Takk til alle champagneentusiastene som hadde med bidrag og til Morten Christiansen som stod for arrangementet. Takk også til hobbykokken Lars for strålende mat.
Sjelden kost med en Salon mini-vertikal;
Salon 1988 er tidligere Champagne of the Year i Vinklubben, men denne flasken var nok ikke helt optimal: utviklet med tydelige brune nedfallsepler, nøtter og vel aromatisk for perfeksjon. Årgangen er spesielt vellykket i Champagne (og for Salon) og dette skal i utgangspunktet være 98-100 poeng. Men det var det ikke. Det brune oksidative preget forsterker seg i glasset og bli mer sherrypreget over tid. Men smaken er overraskende lineær og frisk. Tveten kjøpte denne på Vinmonopolet på 90-tallet. På grensen til ikke å bli vurdert, men jeg gir den 90 poeng.
Salon 1996 derimot er et helt annet dyr; med en mere transparent farge og grønnskjær i glasset. Citrus, mandarin, stram og fremdeles lite utviklet. En kompleks munnfølelse, kraftig frukt og det er litt vanskelig å vurdere kvalitetspotensialet i en knytt og vanskelig tilgjengelig Blanc de Blancs på dette nivået. "Lemon-curd" i ettersmak som er veeeeldig lang. Dette kan bli 100 poeng. Vi får nøye oss med 97 poeng foreløpig.
Salon 1997 lever litt i skyggen av de andre mht. årgangsvurderinger, men dette synes jeg var overraskende bra: noe mere blank og gylden i snittet enn 1996, en bredere munnfølelse gir god valuta for pengene allerede nå. Selv om nok dette kan lagres videre, drikker den veldig godt for øyeblikket med pen mousse, god balanse og husets typiske citrus-bitt. Prismessig er jo dette et betydelig bedre kjøp enn de to forrige, men den mangler kompleksiteten og dybden i frukten. 92 poeng.
Champagne Charlie 1979 MAGNUM gylden i fargen nesten Sauternesaktig, moden og utviklet i munnen. Den manglet litt fizziness og livlighet. Linoelum, lanolin og endel reduktiv på nesen dro ned. Veldig vinøs og "gammeldags" munnfølelse med bittert appelsinskall og ikke den klassiske autolysemunnen. Innslag av mynte, tydelig Pinot, noe eik og en rik og fet avslutning. Lang ettersmak. Den vinøse stilen overskygger endel, samtidig med den odde aromaen som gjør champagnen litt rar. Kjøpt på Vinmonopolet, den ble bare solgt i magnum ? 94 poeng.
Champagne Charlie 1981 var en mere klassisk champagne. Deilig lett munnfølelse. Utviklet og bør nok drikkes. Også denne har en bitter hale. Et smalere fruktbilde, klassisk eple med fin mousse. Slank og presis. Men mangler kraft. Overraskende bra fra et medium champagneår. 93 poeng.
Champagne Charlie 1985 var mindre utviklet, nesten primær mot de andre i rekka. Strågul farge, god og frisk mousse. Veldig ren i snittet, en perfekt champagne som igjen viser seg godt fram. God flaske fra Kims kjeller. Her må det være mye Chardonnay ? Citrus, gjær og autolyse. Brødbakst og brioche. En super elegant champagne med stram mineralitet og megalang ettersmak. My kind of champagne ! 96 poeng.
Vinklubben hadde Champagne Charlie 1985 i mai 2014:
Utviklet stil og en meget god munnfølelse. Semimoden, holder litt igjen og den kan fremdeles lagres. Kompleks og rik, bitter avslutning med sjø og elementer av tang. Endel dosage er det nok, kraftig og voluminøs i stilen og et kledelig snev av oksidative epler. Strukturert og den har noen tanniner bakerst som gjør den til en fabelaktig matchampagne. En stor champagne med en sinnsyk lengde. Pt. mangler den kanskje noen forføriske elememter. Men de vil komme. En meget god flaske og denne virker bedre enn den vi hadde for ett år siden. Jeg trodde dette var en Cristal. Flere hadde denne som den beste champagnen. 96 poeng. Medtatt av Kim.
