again we had to hurry back to get food and a roof over our heads. Apply the stopper and into the car, speechless and noticeably moved by Milford Sounds ebullient presence. Answering the compulsory question, which fiord is the world’s most beautiful, I would say that it is a very close call between Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, and the Norwegian gems, Geiranger fjord and Naeröy fjord, where the perfect moment and weather trumps class. My choice will still be Milford Sound, thanks to its extreme height and more exotic vegetation, and the forever imprinted olfactory memory of the Cuvée Alexandra Rosé.<
une Famille, un Clos, un Premier Cru Une trilogie fondée sur les liens familiaux et la passion d'un terroir 5, rue du Mesnil • 51130 Vertus Tél. : +33 (0)3 26 52 16 30 • Fax : +33 (0)3 26 52 20 13 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com L'abus d'alcool est dangereux pour la santé, à consommer avec modération.
FINE ARCHIVE STORY 94 On the morning of 3 November 1916, the German submarine U-22 stopped a small Swedish schooner, Jönköping, off the Finnish coast. In the cargo hold of this unlucky ship were 3,000 bottles of champagne, 10,000 gallons of cognac, and 17 barrels of burgundy wine that had been ordered by the court of Tsar Nikolai II. The commander of the U-22 decided to sink the schooner but save the lives of its crew. The ship sank into the depths of the North Sea in less than an hour. On the morning of 15 April 1998, in an auction hall in London, the tap of a gavel ended a long-running tender competition – a world record had been born. More was paid for a champagne bottle that had lain in the cargo hold of Jönköping for 82 years than for any other champagne bottle before that.
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96 Jönköping was built at the Sjötorp shipyard in 1896. It was 20.5 metres long and 6.67 metres wide, and was equipped with an 18 horsepower oil engine. The ship was loaded in Gävle on 26 October 1916, and was ready to make its way to Rauma, Finland, for the tenth time that year. After a few hours of travel, however, poor weather interrupted the journey, and Jönköping had to anchor down and stay put for a few days. The unsuccessful attempt of the ship to return to Gävle on time created a rumour that a German submarine had sunk it – a rumour that ironically later proved to be prophetic. By 2 November, the weather improved noticeably, and the captain along with his crew decided to continue the journey toward Rauma. At the same time, a German submarine U-22 was positioned 12 nautical miles southwest from Rauma. Even though the commander of the submarine, Bruno Hoppe, had along with his crew already the previous day sunk two Swedish ships, it did not fully satisfy the captain. The sun had not quite risen yet, but the lookout could see and hear for 8 miles despite the slight morning fog. At 5am, he suddenly heard a weak sound. It was the sound of a motor. The commander was called to the lookout spot, and he immediately decided that they should look into the matter. The U-22 left its position and guided towards the sound that was coming from the west. The night was tranquil and calm on the Jönköping. The ship had made its way across the North Sea without any troubles. Because of the dusk and fog, however, the Finnish coast could not yet be seen. Therefore, the schooner cruised calmly in front of Rauma, waiting for dawn. Suddenly, a small island was detected from the ship, and fearing that the coast was already too close, they turned Jönköping toward the open sea. Soon they noticed, however, that the island was not an island but rather a German submarine, which quickly overtook them! Commander Hoppe ordered the captain of the schooner, E.B. Eriksson, to turn off the ship’s engine and go up to the submarine to show the ship’s papers and explain its cargo. Hoppe soon realised that the cargo contained contraband, and he announced to Eriksson that the ship was to be sunk. Eriksson did whatever he could to save his ship. He suggested that they throw the entire cargo into the sea and even offered to transport it to the nearest German harbour. Hoppe had, however, already made his decision and stuck to it; this was Jönköping’s tenth journey that year with contraband, and Hoppe’s message was – there is a limit to everything, Jönköping’s time had come. Two crewmembers of the U-22 rowed to the schooner carrying explosives. After setting the explosives, the men in a hurry took as many bottles of champagne as they could from the ship and then left it. Except for these few bottles, the whole cargo load sank deep to the bottom of the sea along with the ship. The search for Jönköping commenced at the end of May 1997, in which a Swedish search party found the wreck at a depth of 64 metres. Only in July, when the diver returned from the wreck with a bottle of Heidsieck Monopole Goût Américain from 1907 in hand, was it confirmed that it really was Jonköping. (The same product and vintage had also been stored on the Titanic when it sunk in 1912.) The first bottle that the diver brought up, however, did not have a label or anything that would have immediately told what champagne the bottle in question held. The leader of the search party, Peter Lindberg, had the honour of opening the first bottle. This is how he reflected upon it: “I stood at the bow of my ship with my whole crew around me holding plastic cups, waiting for me to open the bottle. I held the cork tightly and tried to pull it up, but suddenly it was really tightly stuck. I had to use force to get it to move, and finally the cork got loose from the bottle accompanied by a little ‘plop’ sound. I was surprised that my heavy-handed handling had not broken the cork. I carefully smelled the cork. My first reaction was that it did not smell very good. There was, however, writing on it: Heidsieck & Co. Reims at the bottom and Goût Américain 1907 on the side. I handed the cork forward and placed the bottle underneath my nose and smelled. Already it smelled much better than the cork, and I knew immediately that the bottle did not contain water but instead champagne. The others around me also smelled the cork, and their reactions were somewhat similar to mine. Therefore, when I placed the bottle on my lips and tasted the first gulp, I thought I sensed crazy things. The taste was very strong, sweet, and fruity. The drink was actually very good! The others were observing me very closely to see my reaction. I took the bottle from my lips, and a smile lit up my face. As a result of this, many plastic cups were immediately held out in front of me. Because I had survived the first sip, my crew wanted to enthusiastically also get to taste this brilliant champagne.”
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99p them 25% of everything that they could lift up, and they all joined their enemy’s group. As a result of this, the “war” seemed to be over for good. Fryckman, the leader of the Finnish group, did not comment in any way. His lawyer did, however, have a comment on the departure of the divers: “It’s horrible; all the things people do for money.” bottom and the water pressure at 64 metres had preserved the bottles in impeccable condition for 82 years. When Jönköping sank, its cargo hold contained some 50 wooden boxes of champagne, 60 bottles in each. Of these, some 2,500 bottles were lifted after seven successful rescue trips, and I have had the pleasure to taste three of them. In early 1900, Heidsieck & Co Monopole was the market leader in Europe. The rulers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, such as Tsar Nikolai II, were its faithful customers. Champagne was already known worldwide when in 1911, the King of England granted the Heidsieck & Co Monopole champagne house the prestigious royal warrant, in which the house then became “Purveyors of Champagne by appointment to his Majesty”. In Russia, for its part, where Heidsieck’s champagne was very well known and famous, Tsar Nikolai II’s personal orders even before Jönköping’s fateful journey exceeded a modest 400,000 bottles. The North Sea’s temperature, hovering around four degrees, the total darkness of the sea The first of these bottles was bought from the same Christie’s London auction house in 1998 where one of the bottles lifted from the schooner was sold for 4,068 dollars – the highest price that has ever been paid for an individual champagne bottle. The second bottle was acquired by Winebid.com at the beginning of 2001 for a price of 800 dollars, and the third from a German collector for the price of €1,000. The bottles were packed in wooden boxes and were covered in dried mud and fish-smelling sludge, as if straight from the bottom of the sea. The second bottle was completely oxidised and non-potable due to the poor shape of the bottle’s cork, but the first and third bottles were in excellent condition and surprisingly fresh.< Champagne Monopole Goût Américain 1907, Heidsieck Excellent level; decanted five minutes before tasting. A high dosage wine. No malolactic fermentation. The result of the analysis: alcohol 12.35°, PH of 2.93, 42.55 grams of sugar, total acidity 5.35g H2SO4/litre. Pale and light, almost youthful color. Still Drink now has some bubbles left. Sweet, fruity, and fresh nose dominated by honey and exotic fruit and raisins. One of the richest champagnes I have tasted, and has amazingly good balance and structure. Not very sweet, even though the Heidsieck Goût American style had a relatively high sugar dosage. Very long and so pleasing wine, which moved smoothly and easily down the throat, leaving a most memorable and historic aftertaste. Fi n e T r e a s u r e Peter Lindberg, diver and leader of the search party, established the Swedish rescue group C-Star, which had acquired the rights to the schooner’s cargo. However, in early spring 1998, before C-Star had made it back again to the wreck, another ship was already there. Finnish businessman Peter Fryckman had quickly arranged for a ship and divers, and they were also trying to save the golden cargo. Fryckman demanded the right to the cargo, the part that would have belonged to his grandfather. Fryckman, however, could not prove his right to this claim. The local coast guard could not act and intervene in the matter at hand and asked the court for a decision on what to do. At the same time, a minor war was already escalating between the two rescue groups. There were accusations, rumours about death threats and sabotages, and small-scale violence in the air. On 3 July, a Finnish court ruled in favour of C-Star. Thus, the Finnish group should leave the area. On 5 July, all the divers from the Finnish ship suddenly moved to the Swedish ship. The Swedish group had simply offered 99
Beyond rare vintages Recreating the perfect year 18/20 18.5*/20 97/100 Aug. 2018 Sept. 2017 Aug. 2018 * “20th edition of Grand Siècle in Magnum (vintages 1999-1997-1996)” LPGS3.2_236x297x2_EN.indd 1 14/05/2019 11:33 LPGS3.
19 11:33 laurentperriergrandsiecle www.grandsiecle.com P L E A S E E N J O Y R E S P O N S A B LY. LPGS3.2_236x297x2_EN.indd 2 14/05/2019 11:33
102 Jacques Selosse – THE CULT CHAMPAGNE Text: Juha Lihtonen If the world’s best sommeliers were asked to list champagne brands that they consider as references on their wine list, Jacques Selosse would appear in most answers – if not in all. Jacques Selosse champagnes stand out in top restaurants’ wine lists as one of the most expensive champagnes next to Photos: Michael Boudot, Juha Lihtonen, Antti Korpela Krugs, Dom Pérignons and Cristals. Unlike its rivals, Jacques Selosse is not a luxury brand. It is not a grand marque. It is a grower champagne brand that is recognized mainly by the champagne connoisseurs. Among them, Jacques Selosse enjoys the status of a cult wine brand like no other in Champagne.
