Occasional Champagne News - Christmas 2020

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Champagne News Christmas 2020

It's that time of the year, and I have a moment to assail you via your Inbox to update you with some champagne news, and wish you the most effervescent of seasons. 

Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer Champagne

December 15, 2020
 Image © copyright Kaaren Palmer Champagne 2020


Now is also the time of year to add to your cellar, with so many special offers abounding.

You could begin your pre-Xmas prep with a quick visit to the big guns of retail, where Mumm Cordon Rouge (magnums $104-$110 at Vintage Cellars), Lanson Black Label, Moët-Chandon, Piper-Heidsieck Brut and the truly delicious and impeccably elegant Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel are available at special pricing. And others! 
For the day itself, how about the savoury Lanson Rosé, which goes so well with ham or smoked meats? $65 at Dan's.
Lanson Vintage is also keenly priced, as are vintages from Roederer and Pol Roger.
The Ed Cellars are offering an excellent growers' pack featuring Agrapart and Larmandier-Bernier, with a copy of Rob Walters' controversial champagne book and a carry-pack as freebies. Although the website not up and running yet, be sure to call by there cellars and see what they have. Pre-subscribe to their cellar news here and download their summer catalogue here 
Note particularly the Jacquesson, and Gimonnet's Cuis Premier Cru.
The French Wine Centre, once run by Ross Duke in Melbourne, and now based in Adelaide in the hands of the energetic Jono Hersey, is offering generously aged champagne from Jean-Paul Morel, chairman of the co-operative in Grand Cru Verzenay. Magnums of Jean Vesselle Extra Brut - $126! Also on offer are favourites Guiborat, JL Vergnon and Claude Cazals.
East End Cellars, always a convivial place to meet friends, is also a handy place to shop. Download their Little Book of Wine 2021 edition. The champagne at special pricing is on pp 5–8.
Langtons online or auction sales are excellent shippers. For special treatment, speak to Neli on 0438 237 057. Special treats include Lanson's late releases of legendary vintages, such as 1988. There's a full range of A.R. Lenoble available, too. Their site is worth trawling for hard-to-find gems.
And don't forget Nicks in Melbourne. Their selections include Hugues Godmé, Veuve Fourny, Savart and Jacquesson's latest (based on 2014) for under $100 per bottle.
Both Langton's and Nick's keep their eyes on cool shipping weather. Packing is excellent.
And wherever you are, don't forget to look for treasures in your smaller wine shops, and keep the diversity of champagne coming into Australia.

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon – Chef de Cave – Louis Roederer - image copyright ©  Kaaren  Palmer Champagne 2020

particular Christmas Champagne recommendations 

  • Champagne Michel Gonet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2011 is imported exclusively into Australia by East End Cellars in Adelaide. I'm sure that they'll ship elsewhere.
  • Champagne Pascal Doquet, Arpège Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Premier Cru NV
  • Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV can be found at Prince in Melbourne for under $100. 
  • Any Larmandier-Bernier, such as Larmandier-Bernier, Longitude Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Premier Cru NV may be ordered from your local fine wine purveyor
  • Dhondt-Grellet, Terres Fines Blanc de Blancs NV is available at Nick's in Melbourne, also from Emperor Champagne. 
  • Eric Rodez, Blanc de Noirs Ambonnay NV. Email me if you can't find a source.
  • Philipponnat, Cuvée 1522 Extra Brut Grand Cru 2012 can be found at Emperor. The importer is Arquilla.
  • Bollinger PN VZ15 Brut NV - $190 from Dan's and many more.
  • Bérèche, Rilly-la-Montagne Premier Cru 2015 As for Larmandier-Bernier, it's distributed by Bibendum, therefore ask your local wine shop to order it for you.
  • Krug, Grande Cuvée 168ème édition NV. There's still plenty of the 167th edition about, so make sure that you've found the 168th, which is based on the superb 2012 vintage.

Full tasting notes 

Not entirely champagne

Sprout Cooking School has Tyson Stelzer hosting an event which pairs champagne with Australian sparkling. The food is usually capably prepared.

