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Harvest 2018

In pictures

WINE The New Piper-Heidsieck  Dom Pérignon Transmission  THE Rise of Charles Heidsieck VINE Profiling Vertus  HARVEST 2018 PEOPLE Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon  Paul Stenmark  David Donald  ERIC RODEZ PLACE Drinking champagne in Paris and Sydney

is sue NO. 1

Australia’s Champagne Magazine


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Inside our

Content

W ine 08.

The Rise and Rise of Charles Heidsieck

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The New Piper-Heidsieck

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In the Pink – Rosé

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Champagne Week 2018

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The Tasting Room

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Growers to Know

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Arrivals 2019

Cover photo: Pressing at Jacques Lassaigne, Montgueux, by Victor Pugatschew

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V ine 5 4.

Harvest 2018 – In Pictures

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Profiling Vertus People

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Champagne Bar, Sofitel Darling Harbour, Sydney

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Dilettantes, Paris

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Le Dokhan’s, Paris

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The Chosen One, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon

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Taste Champagne 2018

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Transmission - Dom Pérignon

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Pathway to Perth Veuve Fourny & Fils

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Paul Stenmark, Laurent-Perrier

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David Donald, David Donald Champagnes

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Our

Contributors

We thank our contributors who are boundlessly knowledgeable and unwaveringly passionate about champagne. Above all, they are genuinely connected to the wine and its people, each one travelling regularly to the region, reporting back with authenticity.

Kaaren Palmer

@Kaarenpalmerchampagne

@KaarenPalmer

Kaaren Palmer is an award winning author and educator on the subject of her passion – champagne. After many years working in the corporate world, Kaaren turned her focus to explore the science and art of champagne, living in and visiting the region for extended periods of time. In 2016 Kaaren published the acclaimed Champagne – A Tasting Journey and won the Gourmand International Food and Wine Book Award for Best French Wine Book 2016. She is a DameChevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, contributor to numerous food and wine publications and writes for her website www.kaaren-palmer-champagne.com

Cameron O’Keefe

@centrahotel

Cam O’Keefe is a young sommelier and owner of Centra Hotel in Geelong. He is a lover of all styles of champagne but with a particular interest in growers. Cam is part of a new generation of champagne enthusiasts and aficionados; a lover of the black varietals (any way they come) and terroir-driven cuvées. Winner of the coveted Vin de Champagne Award (professional category) in 2016 and recently named Australian Young Restaurateur 2018, Cam travels annually to the region and spends time amongst the vines and in the cellar with the region’s leading growers and producers.

Anja Lewis

@cannygrapes

@cannygrapes

W www.cannygrapes.com

Anja Lewis is a Perth-based wine enthusiast, educator and consultant through her company, Canny Grapes. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Anja swapped corporate life for a life in wine, running masterclasses, tastings, functions and presentations all in the name of her vinous passion. Her appetite is particularly whetted for champagne which saw her become a finalist in the 2016 Vin de Champagne Awards. Tirelessly studious, Anja possesses an Advanced Certificate from the WSET and is pursuing her Diploma along the way to becoming a Master of Wine. 5

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FROM THE Editor

Welcome! People often ask me about champagne – why am I so passionate? The answer is not complicated. Champagne is more than a delicious wine; to drink it is an emotional and sensual experience, elevating one’s mind and body to a feeling of well-being but also heightened awareness. No other wine awakens my senses like champagne. The pronounced aromas and tactile pleasures of the palate can be truly hedonistic as they thrill, reveal and beguile. Getting to know champagne on a deeper level has been one of the most fulfilling experiences as a wine lover, which is why I created VINE & BUBBLE Magazine. Half my pleasure is learning the story behind the wine and sharing those stories through the written word, something I’ve been doing informally for almost a decade. In 2018 I decided to make my interest professional, appealing to both trade and public readerships, with the latest news, information, interviews and stories from Champagne. No other media organisation in Australia is currently doing the same. My idea behind VINE & BUBBLE Magazine is to keep things small, real and joyous. You will not find glamorous images of champagne on yachts or frivolous memes. Nor will you find pretentious writers or scathing reviews. Instead, expect words from a team of contributors who are passionate, authentic and genuinely connected to the region of Champagne, its people, and the wine.

I’m so glad you downloaded the very first issue of VINE & BUBBLE Magazine. It is my passion project, and something that I hope will communicate the message of champagne in a fun and inquisitive way. I would love your feedback, and suggestions for future content, so please email me at sara@vineandbubble.com You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @VINEANDBUBBLE or sign-up to our newsletter on our website www.vineandbubble.com. Santé,

Sara Underdown

Founder and Editor, VINE & BUBBLE M a g a z i n e

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The Rise and Rise of

Charles Heidsieck

Charles Heidsieck has attained a cult status amongst wine lovers few Houses are privileged to. A reputation built on the masterful use of extensively aged older vintages and reserve wine has elevated the brand’s recognition as the connoisseur’s choice. Few would realise how remarkable this is given how close to ‘death’ Charles was following decades of turmoil and mismanagement. In seven years the House has managed to rebuild and surge ahead, all the while capturing the hearts and imaginations of a new generation of wine lovers around the world. w ORD S b y Sara Underdown

Stephen Leroux cuts an unassuming figure in his light green pullover and chinos as I enter Charles Heidsieck’s tasting room in Reims. He’s Executive Director of the House, engaged in deep conversation on the phone, looking assertive but relaxed on the lounge. I mill around, taking in the display of outdoor greenery from within the room’s expansive glass walls. The décor is warm and cosy, modern and clean…not unlike the House’s famed cuvées. Stephen greets me with a smile and a handshake before getting down to business. There is little chit-chat, rather onto the first pour, Charles Heidsieck’s Rosé Reserve; one based on the 2012 vintage and the other on 2008. “We like to start with a non-vintage rosé as the amount of reserve wine is twice

less – 20% - and reserve wine is five to six years old on average,” he says. “In our Brut Reserve non-vintage, it’s the opposite, 40% reserve wine; an average ten years old which has a massive effect on the body of the wine.” The 2012 base has been available since October 2017 and has a dainty salmon hue. It’s super-fresh with grapefruit and berry notes, ripe, velvety and creamy. Five percent red wine is added. We move onto Rosé Reserve based on 2008. “That’s a reveal!” exclaims Leroux. “I wanted to pour both wines. The 2008 base is ‘old’ for non-vintage, yet it wasn’t that long ago,” he says. “Much of it has to do with the vintage’s quality. In 2008’s case, this one is nearly at the standard of vintage.”

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Stephen Leroux, Executive Director, Charles Heidsieck 9

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The comparison invites one other to be made; between the past and future of the House. It’s no secret that Charles Heidsieck has been through a series of upheavals in recent decades following its acquisition by Remy Cointreau in 1985. Under this corporate superstructure, Charles – as it’s affectionately known was gradually relegated to third priority, behind Krug and Piper-Heidsieck, later acquired in 1988. At the time, sales matched those of Veuve Clicquot at four million annually, but plummeted to 250,000 by 2011 when the company was picked up by luxury goods company, EPI.

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Indeed, the contrast is stark. Savoury notes replace fruity ones and the House’s trademark richness seems amplified. Yet 2008’s prevailing acidity keeps it appearing fresh.

rich, complex and textural profile which is especially celebrated across its non-vintage cuvées. “When it got taken over in 2011, things started to get back on track. Sitting on quite a bit of stock, it has taken us some time to reassess,” says Leroux. “People have been drinking our non-vintage at seven or eight years; it’s more than people expect from a non-vintage.” Referring to the 2012 base, Leroux continues, “This is more our true expression of a non-vintage rosé.”

It’s an interesting comment from a man who has orchestrated the House’s resurrection based on the extended ageing benefits of older vintages and reserve wine. Charles’ acclaimed Blanc des Millénaires 1995 is the most exemplary of this, attaining cult “People have been drinking our nonstatus amongst those lucky vintage at seven or eight years; it’s more enough to have tried it.

than people expect from a non-vintage.” The fallout pushed Charles to the brink of annihilation, inflicting severe commercial damage and a hopeless distribution network resulting in an abundance of surplus stock. The latter, however, has proven fortuitous in the company’s resurgence, repositioning its brand with clear stylistic difference; Charles’ unmistakably

Only chardonnay from five grand crus in the Côte des Blancs is used in this effortlessly weightless and smoothly textured champagne of euphoric wonder. Twenty years of ageing in Charles’ heritage listed crayères has produced champagne of creamy richness, without it being yeasty, aromatically reminiscent of

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Left: Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 Right: Charles Heidsieck’s chalk crayères

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its chalky origins and astonishingly fresh. 1995 was a huge bottling, the impetus for which was great vintage conditions – the stuff legendary wine is made of - and an overzealous chef de cave, now deceased, Daniel Thibault. The House was selling two million bottles a year at the time, so a bottling of 400,000 wasn’t a massive undertaking however sales were going down.

The past hasn’t always been bad. In fact, there’s been considerable success; something Leroux is savvy enough to tap into and exploit to a modern-day advantage. Disclosure of disgorgement dates, and dates for when bottles were laid in the cellar, remain clearly indicated on every label; a nod to Charles’ past mis en cave system but also to the future of bringing wine information to consumers. Generous portions of reserve stock continue to be included in every non-vin-

“Nobody was selling Blanc des Millénaires 1995,” reflects Leroux. “Some years, we were not selling anything because we didn’t have a distribution network. Leroux joined the company in 2013, two So when we took on the years after its change in ownership. In business in 2011, the cellars four years, he managed to achieve what were still full of Blanc des others failed to do in twenty. Millénaires 1995. It’s taken only four years to deplete what was left.” tage blend as part of its signature mature Leroux joined the company in 2013, two and complex style – up to 40% in the Brut years after its change in ownership. In Reserve. As for the eternal question of four years, he managed to achieve what dosage, Leroux is not at all keen to follow others failed to do in twenty. He has also trends. Instead, recommitting Charles to orchestrated a complete turnaround in its proven regime of 10-11g/L because “it sales figures. Charles now hovers around works with Charles, it just works”. production of one million bottles a year So what about reinvention? Leroux mainand there is a solid distribution network tains that, in terms of wine, Charles isn’t firmly in place. With the rescue phase reinventing much. now behind him, Leroux is focusing efforts on the future but likes to maintain “Everything we’re doing now, we did 25 years ago or 40-60 years ago,” he says. some reference to the past.

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But perhaps there is a twist here or there. Earlier in the year, Charles Heidsieck launched a non-vintage blanc de blancs. The House had made it previously in the 60s and 70s but in the 80s stopped, just when the style started to take off. Charles has a strong affiliation with chardonnay, although Leroux insists it’s not stylistically defined by it. Rather, he prefers the House be known for its blend. The non-vintage is the latest release, alongside the highly anticipated Blanc des Millénaires 2004, and pays tribute to the legacy of chardonnay at Charles Heidsieck. The House started making blanc de blancs in 1947 making it one of the first to do so, after Salon. Whilst chardonnay remains a strong part of Charles’ heritage, it hasn’t been its focus. Nonetheless, its masterful chardonnay blends have made an institution of Blanc des Millénaires.

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Another area Charles is exploring is the influence of oak on its cuvées but Leroux insists it’s only minor, so much so that from an official communication point of view, they will never talk about it. “We’re experimenting with a little bit of oak, around 2-3%, but it will never be part of Charles’ DNA,” confirms Leroux. “Even 50 years' ago when all the Houses were doing oak, we were too. We’re bringing a little of it into some specific crus to add a little layer. It’s not a meaningful contribution.” The company has also recently shifted to using Mytik corks in the past 12 months in order to avoid cork taint which Leroux says was occurring too frequently, but no more than the industry average. “Some batches of wine in certain vintages have been affected. In 1999 there was a higher rate, probably because of a bad


batch of trees used for the cork at that time, I don’t know,” he says. “But if Mytik keeps the wine safer, we’re not going to mull around with that.” So what’s next? With the wine speaking for itself, it is clear Leroux’s agenda is focused on developing Charles from a marketing perspective. Not so much from packaging point of view, because it’s all about the wine. The re-marketing and relationship Charles has built with its audience is important for sustaining its future as a premium producer whose mission is to talk to ‘wine geeks’. There is a lot of charm in Charles Heidsieck’s boutique style operation. With this comes great opportunity for establishing meaningful connections with consumers. Leroux knows this and already has some innovative thoughts on how to develop deeper relationships with consumers. But on that, he remains tightlipped for now. What does appear certain is his plan to further the brand’s engagement in Australia, a place Leroux holds some heartfelt sentiment for, having travelled here extensively especially when he was Regional Export Sales Manager for Bollinger. “In Australia, people know a lot. It’s a wine producing country so anything that brings it back to a European culture is a good thing [for champagne]. There is

more proximity between Australians and champagne than Australians and some Australian wine,” says Leroux. “Champagne is really special to Aussies versus Aussie sparkling wine, whereas local still wine is very important as opposed to other French wine.” Cultural factors between the countries, he believes, make this connection possible. However, Australia remains tightly coiled for the brand, a hangover from the past where there was no distribution. Consequently efforts have focused on generating awareness and rediscovery through tastings by the glass. Under the current plan for Australia, Charles limits its exposure to some independent retailers but allows strategic placement in Australia’s top five Dan Murphy stores. Yet the company’s preference is to give more attention to the on-trade scene, aligning its brand to gastronomy and those with a sophisticated wine palate. As Leroux says, Charles is the connoisseur’s choice. Whilst Leroux may be reluctant to acknowledge any kind of reinvention at Charles, 2018 has seen a gear shift for the company with a series of highly anticipated releases; launch of Blanc des Millénaires 2004, Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV and Charles Heidsieck 2006 Vintage. Whilst the former has been available in Australia since August this

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year, Australians will need to wait until sometime next year to get their hands on the latter two. With a little luck, there may even be a tightly allocated shipment of a vertical collection comprising six vintages of Blanc des Millénaires. To the outsider, Charles’ resurgence has been something of a marvel to watch. Quality, rather than fast sales, has spearheaded its business strategy, cleverly reinforcing the brand’s perception as a connoisseur’s wine. In doing so, the House has managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of a new generation of wine lovers who have become unwavering in their loyalty. Charles, having risen from the ashes, is on the rise again. How far it will rise is anyone’s guess. What is for certain is that things will only get better.