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"The story of an eccentric producer, who made champagnes like grand cru Burgundies." 104 When a wine has developed a cult reputation but lacked a pedigree going back centuries or several decades, the eyes have been on Robert Parker, the most influential figure in the world of wines, and on his ratings. However, Parker has had absolutely no involvement in the creation of the Jacques Selosse phenomenon. It is nothing short of a miracle that a small champagne house producing under 60,000 bottles a year has managed to achieve a cult reputation without Parker, a marketing budget or international communications. Through the Grapevine Although the success of Jacques Selosse has not been based on Robert Parker and his high scores, it has based on one man, Anselme Selosse, the current head of the company and his persistence in implementing the revolutionary practices in champagne making over four decades. He turned his back to major champagne houses as a grape subcontractor in beginning of 1980s and became known as a grower-producer with unseen cultivation and production practices in Champagne. The story of an eccentric producer, who made champagnes like grand cru Burgundies, raised an interest especially among the sommeliers of top restaurants, who always looked for new exciting wines to recommend to their customers. Selosse’s champagnes offered a fascinating option for this, as well as, their vinous character a great companion with various dishes. This lead to an increasing demand of Selosse’s champagnes in restaurants – first in France and then abroad, and later to fierce annual rivalry among the restaurants to secure an allocation. The high demand and inadequate supply built quickly Selosse’s reputation of a cult champagne among sommeliers. The media has played naturally its part in the Jacques Selosse's success as well. Selosse first starred in the French media in 1994, when the famous French restaurant guide, Gault-Millau, named Anselme Selosse as France's best vigneron. The house also drew international attention five years later when, in his book '2000 Champagnes', the renowned Swedish champagne expert Richard Juhlin declared Selosse his favourite grower-producer in Champagne. Despite the media attention, Selosse's reputation amongst importers and sommeliers mainly developed by word of mouth.
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"I want to make wines that create a memory in people’s minds when they taste them." 106
Meeting the caretaker At the turn of the millennium the Selosse winery was located in a side street in the village of Avize. We entered into warehouse and found a man in his forties, wearing jeans, a shirt and gilet, standing next to the barriques and stirring the lees in the barrique with a metal chain. It was the first time I saw bâtonnage, lees stirring, made in Champagne. The man greeted us with a nod and finished the work, before approaching us with words of welcome. He was Anselme Selosse. "Welcome to my world," he said, smiling warmly, before adding, "Before we taste the wines, let me enlighten you about my approach to winemaking.” He started by underlining that he is not a winemaker, but a caretaker of unique plots of land. He told of having 35 individual vineyard plots, which produced grapes for his wines. He pointed out that his mission was to understand and cherish these sites as they formed the cultures that were mirrored in his champagnes. “My mind-set in viticulture and vinification derives from Burgundy, not from Champagne.” Anselme explained his practices on viticulture and vinification. He told us about his organic and biodynamic approach to cultivation, the latter of which he had been practising since 1996. Anselme also explained about his most recent trials, where he explored effects of magnetic fields and sound waves on the character of wines. He explained that he had installed loudspeakers in the vineyards, playing music at different times of the day to see whether sound waves affected the vitality and activeness of the vines during the growing season in aim of producing riper grapes. In vinification, he emphasised that the grapes from each plot are vinified separately. He explained that, in order to avoid the use of sulphur during vinification, he used dry ice to cool the juice prior to fermentation. He also macerated the grape skins in the juice to extract natural antioxidants from skins to prevent oxidisation of the juice. The fermentation took place in second-hand barriques with indigenous yeasts. The barriques were bought from Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy. To ensure flavour retention, the wines were not subjected to malolactic fermentation, which would have softened the flavour. After fermentation, the wines were matured for a year in barriques, during which Anselme engaged in bâtonnage from one to four times a week, depending on the season. The long lees-contact time-contact time provided the wine with more flavours and body, and also prevented the wine from oxidation. After a second fermentation, the champagnes were left to mature with the lees for three to ten years, depending on the blend. During the cellar tour, Anselme also presented the jewel in his crown – a large 5,000-litre barrel containing his most unique wine. The wine was a blend of vintages dating back to 1986, made using the solera system. Substance, the house's special champagne, was made from this blend. Anselme told that he bottled twenty percent of the blend each year for second fermentation, replacing used batches with fresh vintages. Solera wine was originally one of Anselme's many experiments intended to create a wine with more expressive character. He explained that he continuously explored various methods of making more expressive wines, showing us experimental batches with the barriques aligned with the magnetic poles, or resting cross-wise to the poles. The idea was to investigate how the poles' magnetic field affected the ageing of the wines. It was a memorable visit, quite unlike my previous ones to Champagne or any winery in the world. Anselme Selosse's views on winemaking broadened my horizons on the subject in general. He struck me as a visionary who could see more than other producers in Champagne and believed in issues, which they did not. I could only wonder what did his father Jacques thought of son’s visions back in the late 1970s when he handed the family business over to Anselme. Utopia in Champagne Anselme's father, Jacques Selosse, established the champagne house in 1959 and carried out his first vinification in 1964. There was a strong basis for producing family-branded champagne as the family had centuries of experience in cultivating vines in Champagne and owned four hectares of vineyards in grand cru villages of Cramant and Avize. However, Jacques was aware of the risks facing a small champagne house and decided to secure the family's income by selling most of his grapes to a major champagne house. He made long-term contract with the champagne house Lanson. This secured an income for the family, but held back the Selosse champagnes production for decades ahead. When Anselme, who was still in his twenties, joined the company to assist his father in 1974, he was an experienced globetrotter in the world of wines in comparison to Jacques, having studied viticulture and winemaking for four years in Beaune, Burgundy. He had learned how the best producers in Burgundy grew grapes and produced great wines from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties. He had also explored the secrets of winemaking in Penedès, Rioja and Jerez in Spain, where barrel ageing and solera system made a great impression on him. Anselme was keen applying these lessons to his family firm in Champagne. However, upon returning home he was frustrated to learn that his father had signed a subcontractor contract with Fi n e L e g e n d It was through the grapevine, that I recall hearing first about Selosse. At the turn of the millennium, I was a sommelier planning a five-course menu for my restaurant. The menu lacked just one wine: a wine to accompany the dessert course of pineapple carpaccio with strawberry salad. A good friend from Champagne recommended Selosse's Sec Exquise champagne. He mentioned that Selosse had created it for fruit desserts in response to a request by Michelin chefs Bernard Loiseau and Pierre Gagnaire. I asked my friend to send me a bottle of Exquise. Instead of one bottle, he delivered the whole range of Selosse champagnes. I was inspired by all of them. They were soulful and intensely flavoured with exceptionally expressive mineral character enhanced with firm acidity. They were gastronomic champagnes crying out for a food companion. I had never encountered such qualities in any other champagne. A month later, having decided to replace all the wines planned for my menu with Selosse champagnes, I was on my way to Champagne to visit Selosse. 107
the hang-time of the grapes and push the ripeness levels of grapes in each harvest from then on. To achieve optimal ripeness levels, he cut the yields from his vineyards significantly. When the contract with Lanson expired in 1979, Anselme introduced new cultivation methods throughout his vineyards. The grower producer revolution had begun. The 1976 growing season was unusually hot and dry in Champagne. As a result, the crop reached record sugar levels. To avoid the champagne becoming too effervescent, Anselme decided to reduce the liqueur de tirage required for second fermentation. The result marked a turning point for Selosse champagnes. Anselme was delighted by the extremely dry, intense and concentrated flavour of his wines. He decided to extend Anselme Selosse can be seen as a game changer in Champagne. In four decades, he has shown that a small grower-producer can succeed in the champagne world dominated by the big and prosperous champagne houses and challenge them. He has been an inspirer for many small growers, who have moved from grower subcontractors to branded grower-producers. In few decades thousands of new grower-producer cham- A Changing of the Guard pagne brands have appeared on markets. At the same time Jacques Selosse champagnes have become more iconic than ever and the prices are record high. The fact that the prices of Selosse champagnes start from the price level of Dom Pérignon is something of which any champagne producer can be envious. It had been over a decade since my last visit at Selosse, so it was definitely time to go back for an update visit and to hear what Anselme considered of his champagnes’ success. The side-street warehouse in Avize had been exchanged for one on the main street, and the small office for the nineteenth century neoclassical manor house, which Anselme and his wife Corinne had turned into an upscale hotel called Les Avisés. In its spacious lounge decorated with con- Fi n e L e g e n d Champagne Lanson up to the end of the 70s, preventing him from doing any changes in production from the family vineyards. In response, he charted opportunities for buying new vineyard plots for him. In 1975, he succeeded in buying a one-hectare plot in Avize, where he began freely applying the organic growing methods he had learned in Burgundy. A major step in building the identity of the Selosse champagnes was taken a year later. 109
111 Fi n e L e g e n d
112 "They taste as they taste, not because I have made them to taste that way, but because they transmit the terroir, the flavour of their origin.”
Fi n e L e g e n d 113 temporary art pieces, we were greeted by the happily smiling Anselme in jeans, a shirt and a gilet looking exactly like in his forties despite greyer hair and few more wrinkles in his face. I congratulated him for the “new” premises and the great success over the time by revolutionizing the champagne markets and creating superior champagne range. He acknowledged the transformation, but regarded himself as just one agent developing the sector rather than a revolutionary. Naturally, he was delighted by the success of his own champagnes, but pointed out that he was not competing against other producers to create superior wines. ”I have never intended to make the best sparkling wine in the world, as I don’t believe it is possible,” he says and continues, ”Who can say something is better than the other? It is always subjective, as everyone experiences wine differently. It depends on one’s experiences, preferences and memories. I want to make wines that create a memory in people’s minds when they taste them, regardless of how experienced they are at tasting them. To do so, I need to make wines that deliver a unique sensation on people’s palates. To make that happen, I have to capture the DNA of my sites in my wines and transmit the culture of my vineyards to the palates of people who drink my champagnes. In terms of accomplishing this, I need to stay curious and understand my vineyards endlessly. It is less about doing things, and more about thinking about them”, Anselme adds and continues, ”When it comes to preferences of taste, I don’t mind if you don’t like my champagnes. They taste as they taste, not because I have made them to taste that way, but because they transmit the terroir, the flavour of their origin.”
