Tag Archive: Champagne


La Parcelle

This was a special champagne, given to me as a birthday present. It’s vintages at 2013. This particular champagne is a Blanc de noirs, meaning that the is 100% Pinot noir. It was perfect for the two desserts that I had selected, a lemon cake with white chocolate accents annd an early gray cake with rich ganache. I know it’s generally a faux paux to serve a less sweet wine with a sweeter dessert, but the champagne was served first, to show it off. Coincidentally, the acid and fruit cut through the richness of the desserts to make a pleasant pairing.

The champagne, I Florence La Parcelle from Cote de Bechalin 2013 is a stunningly complex wine, opening with lightly toasted pears, ground walnuts, and all the orange zest it can pack into your nose. It opens to more floral lilies, mandarin oranges, ripe golden delicious apple flesh as the skin is peeled. This is a superb bottle. Not,to say that  have a whole lot of experience with champagne, but out of my limited knowledge, and experience with crappy sparklers, I loved it.

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Chardonnay has become a dirty word, the way the words “White Zin” used to be, and still are, to some degree. Though, White Zin no longer carries the disgust-oomph, that it used to. Today it’s been downgraded to Pabst Blue Ribbon status among the beer-snobs.

I hear it over, and over again in my retail job, “I just don’t like Chardonnay.” Well, do you like French white wines? Chances are, you do like Chardonnay, you just don’t know that’s what you’re drinking.

Chardonnay is one of the most versatile white grapes that I’ve come across. It’s one of the most obnoxious wine-jackealopes to chase, actually. In France, it’s aged in big, old, oak barrels that don’t impart any oaky character. In fact, many fantastic and famous chardonnay wines come from Chablis… yes, I said it, Chablis. The grapes are grown on shell and sea-life fossil stone, imparting a world-renowned terroir, that creates a match made in heaven with seafood. (Oysters, specifically.)

State-side, Chardonnay is grown and treated in so many different ways, it’s barely recognizable as a Chardonnay. Sometimes it’s oaked to death, either through the use of smaller, new oak barrels, which maximize wood to wine contact, or wood-chip treatments, which, in my opinion, is cheating. It’s making oak tea with wine, literally. I think my favorite phrase is “Chateau two-by-four,” though, I can’t recall exactly who said it. Oak imparts toast, coconut, and vanilla flavors into the Chardonnay. One truly delightfully oaked Chardonnay that I really fell in love with was Jed Steele’s Shooting Star Chardonnay Cuvee. Love, love, love this wine. I had it at the very first wine tasting I went to, with my boss, for politicians, hosted by Jed Steele, himself.

Then, of course, you have the modern style of Chardonnay that has become more popular than the age o’oak. These Chardonnays, or “Chards” as they’re affectionately known, are aged in stainless steel vats. They’re fruit driven, citrusy bombs of lemon, pineapple, and enough tart tropical fruit to sink a ship of koalas. The most popular selling un-oaked chardonnay that I’ve come across is the Four Vines “Naked” Chardonnay. It’s a fantastic pairing for picnic food, and of course, sea food. You can’t beat a bottle for around $10. (Though, Ryan Patrick did try. His bottling of his version was bottled in the same style of wider bottle, with the same colors as the former – post Four Vine’s success.)

The kicker: Most of Champagne, from the Champagne region of France, is made with Chardonnay and blends there of. If you enjoy Champagne, specifically, Blanc de Blanc, you should know… it’s Chardonnay. (Yes, I’m grinning ear to ear on this one.) Even sparkling, state-side wines are often made with Chardonnay, though it isn’t exclusive. Pinot Meunier, and Blanc de Noirs are used in blending Champagne.

So, before you tell me, “I just don’t like Chardonnay,” take a moment and think about it. There are so many styles, so many ways to enjoy it, perhaps the right one is just around the corner?

