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champagne spring trip – day 2 – Diebolt-Vallois 29 april 2014

The bus left from Hotel L’Assiette Champenoise for Champagne Diebolt-Vallois @ 84 rue Neuve in Cramant. A huge tasting of Fleur de Passion and vintages down to 1953 Vinothèque conducted by Jacques Diebolt himself.

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RJ ON DIEBOLT Jacques Diebolt and his family are some of the nicest people I’ve met in Champagne, and the fact that they produce Chardonnay wines of world class doesn’t hurt either. Several producers in the village make supremely enjoyable Champagnes, but personally I think Diebolt gives the cru another dimension, especially with those wines that haven’t gone through malolactic fermentation, and which were harvested from the sixty-five-year-old vines in Les Pimonts or Les Buzons. There is a thought-provoking depth reminiscent of Le Mesnil, combined with Cramant’s creamy structure. Unfortunately, the demand for Diebolt’s wines is so great that they are forced to sell the Champagne far too early. Diebolt was an unknown name before the firm was awarded Champagne Producer of the Year in 1992 by the magazine Gault Millau, but since then the connoisseurs of the world have fought over their bottles.

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RJ ON FLEUR de PASSION Jacques’s most recent inventions are Fleur de Passion some of the foremost young Champagnes I have tasted, and the ’53 and ’61 are already legendary. Terribly close to five stars because everything Diebolt does is perfect in its way. 2002 Fleur de Passion will become a legend.

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2008 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(96)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release-tasting. Despite its extreme youth a great wine today full of beautiful pear-dominated fruit and delightful oak-oriented Montrachet tones.

2007 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(96)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release-tasting. Pre-release-tasting. Slightly more rustic and today it feels more oaky than normal at this stage. Here are some nice acidity and one for the vintage impressive richness of extract, but the balance is not what would be expected.

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2006 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | magnum | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 90(94)

TASTING NOTE Considerably weaker oak influence than usual. Throughout the entire experience is a steel like purity and a delicate youthful aroma of yellow plum and yellow apples. Beneath the surface lurks a depth of vanilla and spices . Certainly this enjoyable, but given how rare these bottles are, they should be stored at least five years after the launch to convert the volatile floral unit to classical nuttiness. 

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2005 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 88(93)

TASTING NOTE Naturally a very difficult wine to assess when we kidnapped it on its third birthday. The structure and the rich, fluffy fruitiness make me convinced that this essence-like wine is going to be wonderful. Rich and fresh. Slow development for being a 2005.

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2004 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(93)

TASTING NOTE Young and graceful with chiselled elegance and floral beauty. Some oakiness starting to emerge. Suddenly grand and a year later rocky and mineral salty.

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2002 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 94(96)

TASTING NOTE Extremely young and floral with a massive oakiness and great seriousness at present. Tough acidic. Beautiful roundness started to develop summer 2010. Later more toasty, almost pinot-like smokiness.

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1979 GUY VALLOIS ‘BLANC de BLANCS CUIS’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 90(90)

TASTING NOTE  Disgorged Dec10th’04. One of the vintages that Jacques has bought from Guy Vallois—in other words, a pure Cuis disgorged by Diebolt during 2003 and dosed with three grams of sugar. Up until now, the wine has behaved completely differently on the occasions I have tasted it. The first time, elegance and floweriness were the focus and the points were way over 90. The second time, the Champagne was unattractive and slightly clumsy, with certain coarse mature notes, despite a medium-deep color and good mousse. The trilogy of ’85, ’79, and ’76 is fascinating because the wines are still undisgorged and they truly allow the taster to see how individual bottles develop after this much contact with the yeast residue.

