Champagne Tasting at Swanbourne Cellars
Champagne is made in the famous Champagne region, a 45 minute train ride east of Paris. The three Champagne towns; Épernay, Reims and Ay cover 34,500 hectares. Reims with the largest of the 3 towns in the region is 144 kilometres east of Paris. The climate here is continental climate; cold and wet where frosts and hail and rain can be a hazard and grapes can struggle to ripen.
There are five wine growing regions in Champagne
- Côte des Blancs: Chardonnay is mainly grown here (96%) followed by Pinot Noir (3%) and Pinot Meunier (1%)
- The Aube: Pinot Noir is dominant here (85%), Chardonnay (8%), Meunier (7%). You’ll find the vineyards of the Côte des Bar here.
- Montagne de Reims: Half is Pinot Noir (56%), Chardonnay (28%), Meunier (16%)
- Vallée de la Marne: Predominantly Pinot Meunier (63%), Pinot Noir (27%) and Chardonnay (10%)
- Côte de Sézanne: Chardonnay is the majority (70%), Pinot Noir (21%), Meunier (9%)
Vintage Champagne from 2008 and 2009 will be available to try at Swanbourne Cellars on Saturday 1st December 1-5 pm in the cellar.
2008 Back in 2016, Decanter rated this 5/5 and “Something special: powerful fruit and scintillating acidity. Stef says ‘it’s a cracker year’.
Tyson Stelzer back in 2015 described 2008 as ““There are some great cuvées starting to come through from 2008 — a very classic, very refined vintage.”
2009 Decanter recommended to “Drink soon “ with a score 4/5.
So what does vintage mean?
Vintage means all the grapes are picked and harvested from that year. It will reflect the weather and terroir of that vintage. Only the best grapes go into a vintage champagne.
A vintage Champagne is declared usually 3 or 4 times a decade and makes up under 5% of total Champagne production. Vintage Champagne is matured for a minimum of 3 years.
What is non-vintage Champagne?
Non-vintage is a blend of many years of vintages with the aim to create a very consistent flavour profile that reflects that particular Champagne house e.g. Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Pol Roger. A non-vintage is usually matured for 1.5 years. Each Champagne house has its own style of NV champagne; some are drier, richer, fuller, more floral…the fun is discovering which ones you like!
In such a harsh climate like Champagne where grapes struggle to ripen every year with the necessary balance of richness and acidity, it is important to be able to create a consistent house style that can be made annually.
Wines on Tasting on Saturday 1st December
This Saturday, we will have the below Champagnes available to taste:
Dom Pérignon 2009: Moët & Chandon’s prestige champagne named after the Benedictine monk who was thought to have invented Champagne. Dom Pérignon spent his life improving the still wines of Champagne. He arrived in the town of Épernay in 1668 and was the treasurer which involved being in charge of the cellars. He initiated strict pruning, low yields and careful harvesting which continues today. Dom Pérignon was released as a prestige cuvée under Moët & Chandon in 1937.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2009: The blend is Pinot Noir: 50 %, Chardonnay: 36 %, Meunier: 14 %. There has not been such a high proportion of Pinot Noir in the blend since 1996.The dosage is 5 g/litre and it was aged in the cellars for 7 years with a minimum 6 months aging after disgorgement.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV. Ruinart is produced at oldest established Champagne house based in Reims, established in 1729. The blend is 100% Chardonnay for this non vintage style, it is a combination from a number of years (20 to 25% of which are wines reserved from the two previous years). Much of the fruit is from the Premiers Crus in the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims vineyards for the aromas along with fruit from the Sézannais vineyards to provide maturity. Also in the blend is fruit from the north of the Vesle valley in order to give a “light, fresh touch.”
Ruinart Rosé: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir make up the blend with most classified as Premiers Crus. This non-vintage rosé includes 20 to 25% reserve wines from the previous two years. Regarding the Chardonnay, 45% is sourced from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims vineyards. For the Pinot Noir, 55% is sourced from the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne vineyards.
Veuve Clicquot 2008: The grape varieties in this blend include: 61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier. The Pinot Noir mainly comes from the region south of the Montagne de Reims and the Marne Valley, soured from Grands and Premiers Crus which include: Ambonnay, Bouzy, Tauxières, Avenay and Ay. Fruit from the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims is also in the blend; Verzy, Verzenay and Ludes. The Chardonnay all is sourced from the Côte des Blancs (Mesnil sur Oger, Oger, Vertus). The Pinot Meunier is taken from the Montagne de Reims (Ludes) and the Marne Valley (Dizy).
Plus on the day, we will be giving away a magnum of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. Anyone who orders 6 bottles or more goes into a draw to win the magnum!
We look forward to seeing you at Swanny Cellars!