Anselme Selosse defines the DNA of a site with one word – “the mineral content”, he says and augments his comment in following: ”If we observe spring waters from different origins with our five senses, we can all agree that no matter where the water comes from it looks, smells, feels and sounds the same. The only clear difference appears on the palate, where we sense the texture. The minerals form the texture in waters. That is what differentiates the spring waters of different origins. The same applies to wine. The soil must contain high concentrations of micro-organisms and vegetation for the vines to absorb minerals via water,” Anselme explains, advocating organic viticulture methods to guarantee this. He adds that the role of soil-bound minerals is also emphasised in the ageing of wines. Selosse takes a piece of paper from his pocket and sets it on fire. Once the paper has burned to ashes, he points out that it is made of soil-based minerals. "All organic substances decay and turn to ashes, just like this paper when it burns, thereby returning to mineral form. This also occurs in wines. As wine matures and ages, its mineral salts are released and highlighted in the mouthfeel. The sense of place, terroir, stands out. That's why I believe it's important to mature wines and champagnes for long time before releasing them onto the market," he summarises. The cellar door opens and a young man enters into the room. “This is my son Guillaume who works with me and came to introduce our wines”, Anselme says proudly. A creator of the future Guillaume takes us to the barrel cellar, where his father advises him on which barrel to take wine for tasting. We taste vins clairs made from Chardonnay from famous Grand Cru villages of Côte de Blancs. Anselme explains the differences between the terroirs, "Le Mesnil and Avize have more complex terroir than, for example, Oger which has more homogeneous terroir. Cramant is complex due to the village's vineyards spreading out in various directions and the micro-climates prevalent in the area." Guillaume continues, "Oger delivers light and fruity wines, whereas Le Mesnil provides more solid and firmer ones. For me, Cramant is like Meursault, opulent and sweet on the palate, while Avize is firmer and more focused like Puligny-Montrachet.” Like his father, Guillaume describes their wines like white Burgundians. They talk about the wines by complimenting each other’s sentences. Anselme and Guillaume have been working together since 2012 and have a shared vision. Guillaume has not remained in his father's shadow: like the young Anselme, he has made his own mark. He studied and gained experience by working for renowned producers in various parts of France, before returning home to learn alongside his father. With his father's assistance, Guillaume created the first champagne of his own in 2009. Guillaume S. ’Au Dessus du Gros Mont’ was based on an old Chardonnay harvest given to Guillaume as an 18th birthday present by his grandmother. The champagne immediately achieved super-cult status among Selosse fans. Ultra small production of 650 bottles and high demand has lifted the prices as high as 600 euros a bottle. It will soon be joined by another exclusive champagne created by Guillaume, a hundred per cent Pinot Noir, which will be another trophy wine for Selosse lovers. In Guillaume, Anselme Selosse has the perfect successor for the family company, a son who is prepared to make his own way as well as following in his father's footsteps. When I ask how Anselme would advise his son, he says, ”To have freedom, to stay curious, to keep his eyes and ears open, to feel and taste wines. He knows this. He has his own way.” < Jacques Selosse Champagnes: Initial Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut A blend of three successive vintages of Chardonnay grapes from Avize, Cramant and Oger. The blend is aged for 24–30 months on lees before disgorgement. Dosage: 0,66 grams per liter Production: 33,000 bottles a year Average price: 147€ (ex-tax; WineSearcher) V.O. ”Version Originale” Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut ******************* Hôtel Restaurant Les Avisés 59, rue de Cramant 51190 Avize Tél (33) 326 577 006 www.selosse-lesavises.com email@example.com A blend of three successive vintages of Chardonnay grapes from Avize, Cramant and Oger. The grapes come from upper part of the vineyards and older vines than in Intial. The blend is aged for 42 months on lees before disgorgement. Dosage: 0 grams per liter Production: 3,600 bottles a year Average price: 193€ (ex-tax; WineSearcher) Fi n e L e g e n d Taste of origin 115
Jacques Selosse Champagnes 116 Millésime Blanc de Blancs A single vintage Blanc de Blancs made from two vineyard plots in Avize – Le Mont de Cramant and Les Chantereines. The blend is aged for nine years on lees before disgorgement. Contraste Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut Production: 0-8,000 bottles a year A Blanc de Noirs champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard – La Côte Faron in the village of Aÿ. The champagne is made by blending two vintages together with the base wine blend that originates to 1994 – the first vintage of La Côte Faron. Average price: 561€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Dosage: 0.7 grams per liter Production: 2,000 bottles a year Lieux-dits Aÿ 'La Côte Faron' Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Extra Brut A Blanc de Noirs champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard – La Côte Faron in the village of Aÿ. The champagne is made by blending two vintages together with the base wine blend that originates to 1994 – the first vintage of La Côte Faron. Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Production: 2,000 bottles a year Substance Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Average price: 266€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) A multivintage Blanc de Blancs from a single vineyard in Avize. The blend is made from over twenty vintages that are blended in unique solera system started from 1986. Lieux-dits Ambonnay ’Le Bout du Clos’ Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Extra Brut Lieux-dit Mareuil sur Aÿ 'Sous le Mont' Grand Cru Extra Brut A Blanc de Noirs champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard – Le Bout du Clos in the village of Ambonnay. A Blanc de Noirs champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard – Sous Le Mont in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Average price: 287€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Average price: 269€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Anselme Selosse calls this as an anti-vintage champagne due to the solera system which diminishes the vintage characteristics in champagne. The blend is aged for 5-6 years on lees before disgorgement. Dosage: 1.3 grams per liter Production: 2,900 bottles a year Average price: 280€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Average price: 282€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher)
Lieux-dits Le Mesnil sur Oger ’Les Carelles’ Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut Lieux-dits Cramant 'Chemin de Chalons' Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut A blanc de blancs champagne from a small 0.4 hectares Les Carelles vineyard in Mesnil. The wine ages for 5-6 years before disgorgement. A single vineyard Chardonnay champagne from Chemin de Chalons plot in the village of Cramant. Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Average price: 556€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Exquise Sec A blend of three successive vintages of Chardonnay grapes from Oger. The blend is aged for three years before disgorgement. Dosage: 24 grams per liter Production: 1,200 bottles a year Average price: 196€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Average price: 290€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) A 100% Chardonnay champagne from a single vineyard – Les Chantereines – in the village of Avize. Dosage: 0.4 grams per liter Average price: 498€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) A blend of 90% Chardonnay from Avize and 10% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay. The wine is aged for 5 years prior to disgorgement Dosage: 4.6 grams per liter Production: 6,000 bottles a year Average price: 266€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) "Il était une fois" Ratafia de Champagne Liqueur The wine is made from a blend of vintages between 1995 and 1999. The blend has been restored in the barrels for 11 years and the barrels have been located outside the cellar. No topping has been done. The wine is fortified to 15.2%. Residual Sugar: 157 grams per liter Average price: 414€ (ex-tax; Wine-Searcher) Fi n e L e g e n d Lieux-dits Avize ’Les Chantereines’ Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut Brut Rosé 117
Jacques Selosse Champagnes Blanc de 95p Substance Blancs V.O. "Version Original" 92p Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 92p Initial Extra Brut Light yellow colour. Pronounced and intense nose shows lemony aromas with apricot brioche and nutty nuances. The palate is dry and crisp with dense mineral texture and supple fruitiness. Lingering and refreshing finish. Lovely open champagne that is drinking well now and compliments well grilled scallops. Bright, yellow colour. Fresh and dense nose with complex oxidative aromas – lemon zest, iodine, apple skins and brioche. Dry and crisp on palate with a mouthfilling mousse. The palate is intense and highlighted by firm chalky texture. The dense flavour is driven by minerality while dried fruit flavours are in the back. Great grip which carries on in the lingering aftertaste. Serves well at with Blini with Caviar and Crème Fraîche. (from solera 1986–2003) Rich, yellow colour. Very complex and rich oxidative nose with brioche, dried fruits and mineral toastiness. Dry and broad palate shows pure chalky minerality that is pronounced from mid palate until the very lingering and long finish. The palate is very dense with lemon, dried apple and brioche flavours. Vinous champagne that drinks well even 10–12C. Great companion to Roasted Veal Fillet with Morrels or Baked Saddle of Rabbit with Celeriac roll. 118 Blanc de 93p Millésime Blancs 2005 91p Exquise Sec Intense yellow colour. Rich candied nose with dried apricots, brioche and touch of toastiness. The palate is dry and rich with round buttery mouthfeel, refined mousse and intense chalky minerality with fine touch of dried apricots. The lingering finish is round and intense with refined oxidative character. Serve at 9–11C and pair with Sole Meunière or Grilled Lemon Butter Lobster Tails with ginger and oyster sauce. Medium-intense, yellow colour. Fresh and ripe nose with candied apricot aromas and exotic spiciness. Medium-sweet palate has refreshingly crisp acidity and intense ripe apricot flavour with touch of toasty nuttiness. Harmonious finish with wellintegrated sweetness. Serve at 6–8C with fruit desserts, foie gras canapées and salty creamy cheeses. était une fois" Ratafia 94p "Il de Champagne Liqueur Intense golden yellow colour. Rich caramel nose with seductive roasted hazelnut aromas. Sweet and intense palate with such delicious sweet brioche flavoured palate with roasted sugared nuts and preserved yellow fruits. Lingering long and nectar-like finish with delicious spicy minerality. Serve between 9–11C and enjoy it with great friends with cheese or foie gras or no food as this wine is an ultimate meditation wine.
Fi n e D r i n k i n g H i s t o r y FINE ARCHIVE STORY 121 TEXT: PEKKA NUIKKI Eugène Mercier, founder of the lively Mercier Champagne House, was well ahead of his time. He was a man with amazing energy and a vision for out of the ordinary ideas. He was only twenty years of age when his ambition to bring high-quality champagne from high society down to everyday folk began. To gain the awareness of the masses, he promptly developed a highly creative advertising strategy with a series of stunning events, which are even today – a hundred years later – matchless.
