Champagne Tastings

May 20, 2019

Pressoir.Wine Sessions: “Pink Champagne” with Anna-Cristina Cabrales of Morrell Wine Bar & Café


Spring has sprung and Summer is now here!  It’s Pink wine time and there’s no better pink wine than champagne!  We were aptly guided through the flight by Anna-Christina with comments from Edouard Bourgeois of Daniel Boulud. We tasted six distinct champagnes, four of which were made “par assemblage,” and two de saignée. Assemblage rosé champagnes are made by typical champagne blending, but with the addition of a “red” champagne still wine to provide the pink color. De Saignée rosé champagne is made by maceration (holding the crushed red grapes- Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier in the juice for several hours or even days allowing the skins to “bleed” through to develop the pink or even almost ruby red color.

Visit the Pressoir Wine Sessions for more great wine tastings and visit Morrell’s Wine Bar & Café to enjoy the café and wines by the glass with Anna-Christina.

Cuvées Tasted:

  • Pierre Gimonnet Rosé de Blanc
  • Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
  • José Dhondt Rosé de Saignée
  • Louis Roederer Rosé 2013
  • Krug Rosé

April 8, 2019

Clos Des Goisses, a Singular Terroir in Champagne


Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Ay

This week I had the distinct pleasure to attend a once in a lifetime vertical champagne tasting of the famous Philipponnat “Clos des Goisses.”  Daniel Johnnes of La Fête du Champagne &  Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. sponsored the event at Café Boulud with chef Aaron Bludorn providing a wonderful five course dinner.  The tasting was curated by Charles Philipponnat, head of the House of Philipponnat since 1999.  This family House was founded by growers in the 16th century.  The “Clos de Goisses” vineyard is located in  the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Ay in the Grande Vallee of the Marne.  Planting are about 2/3rd  pinot noir and 1/3rd chardonnay.  It is distinguished by its steep slope and south facing aspect.  The additional warmth of the vineyards and the chalky soils provide the unique terroir for intense minerality with ripe fruit.  This tasting has confirmed the power, consistency, fruits and minerality carried through the decades.  All Clos des Goisses cuvées are about 65/35 pinot noir/chardonnay blends with variable vinification in barrel and stainless steel tanks. They undergo no malolactic fermentation, long lees aging and modest dosage at 4.25g/l.  The colors varied from light golden to golden and light pink to medium copper pink for the rosés. Bubbles were tiny when variably present, of course due to the age of several of the cuvées.  The nose and palate had complexity and a full mouthfeel with variable notes of fruits, biscuit, oak, spices, chocolate and nuts depending upon the age of the cuvée and  with minerality running throughout to the long finish.

The tasting began with Philipponnat “Cuvée 1522” 2008, created to honor the year the family began growing grapes in Champagne. This was followed by a stunning vertical of Clos des Goisses including the soon to be released 2010, the iconic 2008, and vintages 2006, 2000, 1996, 1993 back to the great trio of 1989, 1982 and 1979, all late releases.  The second series consisted of a complete vertical of every vintage of Clos des Goisses Juste Rosé, 1999-2008 made by assemblage with still red wine from the Clos and the 2012 Saignee de Rose was made “a saignée.”

It was a fantastic “mini” Fête du Champagne,  enjoyed by all participants and provided us the opportunity to see known wine friends and meet some new ones!  It great to see Daniel Johnnes and Edouard Buorgeois again. IU had the pleasure to meet Mannie Berk and the wine maker Charles Philipponnat. I was seated next to John Gilman, author of the bi-monthly wine newsletter View From the Cellar. John shares his extensive and deep knowledge of wine in each newsletter. His next issue in May will feature Champagne and Sparkling wine and cover this tasting as well!


December 17, 2018

Champagne and Caviar Tasting with Benoit Bratigny  and Theo Guegnault of Maison Kaviari and Edouard Bourgeois and Daniel Johnnes of Pressoir Wines at the Pressoir Wine Club.


Tonight I enjoyed participating in a champagne and caviar tasting offered by the “Pressoir.Wine” group and the Plantin / Kaviari  caviar company. Champagne and caviar is a classic wine-food pairing. The high fat, oil and briny taste of the caviar is enhanced by a dry (low or no-dosage) champagne.

