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Tasting Series At Cost Less Wines – Part 1, Grown Up Champagne (Growers Champagne, It Is)

December 21, 2010 1 comment

Holidays are great (hmmm, that’s a deep and original thought, huh). On one side, life gets really hectic – too many things to do, and not enough time. On another side, it is a special time, and people do special things. Wine is important part of any celebration, so holiday times are rich with great wine experiences. Particularly, starting from last Thursday, there were different wine tastings at Cost Less Wines in Stamford, which will continue until the end of this week. And if you are looking for special experiences – you don’t want to miss any of them (I know, it is Monday already – but better to start late than never!).

Thursday was a special day for the Champagnes. Indisputable king of any celebration, and ten times so for the New Year – Champagne requires no introduction. There are many many other similar wines, which are called “sparkling wines” as a group –  but this is not the subject of this blog post, as it was not the subject of the wine tasting. Talking about Champagne, a number of familiar names comes to mind – Moët & Chandon (makers of famous Dom Pérignon), Louis Roederer (makers of Cristal), Taittinger, Veuve Clicquotbut we will not be talking about them here.

As wine overall is getting more popular in US, year after year, more of the interesting wines are becoming available here. In regards to Champagne, there is a growing phenomenon called Growers Champagne. All the Champagne names mentioned above belong to so called Champagne Houses. Champagne Houses do not grow their own grapes – they source their grapes from the whole Champagne region, and then blend the grapes to achieve particular taste profile, specific for each individual House. When it comes to the Growers Champagne, all the grapes are by the winery, which then makes the Champagne wine – only 5% of the grapes can come from outside to be eligible for “Growers Champagnes” designation. Growers Champagnes had being around from the beginning of actual commercial Champagnes, but only in the last 5 years or so, such wines became known in the United States. Before we talk about tasting, just one last note – you can recognize Growers Champagne by initials RM, which stands for Récoltant-Manipulant, which can be found on the label. Traditional Champagnes are typically designated as NM, Négociant-Manipulant. If you want to read more on the subject – wikipedia, as usual, provides great wealth of information.

Let’s talk about the tasting. There were 4 Growers Champagnes represented in the tasting: Chateau Aubry, Chateau Chartogne – Taillet Saint-Anne, Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils and Champagne Gastone Chiquet 2002. The first one, Chateau Aubry was  a bit all over the place – yes, it was sparkling wine, but I didn’t get much pleasure out of it. The next 3 delivered different experience. Chateau Chartogne – Taillet had nice yeasty nose and aromas of brioche and fresh bread. Chateau Pierre Gimonnet had nice clean nose and good refreshing acidity – totally different ffrom the previous one, it was still warmly inviting and asking to take another sip.

The best in tasting, however, was Chateau Gaston Chiquet 2002, the only vintage champagne in this tasting. Light and effervescent, medium to full body wine, showing its pedigree with aromas and taste of apples and fresh bread – definitely very nice bubbly (should we also mention great QPR at $50/bottle?).

Great wines, great experience. It would be very interesting to compare the Growers Champagnes with the other sparkling wines – I’m sure you can see the the blind tasting working its way in here. But don’t wait for me – experiment, try something new – find the bottle of Growers Champagne and tell me if it will brighten your Holidays. And just to give you a hint – we are traveling from France to Scotland with the next post…

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