The State of Champagne 2016

Sometimes I get a little bit crazy about some aspect of wine. Right now that aspect is Champagne. ‘Tis the season so I’ve but together a 40 page overview of the State of Champagne today with a particular focus on Grower Champagnes.

Please click below for a .pdf  which you can read on screen or print to read later.



CHAMPAGNE THURSDAY – PIERRE MORLET Brut Millesime 1er cru, Champagne, 2002 – and a Champagne Quote

Yes, THURSDAY. Dinner tonight was at Triniti which is clearly the hot new restaurant in town. I have mostly good to say about the restaurant: vivid flavors, lots of creativity, beautiful presentation, excellent service, pretty good wine list, and a stunningly good but-not-excactly-on-the-menu ice cream trio (brown butter, honey comb, and caramel ice creams) somewhat offset by a loud, too warm room, small portions, and a tasty but somewhat over cooked piece of fish.

Now, about the Champagne part: my hosts – Marc Laderriere of Vina Robles and Mary Dodson of Serendipity – ordered a bottle of Pierre Morlet 2002 … and it rocked my world. Pierre Morlet is an estate producer (recoltant manipulant) in Avenay-Val-d’Or which is a premier cru village in the Montagne de Reims. The Morlet family’s vineyards consist of thirty-plus parcels totaling forty acres in Avenay-Val-d’Or, Ay, Bisseuil, and Mutigny. Some of these vineyard blocks are situated next to parcels that produce the super premium cuvées for such famous Champagne houses as Bollinger, Krug, Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Pommery, and Veuve Clicquot. For example, in Ay, the prestigious vineyard La Côte aux Enfants of Bollinger, is adjacent to the Morlet family’s Gilbertin vineyard.

PIERRE MORLET Brut Millesime 1er cru, Champagne, 2002
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay with primary fermentations in either small tank capacity or in French oak “demi-muids” (600 liter) barrels with weekly batonnage of the lees. Sensory Note: Straw in color, bright, clear, and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with balanced acidity and very light phenolics. Rich with ripe citrus and earthy red berry fruit. Toasty-yeasty with minerally earth. A very long finish that starts with a hint of chocolate essence. Yes -I wrote chocolate. It is at the edge of exotic. Bear Note: My note from October of 2009 indicates that this was very nice (91+ points) but tonight (2/16/12) at Triniti, it was exceptional: rich, satisfying, fascinating. It improved in the glass as it flattened and warmed. Utterly Delicious. The last sip was magnificent. BS: 95. ($75.00???)

We also had an excellent bottle of Vina Robles new release of their VINA ROBLES Syree, Paso Robles 2008, a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah that I will talk more about later.

I leave you with a Champagne Quote:
Two warm bodies and one cold bottle of Champagne will produce something more wonderful than would happen without the Champagne. – Helen Gurley Brown

CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY – J.P. MARNIQUET Brut Tradition, Champagne, NV

IT HAS BEEN a busy week. I had 25 Bordeaux winery reps (owners, directors, winemakers, etc.) in town for a 2009 cru classé tasting (more on which later) and all the attendant busy-ness that goes with that as well as a lot of other STUFF. So this is the very first chance I have had to post since last Champagne Friday. I was due, even over-due, for some Champagne but, as last week, had no late Friday appointment so I have had to soldier on alone. Now, you know I love Champagne but you may not know of my particular fondness for that toasty-biscuity note that come from Pinot Meunier. I don’t want it all the time but when I want it, nothing else will do. It is the Champagne equivalent of comfort food. So many people think of Pinot Meunier as an inferior grape but I think of it as a sort of guilty pleasure. And of course it is essential for lower-priced Champagnes intended to be drunk young. But I digress. This Friday’s Champagne is J.P. MARNIQUET Brut Tradition. Located in the Vallee de la Marne, J.P. Marniquet is a grower and estate bottler of Champagne I have been working with over the last four years. Spec’s carries three of the cuvées but the basic (and least expensive) cuvée – Brut Tradition – is a personal favorite for that particular Pinot Meunier-biscuit note. It was just what I needed.

J.P. MARNIQUET Brut Tradition, Champagne, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of a shocking 50% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Noir from an RM (recoltant manipulant) producer.      Sensory Note:  Straw in color,  fully sparkling. Dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity.  Toasty-yeasty-biscuity with lively lemony citrus and some red fruit with limestone mineral and a hint of spice. Really very long finish.      Bear Note: Delicious,  focused, fresh, alive-in-the-mouth. Really hit the spot. Yum. BS: 92.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this is not one of Miss Carol’s favorites (but she will drink it in a pinch).

To paraphrase from “I love Paris”:
   I love Champagne in the summer.
   I love Champagne in the fall.
   I love Champagne in the spring and winter.
   But I love Champagne Friday best of all!