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Charles Heidsieck’s chalk crayères

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The New Piper-Heidsieck A series of sweeping changes have been made at Piper-Heidsieck, ringing in a new era for the House for which Australians have become increasingly fond of. A new chef de cave and major re-brand may have positioned the House to appeal to a younger and savvy customer, but never at the expense of quality which is taken more seriously than ever before. W o r d s b y Sara Underdown

As Champagne’s most distant market, with a comparatively small population, it would be easy to consider Australia insignificant in the landscape of worldwide sales for France’s finest bubbles. Not so, says Global Executive Director of Piper-Heidsieck, Benoit Collard, who ranks Australia as their number one priority across the globe. Speaking over lunch at Piper-Heidsieck’s headquarters in Reims, Collard says he sees significant potential in recent market developments beyond the success of their entry-level Brut Non-Vintage for which they are best known.

they will remain categories that not many people understand. But there’s a lot of opportunity because people are wanting to know more and try more.” By this, Collard refers to the industry’s published export figures for 2017. In Australia, volume shipped has been largely forged by an insatiable appetite for non-vintage cuvées of which we pop some 22 bottles out of every 25. However, in 2017 this category dropped by 2.4%. Still, volume was up, by almost 16%, but most surprising was value – surging ahead by 23% on the year before. Figures, such as these, highlight Australia’s potential to diversify out of the non-vintage category and into others.

“Last year’s shipments to Australia grew again. The market keeps on growing and you can Collard says he sees significant potential in see a trend. What I like recent market developments beyond the success in Australia is that you of their entry-level Brut Non-Vintage for which can see the market slowly they are best known. growing from a purely nonOpportunities appear particularly strong vintage point of view to more rosé and for Piper-Heidsieck, even with brand vintages,” he says. “Still, it’s small and

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Benoit Collard, Global Executive Director, Piper - Heidsieck 18

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Below: Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel

recognition so heavily invested in their entry level non-vintage cuvée, often subject to price based promotion. Whilst Collard does admit that price positioning doesn’t match what they’d like to see in the market (which is mostly driven by retailers), he believes it is no indicator of quality. He points to the string of awards the House has picked up in the last two decades.

in the Côte des Bar where it borrows some weighty pinot noir character. Reserves, held in cool 300 – 500hL stainless steel tanks, comprise 15% – 20% of the final blend, keeping things pure and focused. And each bottle receives no less than four years on lees, up from two or three years previously. It is proof that quality and price do not always share a parallel relationship.

“Our chef de cave has been awarded best winemaker eight times since 2002.” “Our chef de cave has been awarded best winemaker eight times since 2002,” he says. “Our wine always meets expectations. There’s freshness, fruitiness, acidity, nice maturity. Part of it is the quality from the vineyards but another element is to keep raising our winemaking credentials. If you ask people what they think, they say ‘well, if I feel like a glass of champagne then when I drink Piper, I get what I expect’. People can trust it [our quality].” A steady hand in the cellar has made Piper-Heidsieck one of the best and most reliable non-vintage champagnes on the market. Unfailingly bright, fruity and toasty, underscored by bright malic acidity, it is surprisingly complex and delicious. The classic blend accounts for no less than 100 crus taken from across the region, including some signature sites 19

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Piper-Heidsieck’s other champagnes are also particularly good. Their vintages, most notably 2008, are beautifully


with the Australian Open.

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structured; fresh, ripe and with a definitive mineral edge. They carry all the right structural components and complexity to age well. And then there is Essentiel, a relatively new wine in the portfolio already with a legion of devotees. A lower dosaged (6 g/L) version of Piper’s Brut Non-Vintage, Essentiel carries the brand’s hallmark characteristics of apples, pears and toast but is cleaner, drier and more precise. It also snagged a raft of awards following its launch in 2017.

‘A dash of seduction’ now underscores everything from the House, designed to target the under 40s, highlighting moments of frivolity and sexual intrigue. “Seduction is part of our heritage. It went all the way through the history of the House, from Marie-Antoinette to winning Marilyn Monroe’s heart,” says Collard referring to the House’s association with daring and beautiful women. “In the 90s we had a strong advertising campaign about seduction.”

“When you are a Champagne House, Frivolity just so happens to pair you need two legs to walk,” says Collard. nicely with the company’s intentions “First is the wine excellence you need for Australia. Collard believes that in order to be recognised - we are the Australians, whilst casual and fun, most awarded House of the century. have evolved in the last 15 years to be We keep investing in wine quality and more trend conscious, but still expect keep pushing for more of it. Secondly, if quality. Referring to the growth of you’re a Grandes Marques, people expect Piper in Australia, he believes it has a personality. been driven by a So, at the end “If you’re a Grandes Marques, dynamic of quality and of the day, it’s expectation coming people expect a personality.” all about the together from a wine and the consumer point of view. character of the House.” An increase in investment and renewed Piper has personality in spades. A sexy focus started three years ago in tandem and youthful re-brand launched earlier with finding a new distributor to match last year has seen the House increase the House’s evolving objectives. The its presence within Australia but also search led the company to Oatley Fine globally. In recent years, Piper has Wine Merchants due to their on-premise secured prestigious partnerships with the footprint and network with independent Academy Awards and, in August, became retailers. They were also willing to the first champagne brand to partner develop activities and events to carry the v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Below: Newly appointed chef de cave, Émilien Boutillat

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brand’s personality into the market. “[In Australia] we can see that champagne consumers are younger than in any other western country,” he says. “Piper consumers are young as well…we are on track and it matches. Young consumers ask: Why is this brand made for me? Piper offers exactly what consumers expect from a Champagne House and also in terms of style to match with the occasion and climate.” Strategic Champenois, Boutillat pursuits “[In Australia] we can see graduated from resulted in that champagne consumers SupAgro Montpellier in sweeping are younger than in any other France and spent time changes across in Chile, New Zealand, western country.” the House in the United States and 2018. Earlier South Africa before this year, the company appointed Severine returning to France. For the past five Frerson to the role of chef de cave, years he has headed-up the winemaking following 16 years in its winemaking team at Cattier’s Armand de Brignac. team, to replace the esteemed, Regis Boutillat’s multi-national experience Camus. However, in September it was working across New World wines in announced that Frerson would depart for diverse markets will most likely assist Perrier-Jouët as part of a succession plan Piper-Heidsieck’s global reach in coming to take over from current chef de cave, years. Where he will make his personal Hervé Deschamps. mark remains to be seen. However, with The move could be seen as a blow for the qualifications in agricultural engineering, company which was keen to promote a it is not unreasonable to assume he will talented and capable woman to the top. show some interest in raising the House’s However, her replacement - announced environmental commitment to the just weeks later - seems a solid fit. Émilien vineyards it owns and those they source Boutillat is young, globally experienced from. and credentialed as an oenologist and Under former chef de cave, Regis Camus, agricultural engineer. A born and bred the House attained double certification

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Left: Piper-Heidsieck headquarters, Reims Right: Piper-Heidsieck's new branding strategy

– the region’s VDC (Viticulture Durable en Champagne) and France’s HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale). It was also under Camus that strong partnerships were forged with vignerons to “procure fruit which is almost luminous in its intensity”. To this end, the House offers growers technical support to assist with converting to sustainable practices – making Piper one of the few Houses to do so. Benoit Collard says that every year, the Piper-Heidsieck team try to be present in large cooperatives they partner with. “Every time we ask for traceability in sustainable viticulture. The team has spent a lot of time working with our partners to make sure we get more grapes from sustainably farmed sites,” says Collard who says that he has seen a big change in people’s commitment to sustainable winemaking practices since joining the company. As Piper-Heidsieck moves forward with

Boutillat, Camus takes on the company’s prestige cuvée, Rare, as a standalone brand. Rare now enters an uncommon realm. The likes of Dom Pérignon, La Grande Dame, Cristal and Belle Époque, whilst belonging to their respective family brands sit in a stratosphere of separate brand recognition. Rare’s branding also reflects the shift. Piper-Heidsieck’s logo has been removed from the front yet the bottle retains its distinguished gold metalwork to “have a bottle as outstanding as the wine inside”. Partnering with brand ambassadors – such as Ned Goodwin MW – allows the story of Rare to come to life so that v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Below: Newly re-branded Rare 2002

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customers can understand the wine inside and follow its journey. “When people drink a Piper-Heidsieck it’s important they don’t think they’re drinking a ‘baby Rare’ and when people drink Rare we don’t want them to think they’re drinking a version of PiperHeidsieck. And that’s why we need two different chefs de cave,” says Collard. The marketing prowess of Rare’s brand separation highlights its point of difference in an aspirational world of prestige cuvées. “Rare has a unique opportunity. It’s a wine of distinction with exceptional winemaking. People look for scarcity and, since 1976, we have made nine vintages of Rare; eight white and one rosé. Some of our competitors have done 38 vintages in this time…so we are truly exclusive,” he says. Rare’s first ever rosé, made from the 2007 vintage, is a testament to the wine’s status amongst other prestige cuvées. The old adage that “you’re only as good as your competition” could not be truer here. The more challenging nature of 2007’s vintage resulted in delicacy, rather than concentration, missing out on the reputation afforded to others such as the lauded 2008 vintage. It was risky business for Rare’s first incarnation as a rosé, yet it was met with rave reviews across

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the industry including Wine Spectator, scoring it 95 points, and Wine Advocate, rating it 96. Publications such as these join the assembly of influencers and industry critics who cannot deny the consistency and quality of winemaking coming from the House all the while remaining price competitive. It makes Piper-Heidsieck one to watch; especially in the context of its Australian story for which opportunities seem boundless.


The pristine cellars at Piper-Heidsieck 24

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In the Pink wine

Rosé

Rosé champagne may be known as a pink version of champagne but a good one needs to be much more than just that. WORD S b y Sara Underdown

making. Irrespectively, all rosés need particularly ripe black grapes, making them more costly to produce than most other wines from the region. Ripe black berries, especially those from older vines, are more intense and concentrated in flavour and colour, requiring good soil and growing Styles of rosé – like their colours – vary conditions to reach their full potential. by the depth and breadth of their comThey impart the necessary fruit and strucposites. They can be full-bodied or intural profile required for elaborating rosé credibly light, fruit-forward or savoury, styles but, more than this, because yeast vinous or lithe, ‘leaches’ colour with tannins or It’s important to have strongly from the wine without, sweet or during fermentadry. However, rosés coloured black fruit to retain tion, it’s importare most often recolour profile. ant to have strongly freshing and lively coloured black fruit with strawberry to retain colour profile. and raspberry aromas featuring a slightly Rosé, alluringly pretty to the eye with its spectrum of pink, salmon and amber hues, should taste different to other types of champagne, especially classically blended ones on which they are sometimes based.

full, yet crisp, mouthfeel. With their summery appeal, most are produced to be consumed young although some can be made for long-ageing potential developing complex, full-bodied and powerful profiles over time. Distinctions can be enhanced or reduced in different ways, depending on wine-

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The power and intensity of black fruit was the basis for much of Champagne’s fame in the 18th and 19th Centuries, during which time the pinot noir kingdoms of Aÿ and Bouzy were celebrated for their still red wines. Producers to this day are still proud to declare if their rosés comprise red wine from these


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renowned villages of old. These historical connections now play a major role in the predominant method of rosé production for many Grandes Marques, which is by the addition method.

ly not an overtly ‘grippy’ phenolic style of tannin; they are gentle and fine. Another elaboration of rosé, although nowhere near as common, is a still rosé called Rosé des Riceys. This still version heralds from the Côte des Bar located in the Aube department in the deep south of Champagne. Uniquely, it’s the only wine producing region in France made up of three dedicated appellations; AOC Cham-

The addition method involves adding a component of still red wine to other base wines to form the ultimate blend. This component can vary, depending on the outcome desired, but it’s rarely more than 20 percent. Any more and the cuvée would Uniquely, it’s the only wine producing region in lose its sense of lightness France made up of three dedicated appellations. and crispness. Depending on the level of ripeness pagne, AOC Côteaux Champenois (red and amount added, the addition method wine) and AOC Rosé des Riceys. For procan be quite vinous and full-bodied duction of this still wine, most producwith excellent fruit profile and low or no ers follow the saignée method of crushing tannins. the grapes and then running the juice off The other key method for producing rosé the skins after a short maceration. Juice is champagne is via saignée. Grape must is then fermented and allowed to age or be allowed to remain in contact with skins bottled, but without a second fermentafor a short period of time – anywhere tion process. from a few hours to several days. Pigmentation from dark skinned grapes begins to Rosé des Riceys wines are often light to medium bodied (although in a ripe year colour the juice whilst enriching it with it can be quite full) and can vary from aromatics. Following this maceration, fruity to savoury in profile, minus the efjuices are bled off and then fermented fervescence, and provide a good insight and used in their own right or fermented into the terroir of the Aube. and blended with other base wines. ProWith summer fast approaching, try these ponents of this method believe that it lip-smacking rosé champagnes to get you produces greater fruit purity and noticethinking and put you in a good mood. able tannins. However, these are general-

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Louis Roederer Vintage Rosé 2012 63% pinot noir, 37% chardonnay. Made using the saignée method with maceration lasting between 5 – 8 days. 24% vinification in oak casks. No malolactic fermentation. Aged 4 years on lees. 9 g/L dosage.

Louis Roederer’s masterfully constructed saignée rosé strikes a chord between tannin, fruit and chalk. Their signature technique is to add chardonnay juice to the pinot noir maceration and coferment. According to chef de cave, JeanBaptiste Lécaillon, it produces a greater declaration of flavour but also more refined tannins. Roederer’s interpretation of 2012 offers all the delights of the vintage, visually interpreted by salmon coloured hues flecked with pink. It is bright and crisp, with a real sense of ‘running down your chin’ berry juiciness made all the more generous by inclusion of pinot noir sourced from south-facing Cumières. Some lovely complexity with mocha and toast builds intensity. Partial oak vinification and long lees ageing imparts some softness from a creamy texture; its elegance further enhanced by gentle tannins and a fine chalky finish. One of the best from 2012.

Laherte Frères Rosé de Meunier Extra Brut NV 100% meunier made three ways: 60% made as a white (including 40% reserve wine aged in barrel); 30% blended as a saignée; and 10% made as a still red wine. The white comprises 40% reserves aged in barrel. Partial malolactic fermentation. 2.5 g/L dosage.

