Jacquesson lunch(es) in Champagne and London

Oct 17, 11 Jacquesson lunch(es) in Champagne and London

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine

I had lunch twice with Jean-Herve Chiquet, one half of the fraternal owners of the champagne house of Jacquesson (founded in 1798), along with his fabulous champagnes in the space of 2 weeks. I know, it’s tough but someone has to do it. My first encounter with Jean-Herve, at the winery was rather disheveled, as somebody had forgotten to tell him that we ( meaning the CIVC and us) were coming for a visit, but Jean-Herve recovered magnificently. He amiably lead us through a tour of his winery followed by lunch with the chateau staff. At lunch, Jean-Herve popped open bottles like soda pop, numerous bottles of the Jacquesson 734 and Jacquesson 735 being opened and passed around the lunch table. The perks of working in Champagne is, well, I guess, champagne with your workaday lunch! You may wonder why the wines go by a number instead of a name. The answer is simple, it was the number of the lot in their daily reports. Even though it was the last day of the harvest and I’m sure he had plenty of work to do, he kindly led us through a tasting of his single vineyard 2002’s – the Dizy and the Avize after lunch. The Dizy and Avize are special because although they are single vintage, they didn’t start out that way. Originally, they only wanted to make great wines but when they tasted the terroir of the wines, they knew that they were onto winners. Both are 100% chardonnnay but due to the terroir very different in temprament and character. The Dizy coming from premier cru vines and the Avize, grand cru. At the winery, I preferred the 2002 Dizy, Corne Bautray, Blanc de blanc, tasting of a mouthful of rocks (in the best possible way), very precise with a sharp attack and finish, the middle being quite sweet and fruity. I could almost taste the seashell bed of Champagne, finishing off with some candied nutty notes. The 2002 Avize Champ Cain,...

read more

Charmed by the champagne house of Ployez-Jacquemart

As we pulled up through the gates of the champagne house/B&B of Ployez-Jacquemart we heard a doorbell go off. I walked back through the gate to get a picture and the bell went off again. Ah, a sensor gate, a very good way to know when people have entered the compound, either on foot or by car, especially when the winemaker is in the kitchen or round the side in the winery. A jolly, small round French woman came rushing out the front door to greet us. It was the owner and winemaker of Ployez-Jacquemart, Laurance Ployez. I could already tell that Laurance was very passionate about her wines and on a tour of the winery and cellars she was bursting to give us as much information as possible about her house and they wines that they make. Laurance is one of the small grower/producers that make up the bulk of Champagne producers. Most own no more than 3 hectares. Based in Ludes, Ployez is family run champagne and has been since 1930 when it was founded by Marcel Ployez and Yvonne Jacquemart. Laurance grows pinot noir and pinot meunier which come from the Premier and Grand cru villages of Ludes and Mailly and all work is done by hand. As is common practice, she guys in grapes, in this case, chardonnay but only from a carefully selected band of growers, some of whom she’s worked with for over 20 years. Everything is done by hand and only the first pressing juice is used, from the picking to the riddling, she oversees it all. Although they have no particular house “style”, Laurence is always trying to create a wine that is unique to her. They use the “methode traditionalle” and long bottle fermentation as well as not letting their wines go through malolactic fermentation, so they will keep their fresh qualities for many years. They also change the blend every year depending on the quality of the grapes. There is no “recipe” at Ployez-Jacquemart....

