Kaaren Palmer's Champagne News

June & July 2015

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UNESCO World Heritage

listing has been successfully achieved for Champagne (and Burgundy). Félicitations to all our friends in Champagne! Scenes of jubilation occurred on the streets of Hautvillers, in the Place du Forum in Reims, in the Place de la République and the main square in Épernay. Santé à tous!

Kaaren Palmer
Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides

The annual musical festival

the Flâneries Musicales de Reims, this year features 59 concerts in the month beginning 18th June. In over forty diverse locations, such as the Halles Boulingrin Markets, Taittinger’s House of the Counts of Champagne, the Abbey of St. Rémi (where the opening concert featured Handel’s Messiah), the courtyard of Krug, and the Place du Forum, about a third of the concerts are free. The culmination of the Festival on 18th July is a huge picnic concert in the Parc du Champagne featuring the Orchestre National de Lille under the baguette (that’s what the conductor’s baton is called) of Jean-Claude Casadesus, with works by Bizet (L’Arlésienne) and Orff (Carmina Burana). Information and Reservations here please click here 

Be overjoyed at the profusion of high-quality artists, won over by the inexpensive price of tickets, amazed at the generous sponsorship of many of the Houses of Champagne. For performances in the Place du Forum, consult the daily boards there, or click here for more details; for restaurant service at a table, book well in advance. 

While staying in Reims

don’t forget to check out the purveyors of champagne for that special bottle or three to take home. Gil, behind the cathedral, at Le Vintage, has many treasures. Damien and Xavier at CPH La Grande Boutique du Vin (Champagne Philipponnat tasting last Saturday in June between 11am and 5pm and always something good there), 3 Place Léon Bourgeois, and Fabrice and Noémie (or Marie-Eve) in the cobweb-infested cellars of Les Caves du Forum, 10 rue Courmeaux off the forum, are also good. For grower champagnes of the organic and bio variety, taste and buy at Au Bon Manger (Warning! The delectable deli section is choice and fattening!), or cosset yourself on the banquette with knowledgeable and charming Nicolas, a plate of charcuterie and the divine list at Le Wine Bar, conveniently located on the Place du Forum within hearing distance of everything happening on the stage of the cryptoportique. A piece of my heart is always there!



(established 1859 by wine merchants Jules Duval and Édouard Leroy), has enjoyed an interesting journey at least since Carol Duval-Leroy was thrust into the position of determining the journey of the House in 1991, after the early death of her husband, Jean-Charles Duval. The dynamic Carole employed an early adopter of all things natural, winemaker Hervé Jestin, known for producing wines of intense flavour and singular interest. The House became the first to receive the ISO 9002 certification, in 1994, the same year that yours truly was implementing the same system, albeit in quite a different industry. Champagne Duval-Leroy was the first winery in the world to adopt solar photovoltaic power in 2009, five years earlier than chez moi did the same for domestic consumption. In 2010, rainwater was recovered for use (chez Palmer has only ever used rain water), and trumped everybody with a wall of plants used for sound insulation. In 2010, Madame Duval-Leroy was again the first, this time to achieve triple certification IFS, BRC and ISO 22000 for food safety. Composed of 70% recycled glass, Champagne Duval-Leroy’s bottles feature Amorim cork from sustainable forests. Where possible, local suppliers are used in the company’s attempt to reduce carbon emissions. All these initiatives combined with organic grapes from the the Côte des Bar and the Montagne de Reims yield Authentis, vintage champagne made from biodynamic Pinot Noir vinified in oak. Single vineyard champagne from Clos des Bouveries in Vertus reflects the climate of each year of its production. Scrupulous work in the vineyard, which also consists of the daily analysis of climatic and vegetative data, helps the House understand the significant impact of climate change on the vine in these northern vineyards, where average temperatures have already risen 2°C in the last 50 years. The House hopes in this way to better face the environmental challenges of the next thirty years. Meanwhile, Champagne Duval-Leroy is not just winning environmental awards, but producing delicious champagne – Pinot and Meunier dominant Brut, Chardonnay dominant Fleur Premier-Cru, a vintage Blanc de Blancs blend as well as the vintage Clos de Bouveries of the same grape variety, Authentis single vineyard from Cumières in particular vintages – sometimes a Bouzy-only vintage, and sometimes that rare Champagne grape which did not adapt to grafting so easily – Petit Meslier, in an occasional vintage. Rosé, of course, lifted with Chardonnay, coloured with Pinot. The glorious Femme de Champagne is, of course, the cuvée de prestige – Chardonnay with a soupçon of Pinot Noir. Santé, et vive la reine, vive Maison Duval-Leroy!