Krug Collection 1982 0 bobler ved skjenking. En vinøs og utviklet nese. Høy konsentrasjon av moden frukt med lang og rik ettersmak i munnen. Degorgert i 02 eller 03 ? Mangler noe løft og eleganse, men den har mye smak og har en eksepsjonell sjarmfaktor. Collection-serien behøver nødvendigvis ikke ligge legger på bunnfall før gogging/release. Og det merkes litt her. Burde vært drukket for noen år siden, eller bare en litt dårlig flaske ? Men en enorm konsentrasjon drar opp.
Krug 1988 helt motsatt champis vs. 82. Mye bobler, brioche, rik, toffeèkaramell og igjen en veldig bra konsentrasjon. Men mye renere og mer citrus enn 82. Mye energi og intensitet, bra balanse, smidig og en fantastisk champagne. Solid og karakterfull, kan fortsatt lagres. Husker jeg serverte denne til svigermor nyttårsaften 2000 og hun syntes den var sur ! Og det var den vel også for 14 år siden ! 97 poeng (and still going !)
Krug 1996 ganske lik farge som 1988 og det sier vel mest om sistnevnte. Men helt annerledes i munnen. Xtrem thight, citrus og den formelig spruter energi i en lineær retning. Bør fortsatt lagres og dette kommer til å bli knallbra. Vanskelig å vurdere om denne er bedre enn 88. Så derfor 97 poeng her også.
Rosè champagne blir aldri min favoritt. Hvis man mener champagne er et kvalitetsprodukt har jeg aldri skjønt hvorfor man skal helle i endel rødvin i sluttproduktet. Men denne flighten var ikke så gal:
Deutz Rosè 1990 viste typisk rustikk og en ubalansert stil. Rød og frisk farge, men mangler harmoni, eleganse og "renhet". Dette er et godt eksempel på hvorfor dette ikke er topp i min munn. 87 poeng.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Rosè 1996 var en særdeles elegant rosè champagne. Lys og lett med bittert appelsinskall, delikat, noe vandig og lett å kritisere. Syrlig og 96 stilen skinner godt igjennom. Mer champagne enn rosè champagne. Denne rosè champagnen er foreløpig bare laget i tre årganger 1985, 1996 og 1999. 91 poeng.
One year after he founded his Champagne house in 1851, 29-year-old Charles-Camille Heidsieck took the unusual step, at that time, of journeying to the United States to sell his Champagne. In fact, he was the first Champagne producer to visit the U.S.A. Champagne Charlie, as he became known, a gracious gentleman and a born salesman, personally sold 300,000 bottles of his Champagne in the U.S. in one year! He made three more visits to the U.S. before the Civil War broke out in 1861, andbecame a celebrity in this country, with his picture in many of the newspapers. In the following years, Champagne Charlie and his descendants also did well in Europe and the Far East, establishing new markets for their Champagne.
With a beginning like that, you would think that Charles Heidsieck would be a big-selling, well-known Champagne in the U.S. and throughout the world. But it is not. Instead, Moët & Chandon (including Dom Pérignon), Veuve Clicquot, G.H. Mumm, Nicolas Feuillatte, and Charles Heidsieck’s sister-house, Piper-Heidsieck, are the dominant sales leaders, both here and throughout the world--along with Lanson, Pommery, and Laurent-Perrier in Europe.
Champagne Charles Heidsieck’s journey has been a difficult one since its brilliant start with its founder. In the 20th century, the house had several changes of ownership. The first turning point upwards in its fortunes took place in the late 1970s, when Joseph Henriot purchased Charles Heidsieck; both houses are inter-twined through marriage (Champagne Charlie’s wife was an Henriot). Joseph Henriot hired Daniel Thibault, Champagne’s most highly-regarded winemaker, as cellarmaster. But when Joseph Henriot took over as top man of Veuve Clicquot, Charles Heidsieck was again rudderless, going through three more sales. In 1985, Rémy Martin Cognac (a.k.a. Rémy-Cointreau) purchased both Champagnes Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck (it had purchased Champagne Krug previously). Rémy-Cointreau’s first move was to re-hire the brilliant Daniel Thibault in 1986 to be Chef de Caves for Charles Heidsieck. Four years later, Thibault also became winemaker of Piper-Heidsieck.
