Regional profile: Champagne's Marne Valley
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
1M ago
Vineyards of Famille Moussé in Cuisles. It is September 2023 in the vineyards of Champagne Christophe Mignon in the village of Leuvrigny. As an early autumn heatwave takes hold, a harvester stops to pick an enormous bunch of grapes, dark purple and pristine. Snipping the bunch in two, he looks up at me and shrugs his shoulders; beneath the purple exterior is a layer of green, unripe berries. ‘This is 2023!’ he says, with more than a dash of exasperation. Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for Tom Hewson’s top picks of Marne Valley Champagnes ..read more
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Brothers in arms: Champagne Pierre Paillard
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
1M ago
The historic cellars of Pierre Paillard. Champagne’s stories are often told by soloists – the legendary cellar master, the visionary grower, the lone rebel elevating a previously unremarkable village to cult status. It’s a little rare to find not only a genuine double act but, at a time when many of independent Champagne’s established names of the 1980s and 1990s are wondering if the next generation will take on the keys to the cellar, a sibling act. Antoine and Quentin Paillard are just that, though. It would be easy to assume that Antoine and Quentin’s choice of estate vehicle – their father ..read more
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First Taste: Billecart-Salmon's 2012 releases
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
1M ago
Billecart-Salmon has launched the 2012 vintage of both the Elisabeth Salmon Rosé and the Louis Salmon Blanc de Blancs. Even though 2012 has become one of Champagne’s most celebrated recent vintages, ‘the beginning of the season was horrible,’ says Billecart-Salmon’s president Mathieu Roland-Billecart, ‘frost, hail, mildew, sunburn – we had the lot.’ Yet Roland-Billecart says there was a glimmer of hope: ‘we pulled out a great vintage because, as we say here, “août fait le moût”, or in other words, “August makes the must”.’ The weather in August made good on the early summer chaos, producing sm ..read more
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First Taste: Laurent-Perrier's Grand Siècle Les Réserves Itération No. 20
Decanter » Champagne
by Anne Krebiehl MW
1M ago
For only the second time since the creation of Grand Siècle, Laurent-Perrier has released a long-aged and late-disgorged version of its prestige cuvée. One that has spent 21 years ageing under cork: the Grand Siècle Les Réserves Itération No. 20. It was in 2021 that Laurent-Perrier finally started revealing the individual vintages behind each of the releases of its prestige cuvée Grand Siècle, the same year that it started numbering each new release, or itération, of this flagship wine. Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt, granddaughter of the cuvée’s creator, Bernard de Nonancourt, explains why this ..read more
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First taste: Champagne Lallier's Réflexion R.020
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
3M ago
Lallier, purchased by the Campari group in 2020, sits in one of Champagne’s in-between spaces. On the one hand, this is a house like many others, buying in 90% of its grapes from all over Champagne. On the other hand, it has a sense of local identity too, alongside a handful of prominent neighbours in the grand cru-rated village of Aÿ in the Grande Vallée of the Marne river. ‘We have more than 10 hectares in Aÿ,’ says cellar master Dominique Demarville, pointing out an unusual feature for this Pinot Noir-heavy region: ‘one third of this is Chardonnay.’ Scroll down to see notes and scores for ..read more
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Ageing Grower Champagne: The peaks and pitfalls
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
3M ago
Credit: Diana Miller / Getty Images Where in the world might you find a £100 wine that won’t benefit from a decade in the cellar? The list is certainly short, though Champagne is arguably on it. The ageworthiness of Champagne’s Grandes Marques is fairly well understood: entry level wines will usually benefit from a year or two, vintage wines should still be going strong a decade after release, and any prestige cuvée worth its salt ought to still be shining well beyond that. Price, in other words, should give us a clue. Scroll down to see notes and scores for five older Grower Champagnes {"cont ..read more
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First Taste: Krug 2011 vintage release
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
3M ago
Credit: Krug Champagne’s great houses are often accused of playing it safe, yet Krug begs to differ: the house has gone where few others have ventured, having chosen to celebrate the unusual 2011 growing season with a vintage release. As cellar master Julie Cavil explains, though, the reputation of the year – or the season’s trials and tribulations on paper – counts for nothing when it comes to deciding on whether to release a vintage or to blend the wines with other years (as with the house’s flagship Grande Cuvée). Scroll down for tasting notes and scores for Krug 2011 and four other cuvées ..read more
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First taste: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 2015
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
3M ago
‘It is a Grande Dame first and a rosé second,’ says Veuve Clicquot’s cellar master Didier Mariotti speaking of the newly released rosé cuvée of the 2015 La Grande Dame. It is one year on from the 2015 release of the white iteration of this homage to one of Champagne’s most important historical figures – Madame Clicquot, the widow – or ‘veuve’ – who perfected the riddling process in the late 18th century. Scroll down for the review of La Grande Dame Rosé 2015 {"content":"PHA+QnV0IHdoeSB0aGUgZGVsYXkgYmV0d2VlbiB0aGUgcmVsZWFzZSBvZiB0aGUgd2hpdGUgYW5kIHRoZSByb3PDqT8g4oCYV2UgdGVuZCB0byBmaW5kIGl0IG5l ..read more
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Collector's Guide: Champagne
Decanter » Champagne
by Chris Mercer
3M ago
The past decade has seen Champagne take a commanding place in the fine wine market. Exclusive and luxurious while simultaneously attainable and – relatively – affordable, Champagne has been blessed with multiple attributes. Exceptional winemaking, critical acclaim and stylistic diversity have delighted collectors and propelled secondary market price appreciation. The last 12 months have dampened the celebratory mood somewhat, however. Worldwide shipments dropped 8% in volume in 2023 according to the Comité Champagne, although exports still accounted for 172 million bottles. Prices too were ch ..read more
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Champagne Egly-Ouriet: Maestro of the Montagne de Reims
Decanter » Champagne
by Tom Hewson
4M ago
Credit: Tom Hewson On a bitter January morning, as a snowstorm catches Champagne’s gritting lorries unawares, 10 barrels sit unceremoniously under one of two Coquard presses, their bungs stained pale cherry. The new Champagne base wines from the 2023 vintage are downstairs in the cellar, but here, making use of what ought to be slightly warmer temperatures above ground, is Francis Egly’s still red, Coteaux Champenois. Scroll down to see notes and scores for Egly-Ouriet’s latest Champagne releases ..read more
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