The best wine in all categories at the tasting: Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, Pol Roger, 2006 (142 EUR/165 USD in Sweden) white dry blend sparkling wine, 4.0 NJP (90 points of 100 points). Pol Roger's prestige champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is only produced during the best vintage and is always a wine of even and high quality. The vintage of 2006 is undoubtedly one of the best vintages of the wine that NJ Wines have tasted so far. The wine has a deep golden color. The aroma is initially a little bit shy but grows, with a little time in the glass, into a complex and very elegant. At first, it is primarily mineral tones and citrus that dominate the aroma. After a while, the aroma grows in complexity and becomes a little smoky with tones of nougat, hazelnuts and toasted bread. The long delicious taste is dry, fresh and elegant with a creamy mousse. In the taste one will find mineral, yellow apples, citrus, hazelnuts and toasted bread. The well-balanced wine has a high acidity and a very long aftertaste. Serve Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill with a delicious snack such as homemade small bagels (other types of bread can be used as well) filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese e.g. Philadelphia-cream cheese. Another perfect combination is butter fried cod fillets topped with small pieces of oven-dried Prosciutto di Parma that is served with almond potatoes purée and white wine sauce. Serve the wine at 8°C and let the temperature rise a couple of degrees while the wine is aired in the glass. The wine should, if possible, be served in wide, tulip-shaped glasses from Riedel Sommelier, Orrefors Difference or similar. This wine should not be served in narrow champagne glasses, so-called champagne flute, because the wine’s aromas appears much better in a wider glass. The wine can be aged for at least 5 years to round off the acidity and get a little more complexity in flavour and aroma. The main part of the grapes in the wine is Pinot Noir which is balanced with Chardonnay. The exact grape blend for Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is a well-preserved family secret. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled steel tanks. Grapes from the different villages are fermented separately. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation before the final blending. Then the wine is fermented in bottle and aged in the deepest of Pol Roger's cellars (33 m below ground) in Épenay. For Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, remauge (gradual tilting of the bottle neck down, meanwhile the bottle is rotated clockwise and anti-clockwise) is done by hand. To do remauge by hand is something that is very rare in Champagne today.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape surprises, French Wine Day 2018, Mirror Hall, Grand Hotel, Stockholm (25-12-2018 by Robert Jonasson and Nenad Jelisic)
During the annual event French Wine Day, there was an opportunity to taste more than 400 wines. It was impossible to taste all wines during the five hours that the tasting was open. Therefore, it was decided to taste primarily wines considered the most interesting, as well as those that are represented at Systembolaget (a government owned chain of all liquor stores in Sweden). In total, 194 wines were tasted, of which 62 wines (32%) got more than 2,5 NJP in rating. This is comparable to the proportion of wines that got more than 2,5 NJP in the corresponding tasting in 2017 (29%). Something that was fun to see it was that a relatively large proportion of the wines got 3,5 to 4,0 NJP in rating. A contributing reason for this is that relatively many wines had been aged for 5 to 10 years. These wines had come into their last stage of maturation and were, in many cases, very nice to taste. Unfortunately, no wine got more than 4,0 NJP in rating. The biggest positive surprise of this year's tasting was the appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape because there were several producers that had very nice wines to try. A dull trend that has come to light at this and previous tastings is that is that the number of importers and producers has fallen sharply. At the same tasting last year, there were about 700 wines to taste compared to the year's 400 wines. We hope that this trend will be reversed next year.
The following wines got more than 3,0 NJP (in alphabetical order): 1. Cave de Tain, Hermitage, 2011, red dry wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 2. Cave de Tain, Cornas, 2011, red dry wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 3. Chablis, Grand Cru Les Clos, Domaine Billaud-Simon, 2016, white dry wine, Burgundy, 3,5 NJP, 4. Chablis, Grand Cru Réserve de l'Obédience Les Blanc, 2014, white dry wine, Burgundy, 3,5 NJP, 5. Chablis, Grand Cru Vaudésir, Domaine Billaud-Simon, 2013, white dry wine, Burgundy, 3,5 NJP, 6. Champagne, Collard-Picard, Cuvée des Archives, 2002, white dry blend sparkling wine, Champagne, 3,5 NJP, 7. Château Fortia, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Réserve, 2016, red dry blend wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 8. Château Haut Breton Larigaudière, Le Créateur, 2005, red dry blend wine, Bordeaux, 3,5 NJP, 9. Château La Croizille, 2000, red dry blend wine, Bordeaux, 3,5 NJP, 10. Château Laroque, 2010, red dry blend wine, Bordeaux, 3,5 NJP, 11. Chateau Malescot Saint-Exupéry, 2012, red dry blend wine, Bordeaux, 3,5 NJP, 12. Comtes de Champagne, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Taittinger, 2007, white dry sparkling wine, Champagne, 4,0 NJP, 13. Corton Charlemange, Grand Cru, Bonneau du Martray, 1999, white dry wine, Burgundy, 4,0 NJP, 14. Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, Pol Roger, 2006, white dry blend sparkling wine, Champagne, 4,0 NJP, 15. Domaine d'Ardhuy, Ladoix Premier Cru, Le Rognet, 2016, red dry wine, Burgundy, 3,5 NJP, 16. Domaine Christophe Semaska, Côte Rôtie, Lancement, 2014, red dry wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 17. Domaine Garon, Côte-Rôtie, Les Triotes, 2015, red dry wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 18. Famille Quiot, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Nolandra, 2010, red dry blend wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP, 19. Pol Roger, Brut, Vintage, 2009, white dry blend sparkling wine, Champagne, 3,5 NJP, 20. Taittinger, Brut, Réserve, 2012, white dry blend sparkling wine, Champagne, 3,5 NJP, 21. Xavier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Arcane V Le Pape, 2010, red dry wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP and 22. Xavier, La Réserve, X XI XII, NV, red dry blend wine, Rhône, 3,5 NJP.
The best producer at the tasting: Xavier Vignon. The producer Xavier Vignon was the producer who impressed most during the tasting. 4 wines were tasted, of which 2 wines got 3,5 NJP (Arcane V La Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2010 and La Réserve X XI XII NV). The other wines got 3,0 NJP (Arcane XV Le Diable Vdf 2015) and 2,5 NJP (Châteauneuf-du-Pape Anonyme 2015) respectively. The producer Xavier Vignon is situated in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He has been active in the Rhône Valley since 1995. Before that he had been active in other French wine regions, including Champagne, and also in Australia. The company was founded as late as 1999. Something that distinguishes Xavier Vignon from many other producers from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is that several of his wines are made of only one grape. Examples of this are the wines Arcane V Le Pape (100% Grenache) and Arcane XV Le Diable (100% Mourverde). Since 2011, Xavier also produces a small amount of wine from the northern part of Rhône. In addition to produce his own wines, Xavier works as a consultant for almost 300 producers. The large contact network he has created himself through the consulting role gives him the opportunity to buy good wines from many growers and then make his own unique cuvées. Xavier's aim is that all wines should reflect terroir where the grapes were grown and the local grape varieties, but in a modern way.
The best wine region at the tasting: Champagne. Champagne is a 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 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 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. The 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 give way to areas that have a greater proportion of marl, clay and sand as 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). The 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 the best vintages, 1804, 1811, 1825, 1834, 1846, 1858, 18, 1870, 1874, 1880, 1884, 1892, 1898, 1899, 1914, 1921, 1947, 1949, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1966, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2008 and 2012.