Champagne selection for Year’s end celebrations

For the aperitif, during the meal and / or to go with the dessert… whether if it is for Christmas Eve, for Christmas lunch or to open at midnight on New Year’s Eve … It is difficult to celebrate the end of the year without a few bottles of champagnes. Complex, fresh, floral, woody, toasty… here are a list with different champagnes with a little something to suit all tastes for successful end of year celebrations…

Champagnes – Extra-Brut, Brut, Rosé and more

Blended cuvées, Brut, Extra-brut, Rosé, Blanc de Blancs or vintage champagnes ; depending on the moment, the people you are with, one champagne can be one moment… here are some suggestions to help you find what you like…

ENFANT DE LA MONTAGNE from Champagne Bertrand Delespierre
A pleasure Brut

Chantal and Didier work hand in hand with Clémence and Adrien who represent the 4th generation. Settled in the heart of the Montagne de Reims in the village of Chamery, together the two generations look after around 10 hectares of vineyard spread over the terroirs of Chamery, Ecueil, Villedommange and Montbré and their clayey sand and clay-limestone terroirs. Adrien and Clémence are proud to ensure the continuity of the work of Chantal and Didier who always had an approach of excellence regarding the respect of their land and the environment.
Enfant de la Montagne is a blending of the three main grape varieties of the Champagne region : 50% of Pinot Noir, 30% of Chardonnay and 20% of Pinot meunier. The dosage of 8gr/l puts the final touches to the 4 to 5 years of aging of this brut cuvée whereas the new packaging makes it an elegant companion on the table for Christmas and New Year.
The color is a pale yellow with golden hints. The nose offers a generous bouquet whereas the palate develops a fresh first impression with generous fruity aromas – lemon, pear as well as apricot and white peach. The finish brings honey, toasty and candied notes for a perfect balance between freshness and maturity.

ROSÉ from Champagne Eric Rodez
A brilliant gastronomic rosé

Eric and Mickael Rodez represent the 8 and 9th generation of growers at the head of the family estate. Together, they take care of approximately six hectares spread over a total of 36 plots on the terroir of Ambonnay, a Grand cru village of the Côte des Noirs of the Montagne de Reims. Their vineyard is farmed under organic and biodynamic viticulture as well as HVE : a rigorous and conscientious approach aiming to respect and value their terroir and its soils of chalk, clay and limestone as well as the old vines the two winegrowers preciously preserve.
The Rosé of the estate is made of 30% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir macerated on the skins. The wines are partly aged in small oak barrels – around 75%. The cuvée then ages a minimum of 5 years in the cellar before being disgorged and dosed at 5g/L to bring out the minerality of the wine.
The color is a light copper-pink with light golden hints. The nose develops small red berries and cherry aromas with complex notes.  The creamy palate offers generous and refined woody, redcurrant and vanilla notes perfectly melted and balanced with the power of the Pinot Noir and the freshness of the Chardonnay.

ZERO from Champagne TARLANT
A vibrant mineral non-dosé

Winegrowers in the Vallée de la Marne in Œuilly since 1687, Benoît and Mélanie, twelfth generation of the Tarlant family, is today at the head of the estate. Together, they farm the 14 hectares located on 4 different crus – Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé – and spread over 55 plots with vines of an average age of 35 years old. The two winemakers have at heart to respect their terroir of chalk, Sparnacien – clay-limestone -, sand, limestone and small pebbles. In order to do so, they chose to use a sustainable viticulture guided by nature and favoring the biodiversity.
Zéro as zero dosage (0g/L) : this brut nature cuvée is a blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Meunier and 1/3 Pinot Noir.  Once the first fermentation in thermoregulated stainless steel vats and barrels is done, the wines from 2008 are blended with reserve wines aged in oak barrels.
The color is golden with greenish hints. The nose is frank and fresh  with a lot of finesse and developing scents of white flowers, honey, lemon and mandarin. The palate is ample and chiseled with a great texture, opening with citrus freshness. white fruits, quince notes. The minerality is impressive and the finish offers pastry and butter notes.