Aurélien Laherte’s personal style is revealed in this off-beat rosé from his portfolio of ‘special and original cuvées’ offering boldness of character heightened by low dosage and elegant minerality. Sourced from old meunier vines on clay soils located in Chavot, Vallée de la Marne, Rosé de Meunier is flamboyantly characterful, revealing meunier in a way uncommonly seen. Think summer in Sardinia or on the Amalfi Coast and you’re almost there. With its bright orangey salmon hue, Aurelien’s complex assemblage speaks of Campari aperitifs on the terrace with its prominent rhubarb and vermouth infused aromatics. There’s plenty of fresh fruit too; strawberry, orange and crisp red apple. The ripeness of fruit makes things appear fuller on the palate but its low dosage, bright acidity and fine minerality keeps things fresh and structured. v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé NV 100% pinot noir sourced mostly from the Montagne de Reims. Made using the saignée method with maceration lasting between 48 – 72 hours. Stainless steel vinification. Aged 4 years on lees.

Always delightfully fresh and youthful, it’s no wonder Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rosé is the world’s best-selling rosé champagne. Some 50 years on from its launch in 1968, Cuvée Rosé remains remarkably true to its creator’s vision to produce a subtle and well-rounded wine with aromatic depth. This is an easy-to-drink style characterised by lively raspberry and strawberry notes, the faintest touch of spice and dusting of chalk. There is a level of precision to this cuvée that makes it much more than just a party quaffer; it’s smart and sharp, dry and clean, yet it remains satisfyingly supple. Finely tuned palates may also detect some delicate tannins which contribute to what is a nicely structured champagne. Serve this on the lawn as the sun’s going down with sashimi and sushi and you’ll be sure to please your guests.

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Champagne Week wine

2018

Champagne Week has become an annual pilgrimage for wine professionals around the globe keen to explore the diversity of Champagne’s terroir and styles with tastings of still wine and finished champagne. Award-winning champagne writer, Kaaren Palmer, reports back from a week of exceptional tastings. w o r d s b y Kaaren Palmer

of the prior harvest, that is, the still Champagne’s annual growers’ super wines after first fermentation, and newly tasting event - Le Printemps (Springtime) released finished champagne from many des Champagnes- occurs in April. What harvests prior. Few people get to try has now become a hugely successful champagne still wines the way they were internationally attended show-andbefore the bubbles were harnessed for our tell event of 25-plus groups began in pleasure but, during this few days, that 2009 with a single group of young and foreshadow of pleasure is ours. vigorous producers, Terres & Vins de Champagne, organised by Raphael Bérèche. They The aim has always been to show quality invited buyers, writers, and diversity. photographers and guests to meet them in historic Exhibitors hope to develop their markets, Aÿ, at Hotel Castel Jeanson, owned by achieve fame and glory in the press, the Goutorbe family, who also attended and/or create acknowledgement and in their own right as vignerons and winemakers. Many of us thought, back then, it was worthwhile making a pilgrimage for just that occasion. Les Artisans du Champagne, with their illustrious members including some small family Houses, such as Alfred Gratien, presented their wines the following year. The aim has always been to show quality and diversity, both from the vins clairs v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Les Artisans du Champagne

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demand for their products. The best are in high demand already and unavailable to mere mortals without inside knowledge. Attendees comprise buyers, writers and high profile consumers. Luminaries such

Even though most events are now held around many fine and historic buildings of central Reims, it’s a physically exhausting and toothenamel-challenging marathon to run from one place to the next in a futile The beautiful town entices many attempt to cover just champagne friends at once and camaraderie some of the 330+ exhibitors (although fills the air day and night, week long. some pop-up in more than one group) and as Essi Avellan MW from Finland and 1,000+ wines. And then there are older, Charles Curtis MW from New York, under-the-counter treasures offered European champagne ambassadors and confidentially. Fascinations! One must globally recognised dames and chevaliers surely swallow samples of these gems, rub shoulders with champagneophiles although to do so depletes the stamina from throughout the world. The Chinese necessary for a long tasting day. contingent especially grows with each passing year.

Registration is necessary for all events and snacks are provided. The wellestablished and most fashionable groups, which include high profile growers, limit their numbers and

But how to convey the Spring in the air, the sensory tasting overload, the joy and the weariness, unforgettable delight in the masterclass magnificent with 10, 20 and 30 year old magnums of old-vine blanc de blancs It’s a physically exhausting and from Didier Gimonnet, tooth-enamel-challenging marathon the wonder of Mailly’s old treasures, and the to run from one place to the next in reinforcement of sheer class a futile attempt to cover just some from the new releases of of the 330+ exhibitors. Charles Heidsieck? The beautiful town entices many champagne friends at once and camaraderie admission to their salons is by invitation fills the air day and night, week long. only. The very exclusive Trait d’Union v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Top: David Léclapart Bottom: Benoît Marguet

winemakers (Selosse, Jacquesson, etc.) didn’t even put themselves in the official 2018 program. An invitation arrived in one’s inbox…or not. Not only was it held on the same day as nine other sessions four of which were similarly appealing but also required an hour-long taxi ride to Vertus each way. I missed my favourites at Passion Chardonnay (Bertrand Lilbert, the Veuve Fourny duo, Guiborat, Glavier and more) as well as Club Trésors (many wonderful producers who present their Special Club prestige cuvées), Champagne Terroirs etc. and Des Pieds & Des Vins. In general my approach is to select the groups and producers’ names in advance, either those with newly forged reputations, or old favourites just to say hello, have a quick taste and spit of a few random newbies. Even so, I missed many, including whole sessions which coincided with others. This year, I particularly enjoyed the Meunier Institute group, so impeccably presented by Carl Edmund Sherman, a Swedish American with champagne now in his family as well as in his veins. Nicolas and Clotilde Didier presented their accomplished Meunier Absolu, and their still wines once again exhibited the gentle spiciness that blends so well. Champagne Serveaux & Fils, another from the Champagne & Villages export stable, have lowered their dosage, 33

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resulting in a style suiting the experienced champagne drinker and one requiring at least an oyster or three. Discoveries for me included champagnes from Eric Taillet, Météyer Père & Fils and Francis Orban. A highlight here was the excellent provisioning and, afterwards, a fine party filled with special treats of aged meuniers in wonderfully large format bottles. But renowned local hostess, Emily Jeangeorges, had organised a charming party in her beautifully appointed apartment, so away we went to gorge ourselves on further delights of local cheeses, charcuterie and salads, with fabulous champagnes in magnum from the stars of Vilmart, Gimonnet, Mailly and Gosset-Brabant.

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Bottom: Champagne Apollonis at Champagne, Terroirs

Sunday dawned with a choice of five groups between 10am and 9pm. The exciting Bulles Bio (41 producers) brings together a group of vignerons who use no pesticides or chemical treatments. Instead, they treat their vines with plant or animal products as required. Some of this group are also certified biodynamic and/or organic. Les Mains du Terroir gather in the beautifull Hôtel de Ville, where the richness and diversity of many fine producers Coessens, Dethune, Vazart-Coquart, Eric Rodez, PenetChardonnet and more can be explored. Do look out for that doyen of terroirists, Geoffrey Orban, whose writings detail the geological and topographical history of the many types of terroir to be found in Champagne. He always has something interesting on display.

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I found my friends, Martine and Michel Loriot (Apollonis Champagne), at the Cercle Colbert at the end of the day.

Geoffroy (Cumières), Étienne Goutorbe from Henri Goutorbe, Olivier Horiot (Les Riceys) was an opportunity to taste some delicious Côteaux, pure and incisive champagnes from Cyril Jeauneaux at

Terres & Vins de Champagne, formerly Terroirs & Talents de Champagne, base themselves in the beautiful Palais de Tau near the Each producer offers champagnes that famous Cathedral. So are more than worthy of your keen many amazing wines! interest, served in fine glassware. Pascal Agrapart at Agrapart & Fils (Avize) Jeaunaux-Robin (Talus St. Prix in the Val displayed very accomplished expressions du Petit Morin on the Sézannais border), of Grand Cru terroir, flavour-full Benoît Lahaye (delectable Ambonnay and interpretations from Françoise Bedel and Tauxières-Mutry), Aurélien Laherte at her son Vincent Desaubeau (CrouttesLaherte Frères (Coteaux Sud d'Épernay) sur-Marne) in the far west of the Marne with 76 parcels of vines in 10 villages Valley, skilled Raphaël Bérèche at Bérèche endow their champagnes with appealing & Fils (Ludes), Francis Boulard and his layered complexity, Vincent Laval daughter Delphine (although found in (Cumières), David Léclapart (Trépail) Cauroy-les-Hermonville, they draw their was divinely aromatic, highly sought grapes from three hectares of diverse small after champagne from Marie-Noëlle parcels), Emmanuel Brochet, Alexandre Ledru (Ambonnay), Franck Pascal (an Chartogne at Chartogne-Taillet (Merfy), organic grower in Baslieux-sur-Chatillon on the Marne's right bank), Olivier Paulet at Another favourite and long established Hubert Paulet (Rillygroup is Les Artisans du Champagne. la-Montagne), Fabrice Pouillon at Pouillon Vincent Couche (Gyé-sur-Seine, also some & Fils (Mareuil-sur-Aÿ), rising star interesting parcels from Buxeuil and Aurélien Suenen with some vines in Montgueux and well-recognised in the Cramant and – finally - dynamic Benoît French press), Dominique Moreau from Tarlant (Oeuilly). Each producer offers Champagne Marie Courtin in the Aube, champagnes that are more than worthy Pascal Doquet (Vertus), Jean-Baptiste of your keen interest, served in fine 35

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Top: Kaaren Palmer with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse Bottom: Les Mains du Terroir

glassware. There are pop-up yummies in the front courtyard for lunch. Seriously, this group is unmissable. On Monday evening, Le Wine Bar, 16 Place du Forum in Reims, with its wonderfully long list of champagnes and numbers by the glass, home-away-fromhome for so many of us, opens its doors to crowds of growers, many of whom are not part of Printemps. Tastes and glasses are pressed upon you, as are tasty morsels. It was here that I tasted the beautiful and newly released chardonnay, Le Champs Rénard, from Champagne Jacques Picard at Berru. Another favourite and long established group is Les Artisans du Champagne. Their tasting is held in the beautifully appointed restaurant area of Domaine Les Crayères overlooking the wonderful gardens. Which Récoltant-Manipulants show champagne that is ‘authentic, thoroughly truthful and free of artifice’? Nicolas Maillart and Daniel Savart (both from Éceuil), Pierre Paillard (Bouzy), Jean-Paul Hebrart (Aÿ), Huré Frères (Ludes), Pierre Gerbais (Cellessur-Ource), Doyard (Vertus), Arnaud Margaine (Villers-Marmery), excellent Vilmart (Rilly-la-Montagne), Domaine Lancelot Pienne (Cramant), Jérôme Dehours, Meunier wizard from Cerseuil/ Mareuil-Le-Port, Fleury (Courteron) whose champagnes have developed over

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Below: Rodolphe Péters

the years into seductive drinks of great elegance and character, always delicious Rodolphe Péters of Pierre Péters (Le Mesnil) and Gonet-Medeville (Ludes). What a feast! Charcuterie and cheeses are also on offer. And what a shame that I couldn’t spend time with the brilliant growers of Les Origines, La Transmission – Femmes en Champagne and the other several groups. Only Saturday left a tiny window for a quick trip to the Secraie des Vignerons du Sézannais, where I took notes on new growers with a view to checking their development for next year. Sigh! Over and out until next year!

Le Printemps des Champagnes is held each year around the middle of April. A calendar of events will be released early in 2019. For more information, visit: W www.printemps-des-champagnes.com

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The Tasting Room Take a closer look at some of the highlights from our tastings this year.

Larmandier-Bernier Vieille Vigne du Levant | 2009

RRP

$230

100% chardonnay. Vinified in casks and wooden vats. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Wine kept on elevage for one year with bâtonnage. No fining or filtering. 5 years on lees. 2 g/L dosage. Tasted in Vertus, April 2018. A single vineyard beauty sourced from old vines in Cramant. East facing slopes capture the warming rays of morning sun, making for a powerful and generous style that sits at opposite ends to the exacting and sometimes edgy execution of Larmandier-Bernier’s other cuvÊes. 2009 is very different to its 2008 predecessor which is only just beginning to open up. Complex and gently oxidative with honeyed and grilled nut aromas complement its tropical fruit profile. The palate is full and rich yet delicately layered with fine chalk minerality, making an approachable style with more maturity than 2008. Finishes long and dry.

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Louis Roederer Cristal | 2008

60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay. 20% vinified in oak casks. 16% malolactic fermentation. 10 years bottle ageing. Less than 8g/L dosage. Tasted in Reims and Sydney, April and September 2018. As if the expectations for Cristal couldn’t be any higher, along comes the legendary 2008 vintage to raise the bar again. Fortunately, expectations are realised thanks to the capable hands of chef de cave, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, who declared it as his ‘best Cristal to date’. Released in September this year, Cristal 2008 represents a point of clarity in champagne seldom reached. Pale gold to the eye, the nose reveals a cleansing minerality of sea spray and wet chalk. There is a delicate complexity from yellow stone fruits, nuts and spice. On the palate, it is illusively light and expressively chalky sitting paradoxically with fruit intensity. The acidity is fine and softly integrated yet its unyielding saline streak keeps things focused. It also carries the lowest dosage in Cristal history, less than 8g/L. Worthy of your attention now, but the best is yet to come.

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RRP

$425


Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires | 2004 100% chardonnay from four grand crus and one premier cru in the Côte des Blancs. 12 years on lees. 9 g/L dosage. Tasted in Reims, April 2018.

RRP

$430

Released a few months ago, Blanc des Millénaires 2004 had much to prove following the acclaimed release of its predecessor from 1995. 2004, however, doesn’t disappoint on account of its delicacy and elegance. This is a wine deeply reflective of its origins offering a pronounced nose of wet chalk aroma, as if walking through Charles’ crayères. There is Côte des Blancs freshness of seaspray and white florals as well as melted butter. On the palate, there is all the energy and focus of youth, yet it remains delicate, creamy and finely textured with balanced acidity. Expect a long, dry and mineral finish.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs 100% chardonnay from four grand crus in the Côte des Blancs. 25% reserve wine. 4 years on lees. 5-6 g/L dosage. Tasted in Adelaide, October 2018.