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1976 GUY VALLOIS ‘BLANC de BLANCS CUIS’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 93(93)

TASTING NOTE  Disgorged Jun17th’05. This is a great wine that comes from Guy Vallois in Cuis, but which has been disgorged and dosed by Jacques Diebolt and thus carries his name—that’s how strange the laws in Champagne are. The wine is deliciously butterscotchy and exotically rich with tons of browned butter and créme-brûlée tones. Big and impressive, as you would expect from this warm year. In regular bottle a bit up and down but in magnums really great and consistent.

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One of our members catched the cork with …. This bottles was disgorged à la Volée. But as You can see it went wrong … 

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1961 DIEBOLT- VALLOIS ‘VINOTHÈQUE’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 97(97)

TASTING NOTE I’ve been present several times when a producer has opened a new bottle of the same vintage because he wasn’t satisfied with the first. Jacques, on the other hand, is the only one I know who opens a new bottle in order to show how bad the wine can be! At its best the ’61 has a fantastic, almost Pinot-like nose of truffles, decaying autumn leaves, barrels, and boiled vegetables, while the other he opened was more like mushroom soup. The structure was impressive in both, however.

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1953 DIEBOLT- VALLOIS ‘VINOTHÈQUE’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 96(96)

TASTING NOTE This bottles was disgorged à la Volée. One of the best Champagnes I have tasted. Drunk newly disgorged, undosed, in Diebolt’s cellar. The wine was made in oak barrels without malolactic fermentation. The color was brilliantly, beautifully golden. The bubbles continued to wind their way up the glass two hours after the wine was poured. The nose was given the maximum numbers of points! The entire wine was like a grand symphony by Sibelius—full of sadness, joy, nature, and romance. The freshness and playful ease, combined with the wine’s length, were exceptional, but the nose’s complexity was probably the most impressive part of the Champagne: coffee, treacle, bergamot oil, brioche, walnuts, limes, and passion fruit were the clearest aromas. A disappointment at the Millennium Tasting. Large bottle variation.

15 champagne lovers | 10 champagnes | 10 vintages | 150 glasses

 

champagne spring trip – day 1 – Louis Roederer 28 april 2014

Late afternoon we checked-in at the magnificent hotel in Reims L’Assiette Champenoise (Now 3 stars in Guide Michelin). Round 6p.m. the bus left for unbeatable Champagne Louis Roederer. first we had  a visit at the cellars at 74, rue de Savoye followed by a splendid world unique Cristal vinothèque dinner served at the Golden room in Louis Roederer private mansion with the winemaker, the charming  Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon. (mer…)

champagne spring trip – day 1 – Krug 24 april 2014

We converged at CDG Terminal 1 in Paris level Arrivée porte 34 indoors. Richard Juhlin and our bus driver met and welcomed us there on the spot.

We started with the best and arrived in the world´s most famous vineyard, Krug Clos du Mesnil. The Krug´s treated us in an unforgettable way with a tasting of the latest vintage of the best champagne in the world.

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Champagne tasted @ Clos du Mesnil

2000 Krug ‘Clos du Mesnil’ │100CH TASTINIG NOTEPrerelease!  Not at all a Clos du Mesnil stylistically in the early stages. Very charming and alluring tropical passion fruit, lollies and sugary soft tones, but the spring of 2012 it had been transformed into classical incomparable beauty from my favorite winery in the world. The elegance is amazing and brilliant. The buttery, slightly fudge scented Montrachet layer dances beautifully with stunning citrus acidity and a thousand tiny bright sounds from paradise.’ RJ 97(98)

After that we had a splendid lunch in the company of Olivier Krug himself followed by visit in the cellars.

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RJ ON KRUG For me, Krug is more than a Champagne. It is a word that stands for artistry, tradition, craftsmanship, and moments of pure pleasure. The Krug family has used the same methods since the house was founded in 1843 by Johann-Joseph Krug from Mainz.

It is hardly likely that the Krug philosophy will be abandoned in the foreseeable future, since it has brought so much success. Put simply, that philosophy means that all the wines are fermented cru by cru in well-aged 205-liter barrels from the Argonne and central-east France. The wines are seldom filtered: they undergo just two rackings, by gravity, from cask to cask. Nor do they induce a malolactic fermentation, which is one of the reasons for Krug’s fantastic aging potential. None of the wines is disgorged before it is six years old, and the reserve wines are stored in stainless-steel tanks from the Swedish company Alfa Laval.

The firm’s least costly wine, Grande Cuvée, is made from 118 wines from ten different vintages. Naturally the raw materials are also of the very highest class. Twenty hectares in Aÿ, Ambonnay, Le Mesnil, and Trépail are owned by the house, but above all it is the network of prestigious contracts with some of the region’s best growers that answers for the quality, as the growers consider it an honor to supply Krug with grapes.

Johann-Joseph Krug, the founder, learned his Champagne craft at Jacquesson and, when he regarded himself as qualified after nine years there, he set off to Reims to start his own house. After Joseph’s death his son Paul took over and built the powerful Krug dynasty, followed as he was by Joseph Krug II in 1910 and Joseph’s nephew, Jean Seydoux, in 1924. It was he, together with Paul Krug II, who created the famous cuvées, and it was only in 1962 that the legendary Henri Krug took over.

Today the wines are made by Eric Lebel and Olivier Krug is the president. They work undisturbed and independently, despite the fact that the firm is owned by LVMH. All Krug’s wines are small masterworks, and although Grande Cuvée may be lighter and fresher than its predecessor, Private Cuvée, after a few extra years in the cellar it outshines the competitors’ vintage Champagnes.

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CLOS du MESNIL Unfortunately I have to note a small question mark for the latest blend. Clos du Mesnil is a charmer that combines the best Blanc de Blancs while simultaneously distinguishing the wine with the house’s own distinct style. For me, Krug Clos du Mesnil is he best wine in the world! The Clos d´Ambonnay is a shockingly expensive rarity that has only just been launched. The most costly young champagne in the world is worth 3,000 euros per bottle which does not seem to frighten away Krug fans since all 3,000 bottles are already booked up. The wine itself is fantastic most especially since it is clearly a brother belonging to the same sibling group in the Krug family. This wine is much more the breath of Krug than of Ambonnay, just as the Clos du Mesnil is in its own niche. It feels as though all Krug wines receive a last tiny squirt of Krug perfume that distinguishes them from everything else wherever their origins. It matters not if others copy the methods with old, small oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, aging for 12 years and other technicalities. It is still impossible for them to copy Krug.

CLOS d’AMBONNAY I think that the Clos d’Ambonnay is very reminiscent of the ordinary vintage and is astonishingly enough only marginally more full-bodied than the latter. A blanc de noirs with fantastic finesse far beyond all ungainliness. Its freshness and phenomenally long aftertaste are however the most striking things about this magnificent wine. The bouquet is richly creamy with a hint of hazelnuts and brioche along with papaya preserves and mango. The flavour balances between fairytale mellowness and a freshness that is similar to a 96. A new world-class wine has been born.

The vintage Krug is now in competition with the Clos wines, but if we go backward in time, this is without doubt the best champagne of them all. The 1996 is pure magic and the 82 Collection is super. If the opportunity arises, never miss the chance to drink a Krug! Vintage Krug competes with today’s Clos du Mesnil, but if we go backward in time, it is without doubt the best Champagne. The 1990 is pure magic. If the opportunity arises, never miss the chance to drink a Krug!

 

Champagnes tasted @ 5 rue Coquebert – Reims

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2000 Krug ‘Millésime’│43PN 15PM 42CHTASTINIG NOTE ‘Prerelease! A very young and delicate wine that will require long time before you ease the cork. In the current situation extremely mineral-driven and sea-splashed. Iodin, iodine, oyster shells, and small nice bredy tone in the fragrance. Crispy clean and beautiful balanced flavor. Impressive acidity and lvely elegance.’  RJ 95(96)

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2003 Krug ‘Millésime’ 43PN 15PM 42CH│TASTING NOTE ‘A much fresher and more well made wine than Bollinger this year for example. A little dull, but noticeably large nose with dark brush strokes. When it opens up it  feels like  the vintage is a bit heavy & clumsy. Otherwise, the wine is again an unmistakable Krug with a structure and building as more than a little reminiscent of the heroic ’76.’ RJ 92(95)

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Krug ‘Grande Cuvée I.D. 211021’ (03 base) 50PN 15PM 35PM│TASTING NOTE Krug’s nonvintage wine costs about $150. They themselves would rather call it a “multi-vintage.” Strangely enough, this exceptional wine is one of the Champagnes I’ve drunk on the greatest number of occasions—more than 200 times, in fact. Almost every time, some new element is revealed. Because it’s been blended from ten different vintages and forty-seven different wines from twenty-five crus, variation is understandable. However, I have only missed spotting it on one occasion at a blind tasting, proving that its basic character is unique. The extremely tough acidity, together with the heavy, rich Krug aromas, are the foremost clues. Always check how straight the cork is in order to decipher when it was disgorged. When young, the acidity can be too hard. When middle aged and older, the Grand Cuvée has a fabulously complex nose and palate, dominated by nuts and honey. The aftertaste is always long and majestic, like a great symphony. The best bottles deserve even higher points than I’ve given here. Little bit less impressive lately. I thought it was just bad luck, but it seams like the wine has lost a bit of magic. I am crying!’  RJ 92(94)

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Krug ‘Rosé’ (06 base) 55PN 20PM 25CH│TASTING NOTE Krug Rosé is a relatively new invention of the Krug brothers. Their goal was to make a wine with proper style house where the color would be only indication that there had been a rosé. The color is very pale salmon pink, the scent is definitely Krug! Their unmistakable symphony of heavy complex aromas are here backed by a sprinkle of raspberries. The taste is extremely tight and acidic, but less generous than Grande Cuvée and definitely a storage wine. Some times a little too oaky. Last cuvée the least agreeable so far, unfortunately.’ RJ 92(95)

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Krug ‘Grande Cuvée I.D. 312036’ (05 base) 50PN 15PM 35PMRJ 92(94)

15 champagne lovers | 6 champagnes | 2 vintages | 90 glasses | 3 dishes

Leaving Krug with great memories and smiling faces in the bus… for check-in at the magnificent hotel in Reims L’Assiette Champenoise. 

 

the champagne list this week @ the champagne bar by Richard Juhlin 24 april 2014

New week, new Champagne list @ The Champagne Bar by Richard Juhlin. (mer…)

Vilmart tasting with Laurent Champs 13 april 2014

Björnstierne was invited to taste the full range of Vilmart et Cie with Laurent Champs @ Sturehof in Sthlm.

RJ ON VILMART Vilmart has quickly established cult status, only topped among growers by J. Selosse. The firm was started in 1890 in Rilly and is now run by René and Laurent Champs. The grapes are of mere premier cru level, but the vinification is exceptional. Vilmart is one of the few growers that cultivate their grapes organically and have most of the grape juice ferment in large oak barrels (foudres) and the rest—ninety barrels in total—in small one-, two- and three-year-old barrels from Allier. All the wines lie in the barrel for ten months and are enriched through bâtonnage. The perfectly pure champagnes that Vilmart produce from Rilly-la-Montagne and Villers-Allerand all have a high, fine acidity due to the avoidance of malolactic fermentation. Since young Laurent took over from his father in 1991, the company has become one of the true gems with the perfect wine, Coeur de Cuvée, as its most brilliant star. The wine was the best made in Champagne during the “off-years” of ’91, ’92, ’93, ’97, ´01 and ´03. Hunt like a demon for the scarce 5,000 bottles that were made of this gem!