Thursday 18th February 2021 
Charles Heidsieck - Blanc de Blancs NV
Louis Roederer - Brut Nature Rose 2012
Taittinger - Comtes de Champagne 2008
Pol Roger - Sir Winston Churchill 2008
Bollinger - La Grande Annee 2012
Kreglinger - Brut de Blancs 2016
Apogee - Deluxe Vintage Rose 2016
Deviation Road - 'Beltana' Blanc de Blancs 2013
Bellebonne - Vintage Cuvee 2016
House of Arras - Blanc de Blancs 2009

The Taittinger Comtes vs. Deviation Road Beltana comparison will have champagne-o-phil sensory apparatus in overdrive, I suspect. But I'm not at all sure why the Pinot-dominant Bollinger is being paired with Arras' Chardonnay.

Tickets $350. Bookings may be made here
 Such a pity that it's the same date as Sara Underdown's Boll & Cie. Cie, by the way, is an abbreviation of the French Compagnie (Company). 

Tasting at Charles Heidsieck image copyright © Kaaren Palmer Champagne 2020


So many different wine shows! It would be impossible for a winery to enter every show.

Champagne Masters, with Patrick Schmitt MW as one of the three MW judges, is a competition run by the drinks business. All the fizz is tasted blind. 
Henriot, Piper-Heidsieck, Palmer, Charles Heidsieck all did particularly well. A surprise for me was to see Castelnau (formerly de Castelnau, and NOT to be confused with de Cazanove) win a gold and two silver medals. So next time that you're touring Champagne, watch out for (de) Castelnau's tall tower on the left as you travel along the Avenue de Champagne in Épernay. It's available at Dan Murphy at under $60 for the Castelnau Brut Reserve, which also won Gold in the Sommeliers' Wine Awards of 2019. You may have to order online.
Read all the Champagne Masters Results here

The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships are held annually. All wines entered are tasted and evaluated by the same specialist sparkling wine judges, year in and year out, and all three must agree on all the medals awarded. Founded by Tom Stevenson of Christie's World Encyclopaedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine fame, Essi Avellan MW, and SCWWC's former reserve judge, George Markus, are the judges.
It was not surprising to read that Louis Roederer's 2004 Cristal Rosé earned the title of Supreme World Champion together with acknowledgement as the World Champion Sparkling Wine Producer 2020. The house champagne of Kaaren Palmer is, of course, Champagne Palmer. The Brut Réserve won no less than the World Champion Classic NV Brut, as well as a gong for Best Non-Deluxe Champagne. For the full list of results
The International Wine Challenge, also a blind tasting, has awarded top sparkling gong, the Daniel Thibault Trophy, to Taittinger's Comtes de Champagne 2008. Daniel, by the way, was the revered Charles Heidsieck cellar-master who created the collection of reserve wines that resulted in that complex cellar staple, the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV.
The Taittinger Comtes was also the best Vintage Blanc de Blancs, not surprisingly.
Sparkling Winemaker of the Year Award went to Michel Parisot from the excellent southern Champagne co-operative, Devaux.
Alice Tétienne from Henriot, Régis Camus from (formerly Piper-Heidsieck) Rare and Alexandre Ponnavoy from Taittinger all made the shortlist.
Henriot won the NV Blanc de Blancs Trophy, Rare came home with the Vintage Classic Blend Trophy and Rare Rosé the Rosé Champagne Trophy.
Lanson's new Le Black Réserve was awarded the Classic NV Blend Trophy. So congratulations, Hervé Dantan!

If you'd like to look through their awards, you may start here
Great to see little-known Meunier specialist, Eric Taillet, as one of only three in the Best of Show list. Bravo, Eric!
Boizel NV is among the finest, too, with a platinum award. So visit it on the Avenue de Champagne!
The blending team at Roederer - image copyright ©  Champagne Louis Roederer
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Kaaren Palmer

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Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer
Deluxe paperback 434pp third impression
$140 AUD + $15 postage
within Australia

To purchase Champagne
...a tasting journey
please click here

Hard copies are also available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon in Europe and available on Amazon Kindle.