RRP

$140

Lemon in colour with some hint of green, the nose is pronounced with sweet white florals, lychee, pear, toast and mineral aromas. On the palate, the 2012 base takes charge with the intensity and flavourful ripeness of the year. Nashi pear, yellow fruits, almonds and a flinty edge are amplified in this tightly executed, lively and super-creamy elixir that goes on and on. Stunning finesse! Dosage appears particularly low, allowing the fruit to shine through, paving the way for a dry and tactile finish of mineral refinement.

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Pierre Gimonnet Special Club Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay | 2012 100% chardonnay (over 60% from Cramant plus Chouilly, Cuis and Vertus). Malolactic fermentation. 5 years on lees. 5 g/L dosage. Tasted in Sydney and Adelaide, August 2018.

RRP

$130

Pierre Gimonnet’s style, finely honed and sharp, embraces the mood of the vintage here which was rich and generous, especially for chardonnay. Gimonnet’s Special Club 2012 offers a complex and expansive nose of riper and more exotic fruit, bell pepper, kumquat, hay and spice. The palate is round and mouth-filling, rich with succulent tropical fruits, cream and warm cinnamon bun, appearing even more prominent on account of its softer lemon acid structure. The finish, however, is truer to Gimonnet’s style which is long and dry with a chalky mineral touch.

Eric Rodez Cuvée des Grands Vintages

RRP

$170

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70% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay. Average vine age, 41 years. Blend of six vintages. Fermented in oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation. Dosage 3 g/L. Tasted in Ambonnay and Adelaide, April and October 2018. Grands Vintages is the ultimate declaration from Eric Rodez, bringing together his masterful hand in blending (from his time at Krug) with the very best terroir from biodynamically farmed vineyards in Ambonnay. This is a captivating wine of intensity, richness and power, revealing layer upon layer of complexity. The nose is pronounced with all the dark delights of pinot noir from this part of the Montagne; forest floor, violets and black fruit with some walnut complexity. But the palate is where Ambonnay shines in its maker’s capable hands. Expect a weighty, vinous style defined by the richness of barrel-aged reserves and toasty, nutty flavours. Also expect Ambonnay’s saline minerality to bring focus and lift. Impressively, these contrasting elements bring refinement, balance and harmony to this larger than life champagne, producing a wine of prestige proportions without the prestige price.

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100% chardonnay from old vines in Vertus. Vinified in vats. No filtration. No malolactic fermentation. 5 years on lees. 3 g/L dosage. Tasted in Vertus, April 2018. Vve Fourny’s Monts de Vertus sports a bold, new label with this 2012 release which arrived on Australian shelves only recently. Taken from a windy lieu-dit in the southernmost village of the Côte des Blancs, the wine is composed purely of chardonnay from 60 year old vines grown on redzine over chalk. The character of Vertus is evidenced on the nose with its freshness and minerality as well as something warmer like white florals, pear and honeycomb. The palate is pure, saline and mineral – as one may expect – but deeper than this. There is a lovely roundness and hint of richness which makes for a little more vinosity. Tangible chalkiness can be perceived throughout, leading to a crisp and saline finish.

Wine

Vve Fourny et Fils Monts de Vertus | 2012

RRP

$110

Lanson Père et Fils Brut NV 50% pinot noir, 35% chardonnay, 15% meunier. 25% reserve wine. Based on the 2012 vintage. No malolactic fermentation. 4 years on lees. 6 g/L dosage. Tasted in Sydney and Adelaide, August 2018.

RRP

$85

Lanson’s entry level Black Label NV takes on a new meaning with Père et Fils, reserved exclusively for selected independent retailers and restaurants. Everything in this blend is the same as Black Label, except for its extra year of ageing and lower dosage. Medium gold to the eye, the nose pays homage to Black Label with its freshness and youth yet with a little more honeyed development. On the palate, there is less of Lanson’s classic malic tension with this richer and fuller style, leaning more toward ripe fruits, honey and creamy finesse than lemon zest and green apple. Structurally, the champagne holds up beautifully, feeling poised yet more approachable than its younger version. Nice length too.

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Growers to wine

Know

Trends come and go, trendsetters come and go more frequently. Take a closer look at the growers going beyond the trends, challenging convention and forging a path of thought provoking individualism. w o r d s b y Cam O’Keefe

Each year I travel to Champagne and visit a range of growers and producers, returning to some of my favourites and taking the time to discover someone new. I’ve enjoyed the company of some of the region’s best known growers but there are others of equal standing who, for now, remain relatively unheard of.

Olivier Horiot

The non-conformist

They are the ones to watch; those quietly going about their work with a sense of humility and conscientiousness, producing champagne wines that challenge the norm and make you stop and think. Trailblazers, they may be, but it’s not to say they are part of a short-lived trend. They work sustainably, with a quality focus, taking delight in awakening fascination for diversity and interest. There are three that have piqued my interest in recent years, each very different in terms of terroir and style but also unusual, distinctive and deliberately unorthodox in their approach.

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A true artisan, everything about this grower excites me. Twice I have visited Olivier in his small village in the Aube, Les Riceys, and twice I have walked


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away impressed. Olivier is as charming and he is passionate about the Côte des Bar and surrounding villages. He speaks with conviction about the diversity of wines that can be created here. Aside from his production of site-specific, terroir-driven champagne, he produces stunning examples of still red, white and rosé wines, all that fall within the guidelines of the AOC (Les Riceys is the only area in Champagne with three AOCs; Champagne, Rosé des Riceys and Coteaux Champenois). In addition to the trilogy of common grape varieties, there are plantings of others permitted within the appellation; arbane, pinot blanc, petit meslier and pinot gris, some of which are made into single varietal cuvées. Oliver’s natural drive to explore diversity across styles, varieties and terroir is enthralling for wine lovers and makes him one of the most underrated producers, in my opinion. Search hard and you may just find some of his wines here in Australia, although not all cuvées are currently imported. If you do stumble across one or two, best to drink them with food - they are expressive, vinous champagnes that command your palate and attention.

TRY | Cuvée Métisse Noirs &

Blancs Extra Brut NV

Start here if this is your first Horiot experience. This cuvée is predominately pinot noir (80% with the balance being pinot blanc) sourced from all of Horiot’s available terroirs in the Aube (roughly six different sites). It’s a rich, textural and vinous style – a serious champagne for an entry level cuvée. Reserve wines are aged in solera and dosage is always kept to less than a few grams.

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José Michel

The meunier magician

underrated grape variety during the latter part of the last century whilst elevating the grower to near cult-like status amongst meunier admirers. When discussing meunier’s potential conscientiously grown on correct, suitable vineyard sites, a leading champagne critic, Richard Juhlin, says that “…the two great exceptions that prove the rile about the maturing potential of meunier are Krug and José Michel.” Some endorsement. When I visited José a few years back, I was invited to choose a bottle to disgorge and taste. I mistakenly (and embarrassingly) chose a straight meunier from 1955, but José didn’t mind. 60 years on, the bottle remained convincingly fresh, defying time, demonstrating meunier’s incredible ability to age. José also makes some great fragrant pinot noir that is rich and balanced as well as chardonnay blends.

The estate of José Michel & Fils was founded long ago, in 1847, making them one of the oldest winegrowing families in the region. Today, the domain remains in the family under the stewardship of fourth generation owner, José. Located in Moussy (south-west of Epernay, just past Pierry) there are 10 hectares of estateowed vines largely planted with meunier, most of which are over 30 years old and some more than 50. José’s passion for meunier brought some recognition to the

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Bourgeois-Diaz The stylist

TRY | Pinot Meunier NV

This fine example of meunier magic is typical of JosÊ’s style. Fruit comes exclusively from Moussy (a village considered one of the more premium sites for the variety) where vines are grown organically. The wine shows meunier in a more pure state with loads of spice, some floral citrus and ginger as well as exotic fruits. A great example of champagne with meunier personality. Dosage is kept to less than a few grams.

Although a relative newcomer to the Australian champagne market, this grower has been making small waves in the region for the last decade since converting to organics, achieving biodynamic certification in 2015. At the helm of this small family estate is Jerome Bourgeois, young and talented, who was first inspired by the organic works of winemakers in the Loire. With seven hectares located in the tiny village of Crouttes-sur-Marne (in the extreme far west of the Marne Valley), Jerome refuses chaptalisation or synthetic sulfur to produce elegant, pure wines highlighting the mineral imprint from this part of the Marne. Small amounts of subtle oak add another layer of complexity to his cuvĂŠes.

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Whilst, historically, this part of the Marne is credited with meunier production, pinot noir and chardonnay can also perform well albeit with appropriate vineyard selection and careful tending. Aside from meunier dominated cuvées, Jerome grows chardonnay of incredible finesse and elegance. His blanc de blancs is different in style to what we see coming from the Côtes des Blancs yet it remains pure. Almost all cuvées have no dosage and each sees a different level of older oak integration depending on vintage conditions and cépage.

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TRY | Cuvée 3C Collection

NV

3C Collection is made to reflect all terroirs and grapes at the estate. It’s a blend of three key varieties (pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay) across a single vintage where the two dark skinned varieties feature slightly more prominently in the breakdown. Vinified solely in older oak barrels, 3C Collection is a more complex version of Bourgeois-Diaz’ entry range cuvée (simply called Cuvée 3C) which is a blend across vintages and sees less oak. It’s super-perfumed yet elegant on the nose, while the palate remains mineral and layered with citrus zest, rose petal and grapefruit. This is a classy, well-crafted champagne – up there with some of the best examples of prestige grower cuvées.


Arrivals

Wine

2019

In 2018, Australians continued to enjoy the merits of the 2008 vintage and got a glimpse into 2012. Next year, we will see more from 2012 as cuvées from 2013 and 2014 make their way onto our shelves.

Gosset A new shipment of Gosset arrived in September containing several new cuvées and vintages. The arrival coincided with another; Export Director, Bertrand Verduzier, who flew into Sydney and Melbourne for a series of events. Australia has been privy to a small allocation of the highly anticipated release of Grand Blanc de Meunier – a 100 percent meunier champagne from the villages around Epernay and the first of its kind to be produced by a major House. Taken exclusively from the 2007 vintage (although not labelled as such), wines have been vinified on chardonnay lees to preserve freshness and receive an extra brut dosage of 3g/L. Other arrivals include Grand Blanc de Noirs which was launched in September alongside Celebris Vintage 2007. According to Vintage and Vine’s David Burkitt, all three cuvées show “very exciting and remarkable progress by the new cellar master, Odilon de Varine. Wines show greater clarity and precision than ever while maintaining Gosset’s very distinct gourmand style.”

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Louis Roederer

Henri Abelé

Louis Roederer has finished the year on a high following the September release of its acclaimed Cristal 2008 and Cristal Rosé 2008. No Cristal was made in 2010 or 2011, leaving 2012 to make its debut within the next few years, although there is no word of a release at this stage. A rerelease of Cristal 2002 is also expected in 2019. Other arrivals this year included Vintage Rosé 2012 and Vintage Brut 2012, both of which will continue to roll-out for most of 2019, however we may see 2013 creep in with the Vintage Rosé and Blanc de Blancs. For devotees of Roederer’s Brut Nature, still currently on the 2009 vintage, patience is a virtue. 2012 is unlikely to be released before 2020.

Lovers of Henri Abelé can rejoice at Australia securing more allocation of the rare and in-demand Sourire de Reims 2008 and Sourire de Reims Rosé 2006 just in time for the Christmas season. Those with a bit more cash to splash may want to invest in a limited edition magnum of Sourire de Reims to celebrate its anniversary (pictured). Next year Sourire de Reims 2010 will hit our shores but don’t hold your breath for the next Sourire de Reims Rosé vintage which is another two years away. Contact Angelica Nohra at Star Beverages for more information.

Eurocentric Wine Just landed from Ambonnay is the next instalment from Benoit Marguet, emerging heavyweight of biodynamic champagne wines. Marguet’s increasingly sought-after pinot noir dominant cuvées include a collection from the 2012 and 2013 vintages as well as still wines. New arrivals include top-of-the-line, Sapience; the first organically certified prestige champagne featuring grapes sourced from Benoît Lahaye in Bouzy (pinot noir), David Léclapart in Trépail (chardonnay) and Vincent Laval in Cumières (meunier). Others, expected in December, include René Geoffroy and Adrien Renoir, followed by January arrivals of Aubry et Fils, Vincent Charlot, Christian Etienne and, if we’re lucky, Georges Laval.

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Bollinger and Ayala Ayala’s superb Blanc de Blancs 2010 will make way for a sexier version next year by way of Le Blanc de Blancs 2012. A new bottle shape, re-vamped label and tweak to the name will accompany the launch following six years of bottle ageing. In other news, the wait is nearly over for Bollinger fans as the House prepares to release La Grande Année 2008. April appears to be shaping-up as the preferred month for its release, to be confirmed toward the end of 2018.

Champagne de Vigneron Victor Pugatschew’s sharp eye and even sharper palate has identified a fine new grower worth getting to know. André Heucq located in Cuisles, west of the Vallée de la Marne, specialises in ‘mineral meunier’, according to Victor. Their unique green clay illite soils impart acidity and minerality to produce complex and age worthy wines. Following the estate’s conversion to biodynamics and drop in dosage levels, Victor felt their wines had a bigger story to tell. Vinified in a mixture of vats, barrels and concrete eggs, these biodynamic wines offer excellent value for money and a chance to try something different. Australia will receive nearly all of André Heucq’s range (apart from the Blanc de Blancs) in November including two rosés (a saignée and assemblage), a zero dosage and extra brut version of the 100 percent meunier, six other cuvées plus a few bottles of three single site cuvées. Other recent arrivals include F&R Minière, an emerging grower in Hermonville, north of Reims, as well as Philippe Glavier with 4.4ha of chardonnay across the grand cru kingdoms of Avize, Cramant, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. December will bring the latest from Ambonnay by way of Eric Rodez. A new 2008 Vintage Blanc de Noirs Les Beurys et Les Secs will be available as will other favourites from Eric’s range. v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Moët Hennessy Wine

Dom Pérignon fans will get their first taste of the 2008 vintage from November this year, coinciding with the grand transmission from current chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, to Vincent Chaperon who will take up the new role from 1 January, 2019. The initial release will be one for the collectors, known as the ‘Continuum Legacy EOY Edition’. A wider release of the non-EOY edition of 2008 is expected in March or April next year. Krug lovers will see a series of releases between now and the end of 2019, beginning with the 167ème edition of its famed Grande Cuvée in November. Come March, expect the 23ème edition of Krug Rosé as well as several special collection releases, culminating in the launch of its 2006 vintage in September 2019. The second quarter of 2019 will bring Moët and Chandon’s Grand Vintage 2012, replacing the current 2008 vintage.