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VILMART ‘GRAND RÉSERVE | Rilly | Champagne | France | 70PN 30CH | vintage blend ’10 & ’11 RJ 75(82)

TASTING NOTE Since all of Vilmart’s wines ferment and are matured for ten months in oak barrels, all the wines get a unified, personal character with spicy tones that are reminiscent of Swedish beef stew, boiled mutton with dill sauce, ginger and wood. All of the wine from the second pressing ends up in this wine, which is stored for a slightly shorter time than the other wines. This creates a less sophisticated, younger character. Even so an utterly delicious standard wine with rich flavour. Wonderful when stored, as it turns out. Like an expressive white Burgundy. 

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VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 30PN 70CH | vintage blend ’09, ’10 & ’11 RJ 82(85)

TASTING NOTE The grapes come from thirty-year-old vines. Only freerun jouce & first press. 40 year old casks are used. Dosage 10 grams/litre. I found a lot of oaky, heavy aromas in earlier versions of this wine. Today, Vilmart has found their way with this Chablis-like, romantically floral, first-class, nonvintage Champagne. The taste is pure and elegant. 

2009 VILMART 'GRAND CELLIER d'OR'

2009 VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER d’OR’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 20PN 80CH | B88(90)

TASTING NOTE OF BJÖRNSTIERNE 45 year old vines. Small 228 litre barrels, 5-6 years old. Dégorgement March’13. Dosage 8 gr/litre. The regular vintage wine ferments and is stored in a blend of small and large barrels, as well as steel tanks. Broad nut toffee just like Couer de Cuvée, and brilliant Burgundy creaminess through and through.

2006 VILMART 'GRAND CELLIER d'OR oenothèque'

2006 VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER d’OR oenothèque’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 20PN 80CH | RJ 90(94)

TASTING NOTE 45 year old vines. Small 228 litre barrels, 5-6 years old. The most impressive young Grand Cellier I ever tested. The oak influence is clear, but oh so beautiful. The wine has just the same ultra fresh Chardonnay crispiness as the best young white Burgundies. Last summer I encountered a magical 06 Meursault 1er cru from the champion Coche-Dury which has many similarities with Vilmarts creation. More elegant than ever and significantly better than the 2003 Coeur de Cuvée that was released at the same time.

 

2006 VILMART ‘COEUR de CUVÉE’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 20PN 80CH | BJ

TASTING NOTE The company’s most exclusive wine, as you know. The grapes are selectively picked from fifty-year-old vines and only the essence of the cuvée is used in these Chardonnay-dominated super-Champagnes. The wine is then stored for ten months in small 225-liter barrels before it winds up in its beautiful bottle. This time the harvest was unusually large, so there are 5,000 bottles for us Champagne nuts to share. The wine itself is incredibly concentrated and is basically identical to big white Burgundies from Lafon or Ramonet. To get a ninety-five-point experience directly, you should decant the Champagne, which will then shout out its gorgeous spectrum of nuts, toasted bread, lemon, new barrels, buttery dense creaminess, and deep oily exoticism. The wine is incredibly rich, with layers of coconut-y fruit and juicy vanilla aroma. I must take off my hat and bow my knee before the masterpieces that Vilmart produces every year, nowadays. This wine is delightful and is right from the start.  55 year old vines, sélection Marsal. Only the purest ‘heart’ of the cuvée is used. Small 228 litre barrels, 5-6 years old. Dégorgement March’13. Dosage 8 gr/litre. 

2006 VILMART 'COEUR de CUVÉE'

VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER VIEUX’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 30PN 70CH | Vintages 1995 -1996 – 1997 | RJ 85(85)

TASTING NOTE Disgorged ’99. Laurent Champs matures some older bottles untill they are fully mature for his own use.  Fully mature and extremely butterscotch-crispy, fat and powerful. Brioche, acacia honey, pastry, floral nectar, pistils and burgundy like, almonds.