Count in kilometres, not metres 122 Eugène Mercier was a ‘big’ man, with extremely life-sized ideas useful also for publicity, so it was no surprise that the champagne cellars he built were out of the ordinary. In 1871, he decided to build an authentic underground town. “Count in kilometres, not metres”, were his instructions to the architect in charge of the project. It took six years to excavate the 47 tunnels covering 18 kilometres of single level cellars with a direct connection to the Paris - Strasbourg railway line. Eugène thought of the cellars not just as a facility for champagne production, but also as a place to visit and learn. He opened his cellars to the public as early as 1885. Staff were assigned to welcome and guide visitors through the cellars. They were able to enjoy the work of local sculptor Gustave-Andre Navlet, who had been commissioned to carve high reliefs into the chalk. These tours, which are nowadays an everyday event in Champagne, helped to increase awareness of the Mercier brand. This was the first time that Eugène Mercier showed his excellent marketing savvy. Among the many famous visitors Eugène Mercier received was the President of France, Sadi Carnot. On 19 September 1871, at half past three in the afternoon, a guided tour by horse-drawn carriage of the torch-lit cellars was conducted for the President. Eugène Mercier also installed electrical appliances, avant-garde for the time, as well as a steam engine to light the caves and supply power to a network of machines in a number of different workshops. to hold 1,600 hectolitres, weighing 20,000 kilos and made up of 800 working pieces. Only two years later, the grape harvest produced the needed 1,600 hectolitres of wine to fill the cask. It was the largest vintage ever achieved. Eugène Mercier reserved his most breathtaking showmanship for the three world exhibitions held in Paris. For the first event in 1878, he had already built an enormous cask with a capacity of 75,000 bottles. World’s eighth wonder The ‘Eiffel Tower’ of wines One of his greatest publicity stunts was a giant, twenty-ton ‘Cathedral of Champagne’ cask – the world’s biggest wine barrel. He wanted to build it from old Hungarian oak trees. For this reason he sent his cooper, fittingly named Jolibois (literally pretty woods), to Hungary to hand-pick those 150 oaks, each at least one hundred years old, which would be cut down for the vat’s construction. After fifteen years of hard work, on 7 of July 1885 the Mercier’s inventory for that day registers: A 200,000 bottle barrel, estimated by administration By the time the second fair was to take place in Paris in 1889, his ‘Cathedral of Champagne’ cask was ready. He announced that his cask would be one of the main attractions of the fair. First he had to tear down the walls of the enormous storeroom in which the cask was housed. Twenty-four hours later, on 17 April 1889, the cask was ready for transportation to Paris. It took eight days and nights, twenty-four oxen from Morwan and eighteen horses, to
The cheapest advertising campaign In 1900, Paris accommodated the last World Exhibition of the century. Eugène Mercier came up with new ways of bringing his champagne to public attention. First, he organised trips above Paris in a Mercierbranded hydrogen balloon, with great commercial success. Over Fi n e D r i n k i n g H i s t o r y transport the world’s largest wine cask, with a 200,000-bottle capacity, from Epernay to Paris. On the journey, two bridges collapsed under the weight, and several others required major repairs. A large number of city lights and building facades were damaged en route. He had to buy five houses, for a small fortune, which he then demolished in order to make way, but the publicity achieved made all the tough work worthwhile. Although the 20-ton cask was overshadowed by the main attraction – the Eiffel Tower, it garnered loads of attention. Afterwards it was returned to Epernay, where it was used for blending until 1947. 123
124 10,000 Parisians discovered Paris at an altitude of 300 metres, that is to say the height of the Eiffel Tower, in a captive balloon with his brand name painted in 3-metre high letters to be seen from the ground. It also became the first advertising medium of its kind. On the 14 November, when the fair officially closed its gates, a ceremonious flight from Paris to Epernay was organised. The journey started in fabulous weather, but near Epernay the weather changed and while trying to land, they lost the control of the valve and, against their will, a random, yet rapid flight began. After four hours and immense difficulties they finally landed in a small village called La Besace, not far from the Belgian border. The border police inspected the balloon and found six bottles of champagne. The pilot got a fine for the illegal importation of alcohol. “This is the cheapest advertising I’ve ever done. The press reports on this adventure will end up costing me less than an eighth of a cent a line”, Eugène Mercier cheerfully said. The world’s first advertising film Even more successful was his screening of the advertising film called ‘The making of champagne, from grape to the glass’, made by Eugène himself with the help of the legendary Lumière brothers. It took nearly two years to shoot a film that lasted just a few minutes. Precisely 3,723,821 visitors queued to see this very first advertising film of the Mercier champagne production process. No future without a past For its present popularity, Mercier owes the biggest thanks to this unprejudiced man who understood the meaning of publicity, aggressive price policy and wider target groups, much earlier than his contemporaries. He understood even at that time, that marketing a product is at least as important as the quality of the product. Judging from champagne houses’
Fi n e D r i n k i n g H i s t o r y 125 conservative and overconfident approach to the market and its customers, this is a fact that many a modern champagne house still has trouble holding on to. If you would today ask an average Frenchman to name one champagne house, the answer would in all likelihood be Mercier. Almost 90% of its whole production is indeed consumed on French soil. 92p Having worked many years in the advertising business, my interest in the Mercier brand was obviously expected, but it was still quite a surprise for me that this everyman’s champagne from an average year also sparked my interest, so well brought-up was this 1941 Mercier Brut Réserve champagne. 1941 Mercier Brut Réserve Very good-looking bottle, almost in mint condition. Decanted for 30 richness, but the finish appeared to be slightly sharp, one-dimensional and minutes. Marvellous bright, gold colour with some tiny, slow running short. However, it was a splendid wine with great balance, and far from bubbles left. Clean and fresh, delicate bouquet with hazelnut and apricot an average, everyday champagne. It should be drunk fairly quickly after flavours, very honeyed. Round and luscious, showing age and immense opening. An old, gentle champagne with a captivating commercial saga.
126 The Evolution of Luxury Champagnes Text: Juha Lihtonen Photos: Pekka Nuikki The concept of luxury champagne is not a recent innovation. It was first introduced over 150 years ago as an exclusivity to please one man and one man only. Forty years later it was re-invented and provided as an exclusive gift to 150 chosen people. Only year later, in 1936 the concept became concrete as the first commercial luxury champagne was launched. The new eligible champagne category was born and became known as the prestige champagne category. The first luxury champagne ever produced is considered to be Louis Roederer’s Cristal, which was introduced first in 1867 on the Three Emperors’ Dinner in Café Anglais, Paris. It was here where Tsar of Russia, Alexander II, fell in love with this long-aged champagne from vintage 1847 that was served from a transparent, special lead glass bottle. The first batch of this crystal glass bottled champagne was delivered to the court of Tsar Alexander II in 1876. Its commercialisation occurred decades later when Madame
Fi n e C h a m pa g n e 127 Olry-Roederer decided to launch a small batch of Cristal 1928 as licensed trademark in the end of 1930s, few years after the launch of the first commercial luxury champagne, Dom Pérignon. (*) The idea of commercially produced and promoted luxury champagne was invented in England. The father of the idea was an Englishman Lawrence Venn. He was hired as an advisor by the trade union of major champagne houses – Syndicat de Grandes Marques de Champagne – which had encountered challenges in champagne sales in England, their main export market. The Great Depression that had started in 1929 had a direct impact on champagne sales in England. Although the depression did not reach France and Champagne until 1931, the producers were alerted and sought anxiously a cure for lowering sales and excessively growing champagne stocks in their cellars. The only option that producers could think of was promoting champagne with lower prices. Lawrence Venn opposed the idea. In 1932 he tried to convince the syndicate members in their meeting not to lower prices and dilute the brand image of champagne, but instead, to focus on launching more expensive and exclusive champagnes to attract the British affluent elite societies, who were not affected financially by the depression. The syndicate members objected Venn’s idea, excluding one person, RobertJean de Vogüé, the new director of Moët & Chandon. De Vogüé adapted Venn’s idea and decided to implement it in 1935 when he wanted to express his gratitude for the successful partnership with Moët & Chandon’s London agent, Simon Brothers on the company’s centennial anniversary. De Vogüé decided to create a 300-bottles batch of special bottling of Moët & Chandon vintage champagne for 150 the best customers of Simon Brothers. For bottling he used a model of an ancient pear-shaped champagne bottle that was used in the late 18th century by Jean-Rémy Moët. For the champagne De Vogüé decided to launch an exclusive 300-bottle batch of Moët & Chandon vintage champagne in special bottles that he wanted to donate to 150 best customers of Simon Brothers & Co. The bottles were filled with last remaining
128 stock of Moët & Chandon 1926 vintage champagnes and labelled with the three-pointed shield label that Jean-Rémy Moët had used since 1791 on his white sparkling wines. The labels were printed with the text: “Champagne specially shipped for Simon Brothers & Co’s Centenary 1835–1935.” One hundred and fifty best customers of Simon Brothers & Co received the delivery of two bottles from Moët & Chandon. The word of mouth was quickly spreading among the affluent societies in United States and inquiries for more of these special bottles were soon pouring down to Moët & Chandon and De Vogüé, who decided to commercialize the champagne. As the 1926 vintage was out in stock and other great vintages 1928 and 1929 were not ready to be released, De Vogüé decided to use the best vintage he had available and ready. 1,200 bottles of Moët & Chandon 1921 vintage champagne was transferred to the pear-shaped bottles. As the champagne was still missing the name, De Vogüé decided to use the Dom Pérignon brand that was given by the Mercier family as the wedding gift to Moët & Chandon when Francine DurantMercier wed Paul Chandon in 1927. The first luxury champagne was commercially born and shipped to New York in the end of 1936 where they were popped by the jet set societies in New Year celebrations. The next vintages of Dom Pérignon 1928, 1929, 1934 and 1937 were all Moët & Chandon vintage champagnes that were transferred to Dom Pérignon bottle. The first Dom Pérignon
