Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Tasting Session: Champagne again (who knew...?)

Friday Tasting Session: Champagne again (who knew...?)

NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée NM Reims France

Over my 20+ years of experience buying, drinking and selling bubblies, I can say that I usually prefer RM (Recoltant-Manipulant) champagnes as they offer more character and personality. Yet, amongst the NM (Negociant-Manipulant) Champagnes, Krug is probably one of my favorite non vintage champagnes in the market, topping the list of my favorite drinks.  It parts from other champagnes for its consistency and quality, offering a smooth profile, elegant manners, racy attitude, well-balanced figures, lingering finish and an overall “lascive” appeal. I love it.  In terms of taste, it is very integrated and refine, with all element in harmony with each other. A must try Champagne, which is the result of a perfect blend of 120 reserve wines from 10 different vintages.

NV Charles de Casanove Champagne Brut Premier Cru RM Reims France

Coming after Krug, Charles de Casanove Premier Cru is definitely drier, leaner and seems to lack of acidity, minerality and smoothness. But the comparison is way too extreme, as we are talking about two totally different champagnes in every way: quality, price and taste. However, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, this champagne has definitely drier characteristic and lack of body and texture overall. The dry finish is also short and lack a bit of fruit to compensate and add some volume to it. A persistent zesty lemon peel sensation in the back palate could have been more interesting, if it will have been less sour. Overall, it is not very harmonious and does not necessarily trigger my taste buds to try another glass. Shame, as I tasted better samples from this renowned champagne house.

We look into the fridge and found one more Champagne bottle to taste.

When I looked at the label, I said to myself: Champagne is or deadly for man or giving sparkling ideas to women about how to eliminate their husbands, as I'm just about to taste another Champagne from a widow that I never heard of before...

NV Veuve J. Lanaud Reserve Brut Champagne NM Avize France

A blend of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the traditional blend of the 3 most planted grape varieties in Champagne blended by the “Societe Avizoise des Vins de Champagnes” (which sounds more like a cooperation than a Negociant-Manipulant), this little champagne “de derriere les fagots” was a fantastic surprise. Fruity, soft, very easy to drink, not too complex but not lacking of interest or character or even personality, it offers nice flavors of yellow fruit like apple and pear, with a good dose of toasted, yeasty aromas mingling with mineral and slight floral nuances. The finish could use a bit more acidity to give it a kick and enhance its freshness; but overall really nice and friendly. This crowd pleasing bubbly good for any occasion won’t deplete your wallet.

LeDom du Vin

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Tasting: Tarlant "Cuvee Louis" Champagne Extra Brut Marne Valley France

Tarlant "Cuvee Louis" Champagne Extra Brut Marne Valley France

Founded in 1687, Champagne Tarlant is a classic Champagne house located in Marne Valley, more precisely in the little village of Œuilly about 14 kilometers north-west of Epernay and about 40 kilometers south-west of Rheims, the capitale of Champagne.

Tarlant has always been one of my favorite champagne houses, crafting medium to full bodied, complex and rich yet elegant and racy Champagnes from mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted on their 14 hectares spread out on 4 different "crus", with a total of 55 parcels located in the village of Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé.

The Tarlant family feels that it is particularly important that their wines reveal the diversity of the sub-soil, the vineyards and the blends of their estate. Each parcel posseses  its own identity and the various blends bring the complexity and uniqueness to each of the 11 different Cuvees produced.

Recoltant Manipulant (RM) and family run since its creation, Tarlant "savoir faire" consistency and quality were traditionally passed on to each generation with the will to do better than the previous one yet respecting the house taste, profil and character. Currently, Jean-Mary Tarlant represents the 11th generation. He crafted this particular "Cuvee Louis" Extra Brut, which has been named to pay hommage to Louis Tarlant, talented vine grower and winemaker as well as founder of the family estate.

From parcels of vines planted on chalky soil in a "lieu dit" called "Les Crayons", here are some technical facts about today's "Cuvee Louis":

  • A blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. 
  • From 65 years old vines
  • A blend of various vintages: 1998 (about 80%), and 1997 & 1996 (for the remaining 20%)
  • Only issued from juice from the first fermentation in "Fût de Chêne" (oak barrel)
  • No Malolactic fermentation
  • Bottled in May 1999
  • Disgorged in March 2009
  • Roughly spent 10 years on its lees
  • Liqueur de dosage at 3g/L (3 grammes of sugar per liter)
  • Consequently classified as an Extra Brut
It also says on the back label that it could age further for more than 5 years. However, we are in 2013, and this Champagne is showing so superbly that it could last for another 10 years. I love it. 

Tarlant Cuvee Louis Champagne Extra Brut Marne Valley France

In the glass, it presents a very pale yellow color with light, bright golden reflects. The bubbles were slightly big at first while pouring it in the glass but rapidly became really small, numerous and fast. The nose is fragant, a touch rustic but in a good way, with yellow fruit and "fresh hay" aromas mixed with attractive yeasty, slightly toasted, brioche, mineral and floral notes. The palate is medium to full, rather rich, ample and complex with flavors of yellow fruit mingling with citrus zest and refreshing acidity to balance it. Harmonious, long, flavorful and superbly balanced, the finish is definitely calling for another glass; making this bottle hard to let go and to share. I highly recommend it. On its own or as an aperitif with canapes, but a more complex fish dish with creamy sauce will do more justice to this refined Champagne amateurs delight. And that cleansing, zesty citrus acidity is lingering as I'm writing these last few words, I love it. But this is not a surprise as Cuvee Louis is surely the best of their portfolio.  


LeDom du Vin

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