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Champagne in South America

As promised, a quick report from Peru, Argentina and Chile, where champagne is relatively hard to find except in the gastronomically top places – and it's expensive. LVMH has good coverage at Lima's famous Central Restaurante, and Astrid y Gastonwith Moët, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Krug et al, enlivened at Central by a Serge Mathieu Blanc de Noirs by the glass and an older vintage of Pierre Péters Les Chétillons for hundreds of dollars. Disappointing though it was for the champagne lover, there were plenty of excellent local South American offerings in still wines. At Astrid y Gaston, we got lucky with a Louis Roederer 243, which somehow manages to be both rich and refreshing.

Champagne was hard to find in Buenos Aires, and prohibitively expensive at the Australian dollar to peso exchange rate. If only we'd had US dollars! Frequently we were offered bargains in US dollars because it seems to be a valued secondary currency traded at unofficially very favourable exchange rates because of inflationary pressures. 

The excellent Boragó in Santiago offered no champagne at all, and the famous wine bar 'best in South America', Bocanarizfeatured champagne from LVMH only. Speaking of which, it seems to be the habit on board the Regent Seven Seas Mariner to remove the Ruinart blanc de blancs from its protective box. After an excellent first bottle, our luck ran out for the second, which suffered light taint, but annoyingly not to such a great degree that one could return it without feeling that one was being super fussy. And there was one good thing about being constrained to the popular offerings, and that is that we discovered that the 2012 Dom Pérignon is deliciously fresh and elegant. I think that I haven't had such pleasure from a bottle of D.P. since the 1980s – 2000. The Krug was pretty good, too, and we had a choice between the 2011 base and the 2013 base wines. 

Meanwhile, herewith some of the best and newest news from Champagne…….

Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer Champagne

January 17, 2023

This month's party bargains in Australia: 


(Nicolas Maillart NV Platine and Bernard Lonclas NV Blanc de Blancs both under $50), plus, if you buy others of Bernard Lonclas, you may find out why, in the 2022 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, Bernard Lonclas won The Chairman's Trophy for his NV Grand Brut Blanc de Blancs. 

Dan Murphy has Piper-Heidsieck at just over $50, exactly $50 for the thirst-quenching Lanson Le Black Label, with Nicolas Feuillatte $47 and Tsarine NV $49. The Charles Orban blanc de blancs is also worth a try. Just buy one bottle to start with, and you'll find out how kind its storage has been to it. 

All prices are $AUD

Champagne News

  • Essi Avellan's excellent palate has been at work, reporting for Club Oenologique. If you want the nitty-gritty, you'll have to subscribe, but you may read her excellent intro and peruse her list of best rosé here 
  • Stephen Leroux, CEO of Charles Heidsieck, reminds us of the history of the champagne house, although he doesn't mention the man who developed the champagne from an 'ordinary brand' into a luxury item – famous champagne maker, Daniel Thibault, who oversaw the beginnings of the magnificent collection of reserve wines that today go into making the reincarnation of Champagne Charlie. 
  • Continuing on a Heidsieck theme, and more of Daniel Thibault's legacy, read about Piper- Heidsieck's 40 year-old extra brut vintage release
  • Bernadette Machard de Gramont writes eloquently, for the Wine Enthusiast magazine, about the difference between Non-Vintage (NV) champagne and multi-vintage champagne, specifically with regard to Roederer's cuvée which is now in its second iteration. She's not the first person to mention Jacquesson's admirable NV – in fact Roederer's winemaker, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon himself, first mentioned to me in 2013, what a good idea he thought they'd adopted, making the best that they could rather than the 'house style' based on a particular harvest. Wine guru, Antonio Galloni, has spoken and pronounced Jean-Baptiste the sparkling winemaker of the year. Well deserved! 

Wine Awards and more Wine Awards!!

  • Who wins – well, it depends who enters their champagne in the awards. I follow my palate with the Champagne and World Sparkling Wine Awards
  • The Drinks Business runs its own set of 'masters' awards judged at London’s Coravin Wine & Bubbles Bar by Patrick Schmitt MW, Patricia Stefanowicz MW, Jonathan Pedley MW, David Round MW, Susan Hulme MW, and Siobhan Turner MW.
  • Le Figaro has yet another set of 'Palmares'
  • Anna Krebiehl tastes the newly released 2012 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 
  • Ruinart, or, more specifically, Dom Ruinart 2010 sounds more than appealing, too.
  • Fake champagne? It does happen, and the Champagne police are on the lookout. 
  • And finally, we hear from Dominique Demarville, one of the youngest cellar masters ever appointed, back in the day. He began at Mumm, was many years at Veuve Clicquot, had a brief and inexplicably short tenure at Laurent-Perrier , and seems to have finally settled at Champagne Lallier, which was recently sold by the Lallier family to the Campari Group. The champagnes, most hailing from Grand Cru vineyards at Aÿ, have always been worth collecting. It's Campari's first venture into the champagne industry, and with Dominique D as their cellar master, one can expect excellence. Read Dominique's interview with the Drinks Business 
RANDOM...medium and large works by Ann Oliver.......January 17 to 31, 2023
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Kaaren Palmer

Champagne Editor
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Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer
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Charles Orban blanc de blancs
Image © copyright Dan Murphy's

Charles Orban blanc de blancs
Image © copyright Dan Murphy's

Lanson Le Black Label
Image © copyright Dan Murphy's

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