In these modern times of ultra luxury champagnes, there seems to be more focus and input on packaging than in content itself. For instance, the most recent ultra luxury champagne was introduced by champagne producer Edouard Brun, who launched super exclusive champagne Cuvée Sensorium. The champagne is bottled in the super expensive design porcelain bottle decorated with 24-carat gold. The unique bottle design is also the case with champagne producer Alexandre Mea from Champagne Devavry, who created a carbon-coated champagne bottle and launched the new brand called Champagne Carbon that has become known as the official Formula One podium champagne. Despite the new comers, there is still new luxury champagne news to be expected from the well-established champagne houses. The Cellar Master of Charles Heidsieck, Cyril Brun, has revealed that they are reviving the house’s old prestige cuvée Champagne Charlie. vintage that was bottle-fermented in its distinctive bottle was vintage 1943. Since then there has been launched 37 vintages of Dom Pérignon. Although the luxury champagne concept has existed commercially since the launch of Dom Pérignon, major changes have taken place in both champagnes’ drastically improved quality and in business models. The luxury champagnes of the major champagne houses have become brands of their own, such as Dom Pérignon and most recently Rare from Piper Heidsieck. Apart from this, there are also new luxury champagne brands emerging from the collaboration of established champagne producers and celebrities and designers. Thanks to the celebrity or designer factor, these The luxury champagne business is booming and producers are aiming higher and higher in creating more exclusive champagnes with new WOW-factors. It shows that even the sky is not a limit. A good example of this is Maison Mumm which has recently launched Grand Cordon Stellar Zero Gravity champagne – the first champagne for astronauts and space tourists. One might wonder if it fits into the luxury champagne category quality-wise? Well, that leads to a question, what is the luxury factor in champagnes after all. Let’s not forget that the first commercial luxury champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon was the regular 1921 vintage champagne from Moët & Chandon which New York jetsets had most likely drunk well before they popped and sipped the first Dom Pérignon 1921 to celebrate the New Year’s Eve. It was considered as luxury champagne, not because of its quality but because of its exclusivity, which made the moment extremely special. For deep-pocketed space tourists sipping champagne in Space X on their trip in space is certainly a moment of luxury, which makes any champagne there a luxury champagne. (*) Anecdote: One of the highly esteemed luxury champagnes, Salon, has a longer history than Dom Pérignon as it has been produced since 1905. However, it was produced exclusively for the use of its creator Eugène Aime Salon to please his palate solely. As a frequent customer of Restaurant Maxim’s in Paris, he made sure that Salon champagnes were always available there for him. From vintage 1921 onwards he emitted an allocation of Salon to be sold to the clients of Restaurant Maxim’s. As the Salon 1921 was commercially, though exclusively, available for Restaurant Maxim’s clients in the end of 1920s, one could argue that it was the first luxury champagne. < Fi n e C h a m pa g n e brands are often communicated as ultra luxury champagnes. The most known and successful of these new brands is Armand de Brignac owned by rap artist Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter and elaborated in collaboration with Champagne Cattier. Another famous rap artist, Curtis James Jackson III, aka 50 Cents, launched his brand Le Chemin du Roi with 14-carat gold-plated emblem label in August 2018. His champagnes are elaborated with the established cooperative champagne producer, Champagne Castelnau, which has been before involved with an elaboration of pop diva Mariah Carey’s champagne called Angel that was launched in 2010 with a price of 1,000 US dollars. 129
The list of luxury champagnes and their first vintage: 130 1905 Salon 1974 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 1921 Couvée Dom Pérignon 1975 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1928 Louis Roederer Cristal 1976 Piper-Heidsieck Rare 1935 Philipponnat Clos de Goisses 1979 Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1952 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1979 Pommery Cuvée Louise 1952 Bollinger R.D. 1983 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1959 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 1993 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 1959 Dom Pérignon Rosé 1995 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle (multi-vintage first launch in 1959) 1995 Boërl & Kroff 1962 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame (the first commercial release 1966) 1999 Clos des Goisses Juste Rosé Armand de Brignac (non-vintage launched in 2006) 1964 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2006 Carbon (launched in 2010) 1966 Dom Ruinart Rosé Angel (non-vintage launched in 2010) 1966 G.H. Mumm Cuvée René Lalou Le Chemin du Roi (non-vintage launched in 2018) 1969 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises Edouard Brun Cuvée Sensorium (non-vintage launched in 2018) 1973 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 94p Couvée Dom Pérignon 1921 Moderately intense golden colour with no apparent bubbles. Clean nose with hints of oxidative and restrained character with dried fruit and apple notes completed with walnut aromas. Crisp and focused light-bodied palate. Extremely balanced structure. Hints of oxidation and apple flavours with nuttiness in moderately long mineral finish. (JL) 91p Salon 1925 A golden yellow colour. Pronounced nutty and mature nose of dried fruits, hints of citrus and almonds. Dry, soft and moutfilling texture with still some gently tickling bubbles left and preserved yellow fruit flavours. Very linear and persitent taste with lingering nutty finish. (JL)
FINE ARCHIVE STORY Waiters move from table to table, as the house band strikes up its first notes of the evening. The bustling restaurant is alive with jovial conversation as the Paris elite of the early twentieth century converge upon Maxim’s for another night of high society entertainment. H owever, the eight middle-aged gentlemen that are seated in the corner of the restaurant are oblivious to the world around them. All are quietly watching their host, to whom the sommelier is currently serving champagne. With a look of intense seriousness, the host raises the glass to his lips, closes his eyes, and sips the wine. Silence ensues and time stands still; seconds seem like hours. The host opens his eyes, nods, and smilingly informs his guests that the wine tastes just as it should. Soon, champagne glasses are clinking and compliments on the wonderfully refreshing taste of the champagne are mixed with the lively strains of the charleston. Though the evening has just begun, some are inspired to dance, buoyed by the knowledge that this will be a night to remember. A smile of satisfaction shines across the face of the host, Eugène-Aimé Salon, and with good reason. He can at last drink his favourite champagne in his favourite restaurant, Paris’ number one dining venue, Maxim’s. It had not been easy to get to this point though, because he had to make the champagne himself. F I N E C h a m pa g n e Text: Juha Li hto nen Photos: Pekka Nuikki 133
134 One wine from one grape variety, from one village and from one year – all for one man
The first in its class A unique concept Champagne production was not new to EugèneAimé. In his early years, he had helped his brother-in-law produce champagne at the small Clos Turin vineyard in the village of Le Mesnilsur-Oger. So now he decided to purchase five hectares of vines near the very same village. Up until 1971, Salon also had sole rights to the grapes on the Clos Turin vineyard, which the Krug brothers then decided to buy out and convert to their legendary Clos du Mesnil champagne. Eugène-Aimé Salon’s philosophy was simple. He wanted to capture in a bottle the Côte de Blancs terroir, by producing just one wine from one grape variety, from one village and from one year – all for one man. The northern, chilly Champagne region only rarely provides excellent harvests. Salon decided to produce his wines only in the best years, and initially he only made wine every other year on average. Salon’s first vintage, 1905, was also the first official blanc de blancs champagne. Eugène-Aimé only made wines that were of the highest quality. He only wanted the best, and if that was not going to be the case, he would sell the grapes. There were four vintages – 1905, 1909, 1911 and 1914 – that were exclusively for his own use and that of friends. Of course, that was before his creation became Maxim’s house champagne in the 1920s. Respect Eugène-Aimé Salon managed to produce ten excellent vintages in his lifetime. After his death in 1943, his nephew took over, but sold the business in 1963 to the champagne house of Besserat de Bellefon. The new owner was happy with the quality of the wine, and the only major change made was to the Salon packaging, which was redesigned in 1976. It was given a more modern and exclusive look, although its Belle Epoque-style ‘S’ symbol was kept, both on the packaging and the label. The business transferred from Besserat de Bellefon to Laurent-Perrier in 1988. LaurentPerrier, which also owns Champagne Delamotte next to Salon, produces Salon according to the philosophy of its founder. Hence, the wine is produced only from the finest vintages. The winegrowing is based on Eugène-Aimé Salon’s traditional method. The grapes are produced in an area of 10 hectares on 19 grand cru plots, in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Nine hectares are managed by 20 growers, on a long-term contract, and the remaining one is Salon’s own Le Jardin de Salon vineyard. Today, the average age of the Salon vines is 40 years. Export Assistant of Delamotte and Salon, Audrey Campos, says: “The soul of Salon wines is concealed within the clean-featured, mineral tones and sharp acidity. That soulfulness comes from the soil at Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which is the most acidic in Côte de Blancs. The old vines extend their roots deep into the earth, where they benefit from the mineral riches that abound there. Unfortunately, Le Jardin de Salon had to be completely replanted in 2002, due to a disease that killed off the old vines. The recovery period is significant and it will take many years before the vineyard can yield quality grapes for Salon.” F I N E C h a m pa g n e Since its inception in 1905, Salon Blanc de Blancs has always been the Champagne region’s most mythical wine. The basic idea for its production was unusual right from the start, given its sole purpose was to satisfy the palate of just one man. The only place that this wine was served was Maxim’s in Paris. It might sound like vanity, but it was only there that Eugène-Aimé Salon wanted to drink his wine and that was, well, his perogative. For nearly half a century, Maxim’s had exclusive rights to Salon. Today, the wine has become one of the world’s most sought-after and expensive champagnes. Salon’s 100-year success story has not been a matter of mere chance. Eugène-Aimé Salon’s rather successful career as a fur trader provided him with a luxurious lifestyle, allowing him to dine at Maxim’s on a daily basis. However, life was not perfect, and it was additionally marred by bad champagne. The numerous champagne types he tasted at Maxim’s brought him little pleasure, often spoiling what had, for the most part, been a good day; and, after all, what was the purpose of champagne anyway? Frustrated, Eugène-Aimé Salon decided to make his very own champagne – for himself! 135
136 Although the wine was originally made to please just one man, EugèneAimé Salon, he was not alone in his predilection. Salon under Laurent-Perrier Laurent-Perrier’s chef de cave, Michel Fauconnet, says there were a few changes made to the way Salon was produced after they bought the estate. Greater attention was paid to cleanliness and tidiness in the vineyards, as well as in the winery. The most significant change, however, was the transferring of the entire Salon production to Laurent-Perrier, where they had up-todate production facilities and equipment. The grapes are pressed at Laurent-Perrier in Tourssur-Marne, which is also where the initial fermentation takes place. For the second fermentation, the bottles are returned to Salon where they will stay until completion. “When working with Salon, all the classic Champagne rules are left aside. The philosophy of Salon sets it apart from all other brands; grapes from a single village, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and a single grape variety, Chardonnay, are used and the selection of the harvest year is made. No blend of years, no blend of different grapes and no blend of different villages – Salon is absolutely unique. Each spring, we decide if Salon will be produced from the previous vintage or not. If the answer is no, we just use it for Delamotte, or if not for Delamotte, then for L-P. When processing Salon, I know it is a big challenge, because I have to accept or refuse a whole vintage depending on its respective potential for ageing. The challenge here is completely opposite to that of the main task that I accomplish for L-P Brut or Delamotte Brut, for instance. With Salon, I cannot just rely upon reserve wines or previous vintage years to balance the quality of the current harvest. That is why Salon vintages are only released if their natural balance of sugar versus acidity is perfect,” Fauconnet remarks, before adding that: “The wine never undergoes malolactic fermentation. With the high malic acidity involved, the wine has a long ageing potential and maintains its youthful green colour for a very long time.” According to Michel Fauconnet, there is no special procedure required in Salon winemaking itself, just the respect of the grape and the purest extraction of the terroir. This is maintained by using indigenous yeasts and vinifying the wine in stainless steel tanks, instead of wooden barrels. Subsequent to this, the wines are delivered back to Salon for a second fermentation process. The wines rest on their lees in the Salon cellars for an average of ten years before disgorgement. After disgorging, a low dosage of only five to six grammes of sugar per litre is added. Since the bottle shapes are unique, all of the labelling is done by hand. In the Salon cellars When visiting Salon, it is easy to see why they decided to move some of the production processes to Laurent-Perrier, as the Salon facilities are very small and modest. The garage-size bottling, labelling and packing room is a charming sight. The workaday garage atmosphere, however, is in stark contrast to the Salon bar in the modernised section, which looks like the reception desk of a state-of-the-art designer hotel. Behind a glass wall, thousands of bottles of Salon mature, awaiting the right moment to be launched onto the market.