 

1990 VILMART 'GRAND CELLIER d'OR'

1990 VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER d’OR’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 20PN 80CH BJ 96(97)

TASTING NOTE Dégorgement ’96. The regular vintage wine ferments and is stored in a blend of small and large barrels, as well as steel tanks. Tasted beside the Coeur de Cuvée, this wine feels slightly light and common, but if you sit for a time and delve down into the hidden chambers of this wine, you will discover great complexity, with a good balance between all its most important parts. There is a fine acidity and a spicy side, with notes of brioche, almond, and vanilla, as well as a concentrated chocolaty richness that will become even clearer if you have patience and keep your hands off it for a few years. 

1989 VILMART 'GRAND CELLIER d'OR'

1989 VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER d’OR’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 20PN 80CH RJ 81(85)

TASTING NOTE Dégorgement ’96. In the glass one is met by heavy, smoky, slightly stale aromas. The flavor is a lot better, with the exotic passion fruits leading on to a pure and long finish.

 

VILMART ‘GRAND CUVÉE RUBIS ROSÉ’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 90PN 10CH | Vintages 2010 & 2011  RJ 75(84)

TASTING NOTE Assemblage of still red & white wine. Dégorgement aug’13.  Made by adding red wine to the champagne. A fine, spicy aroma with animal traits in which the similarity to the producer’s other wines is noticeable. A coarser flavour with a distinct tone of cherry and a certain creamy mellowness.

VILMART 'GRAND CUVÉE RUBIS ROSÉ'

2009 VILMART ‘GRAND CELLIER d’OR RUBIS ROSÉ’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 60PN 40CH | BJ ??

TASTING NOTE 45 year old vines, short maceration, Déorgement dec’13. Marvellous as always, with tones of red Burgundy, apricot, roses, orange and toffee. Integrated and beautifully light in colour. Made using the Saignée method. The only reason for storing this wine is that the aftertaste is going to get longer.

2004 VILMART 'RATAFIA' |

2004 VILMART ‘RATAFIA’ | Rilly | Champagne | France | 100PN | BJ 89(89)

TASTING NOTE Fine de Champagne of 60% is used as mutage. Blend of three different barrel sizes. 6 years in barrel, 3 years in bottle, Smooth and silky. Not as aggressive in the alcohol that Ratafia usually is. 18% in alcohol, 170 grams of resudial sugar.

Bollinger ‘Vieilles Vignes Francaises’04 8 april 2014

It’s on rare occations that one has the possibility to taste a truly masterpiece. Bollinger ‘Vielles Vignes Francaises’ is one of those.

2004 BOLLINGER ‘VIEILLES VIGNES FRANCAISES.’ [100PN ] Aÿ | Champagne | France | Swedish importer: Arvid Nordquist Vinhandel | price about 600 €

TASTING NOTE It is hopeless to predict when a VVF reaches its peak. There is always a startling concentrated fruit which is most smiling sunny tropical in its youth. I tried my first 2004 vintage together with the generous Danish Brian who put it up against the far more deeply matured 2000 vintage. The concentration is equal and the notes may be a bit more exciting in the somewhat darker 2000 vintage. The honey-finish is the same but with a slightly more tingling youthful acidity in 2004. RJponits 96(97)

RJ OM VVF The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights.

RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat.  All wines highly recomended.

 

new house champagne @ the champagne bar by Richard Juhlin 8 april 2014

A new house Champagne in the Champagne Bar by Richard Juhlin this week:

nv BOLLINGER ‘SPÉCIAL CUVÉE  | 60PN 15 PM 25CH | SBnr 7418 |  429 sek  | TASTINGNOTE ‘Yet again, one of my absolute favorites among nonvintage Champagnes. Since the beginning of the 1990s the wine has only been four years old when it enters the market and is vinified in steel vats. Even so, it’s fascinating to see how much 12 percent old reserve wines, vinified in oak barrels and stored in magnums, do to lift the product. The oakish, smoky, and deep Bollinger style develops after a couple of years in the bottle.’  81(88) RJ POINTS

RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat. The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights. All wines highly recomended.

champagne spring trip – day 3 – Château Saran 4 april 2014

At 6 pm we had a grand welcoming at the most splendid mansion in Champagne, Château Saran and check-in for all in the group. Apéritif followed by Dom Pérignon dinner and last night champagne party.

