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May 2018 Champagne News 

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welcome


What could be better than Spring in Champagne?! One minute the harshly pruned trees in the Place du Forum look sadly bare. By the end of the week, they’re covered in buds, shoots, leaves and life! The weather was glorious, and the sheer number of champagne tastings impossible to manage

Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer Champagne

 

Printemps de Champagne


Printemps de Champagne this year showcased over 300 offerings, mostly around Reims. Impossible! My full report will appear in Sara Underdown’s inaugural on-line magazine, Vine and Bubble.


In the stunning Reims town hall Printemps de Champagne 2018.For visitors to

Reims
, a free driverless shuttle will transport passengers the 500 metres between the Champagne-Ardennes station and the tram stop at Bézannes. Although on a trial basis, the convenience of a quick trip into the centre of Reims, without the difficulties of calling a taxi from the box outside the station, will be welcomed by the traveller with luggage, such as myself.  Handy tram stops located through the centre of Reims will also shorten the journey to accommodation for many people. Your trip can become Airport-TGV-Shuttle-Tram, and your journey will be in the shortest possible time.

General Champagne News

 

Champagne Numbers from the Champagne Bureau

Key take-outs
  1. Australia is Number 6 in the world for consumption of champagne (outside France)
  2. Plantings of Chardonnay have increased a percent or so at the expense of the Meunier
  3. We’re importing more Houses and more small domaines.
Read more
 

‘Our’ house champagne, Palmer

of course, has launched a new website. You can check it out here 
Champagne Palmer is available in Australia from: JJ Peyre at Paradox Wines
Just make sure that you ship it during the cool seasons. 


Image courtesy of Champagne Palmer

Champagne Gosset 

joins the extra-brut crowd, with their new cuvée. Read all about it here


Champagne Guiborat

Jono Hersey, whose family has purchased Ross Duke’s French Wine Centre, is offering a pre-shipment price on well-regarded Champagne Guiborat (Cramant). It’s very popular among the cognoscenti, and he’s only receiving a small allocation. I’m getting some, and so should you, but don’t be greedy!
To purchase click here


Veuve Clicquot 2008 Rosé

Here’s a reminder to buy some. We enjoyed a delicious glass at Chateau Les Crayères. And an interesting article from one Veuve’s winemakers, reminding us that’s it’s the 200thanniversary of the House’s creation of Rosé using the method of adding red wine. In the case of the vintage rosé, the Pinot Noir from Clos Colin in Bouzy is what really adds to the structure and vinosity. Read more


At Les Crayeres...the champagne trolley

Champagne bars and tasting areas
are on the rise in Champagne 


Houses and vine growers have had to adapt to a difficult French market, by responding to consumer demand. Tourists join in gleefully, of course.
 
For several years now, small winemakers and some of the Houses themselves have augmented the number of bars, restaurants and the usual shops that offer tastings on site.
 

ÉPERNAY

The Syndicat Général des Vignerons has just opened its temporary bar, in the heart of the Avenue de Champagne, for the third year in a row. More than 4,200 consumers stopped by last year between April and September. The twenty winemakers who took part in the adventure found that demand indeed exists in Épernay. In addition to this one-off offer, eight houses on the famous avenue also offer permanent champagne bars, along with the Georges Cartier space on Jean-Chandon-Moët Street and the C Comme Champagne tasting and sales room on rue Gambetta. 
 
The Place de la République is also fertile ground. 
‘This is a necessary evolution,’ explains Cyril Janisson, president of Champagne Janisson-Baradon. ‘It brings additional income that compensates for the difficulties of the French market. We sell 20,000 bottles at the store, and that represents an important quarter of our sales.’ The business, which boasts a small terrace, has been open for four years in the Place de la République. 

‘We are delighted!’ adds Cyril. ‘Initially, we just wanted to open a tasting shop and we had the opportunity to make a terrace for a dozen people. In season, it’s always full. When we opened in 2014, there were a lot fewer champagne bars than there are today.’  In fact, since the Janisson-Baradon opening, many more tasting initiatives have opened nearby without their being a drop in turnover.


