Tag Archives: Thierry Perrion

Vilmart champagne for a spring celebration

At last, a warm day! Well, at least warmer than previous days, week, months….  All facts, the sun, the longer days and the thermometer’s persistent attempts to reach over 10° C, they all try to convince me. Perhaps it is true, it is spring? OK, let’s say so. Of course that is a recognition requiring some celebration. Time for a glass of champagne. My choice fell on a bottle of Vilmart Grand Cellier, purchased on site some years ago.  

Vilmart is a unique producer. One of the few who ferments and matures their wines on oak. The outcome is elegant, expressive and complex champagnes of very high quality.
The location is the small village Rilly-la-Montagne in the heart of Montagne de Reims. Thus, a bit south of Reims. This is known as Pinot Noir country, but Vilmar has in fact a rather large share of Chardonnay in their wines. The grapes come from 11 ha premier cru vineyards in Rilly and Villers-Allerand.
Wilmart_Fat_2010Vilmart uses large 50 hl oak foudres to ferment and mature the base wine for the Grand Reserve and Grand Cellier champagne. The top wines, Cellier d’Or and Coeur de Cuvée, get the pleasure of spending their first time on 225 litres new Burgundy barrels.
The assemblage is a two step process. First all Chardonnay wine from the different parcels are blended in January. And the Pinot Noirs too. In the next step, during May, the final assemblage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are made for each cuvée. Bottling, together with “pris de mousse”, i.e. the yeast needed for the second fermentation, is made in the end of June. By then we can count to about nine months on oak since the harvest in the end of September.
Then it is time for a peaceful rest deep down in the chalky cellars. Two years for Grande Reserve, three for Grand Cellier and the rosé Rubis, five years for Grand Cellier D’Or and for the fantastic Coeur de Cuvée, six years.
Vilmart_GrandCellierBrut_130405The family owned Champagne Vilmar & Cie was founded already back in 1872, but it was not until the present and fifth generation that maturation on small oak barrells for the top cuvées was introduced. Laurent Vilmart took over the responsibility in 1991 and has established Vilmart as an internationally reputable producer.
Our Grand Cellier Brut Premier Cru, made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, had to wait three years in our cellar for the right occasion, i.e. the “warm” and lovely spring evening. I would say that it was three well invested years. 
Beautiful light golden colour. Pronounced, developed nose with bread and notes of white flowers, mineral and butterscotch. The mousse fills every corner of the mouth and the palate is wrapped in complex tasty sensations. A lovely, round freshness. Orange, lime, bread, butterscotch and chocolate, complemented with grapefruit and bitter orange in an aftertaste that seems to last forever. This is really the epitome of a beautiful wine.
I noticed that the prestige cuvée  Coeur de Cuvée 2004, made of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, is available at the Swedish monopoly right now. And the Grand Cellier can be e-purchased to Sweden from the Franska Vinlistan.
For all of you planning a trip to France, I recommend a visit to Rilly-la-Montagne. And why not pay Swedish Jessica Perrion in the neighbouring village Verzenay a visit at the same time? When Chardonnay is the predominating grape at Vilmart, Thierry Perrion Champagne offers Pinot Noir. It would be an enjoyable exercise to try the two different styles at the same time.

Champagne – a style study

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.

Jessica’s Champagne for Easter

“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. 

Jessica Perrion.

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.