August 2017 Champagne News 

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One of the things we love to do, is is give our subscribers advance notice of wonderful champagne dinners, tastings and opportunities to buy champagne. In this issue there is plenty to choose from.

We are especially delighted to have Champagne Besserat De Bellafon working with Windy Point Restaurant for a fabulous dinner in October. Many of you will not know that Justin Miles, executive chef and manager at Windy Point, was one of Ann Oliver's apprentices at Mistress Augustine's Restaurant. They have always shared a love of Champagne and the generous sponsorship of Besserat de Bellefon and their Australian agents Festival City Wines, makes this dinner incredible value...full details below. Bookings open today (24 August, 17), so South Australian champagne lovers do not delay as numbers are genuinely limited.

If you don't want to book an entire table, tag your reservation with 'Galaxy Guides' and we will ensure that you get to sit on tables with people you will most likely know. 

Kaaren Palmer

Champagne Editor Galaxy Guides



Tyson Stelzer has upcoming dinners in and Brisbane, including a very exclusive Deutz dinner with head of House Fabrice Rosset. Worth a trip, dinners are at Quay Sydney Tuesday October 24, Vue de Monde Melbourne Wednesday October 25 and Wesley House Brisbane Friday 27 October. Champagne generously poured, involves Deutz Brut Classic en magnum, Deutz Brut Rosé NV, Deutz William Deutz 2006 and cellared treasures of the great years - Deutz 2002 Brut Millésimé and Deutz 1990 en magnum.

Reservations and more information click here 

Also Tyson’s Champagne Guide 2018-2019  click here

other Champagne dinners
Stokehouse St Kilda Thursday October 12
Lamont’s Cottesloe
Friday, Saturday and Sunday October 13-15  
Stokehouse Brisbane Thursday 19 October
Egly-Ouriet Dinners will also be held in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane dates and venues will be available next week.
To see the flyer in a larger format please click here

Blind Tastings

Blind tasting is a sure way of making us concentrate on what we are drinking, and assess it without being influenced by the label. A recent tasting was instigated by my friend, Helen Flaherty, who was introduced to a new small domain, or grower champagne, imported into Australia by her friend, Charles (Chilly) Hargrave.  

Champagne Bernard Brémont is the fizz in question, made in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay. The third largest Grand Cru of the Montagne de Reims, the east and south-easterly vines produce approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. In combination, champagnes from Ambonnay exhibit very pleasing refinement and structure, along with saline length.             
Recently, a group of us assembled so that we could open more than the bottle so kindly brought by Helen. Three of Ambonnay’s finest 2008 grower champagnes were masked and compared, followed by that of an esteemed Grande Marque and an Aussie fizz. Finally, we tried the recently released Pol Roger. 2008 is one of the excellent years of the first decade of this century. 

We could highly recommend all the champagnes, which presented themselves beautifully.

2008 Marie-Noelle Brut Nature (15% Chardonnay, 85% Pinot Noir), with its gorgeous cooked fruit and bakery aromas, showed us a lean, vinous, light and lengthy palate. Perfect with Coffin Bay oysters at this time of year.
2008 Bernard Brémont (45% Chardonnay, 55% Pinot Noir) opened with beautiful florals and an excellently balanced palate. Positively slurpable now, and would cellar well. We need to add this discovery to the cellar!
2008 Marguet (60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay – 60% barrel vinification) showed aromas of rich tropical and glacé fruit, and a stunningly rich, juicy and creamy palate. Delicious!

It was very, very difficult to choose a favourite from this terrific trio. All could be regarded as serious food wines, or enjoyed thoughtfully without accompaniment.

With Eric Rodez and Egly-Ouriet to add to the delights of Ambonnay, I’d have to admit that this village is well represented in our cellars,

Next, we tested ourselves on what we thought might be a more complex blend, being from a much larger establishment and having access to many more blending options than the growers. Against this, I popped in a cheeky Australian.

