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I had the pleasure of attending a seminar on Grower vs. Négotiant Champagnes…what a treat! Our presenter was Jeff Hacker who works at Binney’s Beverage Depot in Des Plaines, Illinois. Jeff has been in the industry for over 11 years. Jeff gave us a look at the world of Champagne while we tasted 6 amazing bottles of bubbles. Each tasting group – Blanc de Blancs, Blends, and Rosé- consisted of a Négociant and Grower champagne.
Champagne AOC Information/Statistics
Echelle des Crus– Champagne’s grading system- scores are based on grapes, soil, topography, and aspect
17 “Grands Crus” Villages (100% scores) “Premiers Crus” Villages (90-99% scores)
Location: 48th parallel- the northern most point of wine production.
Climate: Oceanic- steady rainfall, minimal seasonal temperature variation- average temperature is 50 degrees
Continental- optimal summer sunlight, prone to winter frosts
Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier = 99.9% of champagne
Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit Meslier- less than 250 hectares total, may not be replanted, currently may be used in blends
Subregions of Champagne AOC:
Montagne de Reims- northernmost, Pinot Noir
Vallée de la Marne- near Epernay, Pinot Meunier
Côte des Blancs- Chardonnay territory
Côte de Sézanne, Côte de l’Aube, Vallée de la Vesle, Vallée de l’Ardre, AOC Rosé des Riceys
Dosage: Sweetness levels ** First champagnes were made in a sweeter style than they are today. The measuring scale went from sweet to dry, which is why dry and extra dry are actually sweeter than brut categories! **Dosage is a mixture of sugar and wine added after the 2nd fermentation. **Residual sugar is the sugar remaining in the wine after fermentation. It is measured in grams per liter. Below is the scale from driest to sweetest.
Brut Nature – 0-3 G/L Extra Brut – 0-6 G/L Brut – 0-12 G/L
Extra Dry – 12-17 G/L Dry – 17-32 G/L Demi-Sec – 32-50 G/L Doux – 50+ G/L
Growers vs. Négotiants
Négociant- NM – 300+ Houses Growers -RM – 4500+ Producers
Focus on “house” style/large producers Focus on terroir/small producers
Buy grapes in addition to using own Produce only from own vines
Grapes bought from multiple areas Single area expresses terroir
Goal- produce same taste every time, Goal- represent the “terroir”
every bottle- style over terroir (land, soil, climate) terroir over style
Champagnes tasted at the seminar consisted of the following:
Blanc de Blancs- 100% Chardonnay
Négociant- Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV -vivid, racy, my favorite of the night!
Grower- Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut- lovely, expressive
Brut Blends- (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier)
Négociant- Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve
Grower- Louis Nicaise Premier Cru Brut
Rosé- (Still Pinot Noir added or extended maceration)
Négociant- Louis Roederer Brut Rosé
Grower- Henri Billiot Grand Cru Brut Rosé
49,000,000 bubbles per 750 ML bottle of champagne! 30 bubbles per second emitted
Finer bubbles indicative of high quality champagne/ wider, larger bubbles sign of lesser quality
90psi- a bottle of champagne in under three times as much pressure as the tires on a car
Released at full speed, a cork can exit the bottle at 40mph! Open slowly , bottle angled at 45 degrees, gently release the pressure, controlled opening prolongs bubble retention
Thank you, Jeff, for an informative, delicious evening! The worst part of my job is spitting and dumping the wines at a tasting! Too many superb champagnes…must go back and bring a few home to truly enjoy! Cheers! Santé!
I am a foodie…well, maybe a foodie snob! I have always loved cooking, so pairing wine properly can elevate my dishes to new heights. When I take the time to create a beautiful meal, I want it to dazzle my family and friends, tickle their taste buds, and leave them with a smile on their face. How about you? What is your favorite wine and food pairing? Can you limit it to just one? Please share your ultimate combination!
I am interested in either general pairings like…
or specific pairings…
( fresh shucked Gillardeau oysters with Muscadet -Melon de Bourgogne grape-from Sèvre-et-Maine).
I can’t wait to see what are your ideal wine and food partners!! Thank you for sharing…cheers!
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http://my.boissetcollection.com/susiewhipple * shop under gift gallery. Questions, shoot me a message and I will be happy to assist you in any way.
This post has absolutely nothing to do with wine, but it shares a bit about me! I have lived in Illinois most of my life. As a young girl I quickly became a “fan” of the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears. My grandmother was a BIG Cubs fan. I used to go to her house with my older brother in the summer. On Ladies’ Day we would take the “L” into Chicago to go to the game. As I grew up I watched many a game on TV but I hadn’t been back to Wrigley in many years. My husband and I took my Dad, another Cubs/ Bears lifetime fan, to a game against the Brewers back in September. The day was beautiful, the results not so great…we lost. Next year we will try to get there more often and hopefully they will win. We did win the WORLD SERIES 2016 and are on the way to that event this year…just have to get past the Dodgers and their bullpen! BELIEVE!!!! Go CUBS go!!!
One of my best memories growing up was spending Sunday afternoons watching football on TV with my Dad. I had never been to an actual game until 2 years ago. Lance Briggs gave my niece tickets and she took me to my 1st live game in Soldier Field!! Thank you Amber!!! This past week, my youngest brother, his wife, and our dad attended the Monday night Bears-Vikings game. What a great night! The pregame activities, the game- even though we lost (am I a jinx?? LOL)- made for another memory to store away. My husband and I will be heading back to Soldier Field in November with our good friends to watch the Bears play the Packers. We typically “tailgate” in their garage to watch them play- Cindy is the only Packers fan- but this years we decided to actually attend the game. Can’t wait. Hoping for a Bears victory!!! Bear Down!!!!