AR Lenoble is a family owned Champagne house located in Damery northwest of Epernay. The founder Armand-Raphaël Graser came from Alsace and started the company in 1920 selling their Champagnes under the name AR Lenoble. AR he took from his name and Lenoble as a tribute to the noblest drink of them all. It is now managed by the fourth generation with siblings Ann and Antoine Malassagne in control. Currently they have 18 ha including vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Chouilly.
AR Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Chouilly 2008 for 44 euro The Champagne has a beautiful light yellow color and the aroma is full of a balanced composition of minerals, toast and citrus. The taste is heavenly good with aromas that covers the entire palate and staying +60 seconds. Aromas of citrus, mineral, butter and toasted bread is presented in an incredibly good way.
This is a benchmark Blanc de Blancs Champagne with a noble personality and what a fantastic surprise from a producer I have never heard of before. And yet another confirmation of how damn good 2008 vintage is. Really need to visit both the producer and the village of Chouilly next time I'm in Champagne.
The year 2014 has in my opinion been quicker than ever and it is only days left before we have reason to welcome a new exciting year. And even Wineblogg needs time for some relaxation during the upcoming Christmas and New Year's weekend. I am very proud that the blog continues to live and constantly able to find new inspiration in the wine and food world.
Finally ending the year with providing you with recommendations on some bubbly gold nuggets.
La Vida al Camp for 12 euro is this year's bubbly (outside Champagne) on Vinblogg. An organic Cava who was set a great taste impression among our blog readers. So much value for money bubbly that it is impossible to justify to go up 10-15 euro (Swedish prices) to buy a standard champagne that in most cases under deliver.
If you spend 2 euro more you can get Clotilde Davenne Extra Brut Crémant de Bourgogne for 14 euro. This female producer produces a Crémant that is so noble and pure in its nature. Hard to find something better to appreciate if you search for a crispy bubbly filled balanced aromas of apples, bread, chocolate and citrus. Just enjoy ...
Finally, time for the most noble version of them all from my beloved Champagne. Unfortunately most people consume too much of this divine drink at New Years midnight instead of enjoying it both during Christmas dinner New Year's Eve supper. As I write much about Champagne, my advice would be to follow our Champagne tips and in good time purchase for the more formal occasions that occur later in the year.
A producer that I have true passion for is the Champagne Pierre Peters from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. If your more well-stocked wine store have Grand Cru Champagne Les Chetillons I would recommend buying it any day of the week. But Pierre Peters Grand Cru Cuvée de Réserve for only 32 euro (Swedish prices) is a super tasty Champagne that beats every standard Champagne from the big houses with a mile lenght. Dry, bread and fruity flavor with hints of apples, chocolate, nougat and grapefruit makes it very amiable, especially when shared with your loved one.
So now is the time to wish you all MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Hope you, our dear reader, will return soon in the new year.
New Champagne Experiences from one of my absolute favorite producers Pierre Peters is always a very special experience. And when it comes to Prestige Champagne Les Chetillons, time stands still for a moment when tasting this divine wine.
Those of you who has followed my wineblogg a while probably know that Pierre Peters was named producer of the year in 2011. The estate is managed by the charismatic and passionate Rodolphe Peters who manages and develops the family-owned champagne house in the best way. The new vintages is releasing a clear signal that there is even more to gain from this already amazing producer. And below Champagne confirms this in a magically good way.
Pierre Peters Cuvée Speciale Les Chétillons 2006
A monumental Champagne! The aroma is complex with hints of citrus, pear, nougat and minerals affected by the world's class chalk.
The unique taste is dry and in addition to the magic minerals it's combined with orange, lemon, yellow apples and delicious chocolate flavors along with an unique acidity made for food. The flavor is deliciously long and with a complex endless nuances.
This is one of my absolute favorite Champagnes who already now is in great shape and will be developed into a monumental Champagne over time. You can certainly drink it now at very special occasions. But promise me, if so, to buy more bottles to open 4-5 years time. For you to experience God's most precious gift in the form of this golden liquid fruit. And a special thanks to the producer for giving us in Sweden (as loyal customers) a ranson from this small production to be shared across the globe.
Cheers and golf cap off to Maestro Rodolphe for this masterpiece. And still waiting for the 2008 vintage that will be the best one ever perhaps.
In the Champagne world the hugh Champagne houses rules (such as Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot). Consumers usually picks the best and if you look at the number of bottles produced, it speaks for itself. But do they also produce the best champagnes? Obviously you will find unparalleled Champagnes from these houses, but with a very high price following its path. So let's instead discuss what you get for comparable money and the answer in my opinion is cristal clear. The small family-owned producers deliver incomparable quality with the cost equal to the big Campagne houses standard versions.
A very special club
In the early 70's a group of a dozen small Champagne producers started a very special club called "Club de Viticulteurs Champenois" (Special Club). The goal was to make wine consumers aware of the small producers prestige wines (previously they sold a large portion of the grapes to the larger Champagne houses). To ensure the very best from the members of the club, strict rules for production was established. Only prestige wines from the best years were selected, in combination with only grapes from their own estate being used. The noble Bubbly must also be stored in the bottle for at least 3 years before being sold.
Bubbly promises To further strengthen the club's identity they decided to design their own bottle which outlines the roots to older generations of Champagne bottles, to create a signature full of tradition and elegance. 1999 is the next milestone with the name changed to Club Trésor de Champagne. A name that symbolizes extreme elegance with thousands of bubbly promises.
Producers in the Special Club has a strong belief that the soil, microclimate and production methods creates a distinct fingerprint. Only sustainable agriculture methods is the right track to follow, even if biodynamic production is difficult to achieve.
Today, the club has grown to about thirty members with amazing producers Gimonnet, Paul Bara and José Michel. And Wineblog will study these special editions in the coming year and share the best experiences with you. So stay tuned...
Want to read more about Special Club? http://www.clubtresorsdechampagne.com/
A Champagne from beloved Côte des Blancs Now the honor has come to present a stunning Champagne producer with operations in my beloved Côte des Blancs. Franck Bonville owns 20 hectares of vineyards classified as Grand Cru. The majority, 15 acres, located in Avize and the rest in the neighboring villages Cramant and Oger, villages exclusively planted with chardonnay grape. The company produces only Blanc de Blancs from own fields in addition to a rosé version that contains Pinot Noir from Ambonnay (Grand Cru in the Montagne de Reims).
On my visit to the property, I was greeted by a calm, very friendly and professional atmosphere. All they do is true class and no show-off. The below-publicized champagne was the chosen bubble at the Nobel banquet in Stockholm 2010. Most producers would mention this in various contexts, but not this classic property. Actually a pity because more people should get there eyes and taste buds focused on these masterpieces in bubbly craftsmanship.
Franck Bonville Grand Cru Sélection for 30 euro (in Sweden)
Creamy fruit and mineral fragrance that seduces! The Champagne is a Blanc de Blancs made exclusively from Chardonnay from several vintages. What a wonderful fragrance which seduces with notes of creamy fruit and minerals. The taste is dry, fruity with fine bread, world-class minerals, complex citrus notes and a luscious creaminess! A masterpiece sold as a standard Champagne. Ideal both as an aperitif and as food Champagne to seafood buffé.
Finally, I can heartily recommend that you visit this producer when you are passing Avize. You are welcomed to purchase a Nobel Champagne that is anything but standard, except the price!
Champagne Guy Charlemagne It is with great pleasure that I grip the keyboard and write about this fabulous Champagne producer in the heart of the Côte des Blancs. The Champagnehouse Guy Charlemagne is located in the small charming village of Le Mesnil sur Oger. They produce about 130,000 bottles a year of which 35% is sold in France and the rest global. Their motto "Quality is my truth," describes more than well what the producer really stands for.
We have had the great pleasure of visiting the producer on two occasions and have been greeted by a super friendly and professional approach. And when the Champagnes is even better it makes it into one of my personal favorites. Everything with this champagne house exudes a real sense of class throughout.
Guy Charlemagne Rose Brut The 100 % Pinot Noir grapes for this wine is produced by the Charlemagne vineyard in Sezanne. The soil is dominated by limestone and clay, and the wine is produced by saignéemethod. A subtle fragrance emerges with hints of red apples, strawberries and minerals. The taste shines with elegance delivering a fresh fruit, good acidity and aromas of grapefruit, red apples, strawberries, strawberry and minerals.
If I'm not mistaken, it is our dear Norwegian neighbor's favorite rosé champagne right now. And it can be easily understood. Unbelievable that it does not belong to the regular assortment of the Swedish Systembolaget as it is one of the best rose Champagnes I have tasted. Order it right now to get it in time when spring finally arrives and use it as an aperitif and/or together with a luke warm spring salad combined with smoked salmon.
ChampagnePosted by Per-Olof Diderot Sun, December 02, 2012 17:46:42 In Cramant, a village in the Côte des Blancs they make some of the best champagnes you can get hold of. The exceptional chalky soil and unique microclimate creates the best conditions. For the first time Wineblogg.com had the opportunity to visit the small, but oh so skilled producer Champagne Lilbert. It took some time, understandable because they are fully devoted to production that is done in a very artisanal way.
It all started back in 1746 and today the property is runned by the fifth generation very endearing and humble Lilbert Bertrand, who took over from his father Georges. They only have 3.5 ha with 80% of the vines in Cramant, 30% from Chouilly and 10% Oiry. Only 30,000 bottles per year is produced from each harvest, with an extraordinary quality. Champagnes from Lilbert can be described with the words elegance, finesse, enchanting and long-lived. Now to their vintage Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 made from only Chardonnay grapes from my beloved Cramant.
The aroma is breathtaking with the most magical mineral nuances that I have ever experienced. And the taste says it all... A richness that makes me close my eyes and enjoy with immense pleasure. Complex aromas of exquisite saltiness, citrus, sourdough bread, nuts and also a deliciously balanced fruit that covers the palate +60 seconds. By far the best sea food Champagne and top three in all categories. If you want to taste the best of what Champagne can offer, this chosen one has it all.
A true wonder and masterpieces from Maestro Bertrand Lilbert!
When you follow the magical road Route de Champagne in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, between Avize and Vertus you will arrive to the village Oger. Here you will find a producer who trigger a visit for several reasons. Just the name makes me happy (Milanista forever). When they also produce lovely quality Champagnes makes the choice very easy. Have driven past many times but this summer it was finally time for a visit.
Jean Milan has been producing Champagne since 1864 and is now runned by the fifth generation of the Milan family. The property is easy to visit (speaks good English) and you can also stay here over night, provided you book in advance. You get a pleasant opportunity to test through their superb range. And I got special attention to their Symhorine from the ultimate vintage of 2008. The champagne is made from only Chardonnay grapes from the four of the best areas in Oger called Zailleux, Beaudure, Barbettes and Chenets.
Grand Cru Champagne Jean Milan Symphorine 2008 The scent is telling you that this is something beyond the ordinary. A clear reminder of my childhoods local bakery. The taste is really rich with an abundance of fruit flavors, sourdough bread and distinct minerals. A Champagne with its own fingerprints from a talented producer. Ideally suited both as an aperitif and but also as a food wine. For next time, I will try it together with a fish soup based on saffron.
If you plan a Champagne tasting, I can heartily recommend this as an interesting example of how different quality Champagnes can express themselves in the Côte des Blancs area.
Now it's a few weeks since I returned from another wonderful stay in bubbly Champagne. And time to summarize my impressions in perspective. People: Despite Champagnes Luxury image, you must not forget that winemakers are farmers (in a slightly more advanced way), but with a big bubbly passion in life. This creates a great humility for what nature gives and takes. Meeting these people, create a lot of respect and love for what life really is about.
Vintage imprint: Many Champagnes are usually a blend of several vintages to preserve its typical character over time. But with vintage Champagne is understandably different, more personal imprint vintage for vintage. Here is my review and opinion after trying many different Champagnes from different vintages and producers.
2004 - The slow starting vintage The slow starter coming more and more. But will never be truly remembered with a few exceptions.
2005 - The expressive vintage So expressive and charming in its extravagant style. Many producers think that it is not representative of a really good vintage. I do not agree ... This vintage is seductive and creates new crowds of fans to admire the precious bubbly wine.
2006 - The elegant vintage The elegant vintage that represents the best of what Champagne can give us. A purity that creates a lot of pleasure...
2008 - The ultimate vintage "Crème de la crème" Already with a cosmic reputation before it has even arrived to us consumers. In the standard Champagnes I've tested, with 2008 now as a part, it improves the quality considerably. A vintage that has everything, and I intend to invite my grandgrandgrandchildren for a magic sip ... Keep your eyes and ears open for what is coming in the next 2-3 years. You will be happy that you listened to this advice for a long timeeeeeeeeee.
