Champagne, just taste the word and think of the enjoy of life that comes to your mind. Luxury and flair. Corks fly into the air. Party time!
But which kind of Champagne do you prefer in your glass? Have you ever thought about the different styles of Champagne and which one is your favourite? This was the theme of an interesting tasting including only noble bubbles.
The fresh style was represented by Guy Charlemagne’s Blanc de Blancs. Thus 100% Chardonnay. Often a Chardonnay-dominated style. It is fresh, light and youthful. Lemon flavours and austere acidity. Wonderful to shell fish and the favourite of oyster lovers. Another of my real favourites in this style is the very likeable Rudolphe Peter’s Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve. Pierre Peters, located almost next door to Guy Charlemagne in the little grand cru-village Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in Côte de Blancs.
The “widely appealing” style has more body, is softer, fruity with a tiny sweetness. Rosé Champagne is found in this style. We tasted Veuve Cliquots Vintage Brut Rosé 2004 which showed good balance, nice fruit, red berries and enjoyable acidity. Delicious just on its own, but why not to a lighter dish of meat?
The full-bodied style often gets many supporters among the Champagne beginners. That is my experience. Pour a glass of Pinot Noir-dominated Champagne and watch the effect. Not unusual to get a comment like “I have not been that found of Champagne, but this is great”. When we not serve it as apéritif it is well suited to both foie gras and a bit heavier meat dishes. Swedish Jessica Perrion provided her family’s Thierry Perrion Tradition Grand Cru to our tasting. Full bodied, heavier, dark fruit, a bit thicker on the palate. Really yummy.
Finally the mature style. Well, just listen to the name of the style. These are wines of some age that have developed mature notes, complexity and roundness in the acidity. Flavours of ripe apples, spices, chocolat and coffee are usual. The intensity of the bubbles might have calmed down a bit, but for the lover of mature wines this will be a real treat. Just enjoy it on its own. We tasted a Special Club Champagne from Grongnet, vintage 1999.
My favourite among these styles? Well, I prefer three of them: the fresh, the full-bodied and the mature. So it will more depend on occasion and producer. In this tasting Perrion and Grongnet got my highest scores.
“What’s on the menu for Easter wine-ing and dining?” That was the question from Julie Brosterman at @womenwine some days ago.
“Champagne!” That was my spontaneous response.
Why did I immediately think of this exquisite sparkling liquid? Was it the glittering yellow colour? Or the millions of bubbles, reminiscent of micro eggs? Hardly. No, I would guess it was because Champagne is considered to be the celebration drink above all others. Thus, perfect for the traditional, joyful festivities of Easter Saturday.
In Champagne, there are many treasures to be discovered, well hidden from the general public. These secrets are not to be found within the huge ranges from the big Champagne Houses. Oh no, you should instead go looking among the small ones.
Most of the 19.000 growers sell all their grapes. It is first class grapes, mainly coming from vineyards classified as Grand Cru or Premier Cru. The buyer would be a négotiant, a Champagne House or a co-operative. Still, there are also almost 5.000 Grower Champagnes available to the market. A majority of these are however produced at some of the co-operatives. Richard Juhlin, the Swedish Champagne expert, estimates that the number of growers who actually make their own Champagne in-house is about 2100.
Champagne Thierry Perrion belongs to the latter category, located in Montagne de Reims’ small Grand Cru village Verzenay, where Pinot Noir is the main grape variety. Thierry is the third generation winegrower, but for his wife Jessica it was a new world in 1991. Then she was the Swedish girl who came to Reims to study French, met Thierry, fell in love and soon became Madame Perrion. Probably the only Swedish winegrower in Champagne.
Perrion is one of my absolute Champagne favourites. The rich style, where Pinot Noir adds a lot of flavour and body to the wine, appeals not only to me. It is a style which has charmed all of my friends, even the wine novices and the ones who usually are not so found of sparkling wine.
Of Perrion’s three Champagnes, all Grand Cru, the Cuvée Prestige is my top choice. 90% Pinot Noir, of which 10% have matured on oak, and only 10 % of Chardonnay. A fruity flavour with apples and bread. Significant body with a nice, creamy mousse, good acidity and good length. Perfect as an aperitif and a lovely companion to the autumn lobster. For the summer day, when we gather in the garden for an afternoon chat, the glasses are filled with demi-sec. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay with a dosage of 20 gr sugar.
Only about 8000 bottles are produced in the Perrion cellar, as the majority of the grapes are sold to the Champagne Houses. It is thus a privilege to be one of the few who can uncork one of Jessica and Thierry’s excellent wines. A real luxury, which was perfect for this year’s somewhat cold, but lovely sunny Easter.