The tasting worksheets that accompany the book are now available on 
Festive cheer with Roederer Cristal
Image copyright © Louis Roederer 


Another list of suitable festive cheer from the Drinks Business
Some of the champagnes feature in the awards section of this newsletter – see below left. 

Image copyright © Champagne Krug


Adelaideans and those happy to travel to this fair city, might well consider booking into one of Sara Underdown's events, which are held in an atmosphere of high style and fun. Art de vivre! The Charles Heidsieck event at Apoteca was a night to remember, as was the generosity of 2KW's Frerejean-Frères event. In the course of both evenings, some memorable food-wine matches added to my own repertoire.

Coming Up

3 February 2021 
Palmer & Co. Champagne Dinner (APOTECA, Adelaide)
5 February 2021 -Veuve Clicquot Women's Evening with Oscar Hunt and BMW (Oscar Hunt Showroom, Adelaide)
18 February 2021
Boll & Cie Champagne Session (APOTECA, Adelaide)
March 2021
R. Pouillon Champagne Tasting (TBC, Adelaide)
April 2021
Luxury Escape to Sequoia with Ayala (Mt Lofty, Adelaide Hills)
Register your interest in attending any of these events by contacting  Sara Underdown.
Edinburgh Cellars Champagne Club will be on again next year, we're promised. 

Champagne by the glass
Pavilion Ledoyen Paris

Image © copyright
Kaaren Palmer Champagne 2020



Tyson Stelzer's cost $50 – a range of very interesting interviews, principally with chefs de cave such as Didier Mariotti from Veuve Clicquot and Cyril Brun from Charles Heidsieck click here
Melbourne-based Sally Hillman presents Aurélien Gerbais speaking about Champagne Pierre Gerbais, and others. 
Free masterclasses are on offer from Champagne Every Day 
Based in Singapore, Lucy Edwards' sessions are also appropriate for our time zone. Selections from past events can be viewed here and in greater detail here 

The Finest Bubble, London-based, allow you free review of all past videos, the best being with Essi Avellan MW. Tastings, interviews with chefs de cave – all free
Why not find a bottle to accompany one of the sessions? Thank you, indeed, Nick Baker and good company.

Café du Palais, Reims
image copyright ©
Kaaren Palmer Champagne 2020
Text and images unless
otherwise stated copyright ©
Kaaren Palmer Champagne 2020


Our favourite champagne from Billecart-Salmon had always been the Nicolas François, which is why I'm drawing your attention to Anne Krebiehl MW in The Buyer
It's great to see Veuve Fourny doing so well in the European and French press, with a Certificate of Excellence for their Clos Notre Dame 2008 champagne from Vinum, and prime position from the esteemed Revue de Vin Français, with 94 and 95/100 respectively for two of their cuvées. Welt Am Sonntag rates their rosés, and, indeed, our own James Halliday's Top 100 features Veuve Fourny's 2012 Monts de Vertus.
Congratulations, also, on achieving your HVE (haute valeur environnementale) certification, Charles and Emmanuel!
Charles Heidsieck – who doesn't keep this House in their cellars?? The tasting of the 2012 at Sara Underdown's classy dinner at Apoteca in Adelaide, was definitely a highlight of my champagne year. Crisp, deep, multi-layered, splendid..... I'm trying to run the cellar down from it's height of 1,400+ bottles of champagne, but it's so difficult when a cuvée like the Charles Heidsieck 2012 is available.
We can look forward to the Australian release of the 2006 Blanc de Millénaires, and whet our appetites, courtesy of The Buyer
And is there anybody out there new to Charles? If you are, you may find an article in wine-searcher of interest.
Not least, Champagne A Tasting Journey, finds itself among the Best Books of the Last 25 Years in the International Gourmand Awards. It's very heartening to see how ageless are the masterclasses it features with each chapter, and it was a special thrill to see myself in Sophie Claeys' Champagne News

On sale online at, as well as at outlets such as Langtons, Nicks in Melbourne, The Edinburgh Cellars and East End Cellars in Adelaide, Deviation Road Winery in the Adelaide Hills and terrific small bookshop, Imprints. All will ship.
Also available in Champagne, of course, from many places. Here's an old interview with Langtons.

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