Labels unseen, they were pretty easy to tell apart - the Aussies always tend to smack you in the face with ripe fruit.
2008 Frogmore Creek Cuvée Evermore (100% Pinot Noir blended with some ‘older base wine’, barrel-aged Pinot Noir) showed as very fruity. The palate was deep, rich, and heavier than champagne. The length was good enough, but effervescence was not long-lasting. This wine could cope with rich cuisine in a complementary way, being by far the the better of  two recently tasted bottles.
2008 Louis Roederer (30% Chardonnay, 70% Pinot Noir) was, as always, an exemplar of purity, refinement, elegance and frisky and persistent liveliness right through to the last mouthful. Juicy, salivating length polishes the package further.
After all that work of the blind tasting, we rewarded ourselves with a taste of the newly-released 2008 Pol Roger, which is a must for every serious wine lover and collector. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, it displays complex and layered aromas of red fruits and a hint of sweet spice, toast, and ground almonds. Very good palate of depth, flavour and balanced acidity. L-o-o-o-o-ong. Is this the best vintage every produced by Pol? Possibly. After a wonderful set of champagnes, and just when I was wondering if I was developing a ‘growers’ palate’, this one was top for me.

Very interesting blind tasting comments, which in fact apply to wine generally, rather than champagne specifically, come from the Wine Australia’s Blind Tasting Club in London:  click here          
Note the recommendation to practise: ‘the more you practise, the sharper your palate gets’, recommends this year’s winner. KP
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International News

Bad weather in the western Marne Valley, between Charly-sur-Marne and Essômes, cut a swathe through the vineyards as a thunderstorm dumped hail and rain onto the vines on August 15th, just two weeks before harvest. Meanwhile, in the rest of Champagne, crops are being closely monitored to check for impending ripeness. Reported in Libération Champagne, a network of vignerons at Les Riceys are weighing and measuring grapes twice per week for sugar and acidity. The data collected will influence the official decision of the declaration of harvest date, probably around 1st September.

Download the new App, Avenue de Champagne (iOS 10.0 or later is required), and learn more about Épernay and the Avenue de Champagne while you’re visiting. The App uses your location to enrich your experience during your stroll. Topics include the venerable histories of various Houses such as Perrier-Jouët and Moët & Chandon, and the history of the families involved, Champagne between earth and sky, and transportation in Champagne. The House of Champagne Comtesse Lafond has also commissioned a piece. Worth trying, as it’s free.

North of Burgundy is the way via which many visitors approach Champagne, and most do not linger in the beautiful Côte des Bar, an area which provides over 20% of the grapes required for Champagne, and whose area will increase in size when the appellation is redrawn. Champagne-centric as I am, I have to say that this area is right down south near the border with Chablis. Past Les Riceys, you’ll find Mussy-sur-Seine, a small village dedicated to the Pinot Noir grape and the village’s own rich mediæval history. Annexed as part of various kingdoms within France, it was invaded by the Normans (10th century), the English, the Huguenots (16th century), the Austrians and more recently the Germans. Witnesses of this stormy past include the vast ramparts which fortified the city, and of which there remain three round towers, and an alley of majestic lime-trees, the rest of the ramparts having been destroyed during the Revolution.

Mussy-sur-Seine was the summer residence of the bishops of Langres for six centuries until the Revolution. At the time known as Mussy-L'Évêque, today the old residence of the prelates houses the town hall. The "surviving" witness of this medieval era - and arguably the most spectacular - is the "ice box", a huge 10-metre-deep stone well that, as its name suggests, allowed ice to be stored. That of Mussy is exceptionally well preserved, which is rather rare. Due to its status, Mussy-sur-Seine housed a chapter instituted by the bishop of Langres, who sat in the church that today bears the name Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens (end of 13th century). There are impressive statues - a monumental Saint John the Baptist, a Christ in chains, a holy Marguerite and a polychrome dragon, but also impressive are lying figures representing Lord William of Mussy, his wife and their dog. Other beautiful buildings in the vicinity include the canon's house, as well as the salt loft used to store the precious mineral, or the many covered alleys winding through the city. Of more modern interest is the Museum of the Resistance.

Finally, to end an exciting visit to the heart of history and heritage, a tasting of Mussy cheese, champagne and Riceys rosé will end on a gourmet note. Yet another village in beautiful Champagne – sigh!

Info courtesy Libération Champagne, drawing by Joachim Duviert courtesy Wikimedia Commons 

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Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer
Deluxe paperback 434pp third impression
$140 AUD + $15 postage
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Meticulously researched, Champagne, a tasting journey appeals to the cognoscenti and beginners alike. The work comprehensively encompasses history, geography, the grapes, the regions, production, politics, the people, the flavours, and aromas – each of the 44 chapters is accompanied by a tasting guide, which illuminates the topic discussed in the chapter.

A link to European distribution and Champagne Houses selling Kaaren's book will be updated when stock is available. Soon!
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