One caviar type was paired with two champagnes in three rounds. The caviars tasted were all taken from “farmed” fish. First, caviar “Baeri Royal” was paired with champagne Savart Brut Premier Cru “L’Ouverture” and champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature “Starck” 2009. I preferred the Savart.  Second, caviar “Kristal” was paired with champagne Leclerc- Briant La Croisette and Bereche & Fils Les Beau Regards. While I preferred the champagne Bereche by itself, I did prefer the champagne Leclerc-Briant with this caviar.  Third, caviar “Oscietre Prestige” was paired with champagne Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain 2005 and champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 1996.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Champagne Savart Brut Premier Cru “L’Ouverture”
  • Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature “Starck” 2009
  • Champagne  Leclerc- Briant La Croisette
  • Champagne Bereche & Fils Les Beau Regards
  • Champagne Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain 2005
  • Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 1996
  • Domaine des Croix Beaune Pertuisots 2009

September 10, 2018

Champagne 101 Tasting with Edouard Bourgeois at Bar Boulud

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Today we enjoyed participating in a champagne tasting offered by the “” group titled “Champagne 101 with Edouard Bourgeois.”  We also had the distinct pleasure to to meet Daniel Johnnes, wine director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex group, founder of the “La Paulée de New York and cofounder with Peter Liem of “La Fête du Champagne.”  The tasting was held at Bar Boulud in New York City and directed by Edouard Bourgeois, head sommelier at Café Boulud with comments by Daniel Johnnes.

The discussion centered about the continued evolution of the growers champagnes and basics of the champagne process.  We tasted six cuvées from Champagne, one of which was a still red wine and an additional treat of a red Burgundy to end the evening.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Champagne Pierre Gerbais: Brut Celles sur Ource.
  • Champagne AR Lenoble: Blanc de Blancs Chouilly
  • Champagne Marie-Courtin: Blanc de Noirs Resonance
  • Champagne Rene Geoffroy: Rose de Saignee
  • Champagne Louis Roederer: Rose 2010
  • Champagne Marguet: Coteaux Champenois Rouge 2015
  • Givrey-Chambertin 2012

May 15, 2018

Gonet-Medeville Tasting at Air’s Champagne Parlor

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We recently attended a Gonet -Medeville tasting at Air’s Champagne Parlor hosted by owner Ariel Arce.

We arrived early and began with a glass of Pierre Gimonnet Extra Brut Oenophile 2008 as an aperitif.

Ariel introduced us to Julie Gonet-Medville who provided insight into her house, the cuvées and their vinification process.  The House of Gonet-Medville  is located in Bisseuil which is east of Epernay and between Mareuil-sur-Ay and Tours-sur-Marne.  It is headed by the couple Julie and Xavier Gonet-Médeville, both from winemaking families. Julie’s family is known for  its Bordeaux wines, especially the sauternes Chateau Gilette.   Xavier comes from a long line of Champagne growers in Le Mesnil. They have vineyards in Bisseuil and Ambonnay (Pinot Noir) and in Mesnil-Sur-Oger (Chardonnay) which are farmed organically and each parcel is vinified separately to emphasize its individual terroir. There is no malolactic fermentation, and dosage is minimilized.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Tradition Premier Cru Brut
  • Blanc de Noir Premier Cru Brut
  • Rosé Premier Cru Extra Brut
  • Cuvée Théophile Extra Brut 2006

April 14, 2018

Drappier Tasting at Flute Bar & Lounge

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This past Friday night, I had the pleasure of visiting again with Hervé Rousseau, owner of the Flute Bar & Lounge.  I visited the Beekman location whose library décor was warm and inviting.  He hosted a special champagne tasting of the Drappier House led by Charline Drappier. It was quite a treat!

Below is a brief description of the Drappier House:

Founded in 1808 and based in Urville in the Cote des Bar, Drappier initially sold its grapes and then began vinifying in the early twentieth century. Today, this house is under the direction of Michel Drappier and his family. Vinification occurs in mostly in stainless steel tanks with minimal sulfur and full malolactic fermentation. Farming is mostly organic.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Drappier: Brut Nature Pinot Noir
  • Drappier: Brut Rosé
  • Drappier: Grand Sendrée Brut 2008

March 31, 2018

Growers Champagne Tasting at Flute Bar & Lounge

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This past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of visiting with Hervé Rousseau, owner of the Flute Bar & Lounge.  He hosted a “Growers” champagne tasting featuring cuvées from DrappierH. Blin, and Goutorbe-Bouillot.  We tasted with Hervé, Camille of H. Blin and Richard of Banville Wine Merchants.

