Guest Post, Caroline Henry – La Fine Bulle a perfect place to relax and discover new Champagnes in Epernay

Guest Post – There are so many great wine blogs out there in the blogosphere. These guest posts are an effort to introduce you to my fellow wine bloggers, people who’s blogs I enjoy reading and who I’ve met up with over a glass or two. Cheers!  Epernay lies in the centre of the Champagne region and is considered to be the capital of this wine region. It is sleepy little town situated at the banks of the Marne River at the cross roads of the 3 of the 4 sub regions – La Vallée de la Marne, Les Montagnes de Reims and La Côte des Blancs. It has been the home of the major Champagne Negotiants since the early 19th Century and still today one can visit the famous Champagne Houses on the Avenue du Champagne. It is hence the perfect place to go and sample a few Champagnes in the recently opened Champagne bar/store, a cosy yet classy bar, located 17 Rue Gambetta.  The bar offers a choice of 5  growers Champagnes by the glass, and changes the selection on a weekly basis. They have partnered up with 25 growers representing the main subregions in Champagne including de Côte des Bar in the Aube. Their by the glass selection tries to reflect the different styles of Champagne and the focus ranges from showing off a single variety (eg Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir) to showing the characteristics of the different regions. And the selection always includes one rosé. Glass sizes are 10 ml (€5.50) and 14ml (€6.50). Alternatively one can opt for a flight – here one can either choose to taste the 4 whites or to include the rosé as well and have a tasting of the 5 featured Champagnes. The flights come in 2 sizes, 5 ml tasting (€12 or €14) or 10 ml tastings (€20 or €26).  The featured Growers Champagnes are also available by the bottle for the very reasonable price of €35. La Fine Bulle also offers...

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Champagne Tarlant in the snow

Feb 21, 12 Champagne Tarlant in the snow

Posted by in Champagne, France, Travel

I was in Champagne a few weeks ago when most of Europe was suffering through a bitterly cold “cold-snap”. How cold was it? In the vineyards of the Valle de Marne, in the Champagne region (where I happened to be), it was -18 Celcius, that’s O degrees Farenheit. However, when you get invited to go out and taste the  champagne with a member of the wine making family, how can you say no? Which is how I found myself sitting in the middle of one of Champagne Tarlant’s vineyards, going through a tasting of their range with one half of the brother and sister team that run Champagne Tarlant day to day, Melanie Tarlant. Champagne Tarlant is unique in the region as they are one of the few champagne growers who make the majority of their wine with zero dosage. Zero dosage has a bit of a reputation in the wine world as being mouth puckeringly acidic and citric. Zero dosage means that no sugar is added after disgorgement. Champagne makers add a dosage to sweeten the wine, the reason being that the wines may still be a bit thin and acidic due to whatever reasons and so they add sugar to make it a bit more palatable, adding a sweetness to counteract the acidity. Melanie doesn’t think that adding sugar is the answer. They began making zero dosage in the 1970’s when a client asked her father to make one for him and since then. Her brother Benoit, who is the family winemaker,  has upped the production to 80% of their champagne being zero dosage. Her family believe that adding sugar is like adding make-up to an already beautiful woman, she doesn’t need it to be gorgeous. Zero dosage can be tricky because it all goes back to the beginning of the wine making process, they can’t or won’t add sugar later to cover up any mistakes or faults in the wine. That is another quality that makes them stand out, they make...

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Seashell fossils of Champagne – La Cave aux Coquillages

Feb 13, 12 Seashell fossils of Champagne – La Cave aux Coquillages

Posted by in Champagne, Travel

Champagne. The word conjures up decadence, luxury, a love of life, tiny bubbles and… seashells? Seashells may not be on the top of your list when the word champagne pops up but they are an integral part of what makes champagne, champagne. Hidden beneath our feet lies the soul of champagne, the calcarous soil. While it may seem that vignerons bang on and on about soil and the terroir, it is important and does have an effect on the wine, which is very apparent in the the Champagne region. The area  is uniquely situated on top of an ancient seabed which gives it its famous limestone chalky soils, that basin of limestone marl, the Kimmerdigian Ridge (as a side note, the white cliffs of Dover are also a part of it and the ridge extends into English wine country). 45 million years ago, Champagne was under a tropical sea, teeming with life. Vertebrates like fish and sharks, existed along with invertebrates such as gastropods, nautilus, crabs, and ancient cuttlefish, as well as sea urchin and a multitude of coral.  They all made their home in the Sea of Champagne (before it was bubbly). The shells (and in the shark’s case -teeth) of the creatures settled into the soft sand and today, they make up the limestone and chalk that is Champagne. In this particular site, there are over 200 metres of seashells excavated at a depth of about 8 to 10 metres below the surface and that is just literally scratching the surface. The most prevalent of the shells, they are found literally one on top of the other, is the giant snail, Campanile Giganteum, the specimens they find can be  up to 60 cms long! Our tour guide and part time excavator, Sarah, speculated that they were in such abundance in this area because of a lack of natural predators and that they literally died of over-population. An interesting theory and one that they hope some enterprising geology researcher will come to prove...

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