read more

Lanson Gold Label 1999

Sep 12, 11 Lanson Gold Label 1999

Posted by in Champagne, France

I had the pleasure of trying the Lanson Gold Label 1999 the other day while I was in Champagne with the CIVC. Lanson is well known for their non-vintage champagnes but their lesser known vintage wines are the ones to wait for. Lanson makes their wine in a different style to many of the grandes marques in that they don’t let their base wines go through malolactic fermentation. To make a long story short, malo (as it’s known) is the process where the malic acids of the wine – commonly associated with green apple flavours is converted into lactic acid by means of usually innoculating the wine with lactic bacteria and allowing the malic acid to be converted to lactic acid. Lactic acid gives wine a rounder mouthfeel and buttery, creamy and bread or yeast notes. Well, Lanson will have none of that and so their wines can often be tart and acidic when young. However, they don’t do malo because they want their wines to age for a considerable time and if you have plenty of that malic acid, the wine can retain it’s freshness and vibrancy for much longer. And that is the beauty of their vintage wines. If you give them a decade or longer, they really begin to come into their own. The Lanson Gold Label is a 50/50 blend roughly of chardonnay and pinot noir but depending on vintage, they can have different percentages of each. “Vintage” in Champagne means that all the wines used in the blend must come from the same year. Pouring the wine, aromas of pears, ripe green apples and a baked bread notes coming from the glass. On the palate, still very youthful, lots of tiny bubbles assailing my nose and a creamy lemon finish. Definitely a champagne that could be enjoyed by itself as an aperitif or possibly pan seared chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce. Hmmm, I’m hungry and very thirsty now…. One of the best things about this Champagne is the...

read more

Visiting the house of J de Telmont champagne

Nov 08, 10 Visiting the house of J de Telmont champagne

Posted by in Champagne, France

I had to choose between taking a 7am flight from Heathrow or catching the 6:55 am Eurostar. No brainer. Why would anyone want to go to Heathrow when you can jump on the Eurostar and be in Paris in 2 hours?  Not to mention, skipping the hassle and expense of getting to Heathrow. Did I mention that you also get a lovely Continental breakfast on the train, fresh croissants, real coffee, actual cutlery AND glasswear? Ahh, a throwback to the way air travel used to be (but on a train). I have to go to Portugal next month. Anyone know if Eurostar goes there? Anyway, I was hurtling through the English and French countryside on my way to Champagne via Paris. I’d been invited the Champagne Bureau to their Ambassador’s Dinner but first there was a visit to a lesser known champagne producer, the J. de Telmont house to have a visit and tasting. The champagne house of J. De Telmont in the village of Damery close to the town of Epernay. J. de Telmont was founded in 1912 by Henry Lhopital and until the late 1990’s relied solely on it’s private client base to sell it’s wines. In 1997, the decision was taken to become a bit more mainstream and the house opened up to the outside world, even becoming one of the very first champagnes offered by Majestic wines. Majestic was one of de Telmont’s  first overseas customers and you can still find their champagnes in their shops. The house is still run by the same family and the fourth generation, Bertrand Lhopital is the current Managing Director. On arriving we had a buffet of canapes to keep us occupied while we tasted through the house’s non-vintage and brut reserve wines. De Telmont specialize in blanc de blanc which is most unusual for the Valle de Marne, where they are situated, as blanc de blanc is not usually made in this part of Champagne. Their non-vintage blanc de blanc was crisp and...

read more

European Champagne Charlie, er, Ambassador Awards 2010

I always imagine ambassadors to be outfitted in what the English call Morning Dress with top hats, tails and spats, possibly sporting monocles, much like the little guy that is the mascot of the board game Monopoly. Having attended the 2010 Champagne Ambassadors Award dinner recently, I was sorely disappointed to see not a tail, spat or monocle in sight but the champagne (among them, magnums of Gosset Grande Reserve, one of my favourites) was free-flowing which did much to assuage my disappointment. All kidding aside, the European Champagne Ambassadors Award is actually a competition organized by the CIVC to raise interest in Champagne while also recognizing all those hard working wine educators who train the next generation of sommeliers and educate the general public on the joys and mysteries of champagne. The competition is open to wine education professionals in the 8 European countries where the CIVC has a bureau and attracts many candidates, from MW’s to journos and every one in between. The selection process is rigorous, beginning with a lengthy written application open from April to July. After the judges have whittled down the top 3 or 4 candidates in each country, they are invited to the country’s national final in September where they are then put through a tasting and a test on their knowledge of champagne. This culminates in the top candidate from each country travelling to the Champagne region, for one week in October, where they visit various champagne houses, from Krug to the smallest one man operation, they get to see it all. As Laura Clay, the UK representative said “just being able to come to Champagne for a week and meet the growers, visit the vineyards and drink all this lovely champagne is prize enough.”   Once here, the candidates get to gallivant around the Champagne countryside, I mean, have an extremely educational tour throughout Champagne for four days before the final selection process to choose the European Champagne Ambassador. The final consists of two oral...

read more
%d bloggers like this: