Monday, January 26, 2015

Planet Grape’s Top Ten Champagnes of 2014

Glass of Bubbly, Champagne & Sparkling Wine Magazine
Issue 4, December 2014/January 2015

Planet Grape sends me out to host private and corporate wine events, which often include  a Champagne sabering performance (see picture with black French silk hand-feathered gown styled by Material Goods as I saber Krug Champagne for Sinegal Estate Winery’s Harvest Party in Napa Valley) along with a presentation of wines and Champagnes. Throughout the year I also attend as many Champagne trade tastings and luncheons as possible. After tasting hundreds of Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world, here are my top ten picks of 2014. Happy sparkling Holidays!

Champagne Jean-Pierre & Cedric Bouchard In Florescence La Parcelle Blanc de Noirs Brut nv $103
From the man who is shaking the very foundation of Champagne with his devotion to single plot, single varietal Champagnes, this naturally made 100% Pinot Noir is rich and intense with a deep core of chalky minerality along with pretty red berry fruits and a soft, toasty character.

Champagne Francis Boulard Grand Cru Grande Montagne Extra Brut nv $80
With only 4.5 cases released to California and only very little to other markets around the globe, this is indeed a rare, exquisite beauty. From la petite Montagne de Reims, this 30 to 45 year-old vine Pinot Noir based Champagne is powerful, austere, minerally and intense.

Champagne Collet Esprit Couture Brut Ay nv $120
Handcrafted from vineyard to packaging, this feminine cuvee has notes of vanilla bean, peach, rose petal, and chalk. It is delicate, ethereal almost on the palate. This is newly available in selected markets in the USA.

Champagne Jacques Lassaigne Le Cotet Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut nv $85
The Le Cotet 40-year old-vine Chardonnay vineyard near the gates of Troyes shares a vein of limestone soil with Le Mesnil to the north.  Jacques’ son Emmanuel takes a natural approach and even disgorges his bottles by hand. This is a powerful, masculine, and very mineral-driven style of Champagne.

Champagne Vilmart Cuvee Rubis Premier Cru Rose Brut nv $75
Another great grower Champagne, or récoltant-manipulant – RM for short, this fifth generation family producer in Rilly-la-Montagne farms naturally and uses oak barrels for first fermentation. This 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay blend is softly perfumed with red berry and rose petal notes – a very romantic cuvee.

2004 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Oger $90
This “Baby Salon” is a 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from Le Mesnil, whose sister winery just happens to be Salon. For a fraction of the price of Salon, and without waiting for years for the wine to soften, this beauty is just the ticket. It has notes of lemon curd, rising bread, chalk and honey and is delicate and fine on the palate.

2004 Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Reims $90
Rich, bone dry, lemony, minerally and yeasty, this elegant Champagne from a classic vintage delivers the Bruno Paillard signature: “purity, substance, minerality, and elegance.” Bruno is grooming his daughter Alice to be the next CEO.

2002 Bisol Talento Metodo Classico Eliseo Cuvée del Fondatore Veneto $70
This elegant Champagne-method sparkling wine from Bisol in Valdobbiadene, the heart of Prosecco country, is named in honor of the founder, Eliseo Bisol. Talento refers to high quality Italian sparkling wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco, which undergo second fermentation in bottle and age a minimum of 15 months on the lees.

2005 Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut $225
Aged on the lees for 10 years before release, this 100% Chardonnay from the Cote des Blancs is as rich and decadent as they come – think pumpkin bread and honey-coated brioche and fruit cake.

1996 Champagne Moet et Chandon Dom Perignon Oenotheque Brut $319
Cellar Master Richard Geoffroy describes this as a tete du cuvee in its second peak, or 
plenitude of development. With extended aging in the Dom Perignon cellars, this mature Champagne is rich, complex, and very feminine in style with notes of honey and hazelnuts.

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