Nicolas Feuillatte, biggest co-op in Champagne

Jan 30, 15 Nicolas Feuillatte, biggest co-op in Champagne

Posted by in All, Champagne

Everyone likes to talk about the grand marquees of Champagne, your Vueves and your Taittingers but the big houses are not the only players in Champagne. Like other regions, Champagne also has co-ops and one of the biggest in France is Nicolas Feuillatte. It is the largest co-op in Champagne with over 5,000 growers supplying grapes for their champagnes. They produce 20 million bottles a year and export to over 80 countries world wide. The original co-op was created in the early 1970’s and was called The Centre Vinicole de la Champagne. However, it was not until Nicolas Feuillatte the man himself became involved with the co-op that the co-op’s name was officially changed in 1986 when Feuillatte agreed to let the co-op re-brand as Nicolas Feuillatte. Since then, they’ve become known for their modern style of champagnes. I tasted through their range with their cellar master, David Henault and was very pleasantly surprised at the quality and lightness of the champagnes. Although the champagnes all have around 10 grams per litre of sugar, David says that although wine journalists like bone dry champagnes, it’s his experience that tells him that consumers like champagne with a bit of sugar. His champagnes are not sweet by any stretch of the imagination, they are fresh and fruity and nicely balanced. Feuillatte are known for their non-vintage champagnes which account for more than 90% of their production. That said, however, they do produce prestige cuvees and the 2006 brut Chardonnay was David’s first vintage at Feuillatte. David doesn’t believe in fining his champagnes and this one was very fresh with brioche toasty notes and a nice long nutty finish. I found it to be very enjoyable and it is also now available at Waitrose in the UK, retailing for £34.99. At that price, this is a very good value champagne. As their non-vintage is the most widely produced and distributed, I had to try it. The verdict, it was very good, fruity with surprisingly soft bubbles and...

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Champagne Ayala, An Historic House Coming Alive Again…

Feb 17, 14 Champagne Ayala, An Historic House Coming Alive Again…

Posted by in Champagne, France

Walking up to the House of Champagne Ayala, I was struck by the ornate and grandiose facade of the winery. Built after the 1911 Champagne riots, the winery is where everything happens at Ayala. Ayala can claim that they are one of the few houses where all the production occurs under one roof, from pressing to packaging, it’s all there. At first glance, Ayala doesn’t sound like a French champagne house but it has a long history in the region. The Ayala family were originally from Spain and were sent to South America by the Spanish government in the colonial period to govern in what is now Colombia. The family spent two generations there before returning to Europe in 1830 and settling in Paris, where Edmond, the founder of the House was born. Edmond moved to Champagne in the 1850’s and married the niece of the Vicomte de Mareuil, whose dowry included various vineyards. He created the house in 1860 and set out to build the brand. One of the first things he did was launch a drier style of champagne to the UK market. At the time, champagne made in the mid 19th century had up to 300 grams/litre of sugar so when Ayala introduced a champagne with ‘only’ 21 grams, it was a revelation. So much so that they eventually received a royal warrant from the Royal Family. By the 1920’s Ayala was producing over a million bottles of champagne a year. Unfortunately, the house fell on hard times and from the mid-20th century went into decline. It wasn’t until the house was bought by Bollinger in 2005 that they have now begun to recover their former glory. Bollinger has put in considerable investment to bring the house back from the brink. Although, they are careful to point out that Ayala is not Bollinger’s second wine. The styles are widely divergent, with Ayala making completely unoaked champagnes whereas one of the hallmarks of Bolly is the influence of oak. They’ve also introduced...

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve for New Year’s (or anytime, really)

Dec 28, 12 Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve for New Year’s (or anytime, really)

Posted by in Champagne

Going on three weeks now here in Thailand with no champagne, not sure if I’m going to be able to hold out until New Year’s Eve for a glass  of bubbly.  That is something that no New Year’s Eve celebration would complete without at the very least  something sparkly to toast in the coming year. One of the champagnes I had a glass of before I left was the Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve NV to remind me of what I would be missing while I was away. Although I do adore Billecart vintages and their Sous Bois is another of their champagnes that seems to be a bit different everytime I try it, their NV is one of my stand-bys. Their current non vintage is a blend made up equally of 1/3 of each of chardonnay ,  pinot noir and pinot meunier and they are all come from either Premier Cru or Grand Cru vineyards, which means that they are some of the best grapes around. Having only 8g/l of residual sugar doesn’t make this an especially dry champagne but it certainly does have a freshness and crispness that makes drinking it such a delight. One thing I always find in Billecart is a delicious toastiness along with a long citrus finish. I especially like this one as an aperitif, it goes down very easy I’m not sure if we’ll be able to get our hands on Billecart Salmon here on the island of Koh Lanta, so if you’re lucky enough to have this on New Year’s Eve, have a drink for me. Cheers! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Lunch/Launch of Billecart-Salmon Elisabeth Rose 2002

It’s not every year that Billecart-Salmon releases it’s Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon rosé but lucky for us they’ve deemed the 2002 ready to drink now. The Cuvee Elisabeth is named for wife of the founder of the Billecart house, Nicolas Francois. Nicolas has his own prestive cuvee and in 1988, Billecart decided to name their prestige rosé in tribute to the co-founder of the house, Elisabeth Salmon. The 2002 is 50/50 chardonnay/pinot noir blend, coming from Grand Cru vineyards. 7% of the pinot noir used is the still wine used to give the champagne its copper coloured hue. The berries used to make the still wine are hand selected to achieve that beautiful, bright colour that this rosé champagne sports. Colin Palmer, Managing Director of Billecart-Salmon UK, told us over lunch that the rosé is only released when Francois Domi, chief winemaker of Billecart believes it’s ready. For this reason, the cuvee is not released in chronological order which is why not all the vintages are available. Even when they are released, it’s made in such small quantities that they quickly sell out. It’s so special that it’s even packaged in it’s own specially designed box. Billecart had chosen Morton’s Club in Mayfair to kick off the launch and we were treated to a delicious lunch paired with some of their other champagnes before the big reveal. We had the Extra Brut Non-vintage, as an aperitif, of which I made a video with Winebird TV, click here to see the video. It was still delightful and great with the anchovy tapanade served with breadsticks.The Extra Brut is a zero dosage champagne but doesn’t suffer from being overly acidic or tart as the fruit is perfectly balanced. Aromatic and fresh with complex aromas of brioche anad dried fruit, on the palate – biscuit notes and flavourful white fruits, great to drink on its own.  The Billecart-Salmon Blanc de blanc followed, which was great with the crab salad starter. A whole seabass was roasted and presented at the table to...

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Glass style definitely affects the taste of champagne

I recently was invited by Helena Nicklin to join her in a champagne tasting of Billecart-Salmon’s NV Extra Brut and their 2004 Vintage champagnes. The intriguing difference in this tasting was that we would be using Billecart-Salmon’s specially designed wine glasses and compared the champagnes in both a traditional flute and Billecart’s specially designed glasses. Helena did a very good job of describing the technical notes on the tasting which you can find here. We also did a video tasting of the two different champagnes, and whether or not glass style has any affect. See the videos below… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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