Michael Edwards

whose book, The Finest Wines of Champagne, we love, reveals six of his favourites from the Champagne Bureau tasting in London (March) – Jacquesson 738 being his first choice, and one which the lucky members of the Springfield Champagne Group and guests sampled as part of a vertical showing for the House of Jacquesson some few months ago. Yours truly snaffled some further bottles the very next day, and a quick survey reveals that there are still supplies available around the $80 mark in New South Wales. It’s a keeper; coiled brilliance from great winemakers who know that great wine begins in the vineyard, based on the best year of recent release, 2008. Best price by the dozen click here

Edwards is not the only one in love with Veuve Clicquot’s offering of vintage Rosé 2004, although his choice is La Grande Dame, which appears laced with cherry kernel aptly described by Edwards as kirsch. The vintage offering is what the Palmer cellar acquired, and it, too, has that same perfumed quality aided by the 14% of red wine from Bouzy, added for colour and flavour. 33% Chardonnay, 60% Pinot Noir, 7% Meunier; silky smooth palate. Top drop!
To see the rest of Michael Edwards’ beauties click here

Madame Bollinger

drank champagne any time – ‘I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty’. But there is an event coming closer to each of us every day, and we can make it easier by choosing our favourite bubble, hoping that our doctor has the best bedside manner and will toast us at the same time. It’s what I’m intending to do – following this doctor’s orders click here to read more.
below the remarkable Madame Bollinger.

Grower Champagne

sales have declined somewhat in Australia, from a high of 3.3% of shipments in 2012, down to 1.3% last year, but the rest of the world is extremely excited. Just under 35% of all champagne sold in France originates with growers (identified by the initials R.M. on the bottle), and almost a million bottles a year (5%) in the U.S., moving to half a million in Germany (3%), urging to seven hundred thousand (6.5%) in Japan, steady at 11.8% in Italy, and the country of my cousins (Sweden, leaning to 6%). Jancis Robinson listed her favourite growers in her last missive, and almost all whom she mentions are available worldwide, and represented in our cellar. Much as we adore the magic of the blend, there is such a strong personality in grower champagne that they’ve generated an excitement and new interest in the whole area. To subscribe to Jancis please click here  (No, we are not related, despite the straight fair hair, although I have been asked.) Here are some good, free links: and Ted Schleffler discusses the reward and beauty of ageing on cork 
And, the debate goes on...which glass is the right glass for champagne..but since the inception of our favourite beverage there are hundreds of styles and shapes that have been pronounced perfect for drinking champagne.
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le Pan

A new digital magazine, out of Hong Kong with a lot of style is showing serious interest in journalism about champagne. Le Pan boasts an enormous number of Masters of Wine as their contributors and it is true that all of their contributors bring erudite writing with a broad set of interests and expertise. To subscribe to le Pan please click here

Of particular interest to lovers of champagne Sophie Otten’s "inside the Dom Perignon philosophy"…please click here and also very worthy of note "boot out the imposters"…please click here
Rivoli Bar, the Ritz London.

Some great suggestions for London champagne drinking in their 'best London Bars for Champagne lovers' click here to read the full article.
To buy Michael Edwards book please click here

Monday October 12th

– the association of Organic Bubbles Bulles Bio, ‘biologique’ meaning ‘organic’, meets in Reims, and later the same month in Rome. Vincent Laval (Cumières) is the President.

This month

the Springfield Group enjoyed a riveting tasting of champagnes that had experienced the effect of wood during primary fermentation, sometimes with extended storage in barrel prior to blending and bottling. If you’re wondering what the Barons de Rothschild is doing there, it’s the stainless steel fermentation control champagne. My pick of the day, for mystery and capacity to intrigue, from a strong field which included 2000 Krug, 2002 Jacques Picard (the second favourite of the group) and a young (2009) Marguet Rosé, was the fascinating Selosse Version Originale, a Blanc de Blancs (without dosage) blend of three years 2004, 05 and 06 from Avize, Cramant and Oger upper slopes. Fully fermented in oak barrels of differing provenance and size, 15% consists of new oak. After primary fermentation, the lees remain in the barrels, where they are frequently stirred back into the wine over 8–10 months. Unusually, natural yeasts are used for both fermentations. Four years in bottle on yeast lees completes the process. Even though the Selosse had been opened some time before the tasting, we were resolved to be patient and explore every nuance – not something that happens in the speed required of wine shows and other large-scale comparative tastings. What a colossal, momentous wine our V.O. was, opening on a smoky, sulky note, filling our ‘influence of wood’ template with its aromatic attributes – savoury notes with a dusting of cinnamon; gingerbread, vanilla, caramel; coffee, cigar box, pepper, licorice, sherry, toast. The plethora and complexity of the aromas, the concentration of the flavour, the smoothly creamy palate….. it took some time for our wine to show itself with its balance, harmony and length of the finest. And just as we were saying goodbye to it, the sudden appearance of violets and then roses made us realise that we were in the presence of a mystery. So, if you don’t rate Selosse, you haven’t allowed it to breathe for long enough. We have to thank a particular benefactor for the inclusion of this wine in our tasting, so thank you, generous Ian, for a well-packed bottle which winged its way between Melbourne and Adelaide a few days beforehand, arriving beautifully intact.
Copyright © 2015 Ann Oliver, All rights reserved.

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