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Champagne

2020 Champagne Review

We, at The Wine Outlets, LOVE Champagne. If you’re joining us for the first time and want a little Sparkling 101 background our previous post is the best place to start. Or if you know you prefer other Sparkling alternatives to Champagne, we have you covered right here. But if you are ready to dive right in with us to hear about our annual Champagne lineup we curated for you this year, keep reading! 

We love the bubbles, the flavors, the acid, and especially the history. Someone once told us that “if you follow the history of wine, the history of Europe will coincide. There is a great example of that in Champagne. From the Romans on their empire expansion to the Germans on their way to Paris, Champagne has been at the front door of the greatest and most fearsome armies, and their subsequent defeat, whether by time, famine, or the opposition. They also played a key role in helping defeat the enemy themselves: “Throughout the occupation of France, the French Resistance was extremely active in the Marne département. Early on, freedom fighters had become aware of the fact that major Champagne shipments to a specific part of Europe or Africa tended to precede a significant military offensive. A notable example of this occurred in late 1941 when an enormous order included the unusual request that bottles be specially corked and packed so that they could be sent to ‘a very hot country’. That country turned out to be Egypt, where General Rommel was about to begin his North African campaign. The Resistance passed along this information to British intelligence in London.” (Hitner, 2015)

Champagne has become a wine of joy and celebration, and while we think it can be and is much more, we want to help you celebrate as well as savor. With that, we have the following wines to off for the season…

 

Côte des Bar Region: Why we are crazy about it!

There’s a reason why Champagne lovers clamor for wines from the Côte des Bar. Once cast aside as second class, only fit for purchased grapes, the producers of the Côte des Bar have cultivated a winemaking culture of experimentation and innovation. While this is happening across Champagne, it is especially concentrated in the Côte des Bar because young, forward-thinking producers can actually afford to purchase land and grapes.

Like all good things, it probably won’t last; it’s only a matter of time before demand and, therefore, land prices rise. For now, there are certainly some pricy Côte des Bar Champagnes, driven by small production and low profit margins, but some excellent, interesting bottles can be found for under $50. Jump into this lesser-known Champagne producing region now and join the excitement. (Schiessl, 2020)

Champagne Dosnon

“Davy Dosnon runs this small, artisan cellar in Avirey-Lingey. Dosnon pursues sustainable viticulture and makes his wines in a fairly non-manipulated style. All of the wines are fermented and aged in oak (although they rarely show overt influence from the wood) and are bottled with low dosage. Based on what I have tasted so far, Dosnon is one of Champagne’s most promising young wineries.”– Antonio Galloni

The Dosnons have lived in the village of Ligney and its environs for generations. Davy has recuperated a small percentage of the vineyards that his ancestors once possessed– the fruit from which goes into Champagne Dosnon – but he also purchases fruit from neighbors in the Côte des Bars for Champagne Henri Dosnon, a second label named in honor of his grandfather. 

NV Henri Dosnon Brut Sélection

This harmonious version is bright, with tangy acidity enlivening the flavors of cantaloupe, star fruit, pastry cream and lemon preserves. Offers a chalk-tinged undertow and a spiced finish that lingers. 100 Cases Imported.

91 Points, Wine Spectator

Our Price: $39.99

NV Henri Dosnon Brut Rosé

This expressive version offers a pure beam of kirsch and blood orange fruit flavors set on a finely detailed mousse. Bright and mouthwatering, layering smoke, star anise and almond skin notes with the fruit profile. 

91 Points, Wine Spectator

Our Price: $47.99

NV Henri Dosnon Recolte Noire Brut Champagne (Great Falls only)

A pure chime of crushed blackberry and black cherry fruit flavors rings through this elegant blanc de noirs Champagne, with a finely detailed mousse. Citrusy acidity forms a lightly mouthwatering frame for the flavor range of the fruit, anise, smoke and peach skin.

92 Points, Wine Spectator

Our Price: 50.99

NV Henri Dosnon Recolte Blanche Brut Champagne (Great Falls only)

This richly expressive Champagne is focused by a streak of racy acidity, creating a mouthwatering frame for the flavors of ripe yellow peach, cardamom, grated ginger, toast and lime blossom. Offers a long, lightly honeyed finish, with spice and graphite details.

92 Points, Wine Spectator

Our Price: $59.99

Champagne Clandestin

Clandestin means “hidden” or “secret” and it refers to the source of this Champagne: the long-overlooked, west-facing parcels of Pinot Noir on Kimmeridgian soils as well as Chardonnay on Portlandian soils above Buxières. All of these sites are farmed organically and certified by ECOCERT and are vinified according to the exacting standards for which Vouette & Sorbée has been rightly praised. Both of these Clandestin Champagnes deserve a seat at your table this year.

NV Clandestin “les Semblables” Brut Nature

Les Semblables is a savory Champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir showing a salty minerality dictated by its sourcing while Les Grandes Lignes is tense and mineral Champagne from 100% Chardonnay. Everything at Clandestin is harvested by hand, fermentation are natural with nothing added or taken away. After fermentation the wines are aged in neutral 300L and 500L French oak barrels before aging sur latte for 15 months. To retain the purity of these Champagnes, they are bottled without dosage. 

91 Points, Wine Advocate

Our Price: $60.99

NV Clandestin “la Grande Lignes” Brut Mature (McLean only)

Les Grandes Lignes comes from a single vineyard of Chardonnay planted on a gentle slope of Portlandian limestone soils with full southern exposure. Like everything at Clandestin, it is harvested by hand and fermented by natural yeasts in a French oak demi-muid. After 10 months it is bottled and aged sur latte for 15 months. To retain the purity of the terroir, Les Grandes Lignes is bottled without dosage.

92 Points, Wine Advocate

Our Price: $74.99

Champagne Gimmonet-Gonet

Born into two families of vignerons, it is perhaps not surprising that Anne and Philippe Gimonnet decided to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and in 1986 the first bottles of Champagne Gimonnet-Gonet were created. Since then their sole objective has been to produce champagnes of the highest possible quality.

In 2012 they were joined by their son, Charles, who shares the same commitment and desire to continue what was started many decades ago by previous generations of the family.

Gimonnet Gonet Cuvée d’Or 

The tiny bubbles enhance all the freshness, finesse and elegance of this non-vintage champagne made entirely of Chardonnay from Grand Cru vineyards in La Côte des Blancs. Light and ethereal with delightful citrus notes that are particularly marked on the finish. A perfect aperitif wine.

Our Price: $46.99

Gimonnet Millesime Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs

Cuvée Prestige is another Blanc de Blancs champagnes from the vineyards of the famous Côte des Blancs.

The grapes for this vintage champagne come exclusively from the prestigious villages of Cramant and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Furthermore they select only grapes from the finest, south-facing plots which lend the wine hints of almonds and a slightly toasty character.

Cuvée Prestige spends a minimum of three long years ageing in cellar.

Our Price: $58.99

Champagne Philipponnat

The Philipponnat family have been growing grapes in Champagne since 1522. The House was founded in 1910 by Pierre Philipponnat. Charles Philipponnat took over as CEO in 1999 and has improved the quality and production vastly by implementing smaller oak barrels, keeping different vineyard plots separate and utilizing only the first press.

Philipponnat applies natural methods to work the soil, hoeing by hand and plowing with horses. The House’s expertise is particularly apparent in its use of the solera process. This technique is a very longstanding House tradition; it consists of keeping reserve wines in oak barrels and including them in non-vintage blends (in a proportion of one quarter to one third) and using this blend as a reserve wine for the following blend.

NV Henri Philipponnat Champagne Brut Royale Reserve

Deep gold in color with aromas of vine blossom, linden, and toasted bread. Notes of redcurrant, raspberry, and ripe grape. Full-bodied, generous and long. Enhances hot or cold white meats, poultry, and premium charcuterie. An ideal complement to cold buffets, fish, and seafood.

92 Points, Wine Advocate

Our Price: $46.99

Other, delicious Champagnes…

NV Francoise Bedel Et Fils Dis Vin Secret Extra Brut

Officially non-vintaged but predominantly based on 2010, the NV Extra Brut Dis, “Vin Secret” (2010) is a blend of 90% Pinot Meunier, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir that spent five years on the lees prior to the disgorgement in September 2016. The golden colored wine offers an intense yet precise, pure and beautifully matured bouquet that is more mineral and yeasty than fruity. Pure, intense and lush on the palate, this is a very elegant, refined and balanced cuvée with a firm, stimulating structure and a pure, slightly salty finish. It’s an excellent aperitif, but it can match lighter dishes (fish, seafood and even poultry) as well.

91 Points, Wine Advocate

Our Price: $64.99

NV Louis Massing Blanc De Blanc Grand Cru (Vienna Only)

Faithful to its reputation of Grand Cru terroirs, this 100% Chardonnay highlights the rich, mineral and chalky character of the Côte des Blancs soil, from which it originates. When you taste it, you will appreciate its floral and airy nose, completed by a lovely rich roundness. The attack, the charm and the delicacy draw a patchwork of finesse along with a lovely complexity! The finish, with a tension reminiscent of chalky cliffs and the seaside, it confirms its stature as a “Great” Blanc de Blancs.

Our Price: $59.99

It is quite amazing to see the quality of Champagne, especially when you consider that 101 years ago, it was completely decimated in the “war to end all wars.” It didn’t fare much better in the following war, but one can look back now and consider the turning point that the people of Champagne took: 

“Unlike in World War I, the damage to vineyards had not been extreme, and it was not before long that most houses and growers were able to get back on their feet. Seven decades later, the golden age – while pausing to catch its breath from time to time – continues onwards and upwards.” (Hitner, 2015) 

Come war or peace, Champagne is always triumphant.

Sources:

Hitner, J. (2015, June 3). Champagne during WW2: From vines to victory. Decanter. https://www.decanter.com/features/champagne-during-ww2-from-vines-to-victory-245881/

Schiessl, C. (2020, December 3). The Hottest Champagne Region Right Now (Côte des Bar). Wine Folly. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/hottest-champagne-region-cote-des-bar/

European Cellars. (n.d.). Champagne Dosnon | European Cellars. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.europeancellars.com/producer/champagne-dosnon/

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