Charles Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck’s Blanc des Millénaires 1995 was always going to be a hard act to follow but its successor, Blanc des Millénaires 2004, has done nothing but increase the fervour for this cult wine following its August release. Next year, Australia will get their first taste of Charles Heidsieck’s Vintage 2006, moving on from the current 2005 vintage, and may even get their hands on Charles’ new Blanc de Blancs NV, although there is no scheduled release date at this stage.

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David Donald Champagnes Wine

Grower champagne importer, David Donald, who lays claim to the largest range of Special Club champagnes in Australia, is preparing for some very special arrivals next year. Marc Hebrart will debut his Mes Favorites, a new cuvée comprising his favourite old vine vineyards in Mareuil-sur-Ay as well as a Coteaux Champenois Blanc. Meunier specialists, Champagne Salmon, have decided to make all future cuvée’s 100 percent meunier. According to David, the varietal is having a kind of resurgence citing that, when grown on the right soils and with respect, it can produce brilliant results. Champagne NominéRenard will release La Memoire 2008, 100 percent grand cru chardonnays from the stellar 2008 vintage in tribute to Simon Nominé’s grandfather. Previewed at Champagne Week to high acclaim, just 1,300 bottles have been produced. Lastly to Champagne Mouzon-Leroux, a rising star biodynamic producer in the grand cru village of Verzy. For the first time, Australia will receive a small allocation of their rarer releases, notably L'Ineffable Blanc de Noirs, L'Angelique Blanc de Blancs and L’Opiniatre Blanc de Blancs Vintage.

Organic Champagne The boundlessly energetic, Nesh Simic of Organic Champagne, has announced that 2019 will bring new arrivals for Charles Dufour, Dhondt-Grellet, Jacques Lassaigne, Nicolas Maillart, Emmanuel Brochet, Benoit Dehu, Timothée Stroebel, Hubert Soreau, Alexandre Filaine, Georges Laval, GoutorbeBouillot and possibly one other.

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CUVÉE ELISA

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Created in 1988 as a tribute to one of the House’s founders,

sparkle and refined purity of grandeur and unique charact

signature of our top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay terroirs. The

the art of assemblage and rigorous se

Billecart-Salmon Billecart-Salmon’s aromatically charming, deep and complex Cuvée Elisabeth Rosé 2007 will land in December. According to the House, the 2007 interpretation offers an “ample and pure character, unveiling a chalky edge and a persistent finish of lightly candied citron.” In other news, Antoine Roland-Billecart announced during his recent Australian visit that we will see Clos SaintHilaire 2002 released around March 2019. This small production from a single hectare behind the Maison in Mareuil-sur-Ay produces consistently complex, powerful and aromatic champagnes. The 2002 vintage, following 14 years on lees, is bound to be spectacular.

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Boll & Cie New to Australia, Boll & Cie is enthusiastically represented Jo sensorial of Boll expression & Cie of citrus Aroma: Thereby is aBrian refreshing Australia. Almost exclusively focused on blanc de blancs fruitWith largely sourced fromof a rich peel and redwith berry jelly. the exquisite sensation the Côte des Blancs, they are beginning to makeand waycomplex with the Melbourne aromatic generosityon-premise (antique roses, cherries scene. There are four champagnes available including a non-vintage blanc de blancs and white peaches). Lovely olfactive notes respectfully extra brut, vintage blanc de blancs and 100% pinot noir rosé. of wild strawberries and soften thenon-vintage distinctive perfume scented soft spices.

From Florent NYS, oenologist and BIL champagne-b

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ALCOHOL ABUSE IS DANGEROUS TO HE


Harvest 2018

In pictures WORD S b y Sara Underdown

P h o t o g r a p h y b y Victor Pugatschew

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Iss u e #1

Dawn over Cramant

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Below: At André Heucq, Cuisles

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Ten years on from the vintage of the decade, 2018 has delivered a massive windfall to the region of Champagne thanks to an uncommon coming together of quantity and quality of yield. Following a disappointing harvest in 2017, 2018 couldn’t be more different; bringing on high and healthy yields, rich in sugar and aromatic definition. What began as extremely wet conditions turned into unusually hot and sunny days from April that were well above the norm. Between April and June there were 750 hours of sunshine, up from 630 hours on average. Budburst occurred from April 15 and full bloom from May 30 – some 10 days ahead of the 10 year average. Growth of vegetation was so rapid it sparked a mixture of joy and concern amongst the Champenois. 55

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While most in the Marne were jubilant, those in the Aube suffered some early anxiety following the damaging effects of hailstorms and excess water, causing rot. As temperatures rose, growing conditions became favourable. However, in some instances, the heat brought about extreme water stress in areas of heavy clay soils, resulting in noticeably smaller bunches of grapes than those in the Marne which could draw on the water storing capacity of chalk subsoil. Still, the outcome has been exceptional for the Aube, resulting in healthy fruit with excellent levels of flavour concentration. Marketable yield was subsequently set at 10,800 kg/ha, the maximum for what may be turned into champagne as soon as possible; important in meeting worldwide demand. Additionally, 4,700 kg/ha could be harvested to replenish all-important reserves which suffered greatly in 2017.


Reserve stocks are a necessary consideration each year, legally obligating producers to set aside a percentage of their yield from each harvest as a kind of insurance against future poor years. In 2018, this brought the upper limit of the yield to 15,500 kg/ha; the maximum allowed under the rules instituted by the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la QualitÊ).

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Below: Concrete egg fermentation at AndrĂŠ Heucq, Cuisles

The cut and thrust of harvest may be over for another year, but its potential is only just beginning. How far its aptitude extends is now up to the mastery of the chefs de cave and their teams. Time will tell as spring brings the first real opportunity to confirm the high hopes of what seems almost certain to be an exceptional vintage.

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Left: Emmanuel Fourny, Vertus Right: Emmanuel Lassaigne, Montgueux Bottom Right: Ay pinot noir

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Left: Voirin-Jumel, Cramant Right Top: Jerome Bourgeois, Crouttes-sur-Marne Right Middle: Picking in Montgueux Right Bottom: Eric Rodez, Ambonnay

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Top: Bourgeois-Diaz, Crouttes-sur-Marne Bottom: Laherte FrĂŠres' meunier

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Vine Above: Picking chardonnay at Voirin-Jumel

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Top: Pressing at Eric Rodez, Ambonnay Bottom Left: Filling the press at Paul Launois, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Bottom Right: Pressing at Jacques Lassaigne, Montgueux

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Profiling

Vine

Vertus

Chardonnay wines from this part of the Côte des Blancs can walk a tightrope of ripeness and mineral precision. They can be a remarkable tasting journey in terroir. w o r d s b y Sara Underdown

Vertus, a large premier cru village in the southernmost part of the Côte des Blancs, is home to well-known familyrun producers such as Duval-Leroy, Veuve Fourny & Fils and Larmandier-Bernier. With around 540 hectares under vine, Vertus is the second largest village in Champagne. There, on primarily east facing slopes of chalk, chardonnay thrives, as it does elsewhere in the Côte des Blancs. But the village produces some distinctly different styles. In the north there is very little clay to taint the purity of calcareous soils, elaborating energetic wines with a saline mineral edge. Heading south, there are areas of denser topsoil, yielding wines that feel riper and rounder yet remain minerally poised. It’s this contrast that makes chardonnay wines from this part of Champagne, particularly good. Pure and precise, yes, but they also reflect the variables of the land. Some cuvées feel more supple and fruitier than others.

From the north, Larmandier-Bernier sources grapes from the mid-slope of three lieux-dits for its Terre de Vertus, resulting in a particularly saline wine with Vertus’ signature ripe fruit character. The 2011 vintage was kind to LarmandierBernier, producing a nose of exotic fruits - especially banana - and a salt-infused, grippy palate of excellent length. Another good example from the north is Veuve Fourny’s Blanc de Blancs Brut, taken from south and south-east facing slopes in Le Mont-Ferrés. It is a youthful style with aromas such as bush pepper, summer fruits, vanilla and acacia. The palate is pure and lively yet round and very chalky. From the south, Larmandier-Bernier’s excellent Latitude is smooth and creamy, pure and clean. Its execution is quite broad on the palate and there is a lovely succulence to the fruit. South and south-east facing plots on denser soil make it possible to grow pinot noir in Vertus. It is also the only village v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Below: Emmanuel Fourny at his lieu-dit, Les Rouges Monts

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in all the Côte des Blancs known for it, albeit in tiny quantities. From these chalky terrains, pinot noir is elegant, lighter and can express a particularly fine chalky texture. It makes for a kind of paradox that some producers are privileged to. Emmanuel Fourny makes a particularly stunning rosé de saignée called Les Rougesmonts from an unusual terroir of pink clay over chalk on a 47 degree slope. The wine is characterised by a very lively and direct pinot noir profile of blood orange, mandarin, raspberry and citrus peel. It appears vinous and deliciously ripe - without being weighed down – finishing super-dry and very chalky. There’s a lot to love about the chardonnay wines of Vertus which are some of the 63

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most flavourful and approachable in the Côte des Blancs. Their potential to walk a tightrope of ripeness and mineral precision is a remarkable tasting journey in terroir from this part of Champagne.


Below: Atlas de la France Viticole L.Larmat, Paris

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Top: Tasting champagne with Pierre Larmandier at Larmandier-Bernier Middle: Emmanuel Fourny at Monts de Vertus Bottom: Veuve Fourny & Fils champagnes

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The

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon in Cumières.

Chosen One

Louis Roederer’s chef de cave is celebrated for many things, best known for his pioneering approach as Champagne’s largest biodynamic producer. However, few would realise his interest in sustainable viticulture has its origins in Tasmania, following a fortuitous meeting with permaculture theory co-founder, Bill Mollison. The meeting altered destiny in more ways than one. w o r d s b y Sara Underdown v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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It’s Monday morning in Reims and I’m running late for my first appointment. My taxi hasn’t arrived, leaving me with no choice but to walk the kilometre or so from my apartment to Louis Roederer’s cellars, just north of the township. I feel terribly embarrassed. As I approach, I see Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, the cellar master, standing near the entrance anticipating my arrival. My embarrassment deepens. “Bonjour Sara,” he says with a smile, as I walk toward him. I apologise and blame the taxi as we take a few minutes to greet each other and chat before jumping into his car. We’re on our way to the Rouzaud family mansion, seventh generation owners of Louis Roederer, for lunch before touring the vineyards. We arrive moments later. The house, as one might expect, is grand and

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immaculately presented with polished marble, towering ceilings and ornate furnishings. It feels more like a five-star hotel than a country estate. In the foyer, there’s a statue of a bull embellished with abstract art wielding a US dollar note pinned to the tip of its horn. I ask if it’s a reference to Wall Street. “No, it’s my cow that gives me fertiliser,” remarks Lécaillon with a smirk. The table is set. It’s large enough to seat at least four, but today, it’s just for two. Gold cutlery, bone china and fine napery are laid out with thoughtful symmetry, accompanied by six champagne glasses of different proportions. Before us, a parade of Louis Roederer’s finest cuvées from the current release Cristal 2008 and Cristal Rosé 2008 to Cristal 2002 and Cristal Rosé 2002 then Cristal Vinotèque 1995 and Cristal Vinotèque Rosé 1995. We talk, eat, and delight in Lécaillon’s superb champagnes for which there really


Cristal in detail. This is the most beautiful painting. You can look at it from 3-5 metres and you will get good vibes. When you are closer, it gets better and better.”

people

are no comparisons. We discuss Cristal’s otherworldliness and how it is sometimes misunderstood; a transcendental beauty that can only come from careful, if not quiet, observation. There’s so much purity, it can be easy to look straight through it and miss finer, almost It’s easy to get microscopic, details.

It’s easy to get lost in the power of Cristal’s caressing sensuality and dazzling beauty of its gold label. But there is more to its lost in the story, so much more – power of Cristal’s caressing its evolution reflective sensuality and dazzling of the journey taken beauty of its gold label. by its maker.

“Take your time, let it come to you. Don’t rush,” says Lécaillon of Cristal. “When I do a dinner with Cristal, sometimes with other wines, I always say: Look at

This year’s release of Cristal 2008 marks another leap in Roederer’s passage of

Below: Lunch with Cristal at Louis Roederer’s family estate, Reims.

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environmental sustainability, which is more about intelligent and sensitive farming than being slavish about governance criteria. It is also about the pursuit of ID, as Lécaillon calls it, elevating the character of wines plot-byplot to produce greater declaration of flavour and sense of place. 40 percent of grapes used in Cristal 2008 were farmed biodynamically with the rest coming from herbicide-free farming. It coincides with the House achieving a new which they held a third ownership, later level in viticultural excellence, the likes of which are without parallel in Champagne. increasing to fifty percent. Roederer had invested there in the late 1980s, This year, Lécaillon announced that impressed by the potential for the site’s over 50 percent of their 240 hectares basalt-derived soils, which were wellare now certified organic and treated draining like the limestone biodynamically. of Champagne, and the cool, From 2012, 40 percent of grapes used humid climate capable of Cristal will be in Cristal 2008 were farmed 100 percent biodynamically with the rest producing delicate wines that weren’t too tannic. biodynamic, coming from herbicide-free making it the farming. But the estate was windy first of its kind – terribly windy. Climatic in the prestige category from a major challenges seemed insurmountable for House. the plantings of cabernet sauvignon, At the core of this drive for environmental excellence is the heart of Lécaillon, a man who feels as much as he thinks. However, few would know that it was in Tasmania that his passion was first ignited for alternative methods of farming. In 1990, Lécaillon was sent there by Louis Roederer’s President, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, to sort out Heemskerk Estate at Pipers Brook, in the Tamar Valley, in

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cabernet franc, pinot noir, chardonnay – and others – which struggled to ripen and produce acceptable yields. The quest, therefore, was to make an ‘unsuitable’ site ‘suitable’. At all of 23, what Lécaillon lacked in experience he made up for with intelligence, inquisitiveness and a hard work ethic. It was enough for Rouzaud, who had hand-selected Lécaillon a few years’ earlier from university, earmarking him for a big future within his family’s business.


ways than one. A visit to Tagari Garden Farm in Stanley, where Mollison researched and experimented with permaculture concepts, was the beginning of Lécaillon’s realisation that he could work with nature and not against, and that big changes could come from small things.

sustainable living whereby elements of production and consumption are conscientiously designed into selfsustaining landscapes. Design copies patterns and relationships found in nature to provide a permanent and sustainable culture.