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1996 DOM PÉRIGNON ‘DP OENOTHÈQUE ’ magnum | Epernay | Champagne | France | Dom Pérignon | 50PN 50CH | RJpoints 95(97)

TASTING NOTE Has won yet to be in contact with the lees even longer. A further shift in this masterpiece. Put the magnums away magnum and drink from 2025. IN bottle it’s already sweet with a strong seafood elements, classical toasty, nutty richness backed by a senseless acid and length.

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1990 DOM PÉRIGNON ‘DP OENOTHÈQUE’ magnum | Epernay | Champagne | France | Dom Pérignon | 42PN 58CH | RJpoints 94(96)

TASTING NOTE Richard Geoffroy’s first vintage. During a big Gala night full of celebrities in London in 2004, several bottles exhibited problems with their corks and a mineral-laden introversion that few of us had expected. The finer specimens had an exciting nose – sea water, oyster shell, minerals, and spices. The taste was dry, anorectic, and clear as a bell, but will become seductive again in its next phase of life. 

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1990 DOM PÉRIGNON ‘DP ROSÉ OENOTHÈQUE’ magnum | Epernay | Champagne | France | Dom Pérignon | 50PN 50CH | RJpoints 95(96)

TASTING NOTE Richard Geoffroy’s first vintage. Incredibly stylish and a marvel of yummy richness wrapped in velvet. Deep Burgundian, and an almost religious experience on magnum of Château Saran.

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1976 DOM PÉRIGNON ‘DP OENOTHÈQUE’ | Epernay | Champagne | France | Dom Pérignon | 50PN 50CH | RJpoints 97(98)

TASTING NOTE Fabulously chewy and powerful with an indestructible power and a layered richness. Multifaceted nose with an elusive, almost flowery undertone and beautifully nutty, toasted, and honeysuckle elements. An embracing richness is combined with a fleshy, soft sensation in the mouth. The twist exudes ruby grapefruit and coffee-flavored candy. In April 2014 some signe of decline in 5 bottles opened. A phase or slow way down the hill?

 

15 champagne lovers | 11 champagnes | 8 vintages | 165 glasses | 3 dishes

 

 

bottle sizes in champagne? 3 april 2014

Have You ever wondered about the name of the different bottle sizes in Champagne?

Champagnebottles sizes

Piccolo 0.1875 litres – ‘Small’ in Italian. Also known as a quarter bottleponysnipe or split.

Demi  0.375 litres – ‘Half’ in French. Also known as a half bottle.

Standard 0.750 litres

Magnum 1.5 litres – 2 bottles

Jeroboam 3.0 litres – 4 bottles – Biblical, First king of Northern Kingdom

Rehoboam 4.5 litres – 6 bottles – Biblical, First king of separate Judea

Methuselah 6 litres – 8 bottles – Biblical, Oldest Man

Salmanazar 9 litres – 12 bottles – Biblical, Assyrian King

Balthazar 12 litres  – 16 bottles – One of three Wise Men to present a gift to Jesus after his birth

Nebuchadnezzar 15 litres – 20 bottles – Biblical, King of Babylon

Melchior 18 litres – 24 bottles – One of three Wise Men to present a gift to Jesus after his birth

Solomon 20 liters – 26,66 bottles – Biblical, King of Israel, Son of David

Primat or Goliath 27 litres – 36 bottles – Biblical stoned by David

Melchizedek 30 litres – 40 bottles – Biblical, King of Salem