The importance of history Salon’s reputation relies heavily on its history. Its success at Maxim’s belongs to the past, but its commercial success lies just ahead. The fascination that surrounds it is still based purely and simply on Eugène-Aimé Salon’s initial concept: one village, one variety and one vintage. Today, it is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people. Salon, if anything, is a terroir champagne without an equal. Its limited availability and unique concept help to create the myth that surrounds it, which continues to lure lovers of champagne in ever-greater numbers. However, does the quality of the wine, with its clean lines and sharp acidic tones, live up to the expectations of consumers? When young, perhaps not, but when mature, definitely! Although the wine was originally made to please just one man, Eugène-Aimé Salon, he was not alone in his predilection. Salon may be an interesting entry in the history books and Salon’s owners may have changed over the years, but today Salon is one of the most sought-after and difficult champagnes to acquire.> F I N E C h a m pa g n e “We produce approximately 60,000 bottles of Salon per vintage. Every vintage is evaluated when it is ready for release to the markets. We might release a younger vintage before an older one if we consider the older one to not be ready,” Audrey Campos stresses. Narrow staircases located beside the reception desk lead to the labyrinthine cellars. Deep in the silence of the cellar is the Salon wine library. Within are more than 20 vintages, from six decades. The rarest wine is the estate’s first official vintage, Salon 1921, of which there is just one bottle left. Salon’s managing director, Didier Dupond, has even been buying back different Salon vintages for the library, a project which continues to this day. salon experiences We have been fortunate enough to experience a number of Salon vintages, although getting hold of the older wines is rather difficult. They all commonly share a fresh, vibrant quality. Their light green-yellow colour makes them look younger than they often are. As for taste, their clean lines, profuse mineral tones and high natural acidity provide them with great youthful character. There is no point looking for lightness or creaminess in them and, because of their firm acid structure and obvious mineral notes, they often benefit from being decanted just before serving. TASTED SALON CHAMPAGNES WITH TASTINGBOOK (Tb) POINTS: (For notes go to tastingbook.com) 2007 Salon 2006 Salon 2004 Salon 2002 Salon 1999 Salon 1997 Salon 1996 Salon 1995 Salon 1990 Salon 1988 Salon 1985 Salon 1983 Salon 1982 Salon 1979 Salon 97 Tb points 98 Tb points 97 Tb points 98 Tb points 97 Tb points 95 Tb points 99 Tb points 96 Tb points 95 Tb points 97 Tb points 95 Tb points 90 Tb points 97 Tb points 98 Tb points 1976 Salon 1973 Salon 1971 Salon 1969 Salon 1966 Salon 1964 Salon 1961 Salon 1959 Salon 1956 Salon 1955 Salon 1953 Salon 1951 Salon 1949 Salon 1934 Salon 99 Tb points 95 Tb points 96 Tb points 97 Tb points 96 Tb points 92 Tb points 99 Tb points 97 Tb points 87 Tb points 94 Tb points 99 Tb points 90 Tb points 99 Tb points 96 Tb points 137
FINE ARCHIVE STORY The Launch of Dom Pérignon Rosé Text & Photography: Pekka Nuikki 138 The atmosphere was charged, and all the necessary barbed wire fences had been erected around the enormous gala venue. Special troops consisting of professional soldiers guarded the area, keeping the curious at bay. A number of private planes carrying diverse heads of state had already landed at the nearby Shiraz airport, and many more were on their way. A 200-milliondollar party was just beginning. Surrounded by steel spikes and in the depths of a huge cluster of marquees, 306 bottles of the first-ever vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne impatiently awaited the royal gourmands. The 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire was one of the most flamboyant society events of the twentieth century. Planning of the event had begun in the late 1950s, and it climaxed in a gala dinner held on 14 October 1971. The light-coloured leather seats of 250 red Mercedes-Benz limousines carried 600 guests, including royals and heads of state, to a vast serpentine table, where they would enjoy the world’s most lavish dinner. The dinner was made and served by the world-renowned Parisian establishment Maxim’s, which was forced to close its restaurant in Paris for several weeks due to the festivities. For almost six months the Imperial Iranian Air Force made frequent sorties between Shiraz and Paris, flying supplies which were then trucked cautiously in army lorries to Persepolis. Each month, goods were driven down the desert highway to deliver building materials for fifty Jansen AG-designed air-conditioned tents, Italian drapes and curtains, Limoges dinnerware, Baccarat crystal, Porthault linens, an exclusive Robert Havilland cup-andsaucer service and over 5000 bottles of wine – including the 1959 Dom Pérignon Rosés. The event was officially opened with a toast of Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 champagne. The dinner began with quails’ eggs filled with caviar from the Caspian Sea. The host, the Shah of Iran, was actually allergic to caviar and had to settle for an artichoke dish. Next came a mousse of crayfish tails, which was beautifully complemented by a Château Haut-Brion Blanc from 1964. The celebrated 1945 Château Lafite Rothschild vintage added some elegance and a dash of soft tannins to the third course of roast saddle of lamb with truffles. Before the main course, the guests’ taste buds were refreshed by a champagne sorbet and a taste of the Moët & Chandon vintage champagne from 1911, created during the Champagne Riots. The main course was Iran’s ancient national symbol, peacock, stuffed with foie gras. The fifty roast birds decorated with peacock tail feathers were a stunning sight on the dinner table. The Comte de Vogué Musigny from 1945, a soft Pinot Noir, was chosen to contribute a suitable depth and structure to the meal. The Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne from 1959 was also chosen to accompany the dessert of glazed Oporto ring of fresh figs with cream and a raspberry champagne sherbet. The six hundred guests dined for over five-and-a-half hours, making this the longest and most lavish official banquet in modern history, as recorded in successive editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. In the words of Orson Welles: “This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!” 1959 was the first vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé. The first bottles, considered the ‘jewel of Dom Pérignon’, were first set on lees in the Dom Pérignon cellars in 1960, with only 306 bottles released. The vintage was only presented at the celebration of the Persian Empire; it was never commercially released. As Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s cellar master, says, it was a turning point: “Dom Pérignon Rosé vintage 1959 is a rare, superlative, mythical vintage. Powerful and solar, its light will inspire the creation of Dom Pérignon Rosé forever.” Geoffroy also told us that there are only a few bottles left in the Dom Pérignon cellars. “Looking back, I think of the creator of the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959, René Philipponnat. I contemplate what has become of Dom Pérignon’s legacy: his ambition to pioneer rosé wines at a new level, which led to the start of the Dom Pérignon Rosé adventure that generated the other expression of Dom Pérignon. Looking forward, it is my duty to live up to this heritage and keep pushing and taking risks to make an ever more provocative rosé.” The Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 vintage reached a record price of US$84 700 at an historic rare champagne auction in New York, overseen by Acker Merrall & Condit. In this, Dom Pérignon 1959 Rosé’s first ever public sale, the “rarer than rare” bottles were estimated at US$5,000–7,000, but were acquired for the astronomical price by a wine investor. >
“This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!” Fi n e E v e n t - Orson Welles 139 1959 Dom Pérignon Rosé 92p (DISGORGED MARCH 1969) Excellent-looking bottle. Purchased from the private cellar of an Italian champagne collector, whose father was an importer of Dom Pérignon in the 1970’s. This rare and unique bottle was opened at a Premier Wine Club event in 2010. In our minds, we had no trouble imagining that this bottle – Celebration bottle – we had just opened was one of the “leftovers” from the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Sometimes, if you have an abundant amount of wild imagination, even a poor wine can taste heavenly. Luckily, in order to get this Celebration wine to taste like pure silk, time was the only thing we needed, and after 30 minutes aeration it opened and became as good as it gets. Deep, intense, hazy-amber colour. Rich and layered nose that evolves beautifully in the glass, delivering white truffles, jammed arctic brambles, figs, hints of smoke and liquorice. Dry, intense and voluptuous palate with vivid acidity. Focused and muscular structure with a smooth, velvety texture. A mature champagne that is still alive but no longer improving.
Fi n e G a r g e t t 141 Champagne T he Winds of Change in Text: Ken Gargett Photos: Pekka Nuikki Not that long ago, choosing champagne to drink was pretty simple. Most of us drank lots of non- vintage. Not much else. If you were a bit of a wine geek, you probably chose vintage whenever you could, and if you had some wealthy mates, very occasionally you went for what is now termed prestige or luxury champagne. Brand-wise the choice was not that extensive – Pol, Bolly, Moët, Heidsieck, Veuve, Lanson were all familiar and comfortable brands. Krug was a real thrill – and still is, of course.
Most people called anything with fizz, ‘champagne’, despite the best efforts of the Champenois. A reasonable degree of sweetness was a given. Rosé was served with dessert and the rest of them were first up. Always. Because after all, champagne wasn’t really serious wine – after all, they wouldn’t just tip bottles over racing drivers if it was a significant wine, would they? Sophistication was drinking from flutes so narrow that you’d be lucky to fit more than three or four needles in one, while those dreadful flat coupes were too often encountered and then rushed off to the kitchen to be cleaned for the prawn cocktails. The concept of Blanc des Noirs, single vineyard champagnes or any of the other innovations we enjoy today were simply not on the radar. The idea of ageing champagne was something only really serious wine geeks even pondered upon – most consumers were convinced that the use-by date of a bottle of champers was about a month after release, and the Champenois encouraged this, as they believed it pushed sales. As for actually considering matching champagnes to the food or taking notes, that would ensure raised eyebrows and a 142 sad shake of the head. They were not the bad old days – how could drinking champagne in any form ever be bad – but it was a world removed from champagne today. Chalk and cheese. Much that has transpired reflects the many and varied ways in which Champagne is better. Perhaps the most obvious difference (improvement?) is the rise of Grower champagnes. Names like Selosse, Collin, Bouchard, Agrapart and many more now have legions of devoted fans. The problem is that there are many champagne fans who have thrown the baby out with the bathwater – anyone telling you that the champagnes from the large and established Houses are rubbish and that Growers now rule is talking nonsense. I think that the rise of Grower champagnes have encouraged the Houses to improve their own wines, but the top Houses are still making a great many brilliant champagnes. I have three issues with the ‘grower only’ push. First, even though there are a great number of Growers, the percentage of the region’s production which they make, compared to that provided by the Houses, is minimal. Stick to Growers and you will severely limit your options. Secondly, while there are some brilliant Growers, there are plenty making very average wine. They face a number of problems, which the Houses are more easily able to overcome. Often, a Grower will simply have the family plot. Champagne is a region, which encourages blending – grapes, vineyards, regions, vintages – and many Growers don’t have options. They do not have the reserve wines which the Houses have built up over time and which can make or break a non-vintage. They don’t have the financial backing for grapes, vineyard equipment, wineries, marketing and more, which is something the Houses rarely worry about. Finally, why on earth would you limit yourself ? Drink the Growers you like and do the same with the Houses. You can love both! And experiment with both when trying new wines. We have also seen the move to terroir driven champagnes. As mentioned, Champagne is the Kingdom of Blending but experiencing single vineyard champagnes and looking at the different characters offered by the various villages can be an eye-opening experience.
Fi n e G a r g e t t 143 The most famous single vineyard (or single village) champagnes are the Krug twins of Clos des Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay. But so many others are offering champagne lovers the opportunity to try this style of wine – Taittinger and Alfred Gratien are simply two of the more recent. This is a trend that will go much further. Move to terroir-driven champagnes has also encouraged the move to produce drier champagnes – or perhaps we should say, the race away from sweetness. A century or so ago, champagne was so much sweeter than it is today. And over the last decade or two, we have seen the dosage levels reduced, usually for the better. The wines are cleaner, fresher, more vibrant and more balanced. Look for instance what Benoît Gouez, the cellar master of Moët & Chandon, has done with non-vintage Moët Imperial Brut. Magic! But, and you knew a ‘but’ was coming, have we gone too far? This fad, and I say fad as I do hope that it is, as a dictionary might suggest, merely the result of a group who follow an impulse for a finite period, must die. It has resulted in numerous champagnes, which are hard, unbalanced, which do not age well (not a crime if they are attractive young, but sadly most can’t even claim that), are often quick to oxidise and offer a rather forbidding austerity. Call them Non-Dosage, Brut Nature, Sans Sucre, Brut Zero or whatever you like, they have held a niche position for some time –
144 Laurent-Perrier first offered their Sans Sucre back in the late 1800s – but only recently have they started to proliferate, surely driven by the trend to less sugar in our lives. Sadly, as the film director, Terry Theise, recently put it so aptly, ‘zero sugar equals zero flavour’. Production is still small – around 2% of the total – but they seem a ‘Somm fave’ and hence are regulars on many wine lists, though for the life of me I cannot understand why, as they are often so difficult to match with food. Some push for these wines, seeing them as ‘weightwatcher’ wines because of the reduced sugar levels, but this ignores the contribution of alcohol to the calorie level. All is not lost. Those examples, and the ‘Starck’ from Louis Roederer is a good one, which come from ripe, quality grapes usually picked from warmer sites, can offer enough richness to overcome the lack of any sugar. Perhaps climate change means that this style will improve in the coming years. Those suggesting sugar is only used to cover flaws miss the point that this style of wine needs small amounts to show at its best. Gouez sees dosage as vital for the development of champagne. Champagne specialist Peter Liem regards dosage as akin to adding salt to food. He also described a liking for this style as similar to liking natural wines. Whether one sees that as a compliment or insult depends on your perspective. Christian Pol Roger, who was allegedly no fan of the non-dosage style (their Pure arriving after his reign), apparently would say that dosage was a part of making great champagne, and likened it to a beautiful woman who, after a fine make-up artist had done their job, was even more beautiful. The CIVC does an amazing job in protecting and promoting this wonderful region and its wines, but even it is not perfect. Time of writing, they have made a dreadfully short-sighted decision in respect of the Australian market. Downunder, we are often asked why we rank so highly in terms of champagne imported and drunk. A great deal of this can be traced back to an Awards event that started more than forty years ago, encouraging both professional and non-professional winelovers to learn about champagne, promote it, drink it and share this with others. It has had an extraordinarily positive impact on champagne in this country, but the CIVC, for reasons best known to itself, wants to close this down and modify whatever remains.