BLANC DE BLANCS from Champagne Henriet-Bazin
The elegance of the Villers-Marmery terroir and the finesse of Chardonnay

Since 1991, Marie-Noëlle – 5th generation – manages with her husband, Nicolas Rainon, their 7.75 hectare-estate located on the north-east side of the Montagne de Reims. The 35 plots of their vineyard are spread over the villages of Verzenay, Verzy and Villers-Marmery as well as Faverolles-et-Coëmy. For Marie-Noëlle and Nicolas, the terroir is essential to craft great wines and this is why the winegrowers chose a sustainable viticulture to allow the great diversity of soils – chalk, silt, sand, clay, pebbles, gravels… – to express themselves through their champagnes.
This 100% Chardonnay is made from grapes exclusively from Villers-Marmery, a Premier Cru village and is a blend of the harvest 2012 (70%) and reserve wines in Solera (30%). The 8g/L dosage highlights elegantly the structure of the champagne and the minerality from the chalky and gravelly terroir.
The color is a pale yellow with light gold hints. The nose is refined, fresh and mineral expressing dried fruit and bitter almond aromas. The palate is expressive, frank and fresh with floral, mineral and ripe fruit notes. The finish brings a delicate salinity.

MILLÉSIME 2008 from Champagne Montmarthe
The generosity of a single-harvest

Located on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims area in the 1er cru village of Ludes, the estate of Champagne Montmarthe is under the supervision of Jean Guy – representing the 6th generation of growers of his family – who works with his wife Sandrine in order to create the cuvées of the House. Their vineyard covers a total of 17 hectares on the terroir of the crus of  Ludes and Taissy and is spread over 22 plots with chalky and limestone soils. Not only, Jean Guy and Sandrine chose a sustainable viticulture but their whole vineyard is under High Environmental Value certification – HVE.
2008 is one of the excellent year in Champagne offering vintages with great concentration. The Millésime from Champagne Montmarthe is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay exclusively from wines of the 2008 harvest. The 7g/L dosage and the absence of malolactic fermentation offers a well-balanced champagne.
The color is gold with brilliant golden yellow hints. The nose is complex unveiling plum, toast and butter notes. The ample palate offers an expressive and harmonious aromatic bouquet with honey as well as chestnuts notes. The finish is elegant and fresh.

Coteaux Champenois – Still wines from Champagne

Even though champagnes couples perfectly with food, you might look as well for still wines to go with the meal. And the good thing is, the Champagne region offers a great diversity of them : red or white, single-plot, blend, old vintage, from Pinot Noirs or Meunier… here are some suggestions for successful food-pairings from starters to poultries along with platter of sea food, oysters and scallops even lobster for the white and bushmeat, morel and duck for the reds…

BLANC DE MEUNIERS 2013 from Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot
Intense fruitiness and vibrant minerality

From Vrigny in the Montagne de Reims area, Dominique and Dominique – 7th generation of growers – as well as their children Clémence and Valentin work together on the estate of the family. In order to allow their vines to show their true potential, the winegrowers chose an organic and biodynamic viticulture for their 8.7 hectares. The vineyard spread over the terroirs of three different crus – Vrigny, Coulommes-la-Montagne and Gueux – is now certified and the chalky as well as chalky tuff soils reveal their true potential through the champagnes of the estate.
This white still wine is made 100% from red Pinot Meunier grapes coming from a single harvest and selected parcels in Vrigny with 45 year-old vines. Just like the vineyard is farmed organically, the winemaking process is natural – no additives, no fining, house yeasts, as little as possible added sulfites. The wine is aged 12 months in burgundy barrels.
The wine is yellow-straw-colored with some silver and pale yellow glints. The nose is fresh and well balanced with expressive fruity aromas – lemon and pear. The palate is generous, taut and mineral with iodic, saline notes. The finish is vibrant and pure with a surprising hit of fruit.

LES VAUDAYANTS 2014 from Domain of Georges Remy
A vibrant and terroir-driven Pinot Noirs wine

Located in Bouzy on the slopes of Montagne de Reims, Georges Remy – 3rd generation of winemaker in his family – is what we can call an atypical winegrower of the Champagne region. Indeed, back from an experience in Bordeaux, Georges decided to craft first Coteaux champenois i.e red-still wines before creating champagnes. His vineyard consists of 4.67 hectares spread over 17 plots on the terroirs of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvois and Tauxières and benefits from clay-limestone soils. The winemaker has at heart to respect his terroir and is vines of an average age of 40 years this is why he chose an organic viticulture with biodynamic principles.
This 100% Pinot Noirs Bouzy Rouge is made exclusively from grapes coming from the plot called Les Vaudayants located in Bouzy. The maceration is partly done in stainless steel vat and partly in oak barrel to create a perfect balance and the wine is neither filtered nor fined.
The wine unveils a light ruby color. The nose is expressive, complex and elegant with generous red fruits aromas. The palate offers freshness and minerality with vibrant morello cherry and astringent notes. The finish is vinous with delicate tannins.