This sparkling wine is a true Champagne, from the Champagne region of France. Louis Roederer is also the maker of the vaunted “Cristal,” though it’s taste is up for debate.
I purchased this split because I’m a sucker for tradition during the holidays. I wanted REAL Champagne on New Years. In the past, sparkling wines have had an overly-yeasty flavor, which I was assured was a tradition for Champagnes. I dislike that dry yeasty flavor, which is no doubt a result of a second fermentaion which gives Champagne it’s classic sparkle. I was hoping for something I could enjoy, and Louis Roederer’s Champagne house did not disappoint in the least. It was rich, floral, delicate, and dry. The flavors of creamy citron, and grapefruit are present, with enough acid to make your mouth water.

This is the elegance of Champagne, I think. it’s a complicated process to create, and craft. However, the flavors must be simple and enjoyable enough to be present, but not obscured by the second fermentation or resulting bubbles.
I am impressed, and quite pleased with Louis Roederer’s Bru Premier Champagne.

Cheers! Prost! Happy holidays, folks. The holidays have snuck up on us once again! Halloween flew by, closely tied in popularity with the first day of hunting season, a Montana holiday if there ever was one.

One essential tradition that marks each holiday is the clink of a glass, and a few words to mark the occasion. What makes a toast great? What makes a toast terrible? The words are for you to decide, but the contents of the raised glass aren’t nearly as complicated.

For some folks, the toast could be made with hot cocoa. For others, the bubbles could come from sparkling cider, Champagne or sparkling wine.

A common question that one might be asked in a store is, “do you have Champagne?”

Most stores will have at least a few rows of sparkling wines, such as Scharffenberger, Roederer Estate, Cristalino Brut, Gruet and Lunetta Prosecco. These are all delicious, bubbly wines, but they aren’t Champagne.

All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne.

To be designated as Champagne, it must originate in the Champagne region of France, which is one of the better known historical sites of production. Here in Helena, there are a number of different excellently crafted Champagnes available. The first real Champagne that I can remember drinking is the Gosset Champagne. There was such a huge difference between the large-bubbled Spanish Cava, the Italian Prosecco and this delicate beauty, that I realized why people enjoy Champagne.

For many years, I’ve disliked that super-dry, yeasty quality that many of the old Champagnes are known for. I had the Gosset as a New Year’s toast, on the eve of 2011, in my parent’s living room, watching the ball drop on the television. This stunning sparkler is delightfully crisp, with delicately refined bubbles (not giant soda bubbles), full-bodied finesse, with the perfect balance of citrus acidity to be refreshing.
(Let me just add here that the original article I wrote, had listed the Pol Roger Champagne here, but in my records it was the Gosset).

If you’re looking for state-side, toast-worthy material, Gruet sparkling wine could be perfect for your holiday toast. The Gruet Winery is located in New Mexico. Since 1989, the American Gruet Winery has produced delicious sparkling wines that range from a rose with hints of cherry and marzipan, to a more serious Blanc de Blanc with overtones of lemon drop candy, green apples, tempered with whispers of cream.

In the beginning, Champagne was a complicated, manual labor process involving two fermentations and recorking bottles. Today, that method called “Methode Champenoise,” is still used. Most of the time, you will see the production method printed on the label of the wine.

The least expensive method of creating a sparkling wine is to simply carbonate it by injecting CO2 into the wine, like one might with soda. While this may not give the drinker the refined flavors and experience that more traditionally created sparkling wines might, many of these wines are quite enjoyably simple.

Whether you’re toasting the fruits of a big hunt, sitting in front of a fire, or welcoming in the new year, make sure you have something in your glass that you enjoy!

Gosset Champagne NV

This is a fabulous champagne, and it’s a REAL champagne made in the CHAMPAGNE region of France. Pierre Gosset owned the oldest champagne house in France back in 1584. Gosset Champagne is absolutely delightful, and about half the cost of something mass produced like Veuve Clicquote. This glass was superb with tiny, delicate bubbles, with almond, nutty aromatics woven with peaches, and milk chocolate. It was a delight, and a stunningly profound pairing with creamy goat cheese.