CHOUILLY

Not too far from Épernay, a year ago, the largest cooperative in Champagne, Nicolas Feuillatte, opened a sales and tasting area in conjunction with visits open to tourists and locals alike.


HAUTVILLERS

A short drive from Épernay, in Hautvillers, the concept is not new. In addition to the restaurant Le Café d'Hautvillers and the bar-cum-shop, Au 36, twenty winemakers welcome guests throughout the year. One example is Champagne Pierre Fedyk, which opened in 2011, as a complement to the existing four guest rooms. Another couple of winemakers offer tastings, setting up on one of the small tables in the courtyard. All have a splendid view of the Marne Valley. The idea was conceived ten years ago. ‘It's complementary to our business,’ says Cecile Fedyk. When someone takes a cup on the terrace, there can often be a sale behind. It's like we're doing a little salon, but staying at the heart of our operation. It helps us to know. There are many tourists, but they are not the only ones who come to visit the Fedyk. "We have more and more locals who come to walk in Hautvillers and take the opportunity to take a cup. A habit begins to be made, with people from Reims and Épernay or from the surrounding villages.’
 
At the northern end of Hautvillers, champagne G. Tribaut has recently built Le Cellier, a sales and reception area open seven days a week that can accommodate around twenty customers. The place may have had only one year of existence, but the winemakers are not novices to hospitality. ‘It's been 40 years that we’ve been receiving customers in our family home, like many independent winemakers,’ says Valérie Tribaut, Sales Manager. With this beautiful point of view, we had the idea to invest in a new space to welcome loyal customers as well as new customers. With the new venture, members of the family business, which sells 160,000 bottles each year for direct sale, have had to adapt and discover a new way of working. ‘At first, it was a little complicated,’ admits Valerie Tribaut. ‘We had to be shopkeepers, and please the customers we welcome. But we remain primarily producers and we do not compete with cafes and bars.’


REIMS

My favourite, and most convenient bar in Reims: Le Wine Bar, on the corner of the Place du Forum and Rue Nanteuil. With an outstanding champagne list, and a weekly rolling schedule of growers and Houses by the glass, you’ll never be bored. 


Le Wine Bar, Reims
 
Also worth an evening, Le Coq Rouge at 67 rue Chanzy, Trésors de Champagne at 2 rue Olivier Métra near Le Boulingrin market, the Glue Pot at 49 place Drouet d’Erlon and the wine bar in Hotel de la Paix, rue Buirette. Discover others for yourselves. Don’t be shy!

Stars from the Revue de Vin de France Tasting


Champagne Lamiable produces powerfully structured Pinot Noir dominant champagne in Tours-sur-Marne 

For the Producers

Missing from the main champagne area of the show, the stars were elevated to the first floor, among their peers in the world of wine. Veuve Fourny, Taittinger, Jacquesson, Drappier and biodynamic producer, Champagne Fleury, whose champagne so impressed us at the Artisans salnon during ‘Champagne Week’, were awarded a ‘coup de cœur’ for their Fleur de l’Europe Brut Nature.
Unfortunately, all of the above, hidden away on the first floor, were easy to miss if you didn’t read the handbook carefully. Sob!
 
Downstairs, it was possible to have a small exploration of a few Côte des Bars producers, tasted in between Houses such as Pol Roger (yes, the Winston is a cracker, and the new 2009 vintage) and Piper-Heidsieck (note: buy the 2008, and add a few Rare 2002 while you’re buying). Disappointing to hear from Laurent-Perrier that they will no longer let us know which great vintages make up their Grand Siécle.
 