In the southern part of Cote-des-Blancs is the village Vertus. There you will find a family-owned Champagne house that you must visit sometime in your life. The estate is runned by Pierre and Sophie Larmandier who has done an outstanding job of creating Champagne in a sustainable way and adding style and elegance in an aesthetic package.
Last summer I had the great honor to visit the house and taste my way through their delightful bubbly bottles. Already when we came into the house I was so impressed with the design of the room and the choice of furnish. A fastidious lovely aesthetic that signals a great awareness of everything you do. My first thought was that if they managed to pass these signals in to their Champagnes I'm sold for life...
After trying my way through their exquisite Champagnes I was hooked especially for one who immediately got all my attention and true heart.
In Champagne most rosé is produced by blending white wine with some red wine from Champagne (Coteaux Champenois appellation). Their Rose de saignée, on the other hand, is produced by direct maceration of only Pinot Noir grapes. This method of vinification is more demanding and requires grapes with an excellent degree of maturity.
Because of the unusual production method, a great loving reddish color is presented. The scent is like mom's homemade strawberry juice laced with a little blood orange. And the taste is just too good to be true. Fine fruit with luscious raspberry and strawberry flavours complemented with fresh citrus. The taste is in for a long time together with final creaminess. I am so happy to find that it is by far the best rosé Champagne I've ever tested. Virgin fruit combined with style, elegance and great charisma. Everything holds together in all small details and I can only congratulate Pierre and Sophie to an outstanding result. A Champagne to love and drink with your loved one...
ChampagnePosted by Per-Olof Diderot Sun, January 15, 2012 20:11:36 Nothing but a standard Champagne! In my search for wine bargains there is one experience I specially would like to share with you. If you're in Champagne (all roads lead to Reims), you should take the opportunity to go to the Cote des Blancs, which is approximately 40 km south of the regional city of Reims. If you prefer to use public transport, you can take express train from Paris to both Reims and nearby Epernay.
In the Côte des Blancs you will find the best small Champagne houses that deliver heavenly good quality and often to sensationally good prices. Unfortunately, only a limited proportion of these Champagnes reach a broader market outside France. Is it not strange that we celebrate the small cult producers making red wines, but often forget them when we speak of this divine wine with fine bubbles. (Maybe because of the big Champagne houses market strength, like Moet)
My absolute favourite small village in this area is called Cramant. A fabulously beautiful place high up in the valley with magical views of the Champagne fields as far as the eye can see. Due to the unique soil with large accumulation of chalk, Chardonnay is grown with great success. The village is declared a Grand Cru village and has consistently high quality production from its various Champagne makers. In my search I found a relatively unknown producer from Cramant who really deserve to be in the spotlight. (In the picture above you will find their property in the top right corner and you can also find the address via this google maps link)
Now to this Grand Cru Champagne. It is produced by using only Chardonnay grapes from Cramant. It has a beautiful golden colour. The scent is seductive with glorious hues of fruits and summer flowers. The taste is dry with good fruit, wonderful creaminess and long suggestive after taste. Its magic when we find this kind of quality at comparatively low price. In perspective with other standard champagnes you can buy, it outperforms most part even though half the price (but you must buy it in Cramant ). I can really recommend to try their champagnes when making a visit. And you will most likely get the great pleasure of guidance from Eric's wife Carole.
I can reveal that this admirable ("anything but standard") Champagne is our family's new house champagne (together with Pierre Peters) and will certainly remain as long as quality and price are maintained at these attractive levels.
If you want to stay over the night in this part of Champagne, you can contact me via email. I would be happy to share my experience on suitable accommodations in the area.
ChampagnePosted by Per-Olof Diderot Sun, January 08, 2012 14:18:43 Dare to change your Champagne habits! I know this may seem like swearing in church, but I need to declare my clear opinion on how you can significantly enhance the enjoyment of your next vintage Champagne.
The choice of wine glass is normally very important for getting the best out of every bottle, and therefore it is surprising when conservative Champagne still insists that you use the traditional Champagne glass (flute-shaped) with a tall, narrow bowl.
My recommendation is that you instead test your white wine glass when drinking your next vintage Champagne. You will most certainly experience more of the magical aromas and complexity that the beloved Champagne has to offer. Please compare and challenge your own perception!