LA RUE DES NOYERS 2013 from Champagne Benoît Déhu
Quintessence and elegance of a single-plot Pinot Meunier

Benoît Déhu is from Fossoy in the Vallée de la Marne. 8th generation, he looks after a total of 13 hectares but works with only 2,25 hectares spread over 2 plots for his champagnes Benoît Déhu – Rue des Noyers and a Pinot Noir parcel. Thanks to an organic and biodynamic approach but also his highly precise winemaking process and his oak barrel understanding, the winemaker highlights perfectly his terroir. The first plot – Rue des Noyers – is made of clay with green marls terroir whereas the other offers silty soils with sandstone and flint.
A single plot red Coteaux champenois made from 100% Pinot Meunier vinified in oak barrels. The 10-11 month maturation at a low temperature highlights the fruit generosity and the minerality. Only the quintessence of the grapes are used to reduce the risk of bitter taste. The wine is neither fined or filtered and its analysis reveals the presence of 0 sulfites in the finished bottles.
The color is ruby with orange glints. The nose is complex and offers stewed black fruits notes : blackcurrant, redcurrant, black berry and cherry as well as elegant pepper and licorice aromas. After few minutes, it unveils spicy and rose fragrances. The palate is mineral and delicate with a great freshness highlighted with red-fruits aromas. A full-bodied wine offering vinosity balanced with a fine acidity.

BOUZY ROUGE 2004 Champagne Maurice Vesselle
An impressive and mineral old vintage Coteaux

Settled in the village of Bouzy on the Montagne de Reims for 4 generations, the Champagne House Maurice Vesselle is nowadays managed by Didier and Thierry, two brothers who follow the footsteps of their father and take care of their vineyard of 7.5 hectares of old vines following an environmentally friendly viticulture. The lands of this estate certified HVE since 2013 are spread over the two villages of Bouzy and Tours sur Marne located on the south hillsides of the Montagne de Reims area and its argilo-calcareous marls terroirs.
A 100% Pinot Noir Bouzy Grand Cru made from grapes coming from selected vines and highly-selected at the picking. The wine are pressed without desteming and vinified 18 month in oak barrels with manual pigeage.
The color is red brown with brown and orange hints showing effect of time on the wine. The nose is generous and radiant with dried fig and eau de vie cherry notes opening on underwood aromas with the aeration. The palate reveals a great finesse with all the nuances of fresh fruits with kirsch, compote and blood orange notes. The tannins are elegant and silty.

The others…

During the end of the year celebrations, there are also some precious moments for rarer cuvées. Portraits de bulles went up and down the vineyard of Champagne to find some unique and rare product of the region for your holidays.

LES GOULATS from Champagne Perseval-Farge
A fresh and full-of-surprises ancient varietal cuvée

At Champagne Perseval-Farge in Chamery, Isabelle, Benoist and their son Henry work hand in hand on the estate of the family. Together, they represent the 5th and 6th generation looking after the 4 hectares of vineyard spread over 6 lieux-dits exclusively on the village of Chamery. The estate is based on a terroir of clay and sand with vines with an average age of 30 years. Through their work, Benoist, Isabelle and Henry have at heart to protect their inheritance and in order to do so, chose an High Environmental value approach with the obtention of the certification – level 3 and the highest classification of the label.
This newbie single plot cuvée is a blend of 67% of ancient varietals – Arbane, Petit Meslier and Fromenteau – and 33% of Chardonnay exclusively from the 2013 harvest. The parcel has been planted between 1997 and 2008 – 73 ares with Chardonnay and 35 ares with ‘forgotten’ grape varieties from massal selection -, it offers a north-east exposure with clay soils and clay-limestone subsoils. The vinification is mainly done in stainless steel tank but 25% of the wine were aged in oak barrels. Benoist chose a Brut Nature dosage (0gr/L) to highlight the minerality of this single-plot champagne.
The color is a pale gold with silver hints. The nose is vibrant with honey and walnut notes as well as tropical and stewed fruit fragrances. The Arbanne offers some mandarin, bergamot, and juniper aromas whereas the Petit Meslier evokes light notes of lime and violet. As for the Fromenteau it develops dried fruits and smoked notes. The palate brings a great freshness thanks to the Chardonnay and the minerality of the terroir but the wine is already well-evolved. After few minutes it opens on maturation and woody notes with vanilla aromas.