The whole ranges of Avize producers, Étienne Calsac and Franck Bonville, drank beautifully. Franck Bonville has new and fascinating mono-cru cuvées of three Côte des Blancs villages. Apart from being pleasurable drinking, they illustrate very well the differences between Oger, Avize and Le Mesnil. 
Impressive stand-alone cuvées, in no particular order, included:
Champagne Domaine de la Borderie 2014 single vineyard Douce Folie Rosé, Champagne Devaux 2005 from magnum, and their Ultra D for an aperitif Champagne L’Amiable Blanc de Noirs Nature – huge structure, excellent vinosity, powerful length Champagne Michael Furdyna’s Pinot Blanc NV (4g/L) with its delicate, white flower nose, balance and very pretty length Demilly de Baere’s 2014 Blanc de Noirs (quite lovely aromas including blackcurrants and blackberries, beautifully structured palate).

Kaaren Palmer

Champagne Editor
   
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CHAMPAGNE

A TASTING JOURNEY

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


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

Heartening to hear 


By betting on exports, pure champagne player Lanson-BCC made up for the difficulties encountered on the French and British markets, and improved their results in 2017, with profits increasing by 4.5% to 11.65 million euros. Lanson is made up of seven champagne houses – Lanson, Boizel, Philipponnat, de Venoge and Alexandre Bonnet, as well as Chanoine Frères (Tsarine) and Maison Burtin. The group saw its operating profit erode 11% to 20.4 million euros because of the difficulties of the UK market, its largest export market, where the uncertainties of Brexit and the devaluation of the pound against the euro impacted the market heavily.


Image courtesy Lanson Champagne

Changes in the Structure of the Champagne Industry


Over the past 10 years, very small champagne makers have lost 20% of their sales. According to the Syndicat Général des Vignerons (SGV), the champagne sales of small producers, who ensure the entire production chain, from the work of the vineyard to marketing, and those of cooperatives, have decreased from more than 100 million bottles ten years ago to 87 million today. In two decades, 20% of the small sellers – around 800 of them - have disappeared, finding it easier to sell their grapes to the big Houses.
 
One of the main reasons for this development, according to growers, is the price of land - up to 1.8 million euros per hectare because of the price of grapes. And the origin of this, they say, is the fragmentation of farms during inheritance. Family members just can’t afford to pay each other the amount of money required to keep a viable holding together. Meanwhile, the international success enjoyed by such groups as LVMH (Moët and Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart) and Pernod Ricard (Perrier-Jouët, Mumm) has pushed up grape prices. In 2017, price increases per kilo of grapes were between 1% and 10%. 
 

 
Faced with this changing situation, leaders of the small champagne producers’ sector are trying to find alternatives. First, they’re pushing the growers to become members of one of the 140 cooperatives, in particular the ten that sell large volumes for export, such as Nicolas Feuillatte. Some village co-ops are also trying hard to implement initiatives to attract members. The one at Coulommes-la-Montagne in the Marne Valley, for example, provides winemakers, including the smallest, a press of 4,000 kilos, to vinify very modest or tiny production volumes.
 
And there’s a new generation of winemakers – outstanding professionals whose average age is between 30 and 50 years. They’re renewing interest in the diversity of champagne, often with an organic and/or biodynamic approach to viticulture, and even parcellaire cuvées from a single lieu-dit. They understand that consumption and marketing patterns have changed. For them, the important marketing tools are fluency in English, and mastery of the Internet and social networks, where the application of the Evin law, which restricts the type of advertising permitted for all alcoholic products, is less rigorous. Meanwhile, the SGV is thinking of setting up its own online sales platform, similar to the ones on the Web such as the Plus-de-Bulles.com website.  To be continued!

Outstanding Cuvées


The three most outstanding cuvées of the many enjoyed in the last month? Top billing must be shared between very different styles, the Louis Roederer Cristal 2002, voluptuous with its 16 years of age, the ethereally elegant Philipponnat Clos de Goisses 2005, and the totally seductive 2005 Charles Heidsieck Rosé.
 



Copyright © 2018 Ann Oliver, All rights reserved.