Below is a brief description of the houses:

Drappier–  Founded in 1808 and based in Urville in the Côte des Bar, Drappier initially sold its grapes and then began vinifying in the early twentieth century. Today, this house is under the direction of Michel Drappier and his family.  Vinification occurs in stainless steel tanks farming is mostly organic.

H. Blin– Founded as a union of growers in 1947 by Henry Blin in Vincelles, it is known especially for Pinot Meunier. It is currently headed by grandson Simon Blin. Their farming is sustainable and organic.

Goutorbe-Bouillot – Since the mid 1700’s the Bouillot and Goutorbe families cultivated vines  in  Damery. The Bouillot family took part in the famous revolt of the vine growers of 1911. Through marriage the Goutorbe family became part of the house.  Today the house is managed by  Dominique and Dominique Paulette Papleux and their children. The cuvées are assembled with 50% reserve wines.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Drappier: Brut Nature Pinot Noir
  • H. Blin: L’Esprit Nature
  • Goutorbe-Bouillot: Cart D’Or

February 23, 2018

Rosé Champagne Tasting at Flute Bar & Lounge

image2.jpegThis past Friday night, I had the pleasure of meeting  Hervé Rousseau, owner of the Flute Bar & Lounge.  He hosted a Rosé tasting featuring cuvées from Charles Heidsieck, Goutorbe-Bouillot and H. Blin. Rosé or pink champagne is vinified in one of two ways.  The most common method is to blend a small amount of still red wine with the white champagne base.  The other method, called Saignée (literally, bleeding), involves pressing black grapes and keeping the juice in contact with the grapeskins for a period of time (a few hours to a few days)  resulting in a colored juice.

The three rosés that we tasted were made by blending. I tasted with Hervé and Camille.

Below is a brief description of the houses:

Charles Heidsieck – Founded in Reims in 1851 by Charles Heidsieck who was the first champagne merchant to travel to America. This bon vivant was nicknamed “Champagne Charlie.”  This house, known for its full flavored and complex cuvées now directed by Regis Camus with chef de cave Cyril Brun.

Goutorbe-Bouillot – Since the mid 1700’s the Bouillot and Goutorbe families  cultivated vines  in  Damery. The Bouillot familly took part in the famous revolt of the vine growers of 1911. Through marriage the Goutorbe family became part of the house.  Today the house is managed by  Dominique and Dominique Paulette Papleux and their children. The cuvées are assembled with 50% reserve wines.

H. Blin – Founded as a cooperative in 1947 by Henry Blin in Vincelles, it is known especially for Pinot Meunier. It is currently headed by grandson Simon Blin. The farming is transiting to sustainable and organic certification.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Charles Heidsieck: Rosé Réserve
  • Goutorbe-Bouillot: Rosé
  • H. Blin: Rosé

December 10, 2017

Marie-Noëlle Ledru Tasting at Air’s Champagne Parlor.

Visiting Air’s is always an enjoyable experience as we taste exciting cuvées in a “parlor” atmosphere hosted by the knowledgeable and charming owner Ariel Arce.

The tasting planned was a vertical of MARIE-NOËLLE LEDRU.  According to Ariel:


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Peter Liem considers Marie-Noëlle Ledru a “tiny, perfectionist grower-estate [who] is known only to a handful of champagne connoisseurs, yet today she is making some of the best wines in Ambonnay.”

Her vineyards are planted with cover crops and tilled, and she uses no herbicides or insecticides, seeking to work her vines as naturally as possible.

Ledru’s wines are produced without filtration, without cold-stabilization and without any sulfur at disgorgement. Fermentation is all in stainless steel and enameled steel tanks, for their neutrality, and the malolactic is allowed for all wines. “I do the malo because for me it’s natural,” she says. The wines are aged for a respectably long time on their lees, averaging about three years for the brut sans année and five years for the vintage wines, and  all disgorgement is done by hand.

