Since we are hoping to make this a regular show I decided we should start from the very beginning and compare three non-vintage champagnes from 3 different producers. The interesting thing about non-vintages from grower-producers is that they usually show a lot of characteristics from their ‘terroir’, so tasting different ones is a great way to understand how these characteristics are accentuated.
The three that we tasted were:
- Gisèle Devavry, N.V
- Vilmart et Cie, Grande Reserve, N.V, Brut, Premier cru
- Paul Dethune, N.V, Brut, Grand Cru
Gisèle Devavry N.V.
Gisèle Devavry is made by the Devavry family from Champillon, neart Epernay. They have vineyards which are strategically located om Haut-Villiers, Romery, Champillon, Aÿ, and Sermiers. The ‘Gisèle’ blend is named after Betrand Devavry’s daughter, who now runs the house with her husband Jean Loup Méa. The chardonnay grapes from these region have a signature flavour which is not at all like the taste of the chardonnays from the Côtes des Blancs.
‘Gisèle’ is made from a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier. As the first glass is poured we see a lovely rich yellow colour in the glass, with lovely fine bubbles rising impatiently to the surface. There is a lovely freshness on the nose, which is due to the large percentage of chardonnay in the blend. I can smell honey and acacia, and can’t wait to swill my first mouthful around my tongue.
Once in my mouth, I am not disappointed. There are glimpses of pear and hawthorne, and a lovely roundness, that continues even after I have finished tasting.
This champagne is a Brut, and has a dosage of 12g. This is the sugar that has been added after the second fermentation process, and 12g is the maximum permissible, meaning that this is the ‘sweetest’ champagne available.
‘Gisèle’ would be great paired with canapés or paté.
Vilmart et Cie, Grande Reserve, N.V, Brut, Premier cru
Champagne Vilmart comes from Rilly-la-Montagne.
The Grande Reserve is made from a blend of 70% Pinot Noir, and 30% Chardonnay. It is vinified and aged in oak barrels for 10 months, which adds another dimension to its flavour.
In the glass it has a deep golden hue with almost a pinkish tinge – this is due to it being 70% Pinot Noir. However, on the nose, some of the chardoannay characteristics of fresh flowers, white fruits, and green ferns are apparent.
Taking a mouthful and swurling it around the tongue, a get the impression of a very full bodied champagne, with s hint of strawberries, green apples, lemon, honey and roast nuts. It’s a class act, and difficult to imagine that it is a non-vintage champagne. In fact Richard Juhlin, the Champagne expert, says that this is one of the best NVs on the market.
The Vilmart Grande Reserve would be delicious paired with scallops or langoustines, with a creamy saffron sauce.
Paul Dethune, N.V, Brut, Grand Cru
Champagne Paul Dethune is situated in Ambonnay. Their non-vintage champagne is made entirely from Grand cru grapes which gives it an added finesse. Like the Vilmart, it is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.
It is also a lovely deep colour in the glass with exceptionally fine bubbles rising elegantly to the surface. The red fruit influence of the pinot noir grape are evident in the strawberry flavours hitting your nose. You can also imagine warm brioche with a bit of spice (or maybe that is just because we are getting to the third glass of champagne by now and I am starting to think of Christmas!). While drinking, it almost tastes like a rosé. There are hints of red berries and it has a very long finish. although complex it is still quite fresh and is an extremely satisfying drink.
This champagne could be drunk either with a foie gras entree, or with parmesan cheese later in the meal. An absolute winner!
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