The improvements in both Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck were remarkable under Thibault’s guidance. Charles Heidsieck became the premium Champagne of the two, and Piper-Heidsieck (always a big seller but of average quality before Thibault) improved immeasurably.
Thibault insisted upon using an extraordinary amount of older reserve wines, 40 percent, in Charles Heidsieck’s flagship Champagne, its Brut Réserve. Despite this expensive move, Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve remained as reasonably priced as other non-vintage Champagnes. (Only Krug’s Grande Cuvée, more than three times the price of Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve, uses more reserve wines, up to 50 percent).
I noticed an amazing improvement in Charles Heidsieck’s Champagnes, particularly the Brut Réserve, around 1990, and began singing its praises in my articles, as did many other writers. Charles Heidsieck became an insiders’ Champagne, appreciated by the cognoscenti, but still not recognized by consumers. In the U.S. particularly, Champagne sales have been so dominated by the few big Champagne houses that few other Champagnes have caught on.
The use of 40 percent reserve wines has made a huge difference in Champagne Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve. You first notice the color, a deeper gold that most other NV Champagnes. Next, the aroma, a much toastier, yeastier bouquet than you would expect from an average-priced non-vintage Champagne. Also, the weight of the Champagne on your palate is much more full-bodied than you would expect. And finally the long, complex finish, which lingers on the palate. It is no wonder that Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve has become the favorite NV of many of us who love Champagne. Champagne Charles Heidsieck uses the same traditional blend of varieties in its Brut Réserve: One-third Pinot Noir, one-third Pinot Meunier, and one-third Chardonnay.
Tragedy struck Champagne Charles Heidsieck in February, 2002, when Daniel Thibault , six times awarded the designation Winemaker of the Year in Champagne, passed away at the age of 55. Fortunately, Thibault was followed as Chef de Caves by his long-time assistant, Régis Camus, who has ably carried on, keeping the high quality of both Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck.
Meanwhile, Rémy-Cointreau--who had previously sold Champagne Krug to LVMH in January, 1999, because of declining sales of its cognac in the Far East--decided to sell both Champagne Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck in May, 2011, because they were not profitable enough for the spirits company. Fortunately for the Heidsieck houses, Rémy-Cointreau turned down a bid from the huge LVMH conglomerate and sold the Heidsieck Champagnes to the family-owned luxury goods company, EPI.
EPI took over July 8th, 2011, closed the Paris office of the Champagne houses and moved all the employees to Reims, where both wineries are located. EPI then hired Cécile Bonneford as CEO of Champagnes Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck. Cécile was Managing Director of Champagne Veuve Clicquot from 2001 to 2009, and previously was marketing director for several large food companies. I recently met with Mme. Bonneford, and was impressed with her frankness and honesty, refreshing if unusual qualities for a CEO. She is very happy to be working for EPI, who she said is genuinely interested in keeping the quality of both Champagnes at a high level and is looking at the long-term picture rather than seeking immediate profits for the Champagnes.
Régis Camus has been promoted to Director of Winemaking for EPI while also retaining the title of Chef de Caves for Piper-Heidsieck. His long-time assistant Chef de Caves, Thierry Roset (who has been with Champagne Heidsieck since 1988), is now Chef de Caves for Charles Heidsieck Champagnes.
Roset has made significant changes for Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve. He has reduced the formula for the number of wines going into the Brut Réserve from 120 to 60, all of which he has personally selected. According to Roset, his aim is to make a Brut Réserve with greater complexity, depth, and richness.
I tasted the new Charles Heidsieck NV Brut Réserve, based mainly on the 2008 vintage, still with 40 percent reserve wines aged from five to 15 years (all of the company’s 10 to 15 year-old reserves are held exclusively for Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve). The new Brut Réserve was aged 36 months on its lees and disgorged in 2011. It is smashing, the best Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve that I can recall tasting, and I’ve had quite a few over the years. It is a deeper gold color than previous Brut Réserves, it is very dry, with lively acidity, and according to Roset, has “more tension and more minerality.” By tension, I believe that Roset is talking about its liveliness. By the way, my experience has been that Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserves age especially well, gaining more depth with maturity.