LES FRANCS DE PIED from Champagne Nicolas Maillart
A mineral and intense single-plot wine

Located in Ecueil, the estate of Champagne Nicolas Maillart is now managed by the 9th generation of growers of the family with Nicolas Maillart. The winegrower manages a total of 16  hectares spread over 3 Premiers and Grands Crus villages offering a great diversity of terroirs :  Bouzy – and its chalk with fine limestone and clay soils -, Ecueil – with its sandy slopes – and Villers-AllerandBouzy – providing clay-limestone soils with deep chalk. Nicolas benefits from vines with an average aged of 30 years but also with a large percentage of massal selection and in order to protect this precious inheritance he chose a sustainable viticulture with an HVE certification.
A single-plot and single grape variety Blanc de Noirs. The Pinot Noirs for this cuvée come from a specific area with ungrafted old vines planted in 1973 on the sandy soil of Ecueil. The vinification is done exclusively in oak barrel and with regular battonage without filtration nor malolactic fermentation. A very rare extra-brut champagne with only 2gr/L of sugar.
The color is an intense gold with copper hints. The nose is powerful with generous ripe fruit and smoky notes melted with gingerbread aromas. The palate is pure, rich and balance between freshness and power. It offers marmelade, honey and mineral notes as well as elegant vanilla aromas.

CUVEE DES FONDATEURS from Champagne Dérot-Delugny
A  complex and exotic Pinot Gris champagne

In the Aisne region, François Dérot and his son Laurent – 4th generation – work on the estate in Crouttes-sur-Marne. Father and son take care of the family vineyard of 10 hectares spread on the slopes of the  de la Vallée de la Marne between the Aisne and Seine et Marne region. The estate is composed of 40 parcels including 3 of Pinot Gris grape variety and is farmed following a sustainable viticulture approach in order to respect of the environment and the terroir.  Laurent and his father are the only winegrowers in the region to craft a 100% Pinot Gris champagne.
This cuvée is made 100% from Pinot Gris grown in a tiny parcel of 0,5 ha. Also called Fromenteau, this rare grape variety comes from a massal selection planted more than 30 years ago on the heights of  Crouttes-sur-Marne. This is the only 100% pinot gris cuvée produced in Champagne.
The color is a pale yellow with golden hints. The nose is generous and mineral with exotic fragrances – mango, passion fruit – as well as apricot and smokey notes. The palate is expressive, powerful and complex unveiling round fruit, almond paste and baked apple aromas as well as an elegant acidity. The finish is fresh and lightly mineral with a bitter citrus touch.

L’EXALTANT from Champagne Mouzon Leroux
perfectly balanced and mineral Ratafia

In Verzy, the Mouzon-Leroux family are winemakers since 1776. Today, Sébastien Mouzon looks after the 7.5 hectares of vines spread over approximatively 50 plots mainly located in Verzy but also in Verzenay, Ludes and Villers-Marmery. The winegrower farms the seven grape varieties of the Champagne region – Chardonay, Pinot Noir and Meunier as well as Arbanne, Petit Meslier,Pinot gris and Pinot Blanc – with an average age of 30 years planted on clay and limestone soils. Not only the vines are farmed following a sustainable and  biodynamic viticulture but it is coupled with natural winemaking methods.
L’Exaltant is a Ratafia de Saignée made exclusively with Pinot Noir from Verzy and is vinified entirely in oak barrels. The maceration lasts 24hours, there is neither alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation nor fining and filtration. Finally, the mutage of the grape juice is done with brandy as well as alcohol and no sugar is added.
The color is intense and bright. The nose is expressive with candied and ripe fruit notes. The palate is harmonious with a perfect balance between finesse and power offering generosity and sweetness with elegant honey and fresh grapes notes. A ratafia of great finesse and precision, perfect to couple with foie-gras or dessert – even chocolates !

One last thing : pay attention to you wines !

  • Ideally, the champagne must be stored in a cellar.  The essential thing is to respect the following rules : a temperature around 10°C i.e 50°F without temperature variations, with humidity, no direct exposure to light, noise or vibration. The bottles are kept lying down so that the stopper is always in contact with the liquid.
  • Make sure you do not keep your glasses in their cardboard box: the glass being sensitive to odors it could be tainted with the cardboard smell.
  • Choose the right glass: tulip shape – a bit of wine for wines. If you do not have the right champagne glass: prefer a wine glass rather than high thin flutes. Never wash with the bladder product as it makes the wine foam.
  • Cool your champagne at least 3 hours in advance in your fridge – avoid the freezer which is too brutal. The ideal temperature for your champagne is 8-10 ° C for non-vintage and 10-12 ° C for vintage but it should not be too cold or you might loose some aromas.
  • During the tasting do not forget the champagne bucket containing water and ice cubes to keep the bottle cool.
  • Champagne should be served only 2/3 of the glass, to leave plenty of room for aromas to develop.
  • In case the wine is cork-tainted, make sure you change the glasses. Indeed, this can unfortunately happen – 0 to 1% risk of cork tainted – and changing the glasses allow to avoid the bad smell in the following wine.
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