Champagne Day 2017, Grand Hotel, Stockholm (10-06-2017 by Nenad Jelisic and Robert Jonasson)

 

The Champagne Day is usually the most visited wine tasting for the trade in Sweden. This year Champagne Day was no exception. The crowding was massive around the most popular producers and the noise level was very high. What differed this Champagne Day from the previous ones is that the number of exclusive champagnes, which went to taste, has never been greater. A big thank you for that! The problem with the wine tastings in Stockholm, in comparison with those in other major European cities such as London, was/is that the Swedish wine importers almost never offered/offer the most exclusive wines (champagnes). It seems that this negative trend is about to change and that is very encouraging, especially for the younger wine connoisseurs and sommeliers.

 

A total of 220 champagnes were tasted and of these 86 (39%) (year 2014: 20%, year 2015: 28% and year 2016: 21%) got 3,0 NJP or more. 8 champagnes got 4,5 NJP in ratings, 1 champagne got 4,0 NJP in ratings and no champagne got 5,0 NJP. Taking into account that only champagnes, which have been tasted during the last 12 months, were not tasted, one can say that all champagnes were tasted.

 

The following wines got more than 3,0 NJP (in alphabetic order): 1. Alfred Gratien, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, 2008, white dry sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 2. Alfred Gratien, Cuvée Paradis, 2008, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 3. Alfred Gratien, Cuvée Paradis, Rosé, NV, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 4. Amour de Deutz, Rosé, Brut, Millésime, 2007, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 5. Armand de Brignac, Brut Gold, NV, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 6. Belle Epoque, Brut, Perrier Jouet, 2008, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 7. Belle Epoque, Rosé, Perrier Jouet, 2006, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 8. Bollinger, La Grande Année, Brut, 2005, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 9. Bollinger, La Grande Année, Rosé, 2005, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 10. Champagne Pommery, Cuvée Louise, 2004, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 11. Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires, 1995, white dry sparkling wine, 4,5 NJP, 12. Charles Heidsieck, Brut, Réserve, NV, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 13. Charles Heidsieck, Brut, Vintage, 2005, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 14. Charles Heidsieck, Rosé, Vintage, 2006, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 15. Cuvée William Deutz, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 16. Diebolt-Vallois, Fleur de Passion, 2008, white dry sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 17. Drappier, Grand Sendrée, Brut, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 18. Egly-Ouriet, Brut, Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru, white dry sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 19. Egly-Ouriet, Brut, Grand Cru, Millésime, 2005, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 20. Egly-Ouriet, Brut, Grand Cru Millésime, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 21. G H Mumm, Cuvée R Lalou, Brut, 2002, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 22. Gosset, Brut, Grand Millésime, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 23. Gosset, Celebris, Extra Brut, 2004, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 24. Guldkula, Diamond, Grand Cru, Vintage, de Venoge, 1998, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 25. Henriot, Cuve 38, NV, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 26. Henriot, Enchanteleurs, 2000, white dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP, 27. Laurent-Perrier, Cuvée Rosé, Brut, NV, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 28. Laurent-Perrier, Grand Siècle, Grande Cuvée, Brut, NV, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 29. Mumm, Brut, Millésimé, 2008, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 30. Philipponnat, Clos des Goisses, Brut, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 31. Philipponnat, Grand Blanc, 2007, white dry sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 32. Pierre Peters, Cuvée Speciale, Les Chétillons, 2007, white dry sparkling wine, 3,5 NJP, 33. Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, 2006, white dry sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP and 34. Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Rosé, Brut, 2006, rosé dry blend sparkling wine, 4,0 NJP.

 

The best wine producer at the tasting (for the third year in a row): Charles Heidsieck. Charles Heidsieck and their champagnes never cease to amaze. What can you say against such facts: Charles Heidsieck has been chosen as the best wine producer of Champagne Day (Stockholm) for three consecutive years (2015, 2016 and now 2017), Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV was chosen as the best champagne of the year 2015 (champagnes under 500 SEK), Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 was chosen as the best champagne of the year 2015 (champagnes over 500 SEK; Note that since 2016, NJ Wines has chosen the 10 best champagne of the year without regard to price range) and last but not least of the 10 best champagnes of the year 2016 were 3 from Charles Heidsieck. It should also be mentioned that Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 was very close to be chosen as the best champagne of the year 2016.

 

Charles Heidsieck's champagnes are usually a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. That Charles Heidsieck's champagnes have such a high quality can be explained by as much as 40% of reserve wine (the oldest of them 20 years old) is used to them, which is unique to champagne in this price range. As far as I know that it is just Krug Grand Cuvée, which usually costs much more, that uses about the same amount of reserve wine (30 to 50%). Here we talk about real complex and sophisticated champagnes that should be drunk to all the great celebrations (New Year's Eve, weddings, birthdays, etc.), or when you want to reward yourself and your loved one after a heavy working week or when you just want to enjoy life. In addition, we talk about the champagnes that have a good aging potential.

