Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NV Harlin Père et Fils Champagne Brut Tradition France

The last bottle of my wedding's Champagne

This year, last August, my wife and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (2004). Nothing fancy or too extravagant with no wood either (tradition says that the 5th wedding anniversary gift should be made of wood), none of that... just simple, nice and sparkling.

That night, we opened two bottles of Champagne: NV Marc Hebrart Brut Rosé that my wife and I discovered recently, 4 or 5 bottles ago, and really enjoyed then and every drop since, every time we have an occasion or an excuse to celebrate; and the 2nd one was a bottle of NV Harlin Père et Fils Brut Tradition white that we discovered and drank for our wedding celebration in France (2005), at the "Citadelle de Blaye" (worth visiting once, if you pass by), about 50 kilometers north of Bordeaux next to the Côtes de Bourg where I grow up (my turf baby!).

Franck, one of my oldest friend, (not by the age but by the number of years we know each other), suggested me to buy this small producer RM (Récoltant Manipulant) Champagne named Harlin Père et Fils for my wedding. He discovered this easy going yet refined and balanced bubbly a few months before (may be a year or more), and was using it from time to time for friends and family dinner and parties, and also used it for his wedding.

If you are married, you surely already know about wedding budget.... so, you will then understand that I was looking for something more than decent for a relatively inexpensive price.

My friend was right and I thank him again for the tips, Harlin Père et Fils ended up to be a great choice that pleased all of our guests from the aperitif to the wedding cake and continue to flow even more until about 6 am in the glass and on the clothes of the last remaining partygoers (including my wife and I of course), and even the next few days for lunch and dinner with the family. Moreover, it didn't cost us much, you can actually buy it in France for a very reasonable price ranging between 11 and 15 Euros, which was a good excuse for us to order much more than we needed, thus putting an even bigger smile on the face of our guests when we gave them each 1 or 2 bottles to take home at the end of the night (around 6 am the next day, which is morning...).

Therefore, in memory of our wedding in New York (New York friends and American family), 5 years ago, and our 2nd wedding (religious this time with the French family) in France, 4 years ago, we opened this last bottle of Harlin Père et Fils, our wedding Champagne bringing back some good memories and started to talk about the past, keeping a careful and affectionate eye on our little son, the invaluable fruit of our union.

Despite these personal sentimental reasons, Harlin Pére et Fils is a Champagne house which produces excellent value bubbly Cuvées. Keep an eye on it for your next occasions, although I do not think that this Champagne House is distributed in the US market. We were able to drink this Champagne here in New York because we brought back 3 or 4 bottles from France after our wedding, and this one was the latest bottle of our wedding's Champagne.

NV Harlin Père et Fils Champagne Brut Tradition France

Located in Port-à-Binson (Mareuil le Port), a little village in the Valley de la Marne (west of Épernay and south of Châtillon-sur-Marne), Harlin Père et Fils is a family run estate of approximately 8,5-9 hectares of mainly Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and some Chardonnay vines. From contradictory source, it seems that the estate was founded in 1884 but only created under the name of Harlin in the beginning of the 1900s. One thing is sure, it was slowly expanded in the 1960s to ridge its actual size and was completely renovated in 2006. Dominique Harlin is now in charge of the estate and continues to maintain the family winemaking tradition, value and style.

Domaine Harlin Père et Fils produces at least 3 Cuvées that I know of:
  • Harlin Père et Fils Brut Cuvée Tradition made with 10% white grapes (Chardonnay) and 90% red grapes (roughly 20% Pinot Noir and 70% Pinot Meunier). Nice fruit, rich and round yet supple and fresh palate with an inviting finish.
  • Harlin Père et Fils Brut Cuvée Grand Cru made with at least 60% Pinot Noir, is richer, more opulent, with a longer finish. Definitely a food friendly Champagne.
  • Harlin Père et Fils Brut Cuvée "Gouttes d'Or" is a harmonious, structured and refined Champagne mixing half white and half red grapes with at least 40% of Pinot noir.

NV Harlin Père et Fils Brut Cuvée Tradition made with 10% white grapes (Chardonnay) and 90% red grapes (roughly 20% Pinot Noir and 70% Pinot Meunier) was a blend of the 2004 and the 2003 cuvée de Reserve vintages (see my previous post on Champagne and Sparkling for more info about vintage blend). The robe is clean, clear pale yellow with golden reflects and gentle, fine bubbles. The nose is rich yet fresh with yellow and white fruit aromas mixed with hints of light toasted yeastiness. Interesting red and yellow fruit notes, like light raspberry and peach-apple, constitute the flavors of this rich and round yet supple and fresh palate with a good amount of integrated acidity leading the fruit toward the friendly and inviting finish. Great as an aperitif, for a toast and even with shellfish and poultry "amuse-bouches".


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