would assume that the increase in quality would have to be significant, to the extent it would make all the extra cost worthwhile. Overall, though, things are very positive. It is no coincidence that sales records are broken almost every year. There will always be hiccups, domestic and international, but there is so much that is exciting coming from the region. So much experimentation. So many producers doing the small, detailed things, to make the 1% improvements. Leclerc Briant are also behind a champagne, to be released in 2021, maturing in stainless steel which has been lined with 24 carat gold. Personally, this seems a bit of an attention-seeking gimmick and one dreads to imagine the price. Which is also what one might think of the limited edition champagne from Edouard Brun, which comes in a porcelain methuselah, costing a mere €8,000. While news of that sort of thing gets lots of clicks for the day, I’m not certain that it does much to add to the image champagne seeks. With 500 to sell, it will be interesting to see the response. Meanwhile, Mumm has released a champagne designed to be drunk in space. Fairly limited market, one would have thought. Bollinger, for example, has moved to using oak harvested from their own forests in the Côte des Blancs. They have 130 hectares of forest near the village of Cuis and have harvested three oak trees, which offered enough staves for thirty barrels. Although, as Bollinger has around 3,500 barrels on the go at any one time, it will be a while before quantity reaches a level to provide a significant impact. Few Champagne lovers would not be aware of the story of the 1907 Heidsieck from the bottom of the Baltic (and the even older Veuve Clicquot) and how brilliant those wines have been. Some Houses are now talking it further. Leclerc Briant’s Abyss cuvée is undergoing underwater ageing in Atlantic. Drappier has also experimented with this process. For this to become widespread, one Far more positively, we are seeing the most welcome move to greater transparency from the makers. No longer, vague and obtuse information under the guise of ‘let us handle the magic’. Champagne lovers, many of them at least, want to know levels of dosage, disgorgement dates, varietal blends, information on winemaking, the villages involved and more. Houses providing this will reap the rewards. Fi n e G a r g e t t Prosecco and other producers of sparkling wines will be grinning all the way to the bank. 145
146 Not that many years ago, there were only a handful of prestige champagnes. Today, almost every producer has at least one. In general, this is where the supreme quality from the region is to be found. Some are taking advantage with ridiculously ostentatious bottles, which at times outshine the contents, but for most, expect something truly special. Houses are placing more importance on their stocks of reserve wines than ever before. We have seen Houses such as Charles Heidsieck and Krug take the somewhat drastic decision to not release certain vintages, including some great years, to revitalise their reserve wines. Sad, it might be, as we would all have loved to have seen such wines, but in the long term, it will mean even greater quality for their non-vintages. We are seeing more and more Houses move to organic and biodynamic practices. The increasing impact of climate change will see the region undergo major change itself. But the winds of change are getting stronger. The cyclone warning has been given in Champagne as the first Aussie-accented champagne was just launched. Who would have ever expected New World producers stepping into Champagne? No one. It is getting stormy in Champagne. <
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Top Sommeliers’ favorite champagnes 148 What kind of champagnes do best sommeliers prefer? What are their favorite champagnes and what champagne brands do they want to have on their wine list? We asked these questions from two top sommeliers Ronan Sayburn MS, the head of wine in 67 Pall Mall and David Ridgway, the head sommelier of Restaurant Tour d’Argent.
Fi n e S o m m e l i e r s ’ C h o i c e 149 RONAN SAYBURN MS Head of Wine The Club 67 Pall Mall, London
150 DAVID RIDGWAY Head Sommelier Restaurant La Tour d’Argent, Paris
151 Fi n e S o m m e l i e r s ’ C h o i c e
152 Thiénot Penfolds Champagne – Champagne with an Aussie Accent Text: Ken Gargett Photos: Penfolds, Leif Carlsson So you want to make champagne? It is even more difficult than you might think. winery to work in, a place for the wines to mature, bottling lines and so much more. To start, where are you getting your grapes? Assuming you do not have extremely deep pockets enabling you to purchase a vineyard or two, you need to be able to source quality grapes. This means contacts – and contracts. You’ll need harvesters, a When the Chief Winemaker Peter Gago joined Penfolds, back in 1989, he was actually part of the sparkling winemaking team and not working with the reds for which he has become so justifiably celebrated. In 2002, Peter became just the fourth
Fi n e N ov e l t y 153 man to hold the reins of Grange, Australia’s most famous wine. As Chief Winemaker, he has responsibilities far beyond Grange and recently, they have included a number of special projects but one suspects that, given his well-known love of great champagne, none has been as close to his heart as the Penfolds champagne project. An Australian champagne? Yes and no. Obviously, no wine can be labelled as champagne if it does not fully comply with all requirements of the CIVC – no region is more diligent in protecting and promoting its interests – and the new releases most certainly do, but this is champagne with an Aussie accent. Penfolds which is best known for its red wines – along with Grange, St Henri, Bin 707, Magill, Bin 389 and more – have moved very successfully into whites, especially with brilliant chardonnays like Yattarna and Bin A. “Despite their success in still wines, sparklers have not been on their radar since back in the 90s.” The Special Projects division has provided us some specialities such as their version of a baijiu and a fabulous old brandy. Californian wines are apparently on their way, and around 12 months ago, there was vague mention of champagne. Beyond that, it was a closely guarded secret. In May, the first of a trio was released and all (well, nearly all) was revealed. First on the shelves was the cuvée with a Blanc de Noirs and Blanc de Blancs to follow. All three are from the 2012 vintage, which is fast heading to legendary status. They have been released to coincide with celebrations for Penfolds 175th anniversary. While the inspiration for these champagnes was all Australian, as Peter put it – “Aussie propelled”, the project was in collaboration with a quality producer, Champagne Thiénot. Thanks to this collaboration, Gago had access to juice from the spectacular vintage and other years, if he wanted them, but he opted for 2012. He and his team worked with Thiénot for the blending and bottling. In future years, expect even more involvement. All three champagnes have a price tag of AU$280 (175€). The price is around the same as for a bottle of Dom Pérignon, meaning that much will be expected of it. Sure, some will sell on a novelty basis and some on a rarity factor, as the quantities are very small, especially of the Blanc de Noirs and Blanc de Blancs. However, the quality has to be super stellar on champagnes of this price level, and I am happy to say it is. The cuvée ‘Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2012’ is a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from Grand Cru vineyards. The wine
154 has gone through 100% malo-lactic fermentation. The nose is open with an immediate creamy note, followed by hazelnuts, spices, citrus and some honeycomb. Enticing aromas. On the palate, a hint of green apple quickly morphs into lovely baked apple pie characters. Complex and seamless champagne. The quality of the vintage is evident. I love this – 96 points. The production of this cuvee is considerably larger than the other two champagnes. The ‘Blanc de Noirs 2012’ is from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, a vineyard of just 0.9 hectares. I find it the least impressive of the trio. A fine champagne, but not with the class and finesse of the others. Notes of ripe strawberries, coffee beans and stone fruit with a creamy texture. However, it lacks the elegance and finesse of the other two. A little burlier. Time may soften this. 93 points for now. Saving the best for last, the ‘Blanc de Blancs 2012’. It is from a tiny vineyard, just half a hectare, in the Grand Cru village of Avize. Hence, quantities, not revealed, are obviously tiny. There is no malo-lactic fermentation, in order to enhance the acidity. A stunning champagne, with notes of baked apple, nuts, lemon curd, white peach and flowers. Complex, clean and fresh, with an appealing texture and great length. Wonderful stuff. 97 points.
Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker Fi n e N ov e l t y Stanislas Thiénot, Garance Thiénot, Peter Gago and Nicolas Uriel 155 All three are superb now, but will age and improve for many years to come. They have been mostly bottled in standard 750ml bottles, but there are some magnums and even a jeroboam or two available. The jeroboams were produced by ageing the wine in jeroboam bottle, not by transfer, which often is the case with large bottles. All three feature low dosage, and all of the liqueur for that dosage was stored in ex-Yattarna barrels, giving the champers that Aussie accent, without transgressing the regulations. Next? It is possible that Penfolds may look at vintages between 2012 and 2018, but the feeling is that the next release will be from 2018, another extraordinary year. There is a possibility of a non-vintage and even rosé champagne. They may even, in time, look to purchase their own vineyards. Watch this space. A welcome and wonderful collaboration between the French and the Aussies. <
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THE DIRT DIABLO Text: Damien Reid Lamborghini has stepped into the rich family territory for the first time with the 641bhp, twinturbo V8 Urus SUV and it can only be described as explosive regardless of what surface its wheels are on. It’s hard to dispute the claim that the $200,000 Urus is the world’s fastest SUV with a zero to 100kmh time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 305kmh because that’s faster in both respects than Lamborghini’s V10 Gallardo supercar from a decade earlier. The 370mm carbon ceramic discs with six-piston calipers on the rear are bigger than the front discs on most Lamborghinis while the 440mm discs with 10-piston calipers on the front are the biggest brakes on any production car in the world. This enables it to stop its 2.2-tonne mass from 100kmh in a shorter distance than the Gallardo in just 33.7 meters. While the company claims to still predominantly be a supercar manufacturer, every second Lamborghini it sells from now on Lamborghini Urus Italy is famous for its controversial works of art and you get the feeling the Urus is another on their long list will be an SUV which they hope will be used as a daily driver to win over first-time owners. “We are now competing in a segment that is represented by all the manufacturers, not just our traditional rivals,” company Chairman and CEO, Stefano Domenicali said. Anima or Ego? While Urus shares underpinnings with other VW Group SUVs, namely the Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7, it has a longer wheelbase. Likewise, it shares the 48-volt, self-leveling rear suspension from the Bentayga but has exclusive use of a torque vectoring system and four-wheel steering taken from the Aventador S. At just over five meters long, Urus is imposing but its all-wheel steering turns the back wheels three degrees in and out to reduce its perceived wheelbase by 600mm to just 2.4 meters giving it a smaller turning circle than the Huracan. “With a zero to 100kmh time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 305kmh it’s faster in both respects than Lamborghini’s V10 Gallardo supercar from a decade earlier.” Fi n e L i f e s t y l e Few cars have polarized opinion in recent times like the Lamborghini Urus. The thought of an SUV from the makers of the Miura, Countach and Diablo was too much for some. Well, we’ve driven it on the road, the racetrack and in the bush and thankfully it’s still a Lamborghini in all the right places. 159
Fi n e L i f e s t y l e “It attacked the gravel like a rally stage, using its massive torque curve to carve its way through sandy ruts spitting out giant rooster tails, traversing up loose, gravelly hills like it was the Pikes Peak Hillclimb.” 161 Dash In Corsa mode the dash switches to an Aventador-like display but also includes a navigation window.
