Friday, October 26, 2012

Celebrate #ChampagneDay with the Barons

Happy Champagne Day!  Today is the day to celebrate and drink Champagne.

Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France and is produced with or more of these three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunir. Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay, Blanc de Noir is 100% Pinot Noir, Rose which is usually made by blending in a small amount of red wine and Non-Vintage Champagne is usually a blend of the three grapes  from various vintages.

I was fortunate enough to get invited to a Barons De Rothschild Champagne launch a few months back.  What a privilege that was!!!  The Champagne - out of this world and Philippe Sereys de Rothschild was such a nice down to earth person to spend the afternoon with!

The Rothschild family have been in and out of Champagne for a long time. About 7-8 years ago the different branches of the family that produce wine got together and began talking about producing Champagne and moved forward with the project.

The first thing they knew they had to lock in was the supply.  The Champagne demand has grown over the years, but the region as not.  The key is to get a good supply in quality, regularly and for the long term.

They traveled all over the region and quite quickly pinned down a small region in the southern part of Champagne called Cote des Blancs south of Epernay which is the kingdom of Chardonnay and began speaking to growers.  That was the beginning.

Their Champagnes are predominantly Chardonnay.  Their Rose  85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noirl, the Brut being 60% Chardonnay.l Regulation in the region has Non-Vintage Champagne resting in the cellars 3 years before it is released.  The Rothschild Champagnes are kept for 5-6 years because they want them to mature slowly.

I was really impressed with their Champagnes.  When Philippe said they searched out for someone with a "Masters of Balance & Drinkability" he wasn't kidding and it is reflected in the glass.

Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunir come mainly from the area of Verzenay, Ay, Mareuilsur-Ay and Bouzy.  Pale golden yellow in color, producing beautiful fine bubbles.  Very well balanced with hints of pears and hazelnut with some floral notes.

The Rose Champagne was a beautiful salmon color.  This blend is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims including  5%-6% vinified as red wine. Aromas of rose petal, wild strawberry with soft effervescence.  This was served with Wild Salmon with Morel Cream Sauce and Rhubarb Tart (not together) and paired lovely with both dishes.

Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay with 40% reserve wine shows delicate beautiful tight bubbles. Smooth with notes of fresh pears and tropical fruit.

These Champagnes range in price from $100 - $125. They are the perfect way to celebrate any occasion!

Whatever Champagne you are drinking on this Champagne Day...Cheers!

Thank you to Pasternak Wine Imports for inviting me to this wonderful lunch


John Sperr said...

There are seven grape varieties permitted in the production of French Champagne, not just three as you state.

Debbie Gioquindo said...

John, the other grapes such as Meslier, Arbanne, and Pinot Blanc are still permitted if they are grown. They can not be replanted. So if they were there they can be added, but most quality houses only use the three.

John Sperr said...

People have been rejuvenating the old varieties while the wine laws of France are currently undergoing contentious revisions. I think you will see more hectares planted in the future. Those fortunate enough to have these varieties have taken a renewed interest in them and find a ready market for the unique champagnes they make -- there's nothing cheap or inferior about them. They are made with the same methods and to the same quality standards that the big Champagne producers must adhere to. Advances in viticulture have made them just as reliable to bring to maturity as the big three.

The big houses are concerned about year to year consistency and their marketing budget, not breaking new ground and experimenting with small batch production. They safely follow the tried and true path laid out years ago that carefully regulates the quality and supply of Champagne on the world market.

Drappier Quattuor IV is fairly well distributed in this country, a blanc de blancs blend of Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay.