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Sparkling Monday

This Monday was Sparkling Day with an interesting webinar on Champagne and the influence of reserve wines. Cyril Brun, Chef de Cave of Charles Heidsieck, had sent us two non-vintage Sparklings to taste: the Brut Reserve and the Blanc de Blancs. Charles Heidsieck is defined primarily by a high proportion of reserve wines, 20% for the Blanc de Blancs and up to around 50% for the Reserve Brut. These reserve wines are aged between five and 15 years to add complexity and expressiveness to the final blend. The Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Chardonnay, which grows mainly around the villages of Vertus and Oger in the Cote de Blancs.

With Blanc de Blancs Champagne, I especially appreciate the focus and chalky finish provided by the Chardonnay. Cyril Brun and his team have managed to add a bit more creaminess and intensity to these by adding their reserve wines, aged up to 5 years in this case. Very successful, in my opinion. However, the puristic element steps a bit into the background. I noted: Lemon, Peach, touch of honeysuckle with appealing brioche and hazelnuts. It has an excellent length with a slight creaminess that skilfully complements the chalky finish.        

The Reserve Brut clearly shows the lusher house style. It is a blend of one-third each Chardonnay for freshness, Pinot Noir for body and expression, and Pinot Meunier for fruitiness. The grapes come from about 60 different crus. Up to 50% here can be Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reserve wines aged for an average of 10 years. The Champagne itself has spent at least 36 months on the yeast. The result is an excellent Champagne, but for me, it calls for a food accompaniment. Lime foam, apricot, pear, some kumquat and red berries. Creamy with fine bubbles and a long, intense finish. I love to begin a week like this.