The outstanding non-vintage wine is available in two versions: Brut and Extra Brut, the latter of which is non-dosé. Both express a deep, soil-driven intensity, and while there is usually a little Bouzy in the blend, the dominant soil signature is quintessential Ambonnay.”

What is a Vertical Tasting?

A “vertical tasting” is an assemblage of multiple vintages of the same wine.  Tasting and comparing each vintage shows consistency of the grape or cuvee and perhaps the vineyard as well.  Inconsistency is also shown in the varied vineyard conditions during the particular vintage year.  Weather conditions, manifested  by temperature variation,  days of bright sun, rainfall and possibly frost play a significant role in the grapes’  development, abundance and acid/sugar balance.  Vineyard conditions such as blooming mold due to moisture and insect blight also play a role.  Finally, the varying ages of the wines over the course of the tasting vintages demonstrate how the post-disgorgement time or age affects the the taste.  In general the color deepens and the bubbles decrease and freshness begins to wane as the wine ages, changing from crisp and bright to fuller more complex flavors. The nose tends to evolve from white flowers, citrus and fresh dough towards compoted fruit, brioche and toasted almond.  The palate and finish evolve toward  mature fruit,  brioche, spice, nuttyness, and less brightness, but minerality if originally present is maintained.   Generally, the younger wines are tasted first as they are lighter and less complex, followed by the descending older vintages.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Extra-Brut, Grand Cru (2011 base)
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Cuvée Du Goulte, Blanc de Noirs, Extra-Brut, Grand Cru, 2011
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Cuvée Du Goulte, Blanc de Noirs, Extra-Brut, Grand Cru, 2012
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Cuvée Du Goulte, Blanc de Noirs, Extra-Brut, Grand Cru, 2010
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Millesme, Brut Nature, Grand Cru, 2008
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru Millesme, Brut Nature, Grand Cru, 2005

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December 9th, 2017

Champagne Style Tasting at Fountainhead Wines

I recently visited with Mike to taste a selection of wines to review their varying styles. Below is a brief description of each producer and wine provided by Fountainhead Wines:

Baron Albert – This small, family-owned estate was founded in 1947 and is no run by three sisters. One of our latest and most exciting discoveries, Albert is a classic Brut in the old “English Style”. It contains all three grape varieties: Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Gauthier-Christophe – A tiny grower Champagne estate with only 6 hectares of vine located in the Grand Cru village of Chouilly in the Côte des Blancs region of Champagne. Côtes des Blancs is noted for its Chardonnay and this is 100% Chardonnay, that’s the Blanc de Blancs part, from 30 year old vines. Aged 6 months in oak casks before aging on the lees in bottle for over 2.5 years before release.

Jean Josselin – Founded in 1854, Josselin is a grower Champagne producer that owns 12 hectares in the Côte des Bar region of Champagne which is prized for its Pinot Noir. 100% Pinot Noir here, making it a Blanc de Noirs. Average vine age is over 30 years and the total production of the estate is fewer than 8000 cases.

Louis de Sacy – The Sacy family have owned vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Verzy since 1633. This is perhaps the finest value in Rosé Champagne, forget that it’s Grand Cru. Made in the Saignée method where gently pressed juice is ‘bled’ off the skins which we feel produces the most elegant Rosé Champagnes. 55% Pinot Noir with 45% Chardonnay.

Cuvées tasted:

  • Baron Albert: Brut Tradition, NV
  • Gauthier-Christophe: Cuvée Mathilde, NV
  • Jean Josselin: Cuvée des Jean, NV
  • Louis De Sacy: Rosé de Saignée, NV

Want to learn more about these cuvées? Check out What’s Open.

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May 10th, 2017

Pierre Paillard Tasting at “Riddling Widow”

Last week we attended a special tasting of Champagne Pierre Paillard hosted by Ariel Arce at her Champagne Parlor “Riddling Widow“. We enjoyed discussing and comparing the Paillard cuvées with Quentin Paillard. Check out What’s Open to hear about our favorite cuvée of the night. Also, be sure to stop by “Riddling Widow” if you’re in New York City!

Update: Ariel has re-opened the Riddling Widow as Air’s Champagne Parlor in the same location with a whole new atmosphere and delicious food pairings.