“I met Bill and it was kind of an amazing epiphany,” he says. “All the things I learned at university were around

“We had some issues with snails in vineyards and Bill told me that when you have a problem with snails, the problem

people

separating elements into small pieces, As things turned out, Rouzaud’s like you do in science, and then learning intuition was prophetic. His decision how small pieces work. Then you forecast to send Lécaillon was in fact a ‘sliding how the big pieces work…but it’s wrong doors’ moment, altering destiny in more because it’s not the same. Understanding a ways than one. It was in Tasmania that system of vineyards and a fortuitous meeting how everything works occurred between As things turned out, together - I learned that Lécaillon and Bill Rouzaud’s intuition was with Bill.” Mollison, co-founder prophetic. His decision to of permaculture theory, send Lécaillon was in fact Permaculture is most who was relatively a ‘sliding doors’ moment, often regarded as the unheard of at the time. altering destiny in more ultimate in organised,

Above: Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon at Louis Roederer’s cellars.

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people

is not the snails, it’s that you don’t have enough ducks!” he muses. “It’s so smart. Classic science says ‘fix the snails’, but you can use soft ways to fix your problems. You just need to bring the conditions together to get the result you want and not try to be too strong. Don’t rush, make it happen but observe and be smart.”

Bordeaux. It was better than the widespaced VSP (vertical shoot position) that had been experimented with previously. Mark Fesq, who was a partner in Heemskerk and head of Fesq & Company, says that Lécaillon impressed from the very beginning - knowledgeable, fascinated and learning on the job. His approach in the vineyards achieved a level of ripeness uncommon for the site. The grapes, subsequently, became very promising, but there was still so little of it.

The unlikely encounter changed everything for Lécaillon who would later adopt permaculture theory as his philosophical guide. In Tasmania, however, there was no opportunity for such “Jean-Baptiste made a progressive “Jean-Baptiste was outgoing. He rather amazing 1990 thinking in had a sharp palate and intellect and pinot noir that we a business liked taking a high-tech approach to couldn’t normally get grappling information collection.” the ripeness to make to get the into a wine – maybe fundamentals one in 10 years,” says Fesq. “He also made right. But the writing was already on the a 1991 chardonnay with fantastic ripeness. wall, for Lécaillon, who caught the eye of From the 1989, 1990 and 1991 harvests he his Tasmanian acquaintances on account made méthode traditionnelle that turned of his penchant for new, better or more into brilliant wines in the long-term.” interesting ways of doing things. Lécaillon managed to achieve some Andrew Pirie, Lécaillon’s former success out of a lineage of failure. It Tasmanian neighbour and current owner resulted in the very first bottling, and of Apogee Wines, was one of his admirers. subsequent launch, of Jansz – which has gone on to become one of Australia’s “Jean-Baptiste was outgoing. He had a sharp palate and intellect and liked taking most recognised and celebrated sparkling wines. a high-tech approach to information collection,” he says. Despite complications, those early In response to the unsettling winds of the site, Pirie says Lécaillon adopted a Lyre Trellis system, which was briefly in fashion in the 1990s, drawing on research undertaken by Alain Carbonneau from 71

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years were successful in many ways for Lécaillon, not the least of which was turning a corner in challenging viticultural conditions and bringing about some tangible outcomes for


Below: Louis Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards, Cumières.

“When I came back [from Tasmania], I realised you needed a forest, a frog, a mountain and lake and something that works together. In Champagne it doesn’t work, because you have small fields and diverse ownership. You don’t own the forest and everyone’s removing as much as possible – like the trees – to plant vineyards,” he says.

Whilst permaculture did not fit perfectly into Champagne’s complex tapestry of land management, Lécaillon believed that biodynamics could. The practice is not as powerful as permaculture but can achieve around 80 percent of its intentions. Biodynamics takes organic farming to another level – a holistic approach based on the cycles of the moon and nine approved soil preparations. It returns to tradition, excluding use of artificial chemicals in favour of natural treatments, manures and composts, but in a way that intertwines with mystical aspects based on astrology.

Permaculture is intensive but also extensive farming, the goal of which is to promote diversity and production from land. The theory works well in larger agricultural areas that can draw from many inputs, but in Champagne, such diversity within a single and small ecosystem is not possible.

In 1999 Lécaillon had his first real opportunity to do something about his growing interest in sustainable farming. Jean-Claude Rouzaud appointed him chef de cave, also handing him dual responsibility for vineyards. One year later, in 2000, Lécaillon reduced use of synthetic chemicals and commenced

investors. In doing so, he demonstrated his talent and worth. In 1993, he made the decision to return to France with his young family, where he joined the oenology team at Roederer.

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biodynamic trials, which were set back following a mildew-inducing harvest in 2001. Trials were re-launched a few years later, with a more serious and organised plan, further to engaging a consultant. But is wasn’t an easy path. Biodynamics and organics were a greater charge of work because of the intensity of labour and craftsmanship that needed to be returned to the vineyard every day. Fast-forward to 2018 and almost all of Roederer’s 240 estate owned vineyards are farmed organically or biodynamically. Of those, 122 are organically certified, but treated biodynamically. Ten hectares have biodynamic certification. With annual production of over 3.5 million bottles, Roederer has become Champagne’s largest biodynamic producer, with plans to convert all vineyards over the coming years. Slow but steady has set the pace for Roederer’s pioneering journey, forging a path that has since become a Holy Grail for Champagne’s largest Houses. And whilst it proves that excellence in environmentally friendly practices can occur on a large and commercially viable scale, it also highlights that these things take time…a long time.

vineyards we will visit that afternoon. We agree on Roederer’s biodynamically farmed sites in Cumières, which fascinates for its ability to produce round yet mineral wines, Aÿ for the elegance of pinot noir used in Cristal, and Cramant for creaminess and texture. The tour is impressive; a snap-shot of the massive scale of vineyard work undertaken at Roederer. But it is in Cramant, at a small parcel known as Les Bionnes, that there is a moment of clarity and serious realisation of all Lécaillon is and strives to be. Laid-out before us are rows of vines, between them, soils recently ploughed by horse. There is a pond close by with frogs and ducks…a beehive too. Lécaillon surveys the lay of the land and looks to me. “This is as close to permaculture as I get in Champagne,” he says, and smiles.

“When you own 240 hectares of grand cru and premier cru vineyards, you are gifted in many ways,” says Lécaillon of Roederer’s industry-leading position. “If you don’t lead the way, [the opportunity] will go completely. You have to do it.” As lunch draws to a close, we discuss the

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Above: Louis Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards, Aÿ.


Transmission

Dom PĂŠrignon

On January 1, 2019, Vincent Chaperon will become the new Dom PĂŠrignon chef de cave. He succeeds Richard Geoffroy, with whom he has been working closely since 2005. Photo: Chef de Cave Legacy Event

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Above: Chef de Cave Legacy Event

The transmission from Richard Geoffroy to Vincent Chaperon is a compelling milestone in the history of Dom Pérignon which was honoured with a special day on June 13, highlighting the vibrancy of this transition. Geoffroy was joined by two essential figures in his journey: Chaperon, who will succeed him, and Dominique Foulon, who he himself succeeded. Foulon was Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave for 15 years.

Since 2005, Chaperon has taken part in 13 harvests and declared four vintages with Geoffroy including 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2008. He brings to Dom Pérignon his winemaker’s sensitivity and commitment to progress. In recent years, he has initiated explorations of the House and its creative heritage. These initiatives have begun to inform the spirit of Dom Pérignon in inventive ways that will inspire the future.

After holding the role for 28 years, Geoffroy passes the torch to Chaperon to inaugurate a new cycle at the beginning of 2019.

Having guided Chaperon along this extended path, Geoffroy is ready to pass on the heritage of Dom Pérignon to his successor. Geoffroy was appointed chef de cave in 1990 and declared no fewer than 15 vintages. He remained steadfastly faithful to the vision of the House, exploring its potential with audacity and creativity. His interpretations of Dom Pérignon’s vision gave birth to the concept of Plénitudes

Wine media from around the world came together at the Abbey of Hautvilliers, where Dom Pérignon served out his life. There they witnessed a kind of ceremony of Geoffroy handing over to Chaperon before a tasting in the vineyards. 75

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people

Top and Bottom: Richard Geoffroy and Vincent Chaperon

(Vintage, P2, P3) and their vocation to express the successive plateaus of a champagne as it matures. The transmission event coincided with the declaration of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008, the culmination of Geoffroy’s collaboration with Chaperon. Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008 revisits the archetype of vintage champagne, drawing on the best of the two winemakers’ approaches, blending knowledge with modernity and intuition.

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Top: Chef de Cave Legacy Event Bottom: Dom Perignon Vintage 2008

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Trade

Relations Get to know the faces behind the brands in this Q&A with two of Australia’s leading importers for champagne.

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People

Paul Stenmark Managing Director | Winestock W

www.winestock.com.au @laurentperrieraustralia @LaurentPerrierAustralia @LaurentPerrier_

W h at do yo u do ?

I own Winestock. We import and distribute the best wine we can find from the right regions around the world. We have been agents for Laurent-Perrier since 2007. W h at is yo u r bac kg ro u n d ?

I started my company 20 years ago after working in brand management in the 1990s. Going way back I managed restaurants and nightclubs. I knew I would die young if I stayed in that game, we’re talking 1980s. De s c ribe t h e L au r en tPe r rie r s t y le – w h at m a k es i t appealin g to Aus t r alians ?

Laurent-Perrier’s style carries hallmark traits of freshness, purity and elegance, driven by a higher proportion of chardonnay across the range. Laurent79

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Perrier was one of the few Champagne Houses in the 1950s to adopt use of stainless steel tanks, which preserves freshness in the wine and complex aromas using low temperature during first fermentation. Last year, Laurent-Perrier discontinued its Brut champagne and replaced it with La Cuvée, a new House champagne that more accurately reflected the style of the House and embodied the spirit of the Maison. The House is also independent; the largest family owned House in Champagne. They don’t make perfume or hand bags or even still wine from other regions, it is focused solely on making the best champagne they can produce. Laurent-Perrier’s style compliments Australia’s way of life. Our warm, outdoor lifestyle suits the freshness offered across the range. La Cuvée is a


Below: Kerrie Hess, Artist and Illustrator

great aperitif wine offering citrus and white stone fruit notes. Australia has some of the best seafood in the world; oysters and Ultra Brut is a match made in heaven! And the Cuvée Rosé has an equally fresh finish that pairs well with fresh berry desserts and ripe fruits. We always say that for every meal and every occasion there is a Laurent-Perrier champagne to be enjoyed. W h o a r e yo u r c us to m e rs ?

We supply any licensed business that respects good wine, ranging from corner cafés to three-hat restaurants, independent wine stores and wine bars to ‘big-boy’ national accounts. A LE X A N DR A PER E YR E D E N O N A N C O URT R EC EN T LY S A ID TH AT L AUR EN T-PERRIER IS A H O US E O F TH E B LEN D, M O R E TH A N A H O US E O F TH E V IN TAG E . W H AT DO E S THIS M E A N ?

Although Laurent-Perrier produces fine vintage champagne in the best years, most of our cuvées are multi-vintage wines. Our prestige cuvée, Grand Siècle is always a blend of three vintages exclusively from grand cru vineyards. Cuvée Rosé is similarly a blend of the best parcels

of pinot noir from many top vineyards taken from several vintages. The essence and reputation of a Champagne House is determined by consistency of style and quality maintained over many years which is made possible by accumulated generational knowledge of the combination of vineyards, vintage, fruit and reserve base wines. Each champagne is crafted with this knowledge and know-how developed by Bernard de Nonancourt, the visionary who dedicated his life to Laurent-Perrier. Although attached to the traditional v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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ways of champagne, Bernard worked with new approaches at both a technical and blending level. Bernard passed away in 2010 but his legacy continues and the winemaking team remains true to this spirit of creating consistent styles cuvée after cuvée. W h at is yo u r br an d s t r at egy fo r L au r en t-Per rier ? W h o is yo u r ta rg e t m a r k e t ? W h at pa rt ners / t y pe of r e s tau r an t s do yo u alig n to ?

Rosé is a growing category in Australia. It currently makes up a small percentage of sales but there is great opportunity to develop this. Our focus over the next 12 months is to highlight rosé as champagne to be enjoyed by men and women, with 81

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and without food. It is important to show the versatility of rosé and I believe this education starts with the restaurant and retail partners. We have a new Brand Ambassador starting in the market in November and her role will be to travel around Australia and meet with trade partners and educate them on the Laurent-Perrier range and encourage customers to experiment with food and champagne pairings. The goal is that our restaurant and trade partners will then pass this knowledge onto their own customers.


A r e we expec t in g an y new c u v ées o r innovat ions f ro m t h e Ho us e in t h e nex t 12 m on t hs ?

The zero dosage category is increasing. Laurent-Perrier championed this category, launching Ultra Brut in 1981 as a wine of zero dosage. The sweetness on the palate comes only from fruit. It suits our summers and outdoor entertaining way of life.

We have just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Cuvée Rosé and, to mark the occasion, we have collaborated with Australian Artist and Illustrator, Kerrie Hess, to create a limited edition gift box. This will be our focus as we move into Christmas and summer.

W h at a r e s o m e of t h e b es t pairin gs yo u ’ ve experienced wi t h yo u r c h a m pag ne s ?

Ultra Brut and Sydney Rock Oysters… sublime! Cuvée Rosé served with seared kangaroo and beetroot relish and La Cuvée and home-made French Fries for Saturday night at home.

People

W h at g ener al t r en ds / c us to m er in t er es t do yo u s ee em ergin g in Aus t r alia w h en i t co m e s to c h a m pag ne ?

W h at is t h e b es t pa rt a b o u t yo u r j o b ?

I can drink champagne for breakfast…it’s a professional requirement.

To mark the 50th Anniversary of Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rose, the House has collaborated with Australian artist and illustrator, Kerrie Hess, to produce a limited edition gift box. With only 500 units released nationally, it is an ideal collector’s item for followers of Kerrie’s work and champagne lovers alike. The limited edition release is available from selected independent retailers nationally. RRP $140. Stockist inquiries: 1300 888 664.

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David Donald Managing Director David Donald Champagnes W

www.ddchampagnes.com.au @grandmasterfizz @grandmasterfizz

W h at do yo u do ?

I am a specialist champagne importer and manage a website focused on some of the region’s best grower producers. As a Vin de Champagne Award Laureate, I have an ongoing ambassadorial role for Champagne. Aside from my website I am involved in education, presentations and promotion of the region with producers both large and small. W h at is yo u r bac kg ro u n d an d h ow did yo u g e t in to doin g w h at yo u do ?

I have worked in the wine trade for 25 years, mostly in fine wine retail but also education, marketing and production. Previously, I lived abroad for 14 years which led me to international wines. It forged a pathway to the Vin de Champagne Awards (which I entered

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four times) and in 2006 became the national winner of the professional category. Soon after, I was approached by a former colleague to set-up and manage an ambitious website devoted exclusively to champagne. It had some initial success and achieved industry recognition. Then there was a change in ownership and direction, so I left at the end of 2013. All of this encouraged me to launch my current business [www.ddchampagnes. com.au] in 2014, a place where I showcase great but lesser-known artisan producers that I fully believe in. Des c ribe yo u r po rt folio of c h a m pag ne s. W h at k in d of g rowers/ pro d u ce rs do yo u aim to r epr es en t ?

There has been a generational shift in Champagne corresponding with a move


Right: Alexandre Salmon

away from an overuse of chemicals in pursuit of high cropping levels. Now there is greater focus on vineyard management to achieve the best expression of place and quality whether through general sustainable, organic or biodynamic practices. There is one winemaker association which personifies this philosophy; the Special Club or Club Trésors de Champagne was founded in 1971 by 12 of the oldest and most respected winegrowing families. It was the first association to advocate an approach to viticulture based on the utmost standards of quality in the common pursuit of excellence. Today there are 28 members in the group and each produce some of the finest and purest examples of their particular village and terroir. I am not limiting myself to just having members of the Special Club in the portfolio but, as they represent a baseline for excellence, what better place to start? W h o a r e yo u r c us to m ers ?

My customer base is varied and nationwide. Having worked in fine wine retail in both Brisbane and Melbourne, I have a strong following of customers whom I’ve dealt with over the years. Since commencing my website, my focus has been on consumer offerings. Importing directly gives customers the best selection

at the best price. For those on the newsletter list I give special pre-arrival pricing before shipment. The beauty of the internet is that it gives access to a range of exciting and rarer champagnes which wouldn’t normally be seen away from capital cities. We ship anywhere in Australia. W h at pa rt ners / t y pe of r es tau r an t s do yo u alig n to ?

In the past I haven’t pursued trade as I prefer to deal with consumers directly. I am now supplying to a few retailers and restaurants that are ‘champagne friendly’. If it can make the producers known to a wider audience then I’m very happy to supply, the only proviso is that

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Top: Sebastian Mouzon Bottom: NominĂŠ-Renard

People

wines remain accessible to the consumer. Restaurants have large overheads and therefore need to charge more to be viable. I have little interest in supplying to restaurants that use excessive or ridiculous margins. W h at g ener al t r en ds / c us to m er in t er es t do yo u s ee em ergin g in Aus t r alia w h en i t co m es to c h a m pag ne ?

The biggest trend I suspect is rosÊ, which is the fastest growing category in wine globally. Champagne is no exception, and its versatility to match with all food styles has no equal. Another trend could be a levelling of the playing field‌ perhaps? The battle for market share between two major supermarkets has seen Australia become the cheapest place to buy champagne outside of France. Mass discounting, including brands sold below cost, has been the norm but I question how much longer it can be sustained. Big brand non-vintage blends currently dominate with more than 90 percent of the market. Some are sold cheaper than a decade ago. However, the mix of grape prices, poor exchange rates and global demand makes me suspect that there will be a rationalisation. Price is the current driving factor, but at what cost to the consumer? There is so much more to be enjoyed with the diversity of styles, producers and varieties. 85

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Yo u t r avel to C h a m pag ne ann ually. W h at do yo u do w h en yo u a r e t h er e ?

I like to be there in April for Le Printemps des Champagnes (Champagne Week) which is where producers present their still wines from the previous harvest, so trade can assess the merits of the vintage. It has become a huge event for members of the trade scene from across the globe including around 20 from Australia. It also shows that in difficult vintages, the best producers can shine and still produce great wines. Most importantly, I go to visit all the producers I represent. We are a small family business and they are winegrowing family owned estates. Relationships are very important and I love catching-up with each of them. To walk through their vineyards or take a tour through their cellars is a special, personal moment. Champagne is a beautiful region with great food, wine, generosity and spirit.

A r e we expec t in g to s ee an y new c u v ées / pro d u cers f ro m yo u in t h e nex t 12 m on t hs ?

There are some new producers I would like to make available. For the moment, I’m focusing on who is currently in my portfolio. Single vineyard expressions or limited releases are always of interest and I am expecting quite a few in the coming twelve months. W h at is t h e b es t pa rt a b o u t yo u r j o b ?

Champagne really is unlike any other beverage. It emotes joy, happiness and is something to share. When I travelled through Champagne after winning the Vin de Champagne Award in 2006, it hit home how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I may have thought I knew quite a lot at the time but, on reflection, had barely scratched the surface as to the intricacies of the region. Champagne continues to fascinate and delight. To still be involved gives me great personal satisfaction. To share a glass, insights or information, how can you not smile?

In Australia, David Donald represents: Vazart-Coquart; José Michel; Mouzon Leroux & Fils, Roland Champion; Vazart Coquart; Duménil; Nominé-Renard; Champagne Salmon; Pouillon; Marc Hebrart; Forget-Chemin; and Grongnet.

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Eric Rodez Eric Rodez’ star is on the rise. The Krug-trained, Ambonnay grower is one of the best in the village. He is known for his single-parcel focus, terroir-driven and skilfully blended champagnes. w o r d s b y Sara Underdown

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A shiny white Porche SUV drives by and pulls into the garage. Rodez emerges

wearing a hot orange vest and trademark thick-frame glasses, looking more art director than vigneron. Perhaps it’s not a bad comparison for a man who, in my opinion, produces some of the best artisan grower champagnes from this part of the Montagne. Artisan is not a term Rodez personally uses to describe what he does, preferring the analogy of conductor and symphony. He speaks of the music of his vines, the beauty of nature and seriousness of soil management with the kind of theatre one

would expect from a grand opera. There are animated body gestures and facial expressions that make listening to Eric Rodez both compelling and captivating, much like his wines.

People

It’s a sunny but cool morning in Ambonnay as I stand on the side of the road, along Rue de Isse, waiting for Eric Rodez to arrive. It’s Saturday, a day he normally doesn’t see visitors, but has graciously agreed to host me along with his Australian importer, Victor Pugatschew, and two others.

Music resonates with Rodez' philosophy toward vine and wine, but perhaps it is also a nod to his past working as a young oenologist at Krug. Unsurprisingly, it was at Krug that Rodez developed a skilful hand at blending, a House that has famously likened their complex blends to a symphony with respect to harmony and balance. At Krug, Rodez learned the importance of vinifying each parcel of terroir in its own barrel to elaborate identity, a practice he employs today. In his room of perfectly ordered reserve wine, we tasted from several barrels. There is ample stock – much more than the norm for a small grower – but Rodez’ style is dependent on a diverse cache of older wines. They are all exquisite; sensual, as Rodez says, flavoursome, vinous and precise. We move on to the cuverie. It is small, yet immaculate, home to a mixture of oak and stainless steel fermentation vessels. Malolactic fermentation is generally blocked and lower dosage is used to support mineral definition and elegance.

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Pinot noir sits at the centre of Rodez’ blends, followed by chardonnay. The eighth generation winegrower lays claim to around seven hectares divided into 35 plots, comprising silex-clay topsoil over deep bedrock of chalk. Vineyards are worked organically or biodynamically and essential oils are used as treatments. Land is ploughed and vines meticulously pruned to limit yields. Over the years, Rodez’ dedication to sustainable farming has seen him rise to the top as one of Ambonnay’s best vignerons, and it’s easy to see why. Rodez’ wines are very good. His single-parcel focus produces wines true to Ambonnay’s terroir which has the ability to make powerful and rich champagnes but with more elegance and minerality than neighbouring Bouzy. In the case of Rodez, champagnes have a lively sense of chalk or flint minerality 89

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and deliciously ripe, vinous character. They are precise, but with a nice roundness. Among those we tasted, Rodez’ Dosage Zéro is one of my favourites. This 30% chardonnay / 70% pinot noir cuvée, based on 2011, is a lesson in how good Ambonnay is for low or no dosage champagne. Its approachable profile is bright and pure, silky and sensual. There is a lovely density of fruit and elegance uncommon for a brut nature style. Les Fournettes 2009 Pinot Noir heralds from vines located on 70cm thick topsoil on top of chalk. It is rich with apple and caramelised fruits, mandarin and citrus peel. Vine exposure is southeast, vinification is in barrel, malolactic fermentation is blocked, and sugar is no more than 2 g/L.


Les Beurys Macération 2009 Pinot Noir offers more tension due to its easterly exposure located on 30cm topsoil. It has a nose of rhubarb, chocolate and cherry pie and appears evenly balanced and dry. Maceration takes place over three days, there is no malolactic fermentation and dosage is kept to a low 3 g/L. Conversely, its 2008 predecessor drinks with the sensation of fine linen sheets. There is more sensuality, precision and concentrated flavours. We move onto Grands Vintages, which Rodez is perhaps best known for, and where his skill as a blender really comes to the fore. This is a big style of champagne, a multivintage blend comprising 30% chardonnay and 70% pinot noir based on the 2009 vintage and extending back to 2002. The 2009 base is wonderfully rich, producing a nose of poached pear, spice, black forest, crème brulee and light autolysis. It feels complete and balanced and has a chalky mouthfeel. Its deliciousness is exemplary of the quality of Rodez’ work, especially his tedious collection of reserves. Dosage is low at 3 g/L.

Lastly, Empreinte de Terroir 2005, a 100% pinot noir champagne emphasising the characteristics of Rodez’ vineyard terroir. This superb wine is a paradox of weightlessness and intensity derived from old vines across six plots. No malolactic fermentation, no fining, fermented in barrels and with 2.5 g/L dosage. Ripe, round, yet super-saline. An elegant and highly seductive Ambonnay terroir-driven champagne.

Artisan or conductor, vigneron or art director - descriptors aside - Eric Rodez produces some of the most characterful and entralling wines worth getting to know in Ambonnay.

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Sniff, Sip,

Savour

The best and newest places to drink champagne in Australia and France.

Vincent Martzloff, Food and Beverage Director at the Sofitel, Darling Harbour in Sydney.

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Champagne Bar - Sofitel Champagne Bar, Sofitel Darling Harbour | Australia Location Level 3, 12 Darling Drive, 2000 Sydney, Australia @champagnebarsydney Sydney’s latest champagne bar seems right at home alongside the city’s picturesque harbour. Situated on level three of the new-ish five-star Sofitel Darling Harbour, its contemporary French design is impressively refined - as one might expect - but it’s not without soul. The bar is home to around 100 different cuvées by the bottle, 12 by the glass, sourced from several champagne portfolios. Whilst its philosophy is to provide enough brand reference to speak to customers, long-term plans suggest the bar itself may become the reference point for those seeking something more in-depth. “By having brands like Pommery, Taittinger, Ruinart and Roederer, it appeals to a wider audience,” says Food and 93

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Open Monday to Thursday 5pm – 12am Friday 3pm – 1am Saturday 3pm – 1am Sunday 3pm – 12am Beverage Operations Manager, Vincent Martzloff. “When we opened, we needed to create traction and establish brand reputation, but I think this is the first 12 months. What we will do is dissect [our offering] into smaller and more intimate wineries and have a sense of journey for our customers. Our aim is to give customers a palate of education.” Paris born Martzloff knows a thing or two about champagne. Some of his strongest childhood memories are of drinking Gosset and Ruinart every summer at his grandfather’s house in Troyes. “My granddad loved champagne. They’re two champagne Houses that my palate has been educated with. It brings back a lot of memories,” he muses.


Brisbane gave Martzloff an uncommon exposure to some seriously good champagne. There he met Bernadette O’Shea for whom – according to Martzloff - there is no comparison. A 1996 vintage champagne dinner organised by Bernadette for former boss, John Gambaro, set the wheels in motion for what would come. “Bernadette is amazing. She knew everything about the ’96 vintage and all about the maisons we used. Everything we

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Educated at Paris’ prestigious culinary school, Ferrandi, Martzloff completed a series of postings in fine dining restaurants and hotels in Europe before heading to Australia. A one year stint became ten, and a career was forged with a distinct flair for champagne.

opened was fantastic. To have someone of that calibre in Brisbane is unique.” Martzloff is hoping to secure Bernadette for a series of vertical tastings at the bar to complement an ongoing champagne education program. It’s all part of a longterm strategy to diversify the bar’s appeal. He has already collaborated with the Champagne Bureau Australia on a champagne masterclass and, earlier in the year, secured Clovis Taittinger for a special event. There are bigger plans again to attract chefs de cave and other industry identities for tastings including an exclusive program. Martzloff intends to offer the hotel’s loyal platinum members rare tasting opportunities in the intimate surrounds of the hotel’s Club Millésime located on Level 35. “We appeal to both tourists and locals; but we are targeting locals who really want to know about champagne. Around five percent of customers ask more in-depth questions about what they’re v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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drinking. I think that’s what’s missing a bit. Champagne is very much on the rise in Sydney and we want to give our customers a bit more to explore and be part of a journey,” says Martzloff. A good starting point is having Louis Roederer’s Philippe Starck Brut Nature 2009 as the signature pour and at a good price point; just $25 a glass. “We did that because we really wanted to promote something different but also be generous. We have a fantastic team of ambassadors that promote the champagne’s difference as a zero dosage champagne. People say ‘wow’, when we pour it,” he says. Perusing the champagne list, one can spy vintages dating back to 1995 including the faultless Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires. But if Martzloff gets his way, older vintages will be added in the near future, taking the collection from around 100 different cuvées to more than 150. “We want to create an extensive vinotèque but we also need to be smart from a business point of view. We are lucky to have an owner who is very passionate about champagne and other wines. In addition to champagne, we have 800 other wines stored across two different Vintecs. It’s a ‘wait and see’ but also we need the right demographic for it,” he affirms.

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The Sofitel Champagne Bar’s human connection makes the tasting experience more than just about the product. It’s a beautiful bar, with some exceptional cuvées, and passionate staff. A visit late at night, with the beauty of the lights from the harbour, is a must when in Sydney.


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Dilettantes - France Dilettantes | France Location 22, Rue de Savoie, 75006 Paris, France

Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 7.30pm Thursday 11am – 9pm

www.diletttantes.fr

@dilettantes_paris

Follow the labyrinth of cobblestone roads along the bohemian back-streets of Paris’ St Germain des Pres and you will discover the hidden delights of Dilettantes. Don’t let its unassuming shop front fool you; venture inside, take the stairs and descend into its deep, cool cellars. There, within its 17th Century walls, you will find an extensive collection of grower champagne from some of the region’s leading vignerons, many impossible to source within Australia.

specialist, André Heucq, Fanny brings serious wine lovers together with inspirational and terroir focused champagnes within the setting of her intimate cellar.

Owner, Fanny Heucq, kick-started the business in 2012 based on a desire to bring high-quality grower champagne to a wider audience and procure opportunities for distribution abroad. The daughter of third-generation winegrower and meunier

“My parents’ champagne is one of the best sellers because people want to discover what my family has to offer. But Eric Rodez is perhaps the best known from my selection,” says Fanny.

Browse across portfolios from 25 producers who, according to Fanny, have been selected for their “notion of agriculture, season and place”. Among them, take your pick from Didier-Ducos, Franck Bonville, Gaston Chiquet, La Borderie, A.Margaine or perhaps Claude Cazals or J.Lassalle.

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Top: Fanny Heucq, Owner of Dilettantes in Paris

You needn’t brush-up on your French before visiting either. Staff are bi-lingual and there are handy technical reference cards for each champagne provided in English. Tastings are offered daily and by appointment. During regular opening hours, visitors can experience three champagnes by the glass as part of a ‘terroir’ tasting flight. If you’re in a group of ten or more, special tastings may be arranged by appointment at night. Time your visit right and you’ll have the chance to attend one of Dilettantes’ regular ‘meet the grower’ tastings. Capped at 15 participants, these intimate gatherings provide an opportunity to meet with partner winegrowers, taste through their portfolio and contribute to discussion in a relaxed environment. For those wanting complete immersion in the grower champagne experience, Dilettantes has partnered with oenotourism providers, Oenospheres, to offer one / two-day or tailored trips to Champagne for a reasonable price. Dilettantes’ customers are fairly evenly split between tourists and the French – around 30% are Parisian. It’s a good sign that genuine lovers of champagne will always find something of rarity and value here.

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Le Dokhans - France Le Dokhan's | France Location 117 Rue Lauriston, Paris, 75116, France

@ledokhans

Tucked away from the tourist thoroughfare of Paris is a little known boutique hotel called Le Dokhan’s in the mostly residential Trocadero district of the 16th Arrondissement. It is home to Paris’ first dedicated champagne bar, nestled to the side of its small lobby. The hotel’s atmosphere is undeniably inviting. Paired-back Parisian chic interiors assembled by acclaimed Paris designer, Frédéric Méchiche, succeed at keeping the vibe low-key and intimate. References to the decadence of 19th Century life are here and there; neo-classical style wood panelling, gold highlights, chandeliers and antique mirrors. There is also a sketch or two by Picasso. But its charm is best when the sun goes down. Candles

Open Daily 6.00pm - 12.15am www.hotelledokhansparis.com

dance to the mellow tunes of French classics, champagne becomes a precursor to sex and the hustle of life fades away. Before you are spellbound by its allure, choose your glass into which your champagne will be poured; there are five kinds. Then, select your bottle from a list of no less than 240, buy by the glass, or take a flight of three featured for the week. Flights start at €30 and stretch to €64 for ‘grandes cuvées exceptionnelles’. Head Sommelier, Arthur Challet-Hayard, will be there to look after you; he is the fresh-faced and enthusiastic curator of the bar’s vast vinotèque extending back to the 1976 vintage. The Bordeaux educated sommelier was appointed to head the bar v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Bottom: Arthur Challet-Hayard, Head Sommelier, Le Dokhans in Paris

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in late 2017 and travels to Champagne at least once a month. There, he spends time amongst the vines and in the cellars with some of the region’s leading producers. He’s keen - if not young – yet as passionate about terroir as he is of the wine itself.

Sip and soak up the atmosphere or sip and snack from the very French appetiser menu of caviar, foie gras and other Maison Petrossian specialties. There is also a champagne and caviar degustation for the epicureans.

Allow him to help you navigate the wine list’s regional flair which conveniently orders producers by growing area. Along the way, spy rare beauties such as Gosset’s 1998 Celebris, a 1990 bottle of Fleury or Bruno Paillard’s 1996 Blanc de Blancs.

Surprisingly, Paris is a city that offers relatively narrow diversity when it comes to champagne at bars and restaurants. Lovers of wine and those seeking something a little less ordinary will find consistently good selections - and the comfort of a plush green velvet chair - at Le Dokhan’s.

You will notice well-known brands sit alongside little-known estates of which Arthur is particularly passionate. Expect to see the likes of Jacques Lassaigne, Olivier Horiot and Selosse interspersed with Bollinger, Salon, Krug and others.

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The intimate lounge at Le Dokhan's

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Taste Champagne Place

2018

On the back of Australia’s record-breaking year of champagne consumption in 2017 came the largest champagne showcase series in the world. w o r d s b y Sara Underdown

Taste Champagne, Tyson Stelzer’s annual champagne road show, harnessed an audience of more than 3,500 people who attended trade and public events in seven cities around the country in August this year. Since its inception five years ago, Taste Champagne has experienced strong growth in-line with Australia’s upward trend in champagne consumption by volume and value. The two, almost certainly, representing some kind of interdependent relationship in spurring on Australia’s ongoing love affair with champagne. In 2018, 51 Houses were represented, 24 growers and four cooperatives – 79 producers in all – opening up a cache of champagne depth and breadth for people to explore under one roof. Both trade and public events were mostly sold out, as event-goers secured their access to diversity that cannot be found anywhere else in Australia.

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This year featured strong representation from the Aube. At Sydney’s event, attendees got to explore one side of the Côte des Bar to the other with Alexandre Bonnet, Laurenti, Philippe Fourrier, Fluteau and the star of Montgueux, Jacques Lassaigne. There were other surprises. Henri Giraud was in fine form - better than ever. Its normally heavy, oaked and oxidative style seemed irrepressibly fresh and

lighter. Of those on show, the Blanc de Craie Vin de Champagne NV and DameJean Grand Vin de Champagne Rosé NV were particularly good; bright, generous and delicious but still with a dash of oak so true to Giraud.


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Pierre Gimonnet’s trademark piercingly sharp execution seemed less aggressive and more refined. Their 2008 Cuvée Fleuron Brut Blanc de Blancs drank with purity of white stone fruits and citrus, sea spray and acacia. And Special Club Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay 2012 had all kinds of mouth-filling and softening complexity yet with excellent lines of acidity. Others provoked interest for different reasons. Vadin-Plateau’s unconventional meunier-led cuvées from Cumières were some pretty funky wines. Their aldehydic and fruity style has a defining cheesy-lees character, adding a mixture of complexity to the bouquet and flavour profile. Their Deux Mille Sept Millésime 2010 stood out above all for its freshness, weight of fruit and balance.

Lombard, from Epernay, also piqued interest for their pure and sharp style. Although they are mostly aperitif wines, they are very good. Lombard’s Brut Nature Le Mesnilsur-Oger NV is an instructive tasting in just how approachable a zero dosage can be when sourced from the steely, chalky terroir of Le Mesnilsur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs. Henri Abelé is another that intrigued. For a House led by the freshness of chardonnay, it is in fact their expressively vinous prestige range that attracts most attention. Sourire de Reims Brut 2008 and Rosé 2006, on tight allocation, showed the extent of Henri Abelé’s complexity which - in the case of their rosé - can teeter on the edge of liqueurstyle aromatics, bitter marmalade and even vegemite. As always, there was excellent representation from the major Houses, which were in top form with their vintages of the season, prestige offerings and on-trade only treats. Some of the best included Deutz’s Armour de Deutz Millésime 2008 which was particularly

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ethereal with its pillowy and chalky texture and Ayala’s Blanc de Blancs 2010 for its harmony and finesse. Lanson’s Père et Fils (based on 2012 and the same as Black Label Brut NV but with an extra year on lees) was fresh yet complex with honeyed notes and lovely roundness. And G.H. Mumm’s RSRV Cuvée Blanc de Noirs 2008 was outstanding for its savoury on top of fruit profile and distinct peatiness that sometimes characterises wine from Verzenay. Across all producers, the precise 2008 vintage and rounder 2009 vintage was represented strongly. However, some of the highlights from the day came from the irrepressibly delicious 2012 vintage, with its oh-so approachable rich fruitiness and refreshing acidity.

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What Taste Champagne does is incredibly good for Australia. Those in the trade inevitably go away with renewed enthusiasm and confidence to communicate different kinds of champagne to their customers. And those from the public are made aware – often for the first time – of the serious wines that exist behind the bubbles.

Next year, Taste Champagne will roll-out across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, holding over Canberra and Adelaide until 2020. Follow Taste Champagne 2019.

@tastechampevent @tyson_stelzer

@tastechampevent @tyson_stelzer

@tastechampevent @tyson_stelzer

Save the date for Taste Champagne 2019 Hong Kong – 27 March 2019 Sydney – Four Seasons – 5 August 2019 Perth – Beaumonde on the Point – 12 August 2019 Brisbane – Sofitel – 19 August 2019 Melbourne – Plaza Ballroom – 26 August 2019

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Veuve Fourny & Fils Anja loved the champagne from Veuve Fourny & Fils so much that she travelled to France to meet the producers and made them an offer that has helped elevate their profile in Western Australia. w o r d s b y Anja Lewis

Two years ago I hosted a champagne tasting at a friend’s new bottle shop in Perth. We tasted our way through ten cuvées from six producers, but one particularly stood out – Veuve Fourny & Fils – a little known producer from Vertus in Champagne’s Côte des Blancs.

host tastings and dinners in Japan and Australia and for people to say: Your wines are wonderful! That’s the goal for me.”

the volume, continuing to focus on the vineyards and the winery. It depends on whether your goal in life is money or pleasure. My goal is to be able to

We hit it off straight away. He was fluent in English and enjoyed practicing his German with me.

On a whim I scribbled ‘Veuve Fourny & Fils Champagne Dinner’ on my blackboard at home – a place I use to collect my thoughts and plans for the In my course of research leading-up to future. What started the tasting I had off capriciously began read Tyson Stelzer’s "Our goal is to grow the playing on my mind. comments about quality, not the volume, Some months later, I the two Fourny continuing to focus on the sent an email to the brothers -Emmanuel vineyards and the winery..." Fournys, recounting the and Charles-Henry Perth tasting and how – and their family their philosophy and story really touched history dating back to 1856. The brothers’ me. We exchanged conversation, and authenticity and passion was convincing, details, and in March the following year, especially one of the quotes from I travelled to Champagne where I met Emmanuel which resonated with me: Charles at their family estate in Vertus. “Our goal is to grow the quality, not

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I used the time to document Charles’


Anja Lewis at the Veuve Fourny & Fils champagne tasting, Perth

family history, their quest for quality and vision behind the construction of a new and sustainable winery, the importance of terroir and how pure chalk can be translated from vines into wines with mineral elegance. I told Charles about my blackboard idea and asked if he would come to Perth. To my delight, he agreed, adding Perth to his Australian itinerary for the very first time that October. And so, an unexpected partnership was formed. Veuve Fourny’s Australian importers, De Bortoli, sourced some of my favourite wines from the Fournys and I secured award-winning Head Chef/Owner of Petite Mort, Todd Stuart, to curate a seasonal and modern menu. My vision was to match that of Charles

and Emmanuel’s; to bring all the elements together around each cuvée in an epicurean experience so that wines were highlighted by food and not detracted from. That night in Perth, for the first time, Charles presented his champagnes to a sold out event of food and wine lovers looking for something new. He spoke with a level of fervor for Vertus’ terroir that can only come from a deep-rooted belief in the land and commitment to his family’s craft. He was engaging. Freshness, fruitiness and minerality drive the winemaking process at Veuve Fourny, producing wines of purity and precision which were received particularly well by wine-loving attendees. Highlights included the scarce Rosé Brut Premier Cru, Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Monts v ine a ndb u bbl e .c om

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Veuve Fourny dinner in Perth

de Vertus 2006, and the rare and prestige Extra Brut Cuvée Clos du Faubourg Notre Dame 2002 Vertus Premier Cru. It may be presumptuous to think that a small dinner had any kind of bearing on the success of Veuve Fourny in Western Australia but I like to think that, in some small way, I have supported the family’s vision and hard work. Between 2017 and 2018, sales increased by more than 150 percent in Western Australia, spurred on by a new awareness across the trade and retail scene. Diners can now find Veuve Fourny’s champagnes on wine lists at Perugino, Itsara, Petition Wine Bar, C-Restaurant and Sentinel 113

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Bar & Grill. And more retailers are stocking their wine including The ReStore, Liquor Barons Mosman Park, Scarborough Cellars, Cellarbrations Subiaco and others. Furthermore, my relationship with Veuve Fourny has continued to grow since the dinner. It gives me great pleasure to showcase their champagnes at my regular tastings which seem all the more special since Charles’ visit. Perth may be geographically prohibiting for some, but Charles’ visit proved that there is much to be gained by champagne producers prepared to make the journey.


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V I S I T W W W.V I N E A N D B U B B L E . C O M

Australia’s Champagne Magazine

Harvest 2018

In pictures

WINE The Ne w Piper-Heidsieck  Dom Pérignon Changes Guard  THE Rise of Charles Heidsieck VINE Profiling Vertus  HARVEST 2018 PEOPLE Je an-Baptiste LÉcaillon  Paul Stenmark  David Donald  ERIC RODE Z PL ACE Drinking champagne in Paris and Sydne y

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