Piper Heidsieck's and Charles Heidsieck's head office

The best champagne in all categories at the tasting: Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires, 1995, white dry sparkling wine, 4,5 NJP. Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 consists of 100% Chardonnay grapes; grapes that come from 4 Grands Cru vineyards and 1 Premier Cru vineyard all located within the Côte des Blancs. It had been aged in contact with its yeast sediment for incredible 15 years. The vintage of the wine (1995) belongs to one of the best in Champagne's history. Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 is an absolutely brilliant champagne with everything one can expect from a prestige champagne from one of Champagne's absolute best producers. This is a complex, elegant, sophisticated, fresh, silky and perfectly balanced champagne with lovely maturation tones. In taste, one can find a clear taste of roasted brioche, roasted nuts, nougat, apricot and toffee. To this rich and complex flavour comes to fresh tones of citrus fruits, good minerality and a real long aftertaste. It fits very well as an aperitif or with (a little) tandoori spiced and fried in butter, and with a little champagne in a few seconds cooked, scallops. Obviously that this brilliant champagne also fits perfectly with grilled salmon with white wine sauce and small boiled potatoes or fresh oysters or creamy lobster soup. It should be drunk at 8°C from real champagne glasses from Kosta Boda, Orrefors or Riedel. The wine is in perfect condition now, but can be aged for at least 10 years more i.e. 2027.

Champagne, French wine region that is known for its sparkling wines. It consists of five wine districts: 1. Aube (also known as the Côte des Bar, 7.721 ha or 23% of the district's area planted with grapes), 2. Côte des Blancs (4,351 ha or 13%), 3. Côte de Sézanne (1,944 ha or 6%), 4. Montagne de Reims (7,959 ha or 24%) and 5. Vallée de la Marne (11,593 ha or 34%). It has 32,173 ha under vine. There are 324 villages in Champagne and all are classified in percentage (80 to 100%) according to Echelle des Crus, where the best vineyards receive 100% of the maximum price for the grapes. The region has 17 Grand Crus-villages, all of which are classified as 100% and all are located in the three most famous wine districts. 9 of those are located in Montagne de Reims, 6 in the Côte des Blancs and 2 in the Vallée de la Marne. The best Chardonnay grapes are grown in Côte des Blancs and many claim that the majority of the best vineyards are lying on the middle slopes of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The best Pinot Noir grapes are grown on the southern slopes of Ambonnay and Bouzy and the northern slopes of Verzenay and Verzy. Champagne annually produces 385 million bottles i.e. the average yield is incredible high, 86 hl/ha.

 

Champagne soils, 75% of the soils are composed of calcareous soil (chalk, marl and limestone). This type of soil provides good drainage and also explains why certain Champagne wines have a distinct mineral taste. Two different chalks occur: Belemnite chalk and Micraster chalk, where Belemnite chalk, which dominates in most of the Grand Cru-villages, has more lime and thanks to it gives the grapes higher acidity. Chalk acts as a natural reservoir (it holds 300-400 liters of water per cubic meter), which gives the vines enough water even in the driest summers. The effort, which is required from the vines to utilize this water, puts the vines at a moderate water stress during the growing season, helps the grapes to achieve the delicate balance between ripeness, acidity and taste. In some areas of the Champagne region, chalk rich soils gives way to areas that have a greater proportion of marl, clay and sand in the Vallée de la Marne (West of Châtillon-sur-Marne) and in the hills surrounding Reims (Saint-Thierry, Vallée de l'Ardre and Montagne Ouest). Marl dominates in the vineyards of Côte des Bar (Bar-sur-Aube and Bar-sur-Seine). While wine district Aube differs from other districts (areas) by the calcareous soil mixed with clay rich in fossils of small oysters so-called Kimmeridgian soil.

Champagne's vineyards

Champagne method, each grape variety is fermented separately and the fermentation is the same as for ordinary white wine. After the fermentation the wine goes, in some cases, through the malolactic fermentation and, in some cases, when one want to keep the sharp malic acid, not. When the fermentation and, if it was carried out, the malolactic fermentation (the second fermentation) is finished, the wines are drawn (racked), blended, got a little sugar and yeast and bottled. A new fermentation (the second fermentation or the third fermentation), which creates carbonic acid, starts in the bottle. When the fermentation has been finished, the wine must be in contact with its yeast sediment for at least 15 months (standard champagne, not from a single vintage year) or for at least 36 months (vintage champagne). When the aging is finished, the bottles are placed with the neck downwards, for an inclination of 45 degrees, in wooden racks and then the bottles are gradually tilted to an angle of 90 degrees. Now is the time to start to turn the bottles (remuage). This process takes an average of 8 days, if performed by machines, or 56 days if it is performed manually, and through it, the yeast sediment is accumulated in the bottle neck. The yeast sediment in the bottle neck is frozen and ejected (dégorgement). Now, it is time to fill a little of special wine (dosage) in the bottle, to shake the bottle and then the champagne is ready to be corked and sold.

 

Champagne method for Rosé Champagne, in contrast to the usual Champagne, Rosé Champagne is made by a short maceration between the skins (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) and the must before the first fermentation is started or is made by adding some red wine before the second fermentation in the bottle begins.

 

Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir (13,091 ha, 39%), Pinot Meunier (10,742 ha, 32%) and Chardonnay (9,735 ha, 29%). There are also 91 ha planted with Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

 

Champagne the best vintages, 1804, 1811, 1825, 1834, 1846, 1858, 1862, 1870, 1874, 1880, 1884, 1892, 1898, 1899, 1914, 1921, 1947, 1949, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1966, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996 and 2008.

 

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