The Champagne Boutique

Champagne Terroir…a silent conpiracy?

In Champagnes on May 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The New World has the climate and the French have their God damn Terroir. Proud as a cockerel that is their emblem the French are always talking about their sacrosanct Terroir. Is it that special?

Is it something that really changes the nature of wines? Well, sorry to admit that but it does! Especially in Champagne!

The wine region of Champagne is one of the smallest in the world and despite its small size there are massive differences in climate and soil where various grapes find better places to grow as a whole.

Take the Montagne de Reims by example. Its slopes against the continental cold winds make it haven for Pinot Noir to ripen. The Cote des Blancs being so uniformly flatter than its neighbouring sub regions and exposed to a fair amount of sunshine make it perfect for Chardonnays to mature. Then the western Champagne region starting with the Vallee de la Marne is idyllic for strong Pinot Meuniers to grow or other grapes to get extra ripeness.

We all know that the best Bordeaux are First Growth in the like of Chateau Margaux or Petrus. In Burgundy the most refined examples are Premier and Grand Crus like Echezeau or La Tache. In this particular region there is even better than the Crus, there are the Clos. These small parcels of vineyards are so perfect that the quality of their wines surpasses the best Grand Crus. Very famous are Clos de Vougeot or Clos des Mouches. Everyone knows that a Chablis Premier Cru is ousting any other Chablis as they are standing up above the rest.

What about Champagne? What conspiracy has put the Champagne Terroir in the shadow?

Did you know that there are 17 Grand Crus and 40 Premier Crus Villages in Champagne and that they all have their unique Terroir?

Let’s start with the Montage de Reims. Have you ever heard about the villages of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzenay or Verzy? These four fantastic villages are producing the most delicious Pinot Noirs. The richest Blancs de Noirs and most refined Roses de Saignee are coming from these villages. The normal blend for Champagne from the Montagne de Reims will be of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay as 80% of the vineyards in this sub-region are planted with the black grape.

That is because of this unique Terroir that famous Champagne house Krug has created its latest top cuvee with Pinot Noirs from a small parcel in the Village of Ambonnay and sell this vintage Champagne at a staggering £1885.00 a bottle.

In the Vallee de la Marne there is one village with Super Stardom status. That is Ay. Home of great Champagne houses like Gosset, Lallier, Henri Giraud and even Bollinger the whole area surrounding Ay is truly mind blowing. This village is renowned for the richness of its fruits and its particular ripeness. Even if they plant a bit of Meunier, that is Pinot Noir that shines there. The Cuvee Celebris Rose from Gosset is one of its finest examples.

And then there is the much impressive Cote des Blancs. Situated south of Epernay and with massive villages in the like of Le Mesnil sur Oger, Cramant or Avize this is Chardonnay territory all the way down to the Premier Cru village of Vertus. That is where Champagnes for Kings are made. So much that two famous brands have named their top cuvee after the village where the grapes come from. Very famous Salon “Le Mesnil” and Krug “Clos du Mesnil” are prime examples. Most of Champagnes coming from this region are stunning and don’t have to shy away from any Montrachet from Burgundy.

Also that is where the big names are, Selosse, De Sousa, Larmandier-Bernier to name a few.

So why not talk more about this? Why the secrecy? Is it an inconvenient truth?

Well it might be. If the general public was buying Champagne the way they buy Bordeaux or Burgundy it is very likely that the cards will be re-distributed…to the benefit of Boutique Champagnes.

Something we would not complain about

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  1. Terribly well executed read…

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