Charles Heidsieck’s new Brut Réserve also has a striking new look; thebottle is shaped like the entrance to its famous 2,000 year-old Gallo-Roman chalky wine cellar (one of the most impressive ones in Reims). It really looks like a prestige cuvée, with its new black label and white lettering. Current Brut Réserves are retailing between $35 and $45, averaging in the $40 to $42 range. Expect to pay a bit more for the new Brut Réserve. But you know something? It will still be a bargain, considering the quality of the product.
Like all Champagne houses, Charles Heidsieck’s non-vintage Champagne, its superb Brut Réserve, makes up between 85 to 90 percent of its production. But Champagne Charles Heidsieck also makes three other Champagnes. One is a rather rare Vintage Brut, which, unlike other houses, it releases only in certain years; in the last decade, only the memorable 1990, the 1995, and 2000 were sold in the U.S.A. Charles Heidsieck did make a tiny quantity of 1996, which it sold only in France. On a visit to the winery about 10 years ago, I tasted the 1996; it was so exceptional (I rated it “98”) that I ordered a case of it from a local store in Reims and had it shipped back to the U.S. I still have six bottles left; I am drinking it up slowly, knowing that it will improve with a few more years of aging.
Charles Heidsieck is about to release its new NV Rosé Réserve in the fall, along with its new Brut Réserve. Both will come in the same, old-fashioned bottle, but the Rosé has a beautiful pink label. The new Rosé Réserve is based on the 2007 vintage, with 20 percent reserve wines added. It is crafted from equal proportions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, with 6 to 7 percent still Pinot Noir wine added for color. I tasted the new Rosé Réserve, which is a light hue of pink, dry, bright, fresh, and so thoroughly delicious that’s it’s difficult to drink just one glass. Charles Heidsieck also makes a Vintage Rosé on occasion; only three have been made recently, the 1985, 1996, and 1999. (To honor the occasion of this column, we drank our last bottle of Charles Heidsieck’s 1996 Vintage Rosé on the night that I wrote this. It was very good, ready to drink, and not as exceptional as Charles Heidsieck’s 1996 Vintage Brut white.)
The next Charles Heidsieck I tasted was an old favorite, the1995 Blanc de Millènaires. I participated in two Critics’ Challenge judgings a few years ago, in which this very Champagne won “Best of Show” two years in a row. It is an amazing Champagne, a blanc de blancs and the House’s prestige cuvée. At 17 years old, it is still fresh, but definitely ready to drink. The next Blanc de Millènaires will be the 2004, to be released in 2014.
The tasting ended with a bit of history, the 1981 Champagne Charlie. This was the House’s previous prestige cuvée; the last vintage of Champagne Charlie was the 1985. The 1981 Champagne Charlie was unctuous, with quite mature aromas, but with so much complexity of flavors! I asked Cécile Bonneford if Charles Heidsieck planned to revive Champagne Charlie in the future. She smiled at me and replied, “You never know! ” Like all good Champagne producers, they have to keep some secrets.
I left the tasting with two impressions: That the quality of Charles Heidsieck Champagnes is higher than ever; and that it is bewildering why much of the wine-drinking world has yet to know about this great Champagne.
Bollinger Grande Annèe Rosè Brut 2004 var nesten enda mer blek enn Charles Heidsieck`en. Noe fetere cuvèe stil, en mere seriøs vin, igjen denne bitre tonen i avslutningen som passer godt til en matbit, men dårlig alene. Jens prøvde å snakke opp denne uten å lykkes :) 92 poeng.
Cristal er en utskjelt champagne som, når den kommer på bordet i gode flasker er uslåelig. Men pga. navn og salgbarhet omsettes den nok litt for ofte (som Dom Perignon) med dårlige lagringsforhold.
Cristal 1982 var gylden, men ikke honning. En bra lagret flaske med bittert appelsinskall, kompleks og frisk i uttrykket. Intrikat, balanserer mot moden. Bør drikkes ? 96 poeng.
Cristal 1995 mer lys og strågul. Litt hul frukt som mange champagner fra 95 har. Men en frisk, deilig og spretten munnfølelse. Lett bitter men det er den frempå og åpne frukten som gjør champagnen. 92 poeng.
Cristal 1996 Korket. Livet er hardt og urettferdig.
Selosse Initiale Brut (degorgert oktober 2011) gjær, friskt og personlig, bra trykk med god konsentrasjon. Blanc de Blancs fra tre yngre årganger fra lavereliggende vinmarker i Avize, Oger og Cramant. 88 poeng.
Selosse V.O. (degorgert februar 2012) mye mousse, enkel med knytt citrus, frisk, trang og vanskelig. Enkel frukt i munnen, men vil nok bli bedre med lagring. Blanc de Blancs fra tre eldre årganger fra høyereliggende vinmarker i Avize, Oger og Cramant. 85 poeng.
Selosse Substance (degorgert september 2013) frisk, ren og slank i munnen. Snev av parafin, gjær og lang ettersmak. Karakterfull, men igjen en Selossechampis som er vanskelig å gi en høy poengsum. Blanc de Blancs fra ca. 20 årganger (solera) fra vinmarker i Avize. 89 poeng.
Anselme believed not only in low yields and organic viticulture, he also believed in terroir. He was, in short, a heretic in Champagne.The greatness of Jacques Selosse wines come from a simple idea: to make profound Champagne, you must start with great fruit. In the 1970s, when Anselme Selosse came of age, such an idea was revolutionary. This was, after all, a time when the fruit that went into most Champagnes was of historically low quality, the result of high yields and excessive use of chemicals.
Not to be deterred, in 1980, when he took over his father's domaine, he slashed yields and rid his land of chemicals. And he began to focus, in a way unprecedented in Champagne, on his vineyards, all grand cru holdings in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.
He emerged as one of the world's most profound thinkers about the relationship between healthy soils and the wines that spring from them. And thanks to his genius, his fruit is not only Champagne's most physiologically ripe, but also its most expressive.
In the winery, he also defies convention, using only indigenous yeasts for fermentations and minimizing the use of SO2. Fermentation and aging is in wood barrels (less than 20% new), and wines are left on their fine lees for extended periods. And because, as Anselme says, "great Champagne needs no make-up, "dosage is kept to an absolute minimum."
Profound Expressions of Terroir
Anselme's purest expression of terroir is of course the famed Substance, a solera created in 1986. By marrying some twenty vintages, he removes vintage variation, allowing the Avize terroir to speak on its own.
His vintage Millésime does the opposite. Because it draws on the same parcels of vines each year, it is able to express, perhaps more than any other wine in Champagne, the character of the year.
As a pair, Brut Initial and Version Originale show the influence of age and terroir. Each is a blend of three vintages of Chardonnay from the same three villages: Avize, Oger and Cramant. Yet, while Initial is a blend of harvests from the mid-2000s from lower slope vines, Originale is made from older vintages and from hillside vines.
Anselme's Rosé is pure, intensely mineral Chardonnay from a pair of vintages, with a small amount of still Ambonnay Pinot Noir added.
The Relentles Pursuit of Terroir
In the fall of 2010, Anselme made big news when he announced that he'd be releasing a collection of six lieu-dit (single-vineyard) wines, each promising to be the definitive expression of a noble Champagne village.
His first step was to change the name of Contraste (his solera of Aÿ Pinot Noir) to "La Côte Faron," acknowledging its single-vineyard origins. Anselme also released "Les Carelles," a solera of 100% Chardonnay from the village of Le Mesnil.
Subsequently, Anselme will complete this collection with his 100% Pinot Noir cuvées "Sous le Mont" and "Le Bout du Clos"-from Mareuil and from Ambonnay, respectively. And for his 100% Chardonnay cuvées, Anselme will release "Les Chantereines" and "Chemin de Châlons" from Avize and from Cramant, respectively.
It is a measure of what Anselme has accomplished that in 1994, Gault-Millau named him France's best winemaker in every category, an unprecedented honor. Accolades like this have contributed to his reputation as perhaps the most original winemaker in France today, admired not only by his peers but by a legion of collectors worldwide who covet each and every bottle of Jacques Selosse Champagne they can find.
Vi avsluttet med en Kistler Pinot Noir 2002; mørk frukt, frisk syre, litt varm stil med eldet og noe sliten og gammeldags frukt. Bør drikkes. 88 poeng.