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Welcome 2022 with a fine champagne

In the galactic Klingon language of Star Trek an appropriate toast may have been for 2021 yIn DaSIQjaj, or for those not fluent with it, “may you endure life”. With our Christmas dinner downsized to my dear wife and myself (and a 100 Parker point 1991 Napa Valley red blend) and news from the USA that three very close family members are now infected, this has been a difficult year. I believe that we should welcome in 2022 with a fine champagne and if possible, close family or friends, as surely, we will put this all behind us soon.

Although you will find quite a few champagnes in our stores, today I would like to mainly concentrate on the firm of Laurent Perrier that was founded in 1812. They are the largest family-owned producer and, all female owned. Champagne, is all about blending and their cellar master Michel Fauconnet is responsible for selecting chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier from the 320 villages in the Champagne AOC area. Seventeen are rated Grands Crus and 44 Premiers Crus and each year he must achieve the perfect balance between the new wines blended with older reserves to achieve the characteristic Laurent Perrier style.

Winemaking also means ageing these cuvées (blends) for long periods so that they are perfectly ready to enjoy as soon as they are released into the market. French law stipulates that all non-vintage champagnes must age for a minimum of fifteen months before release and vintage ones for three years. Laurent Perrier ages their non-vintage for a minimum of four years, their rosé for five and their top cuvee for eight to ten. Costly to do but this guarantees the finest end product.

To produce their Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut Non-Vintage, they use a little over 50 per cent chardonnay, that is more than most others. Pinot noir varies between 30 and 35 per cent and this is rounded out with 10 to 15 per cent pinot meunier, this last one being one of the many hundreds of clones of the pinot noir grape. Up to 30 per cent of older reserve wines from their cellars are blended in to ensure perfect consistency of their “house style”. Each year they select from over one hundred villages, or crus, to achieve the results they require, which are a pale gold colour, fine bubbles and a delicate nose with hints of fresh citrus and white flowers.
 The wine’s complexity is expressed in successive notes such as those of vine peach and white fruit. A perfect balance between freshness and delicacy. $61 (Stock #7153).

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then why not try Laurent Perrier Demi Sec Harmony Non-Vintage that English critic Jancis Robinson describes in this way. “A fraction more colour than la cuvée. Smells of warm crème anglaise, brioche and peaches. Not awfully sweet tasting, considering all that residual sugar. Loosely woven. Biscuits and nectarines and late-harvest apples. Very appley and easy. But I'm not sure this is sweet enough for dessert. Possibly with fresh strawberries and a spoonful of mascarpone.”

For those not familiar with the practice of adding a liquer de dosage of sugar to the final blend after removing the sediment and dead yeast cells and before placing the final cork, the amount can vary and thus control the range between dry (brut), and a sweeter wine. $63 (Stock #7156).

We have a bottle of Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé on hand for the two of us to toast to a healthy and recovering world in 2022! It is the most recognised rosé champagne in the world. Held in an elegant bottle inspired by King Henri IV, it has been widely acknowledged for its consistent high quality for more than 40 years, and it is the benchmark for rosé around the world.

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 100 per cent pinot noir from which it is made. Intensely fruity flavours that are clean as they open to the sensation of freshly picked red berries: strawberries, Morello cherries, black currants and raspberries.

Decanter magazine, that awards it 95/100, says, “ethereal floral and raspberry nose. A vinous palate with a mild mousse, the soft texture all wrapped in spice, nuts, smoke and a superior berry tincture. Very long and easy to enjoy”. The final product is a blend of 50 per cent old reserve wines and 50% from the latest year. $99.90. (Stock #7168).

The Côte-des-Bar is situated in the south of the Champagne appellation, between Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube. This renowned vineyard area represents a quarter of the total champagne production. The stunning rolling landscape, soils and unique exposures are ideal for pinot noir and so I would like to end with another 100 per cent pinot noir and in this case, it is Devaux “Coeur des Bars” Blanc de Noir Non-Vintage. As the name describes, this is a white wine made entirely from red grapes. As I often comment, grapes, like us, come in many skin colours, but like us, the juice inside is all the same. In our case red, in the grapes case it is clear. Colour is only imparted to the juice if it is left on the skins to extract colouring tannins.

Devaux was listed in Decanter magazine as one of the top ten fastest improving producers and the Revue du Vin de France has listed it as the best co-operative (group of vineyard owners) of France. The Wine Enthusiast rates it 91/100 and comments, “this wine is rich, packed with red and citrus fruits and a taut, nervy texture”. $55.25 (Stock #7044)

My best wishes for 2022 and a year of recovery, good health, and discovery with the James Webb space telescope. Are those Klingons really out there? We may find out.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published December 31, 2021 at 7:57 am (Updated December 31, 2021 at 7:30 am)

Welcome 2022 with a fine champagne

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