Home > Art, Champagne > Henri’s Reserve – The Art Of Boutique Champagne

Henri’s Reserve – The Art Of Boutique Champagne

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Did you know that every last Friday in October now has a designated “wine holiday”? Yep, and not just any wine holiday – it is actually a Global Champagne Day (Champagne and Friday perfectly go together, don’t they?)  My “problem” (may all of our problems be so hard) of choosing the bottle of Champagne to open to celebrate Global Champagne Day last Friday was taken care of by invitation I got from Henri’s Reserve – to come and celebrate Champagne Day in style at Southport Galleries in Connecticut.

Henri’s Reserve is a boutique Champagne purveyor, primarily focusing on the small, artisanal Champagne producers. Most of the common Champagne people buy in the stores come from so called Champagne Houses, such as Moët & Chandon, Bollinger, Louis Roederer, Veuve Cliquot and many others. For the most part, Champagne houses buy the grapes from the grape growers, and make (blend) their wines to have a persistent, chateau-specific taste.  At the same time, a number of grape growers (there are about 19,000 of them in Champagne) also produce their own wines. Until recently, those wines were literally impossible to find outside of France – but over the last 5-7 years, the situation changed and so called Growers Champagne became more available in US and other countries.

You might ask what is so special about Growers Champagne? While Champagne houses are mostly focused on blending to achieve their house-specific taste, growers are a lot more terroir-driven. Growers know their best vineyards and best parcels inside those vineyards, and that knowledge translates into unique wines with the sense of place – often at a lot more affordable price than the wine coming from the big houses. To give you one example, one of my favorite Champagnes from this tasting, Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru, comes form the village of Ambonnay. One of the most exclusive Champagne houses in the world, Krug, also produces the wine from the vineyards in the Ambonnay village. That Krug wine, called Clos de Ambonnay, would set you back at around $2700 per bottle (probably the most expensive Champagne on the market). While I’m not comparing Egly-Ouriet Champagne with Krug (never tasted Clos de Ambonnay), it costs almost 40 times less that that bottle of Krug, and at around $70, it is really an excellent Champagne.

Getting back to Henri’s Reserve – they actually make the Growers Champagnes available to the average wine consumer. If you look at Henri’s Reserve web site, you will find a lot of useful information about Champagne in general, pairing of Champagne with the food, how to open the Champagne bottle, entertaining with Champagne and a lot more. What is most important, though, is that you will be able to buy some of those excellent growers Champagnes.

Ruth Frantz of Henri's Reserve addressing the audience

Ruth Frantz of Henri’s Reserve addressing the audience

Now, let’s talk about our Global Champagne Day celebration. We had an opportunity to try 9 different Grower Champagnes. I didn’t focus on taking the detailed notes, as I was very busy mingling, so below is the list of the wines we tried with my brief notes. Don’t worry, it will be easy to figure out if I had any favorites.

NV Guiborat Fils Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, Cramant (100% Chardonnay) – clean crisp acidity, a bit of brioche on the nose. Very good. Drinkability: 7+

NV Jacques Lassaigne Banc de Blancs Le Vignes de Mongueux (100% Chardonnay) – also perfectly clean and crisp, touch of yeast on the nose. Very good. Drinkability: 7+

2006 Guiborat Fils Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, Cramant (100% Chardonnay) – has all the traits of vintage Champagne – brioche, toasted bread, apples, touch of yeast – but very delicately balanced, not over the top. Very good. Drinkability: 7+

NV Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru, Ambonay (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay) – a beautiful wine. Touch of yeast on the nose, crisp acidity and noticeable fruit notes on the palate – not in the terms of sweetness, but just more pronounced white fruit sensation than it would be in the typical Champagne. Outstanding. Drinkability: 8+

NV H. Blin Brut, Vincelles (80% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay) – perfect acidity with somewhat of a medium body, nice mid-palate weight, very round. Excellent. Drinkability: 8-

NV Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1er Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Sélection Belles Anneés (100% Charodnnay) – very nice nose of brioche and touch of apple, same on the palate with some interesting mineral undertones. Very good. Drinkability: 8-

2002 H. Blin Blin’s Brut Edition Limitée Millésimé (40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay) – this wine was the last one in the tasting, and it didn’t reach the optimal serving temperature, unfortunately (was too warm).

NV H. Billiot Grand Cru Brut Rosé, Ambonnay (80% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay) – crisp, clean, may be a bit too acidic for Rosé. Or may be it was too cold (can Champagne be too cold?). Drinkability: 7

NV Jean Laurent Blanc de Noirs, Celles-surOurce (100% Pinot Noir) – very nice, medium body, interesting complexity. Very good. Drinkability: 7+

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I have a confession to make. I’m not a Champagne guy. I appreciate a glass of a good bubbly, whether it is Champagne, or Prosecco, or Cava – but Sparkling wine is not my usual daily wine. Having said that, you know what happened after this tasting? I was craving Champagne! I resolve not to wait until the next Global Champagne Day to satisfy that craving – and you might expect to see more sparkles in this blog. Thank you, Henri’s Reserve, for the great time! Cheers!

  1. October 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Awesome write-up! It was really fun 🙂 There should be more wine holidays… but then again, that’s what the weekend is for, right?

    • talkavino
      October 28, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Every day is good enough to be a wine holiday – and we can double that for the weekends!

  2. October 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing, and I liked your quick notes on the champagnes. We get many of the ones you tasted in Minneapolis, and Gimonnet is on my short list. Look for RM on the label for farmer fizz!

    • talkavino
      October 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Interestingly enough, Guiborat and Fils had no identification on the label of any kind – both front and back labels. No RM, no nothing. Extremely artisanal : )

  3. October 29, 2013 at 9:31 am

    #Jealous. My Global Champagne Day was a bit uneventful in terms of bubbles. Good friends, lots of laughs, but crummy champers. Oh well.

    • talkavino
      October 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      well, if you feel jealous, don’t be, just look into your cellartracker account : ) To make you feel better, I can tell you – the day after this tasting, I was craving the bottle of Champagne – and I had none…

  4. October 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

    What a great way to spend the GCD, Anatoli! Also, very interesting tasting notes as always: the 80% Pinot Meunier Champagne definitely piqued my interest!

    • talkavino
      October 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      They were definitely very interesting wines, Stefano. I plan to get a few later on.

  1. December 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm

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