“While Lamborghini claims to still predominantly be a supercar manufacturer, every second car it sells from now on will be an SUV which they hope will be used as a daily driver to win over first-time owners.” Rear Lamborghini has successfully carved its design signature in the SUV market as the Urus could not be confused for being from any other car maker with those distinctive tail lights and fold lines. 162 Engine At the heart of Urus is the fourlitre, twin-turbocharged V8 that has been heavily modified from its Audi/VW donor to handle the off-road driving angles and overall g-forces. Info Screen The main centre console looks after the chassis and drive settings as well as entertainment and phone functions leaving the navigation to the screen in front of the driver and seat and climate functions on a separate screen below.
“Urus has given us a chance to not so much re-invent Lamborghini, but to widen our scope.” Tamburo The signature red start lever more familiar to traditional Lamborghini owners with plenty of Aventador references from the Alcantara and contrasting stitching to the dash display.maker with those distinctive tail lights and fold lines. is flanked by controls for the chassis with drive modes on the left and fine tuning on the right. A Torsen centre self-locking diff provides maximum control and agility in most conditions but especially off road. Torque is split 40/60 front to rear with a maximum of 70 percent sent to the front or 87 percent back to the rear depending on the driving circumstances. Its active torque vectoring provides more traction to each rear wheel as well as additional steering control, so less steering effort is required and it also raises its corner speed on the road and track. Sitting behind the Alcantara-covered wheel, peering out over instruments that are more at home in a low-slung Aventador, the driver’s view feels oddly high by comparison but the engineering team have worked hard to keep its centre of gravity as low as possible. The Tamburo mode selector on the Urus offers a labyrinth of chassis set up options with the Anima console on the left housing six settings, while the Ego console on the right offers nine further permutations within each of the six from Anima. The Anima console features six drive settings from Strada (street), Sport and Corsa (track) on tarmac that mimic those used on the Huracan and Aventador as well as Neve (snow), Terra (gravel) and Sabbia (sand) for off-road use. Once selected, the mode can be further refined using the Ego selector on the right to find smooth, medium or sports settings for the Traction, Steering and Suspension controls. Confusing? Yes, but once mastered it lets you get the absolute maximum performance from every facet of the Urus for virtually any condition. Performance on Road, Track and Gravel On road, it felt little different to most other high-end luxury SUV’s though its optional 23-inch rims made the ride a bit stiffer than expected, even in Strada mode. But the steering was docile enough around town and the change up pattern from the eightspeed box was soft and smooth. On track in Corsa mode, it hunkered down and got to business turning in some impressive lap times. The exhausts opened up to fire a few deep belches on change up as it sailed to easily into the 5800rpm redline cut off. Its understeer when pushed hard under extreme conditions was about the only feedback reminding you that this was a big five-door wagon and not an Aventador. Finally, it attacked a gravel course like a rally stage, using its massive torque curve to carve its way through sandy ruts spitting out giant rooster tails, traversing up loose, gravelly hills like it was the Pikes Peak Hillclimb and even held itself together over a small jump where it briefly managed to get air. Lamborghini will also offer an off-roading package that will use the standard sized 21-inch rims coupled with a body kit comprising restyled front and rear bumpers for better approach and departure angles. Winning Over New Customers The biggest job for Urus is to convince customers to consider a Lamborghini for the first time and as Chief Marketing Officer, Katia Bassi noted, Urus is about shifting the company towards a new, more suburban demographic. Lamborghini established a Female Advisory Board comprising 250 women globally who are influential but not influencers, from many industries to predict future trends. “We created the board so that we can talk to woman about Lamborghini in a different way. It’s not about technicalities or performance but more related to the car business in general and how things are changing for women,” Ms Bassi said. “These ladies come from different professional circles so they can show us what’s happening and how we can learn from it. They excel in their industries of sport, theatre, fashion and IT and we believe they can be a great asset to our future thinking. “We would like to understand how they face challenges with things like fake news and the digital environment because it’s important that we exchange experiences to be more effective and to become more conscious of what we are doing. “The automotive industry is forced to follow the same timeline of the development of the car which is slow compared to almost every other industry, so this board will help keep Lamborghini at the forefront of trends and how we can get more women into Lamborghinis.” The Specs Lamborghini Urus Engine: 4.0-litre, twin turbo V8 Transmission: eight-speed automatic Power: 641bhp at 6000rpm Torque: 850Nm at 2250rpm 0–100kmh: 3.6 seconds Top speed: 305kmh Weight: 2,200kg Price: Ђ171,429 / $200,000 www.lamborghini.com Fi n e L i f e s t y l e Drivers Seat The Sports Interior is With a target to double the company’s output from 3500 vehicles per year to 7000, Urus needs to find a lot of new customers and that means women for what until now has been a largely male-dominated buyer profile. 163
The Matador’s New Clothes Text: Damien Reid 164 The modern world of car manufacturing leaves little room for bespoke supercar builders to be profitable which is why Lamborghini had the foresight to hatch a plan that would keep its hero models alive for the long term. The first step in creating the new Lamborghini is the Urus SUV. The Supercar world has taken a permanent shift into a brave new era that may upset the diehard purist following the launch of the Lamborghini Urus SUV. Not only is Urus the first five-seater from Lamborghini and its first mainstream SUV (if you discount the limited build, 1986 LM002), but it heralds a complete rebranding of the bull from Sant‘Agata as it plans to introduce hybrid and electric drivetrains in its quest to double global sales. our full range,” company CEO, Stefano Domenicali said. off-road options when it begins to leave the factory next July. “We are now competing in a segment that is represented by all the manufacturers, not just our traditional rivals. Our next step is hybridization, though we want to continue with the internal combustion engines we currently use on our super sports cars,” he added. While a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) alternative will arrive later, the launch powertrain is closer to Lamborghini’s performance heritage with 650hp from a 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 that’s good to get it to 100kmh in 3.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 305kmh. Consider Urus the development mule for Lamborghini’s step into its next phase where its supercars like the Huracan and Aventador will be hybrid and fully electric, while it is also the catalyst to increase its global dealer network from 130 to more than 160 by 2019. The new Urus is another VW Group SUV which means it shares the MLB platform that also underpins the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and VW Touareg but like these other models, it has its own DNA. Offered as both a four-seater using Huracan seats as individual chairs in the rear or with the option of a familyfriendly bench making it a true five-seater, Urus will compete mostly against its own MLB-based Bentayga as its $390,000 starting price will ensure it stays out of reach of the Maserati Levante and AMG “Without Urus, we would have been forced to have been more active on hybrid technology across our super sport models, so it has allowed us to invest in the new direction that we need to take later across The Plug-in Hybrid Lamborghini Lamborghini President and CEO, Stefano Domenicali
Fi n e L i f e s t y l e “We are now competing in a segment that is represented by all the manufacturers, not just our traditional rivals. Our next step is hybridization, though we want to continue with the internal combustion engines we currently have on our super sportscars.” 165
“It had to be the most powerful SUV and with 650hp it means it’s also the only SUV capable of exceeding 300kmh. The Gallardo had a 0–100kmh time that is higher than the Urus is now.” 166 Lamborghini’s Chief Engineer, Maurizio Reggiani Factory Dinner For the launch venue, Lamborghini stopped production for a few hours so dinner could literally be served on the factory floor. Workers at Launch Lamborghini took the opportunity to include the factory workers as part of the global reveal for its 750 invited guests from around the world.
Fi n e L i f e s t y l e 167 Global Launch The global launch was held at the Sant’Agata factory for over 750 guests comprising media, customers, dealers, politicians, VIPs and factory workers. “It had to be the most powerful SUV and with 650hp it means it’s also the only SUV capable of exceeding 300kmh. The Gallardo had a 0-100kmh time that is higher than the Urus is now,” Chief Engineer, Maurizio Reggiani said. Riding on standard 21 and optional 23inch rims fitted with bespoke Pirelli P-Zero tyres, Urus has a dramatic presence on the street, though Reggiani insists the overly large diameter rims are more than capable off road as well. “We tested Urus all over the world with this wheel and tyre combination and especially in places like Southern Europe, Mexico and India where you have large, tyre-piercing rocks, we never encountered any problems,” he added. Rear Wheel Steer, 48-volt IRS An off-road package will be offered for those who do want to take Urus off the beaten track and will include restyled front and rear bumpers for better approach and departure angles, a tow kit and other offroading ancillaries. In the metal, Urus is imposing and with a wheelbase of just over three metres long, it takes up a big chunk of road. To help here, Lamborghini has adopted the rear-wheel steering system from the Aventador S which turns the back wheels plus and minus three degrees. This gives it a perceived wheelbase of 2.4 metres making its turning circle smaller than the Huracan. It also rides on the 48-volt rear anti-roll bar used on the Bentayga and new Q7. “This has helped us a lot with the centre of gravity issues we initially faced as that is the enemy of any supercar,” Mr Reggiani said. “We can also see what is possible to take from Urus back into the super sport range as we are more experienced with rear anti-roll bar development, we can look at packaging the 48-volt system in the future super sport range,” he added. The electric Third Millenium With a doubling of its volume from the present 3500 cars per year to 7000 during its first full year on sale in 2019 and the extensive factory expansion that’s also been needed, Lamborghini is rebranding its dealer network to give the company a fresh face as it hopes to win over many customers who are new to the brand.
168 Italian PM with Workers Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni addresses the guests with the factory line workers. from Lamborghinireveal for its 750 invited guests from around the world. “Our current customers are passionate about Lamborghini but we also need to meet the expectations of customers who have not owned a super sports car before,” Finance Director, Federico Foscini said. “We need to face the people who will use this car every day and not have it as a weekend car, so we’ll need to expand our support and service network. We are launching our new showroom and a fresh corporate identity to highlight what will be a complete new dimension for Lamborghini,” he added. Lamborghini recently hinted at its electric future with its radical “Third Millenium” concept car that is the result of a joint effort with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "We wanted to show our customers with the third millennium concept, that we already have in mind this new technology and it will be ready for the new super sport range,” Mr Domenicali said. “Most people think that electric technology will be standardized but I’ll tell you, that won’t happen. We are already working on something that will be truly revolutionary and when the technology matures, we will bring it to market.” Lamborghini wants an electric car that not only provides the performance and emotional experience you expect from one of its stable but can complete four laps of the Nordschleife circuit at Germany’s Nurburgring flat out, before recharging in just a few minutes. That’s the end goal, but the first step to getting there is the Urus and like the first Porsche Cayenne, it will be a game-changer for the company, opening it up to new “We need to face the people who will use this car every day and not have it as a weekend car. We are launching our new showroom and a fresh corporate identity to show what will be a complete new dimension for Lamborghini.” owners and families whose priorities are different to the typical Aventador or Huracan owner. <
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