Grab some fine champagne to welcome in 2021
There are so many stories about champagne that today I will only share one as it involves the enjoyment of the world’s best known sparkling wine.
Legend has it that the shape of the coup glass, popular in my younger years, was shaped like the left breast of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. The truth is that it was created in England 100 years earlier. The flute came next, but today most of us realise that it does not allow full enjoyment of this bubbly. The champagne firms now recommend a tulip-shaped glass, but in our house a good chardonnay glass works well.
If I am asked to suggest a fine champagne, my usual response is that they should all be good due to the stringent vineyard management rules and all the regulations that control and govern the whole process of making this lovely wine. I will suggest some of the finest.
Laurent Perrier La Cuvee Non Vintage Brut is pale gold in colour with fine bubbles feeding a persistent mousse and it has a delicate nose with hints of fresh citrus and white flowers. The wine’s complexity is expressed in successive notes like vine peach and white fruits notes.
Critic James Suckling scores it 93/100 and says: “The brioche and cooked-apple and cream character really comes through here. Full-bodied and round with fine bubbles. Flavourful and intense. Vivid, bread-dough finish. This is four years on lees.”
Laurent Perrier’s quest for the finest can be explained by the fact that the appellation laws stipulate that non vintage champagne has to spend at least one year on the lees and, as James states, this one has spent four. The lees (left over yeasts and other solids remaining after fermentation) add complexity to the final wine.
Parker tells us: “The Laurent-Perrier NV Brut is a blend of 50 per cent chardonnay, 35 per cent pinot noir and 15 per cent meunier, with 15 to 30 per cent reserve wines from two or three vintages. Citrus coloured, this signature LP has a refined, fresh and elegant nose with brioche and delicate citrus flavours. Lean, refined and elegant on the palate, this is a dry and silky textured, vivacious, and perfectly fresh and balanced.” $58.95 (Stock #7153).
I am very much a fan of the Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rosé Non Vintage that is made entirely from pinot noir and held in an elegant bottle inspired by King Henri XIV. It has been widely acknowledged for its consistent high quality for more than 40 years, and it is the benchmark for rosé champagne around the world.
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé is truly remarkable for its highly expressive bouquet, stemming from very careful preservation of fresh fruit aromas during the wine making. Made with 100 per cent pinot noir from ten different "crus" (or villages), from the North and South areas of the Montagne de Reims, as well as the famous village of Bouzy. Grapes from carefully selected plots are meticulously sorted and de-stemmed before going into the vats, and the controlled maceration helps with the colour extraction and the development of the full aromatic richness of the pinot noir.
The Connoisseurs' Guide flirts with perfection when it awards this wine 96/100 and writes: “Elegant and fruity at the same time with a quick invitation from bright, pure cherryish notes and then filled out handsomely by whiffs of chalky soils and well-integrated, rich and uplifting yeast-driven scents, this wine manages to be both vigorous and layered at one and the same time. Its bubbles are insistent, finely carved and add to the early sensations of lightness and energy yet also carry the wine long into a balanced, refined finish. And its latter palate grip is exactly what one should expect from the genre. While service with light foods would be our first choice, thin one has the beauty to stand alone.” $98 (Stock #7168).
Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle Grand Cuvee celebrates a time in the 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIV when France enjoyed its most illustrious era. Louis XIV became known as the "Sun King" for his benevolence and his patronage of the arts, which became the foundation of France's rich artistic heritage. At the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV was the first French king to drink champagne.
Louis XIV's era became known as the grand siècle, the great century. Bottled in a replica of a 17th century bottle evoking the radiance of that period, Laurent-Perrier's prestige cuvées embody luxury, magnificence and elegance fit for a king.
Grand Siècle is made with a pinot noir and chardonnay blend, with the latter being slightly dominant. Twelve of the most prestigious villages supply these grapes; all of them classified at 100 per cent grand crus such as Ambonnay, Verzenay, Mailly, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Within the vineyards of these villages, only the very best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. The blended wine is then aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for approximately five years. The government rates each village and this controls the price of the grapes, of course 100 per cent is the best of them all.
Wine Enthusiast includes this champagne on their 2018 list of the world’s top 100 wines with a score of 97/100. They wrote: “Laurent-Perrier has always preferred to keep its prestige cuvée as a nonvintage blend. With eight years ageing after bottling and plenty of reserve wines in the blend, it is a mature wine that is yeasty and toasty in character. To go with that, there is great fruit from the blend that only comes from grand cru vineyards. It's ready to drink.” $167 (Stock #7172).
I would have liked to describe the following producers, Deutz, Devaux, Nicolas Feuillatte and Piper Heidsieck, but I seem to be running out of room. You can find these fine champagnes in our stores and at Discovery Wines.
At our New Year gathering of two in our home my toast will probably be “to the land that I love and the love that I have landed”. Not just of a wife, but beautiful sons who will be with us in thought. 2021 will be a year filled with determination for us all to get back on our feet.
This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm