Tag Archives: montagne de reims

Vilmart Rubis, Pink Princess Champagne

Not that she is that interested. Milk or cream, preferably lightly whipped, that’s what she wants. We on the other hand, we take every opportunity to open a bottle of champagne. This summery Saturday afternoon the choice is pink bubbles from Vilmart & Cie. We raise our glasses and toast for all beautiful cats around the globe and especially for little Princess, of course. It is the 8th of August; it is the international cat day, World Cat Day.

Champagne Vilmart Cuvée Rubis Brut is beautifully deep orange-red, yes you can come to think of rubies. Fine ample effervescence. Dark berries and bready touch in the nose, concentrated rich fruit on the palate. Delicious texture and exquisite flavour palette where strawberries and cranberries dominate and taste long, so long.
This is rosé champagne with fresh weight. Must be one of the most delicious ones we have tasted.

Champagne Vilmart Cuvée Rubis Brut

A Premier Cru with base wine of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay from vintages 2009-2010, matured ten months on large oak barrels. Of course oak, this is Vilmart. A house were all wines are raised in barrel. Size and time depending on final product.

The bottle has rested in our cellar in almost two years after our visit at Vilmart in Rilly-la-Montagne the autumn 2013. I take a look in the product sheet and read that Vilmart’s owner, as well as winemaker, Laurant Champs considers it to be at its optimum after one to two years. Well, it will be hard to become any better than this. We make a memory note, at the next visit we must put more Rubis in the boxes.

Little Princess was however totally uninterested of pink champagne. Did not want to be on the picture, but went quickly in through the cat door to the waiting milk bowl. A bit surprising therefore, how fast she joins us when the bottle with dinner wine is to be photographed. A white bordeaux is put on the table and suddenly she comes and jumps up to inspect it.

This time the label says Coucheroy. A very nice Sauvignon Blanc with fine oak character from vintage 2009, from André Lurton’s château with the same name in Pessac-Léognan. The name Coucheroy (something like “the king slept here”) is said to have been born a stormy night many hundred years ago, when the French king Henri IV spent a night on the castle. Royal glory, then it is good enough for little Princess.

Ch Coucheroy 2009

A beverage for fairies, Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

Fairies dancing. White, light, as flowing veils in early summer morning. The image is developed on the retina directly. Trigger? The first sniff with our noses dipped into long, narrow champagne glasses. It is promising, this first acquaintance with Sophie Cossy.

Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

We have not met Sophie. Neither tasted any of Champagne Francis Cossy’s champagnes before. However, we have met Sophies fiancé, Cédric Moussé. He was a bit late to our appointment, an early October morning in 2013. We understand that the reason was to be found in the young, beautiful winemaker behind the Cossy label, Sophie.

The reason why we now, on Valentin’s day, hold a glass of Cossy Eclat in the hand is to be found in the purchase of a box from Swedish ChampagneHuset: Collection “Coup de foudre”.  Three bottles Moussé and three bottles Cossy. Primarily purchased for Moussé, which we already know is a delicious treat from the Pinot Meunier dominated vineyards of Vallée de la Marnes. Cossy became as a spice, which we were curious to explore. Coup de foudre is said to mean “love at first sight” or “as a bolt from the blue”. It is not a bolt from the blue that Cossy should be good, but we did not expect it to become love at first sip.

Sophie Cossy. Foto: Champagne F Cossy.
Sophie Cossy. Foto: Champagne F Cossy.

Champagne Francis Cossy is run by Sophie and her mother. The Cossy family has been growers in Champagne since 1764 and produced under their own label since the 50ies. Home to Cossy is the little village Jouy Les Reims in Montagne de Reims. It is just a bit south-west from Reims, where the grapes come from Premier Cru classified, organically managed vineyards. Sustainability and permanent improvement are on top of the agenda.

Champagne Cossy Cuvée Eclat Brut, Premier Cru
A blend of wines from vineyards in Jouy-les-Reims and Pargny-les-Reims. A third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Two years on the lees in bottle.

Champagne Cossy Eclat BrutLight yellow with small, fine bubbles. Fine, multifaceted elegant nose. Some toasty breadiness, white flowers, citrus, green apples and a touch of minerality. Mediumbodied with the fresh acidity peering out behind a palate filling, round impression. The aftertaste so very long, gripping the palate and filling it with flavours previously experienced in the nose. The minerality reminds of chalk and a tiny pinch of English butterscotch finds it way among fruit and floral notes. 

Delicious, fine, elegant. The French éclat means brilliance and yes, this is shimmering, and at the same time so multifaceted and full of charming character. A champagne for fairies!

Read more:
Link to Champagne F. Cossys webpage.

About our visit to Cédric Moussé and his impressing work to create a sustainable production and Blanc de noirs of top quality: Champagne Moussé Fils, Blanc de noirs expert in Cuisles.

Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

Champagne Coulon Père & Fils, with a paradise in the portfolio

We are among those who appreciate the beauty of a mature champagne. Our opportunities to enjoy this beverage have however been all too few. So when a reliable source testified about a source of nicely matured vintage champagne,  we carefully added the tip about Champagne Coulon Père & Fils in Ville-Dommange to our wishlist. On the last day of our French wine trip we could not only conclude that the tip was correct, but also that there were more to discover.

Vines in La Montagne de Reims

We drive quickly on the small roads through the southwest corner of the National Park of the Montagne de Reims, this Tuesday in mid-October. A little late as we are to our visit, it is hardly that we have time to enjoy the surroundings. The road winds through some small forests, past fields, a war cemetery, and occasionally some vineyards.

Then the landscape opens up, the vineyards start spreading out and the number of houses increases. The car rolls down the steep road into the village of Ville-Dommange. Soon we arrive to the house with Champagne Coulon Père & Fils Premier Cru in distinct black letters against the beige-white facade of the building.

Florence Coulon meets us and the car is carefully parked in the narrow driveway. The reception room just inside is tastefully rustic, simple and bright. We sit down and start talking champagne. We want to know more about Coulon Père & Fils. Our wish will be fulfilled. It is nice, time flies.

Olivier Coulon, Florence’s husband, is the one in charge of Champagne Coulon & Fils today, even if his father, 78 years old, still gives a helping hand in the vineyards. The firm, which dates back to 1867, produce around 15000 bottles a year.

Coulon works four hectars of vines, some in the home village of Ville-Dommange, but also in Coulommes-la-Montagne just five fem kilometer to the west.  All three varieties are grown; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. From our point of view, a specific parcel of Chardonnay in Coulommes-la-Montagne will turn out to be of particular interest. Here is the paradise located, origin to something not that common in this area, a Blanc de Blancs.

How was it then about the cooperative? If you look closely you will find that the labels of Champagne Coulon & Fils’ champagne state RC, Récoltant-Coopérateur, in front of the registration number. The term implies that the champagne is produced at the cooperative where the grower is a member, but that the grower sells the champagne with his own name on the label. And that description fits in very well.

The Cooperative in Ville-Dommange
“We are members of the cooperative and use it for the mechanical parts of the production,” Florence explains. “The cuvées for our champanges is personalised to give the desired character. When the cuvée has been made, we take the wine back to mature.”

The coop in Ville-Dommange has 200 members, but only three employees. One of them is Olivier Coulon, who works as caviste. So when the labels of Coulon states “Elaboré par Olivier Coulon”, i.e. developed by Olivier Coulon, that is the real fact.

We wonder how the cooperative thinks when it comes to cultivation philosofy. Florence concludes that the trend generally is to use less and less chemical products. All members of the cooperative are in fact practising “lutte raisonnée”, only sulphur is used against oïdium.

This year has been a difficult one with grapes attacks of gray rot, giving the harvesters additional work to carefully cut of affected grapes. Apart from that is also Coulon satisfied with the harvest: “Both quality and quantity are fine; the balance between acidity and sugar is very good. Perhaps it can be a vintage wine, but we cannot know for sure until spring.”

We wonder about the characteristics of a Coulon Père & Fils champagne. Well, the philosophy is to give the wines a longer time on the lees, four to five years, and create a more mature style. The Chardonnay variety is also highly esteemed and for example is the Réserve-cuvée based on 50% of this variety. A Coulon Père & Fils should be  “a nice blend of quality with a love of Chardonnay,” as Florence puts it. Expressful champagnes with a palette of rich complexity in nose and flavour, that is the objective.

Champagne Coulon Père & Fils MillésimeThe specialty is also to offer a bit older, lately degorged vintages. At the time of our visit was the 1996 vintage just sold out, but 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002 were available . Also as Jéroboam, i.e. a 3 litres bottle.

We are however not only charmed by the mature beauty, but also of a couple of the younger wines. If it is appropriate to say younger, when they have been stored on the lees far longer than is stipulated by the rules. Even the entry-level champagne, Tradition (which is the one containing most Pinot Meunier, 50%) is based on the 2008 vintage. But we jump directly to the Chardonnay-dominated Réserve:

Champagne Coulon Père & Fils, Réserve Brut Premier Cru, a non-vintage of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. 75% is from the vintage of 2008, the reserve wine from 2004, 2005 and 2006. 8 grams dosage.
Clear with darker golden hue. Pronounced nose of dark fruit, yellow apples and plums. Spiced with impressions from the forest  and its berries together with some nice notes of bread. On the palate, a rich body with fresh, soft acidity. Fruity with apples, dark berries and a touch of grape. Good length with notes of pomerans. Yummy!

Coulon Père & Fils Champagne Les ParadisThen time for the clear bottle of the portfolio: Champagne Coulon Père & Fils, Les Paradis, Blanc de Blancs Brut Premier Cru. Thus, a pure Chardonnay, from a small parcel in the  vineyard Les Paradis in Coulommes-la-Montagne. Based to 80% on vintage 2008. Dosage 7 grams.
Lemon yellow. Fresh, very fruity rich nose with mature green apples and floral notes. The flavour is fresh with a wide body and nice, a bit softened acidity. Complexity in the flavour palette with mature fruits, yellow apples, citrus and a nice buttery touch. Good length with some toffee and caramel. Just as it literally was coming from paradise! 
Really nice now, a good choice for those who appreciate Blanc de Blancs with more body. Why not to a lobster naturel or langoustine? Although you have to make up your mind quickly if you get the opportunity to lay your hands on this wine.  Florence calls Les Paradis for a “microvinification”. Only 500 bottles are made each year.

We finish by tasting one of the older vintage champagnes; Champagne Coulon Père & Fils, Brut Millésime 1999, which is made from one-third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Dosage 6 gr per liter.
Deep golden hue. Pronounced mature, complex nose with toffee, coffe powder, dried fruit, apples, grape and a light tone of dried herbes, reminiscent of throat pastilles.  On the palate a full bodied impression, perfectly dry with balanced, rounded acidity. Mature with dried fruit, citrus, grape and dried herbes. Long complex aftertaste. Really great! 
This is awesome, a mature champagne with notes of coffe and all the those lovely mellow, complex flavours. Something we prefer just sipping on. And happily enjoy when the waves of complex impressions float through the palate.

Coulon makes the degorgement of the older vintages late, when it is needed to fill up the stock of bottles for sale. “Drink within six months if you like the taste as it is right now,” Florence advices us. And as some bottles accompany us home, we will just have to take that recommendation seriously.

The car is packed and we say goodbye to Florence with a little sadness. Not only because it was a very nice visit. It was also the last one on this year’s French wine trip. Tomorrow we will be heading back home again.

Champagne from Coulon Père & Fils

Some of Champagne Coulon Père & Fils champagnes are imported to Sweden by ChampagneHuset, link here.