A ripe, open wine bursting with generous, expansive fruit. Smoke, minerals, pastry crust and flowers add complexity to the radiant fruit. The Grande Annee reveals gorgeous depth and a multi-dimensional, kaleido-scopic personality that screams of pure breed.
Producer: Champagne Bollinger
Region/Appellation: Champagne Brut
Country Hierarchy: Champagne, France
Grape/Blend: Chardonnay – Pinot Noir
Food Suggestion: Shellfish, Crab and Lobster
Wine Style: Sparkling – Complex and Traditional
Alcohol Content: 12 – 12.5%
- Le Guide Hachette des Vins, 2011: 2 Stars Coup de coeur
- Decanter World Wine Awards, 2010: Silver
- International Wine Challenge, 2010: Silver
- Le Guide Hachette des Vins, 2010: 3 Stars Coup de coeur
- Mundus Vini, 2009: Grand Gold
Champagne Brut Wines
Champagne Brut is dry, sparkling wine from the Champagne region of northern France. Champagne of any color can be brut, both the standard white and Rosé. It is made from the classic Champagne Blend (typically Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) but in theory can also include the four lesser-known Champagne varieties: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane.
The French word brut translates roughly as ‘raw’, and in this sense it indicates a wine bottled in its natural, raw state – i.e. without a significant addition of sweetness (dosage). In practice, almost all brut Champagnes do receive a small addition of sweetness prior to final bottling. Nowadays, the terms “brut nature” and “zero dosage” are used to indicate champagnes with no dosage at all. See Brut Nature.
Rows of riddling racks in Champagne
The laws governing Champagne wine labelsdefine brut wine as “containing less than 15 grams per liter of sugar”. This same definition is reflected in E.U. law, and applies to sparkling wines from all European countries. In non-sparkling wines, which lack Champagne’s sparkle and high acidity, this much sugar would leave the wine perceptibly sweet.
The brut style was pioneered by top-end Champagne house Perrier-Jouet in the mid-19th Century, originally for their extensive market in England. The 1846 vintage marked the beginning of a new era; in that year Perrier-Jouet took the brave decision not to add any sugar to their wines destined for the English market. Prior to this, Champagne had always been sweetened, but the drier, unsweetened style soon gained in popularity. Technically speaking, what Perrier-Jouet created would now be defined as Brut Nature.
In the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, dry, white, brut Champagne has become the default. It is now vastly more popular than sweeter styles such as Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.
The other official Champagne sweetness levels:
- Doux (50+ g/L)
- Demi-sec (33–50 g/L)
- Sec (17–35 g/L)
- Extra-Sec (12–20 g/L)
- Brut (0–12 g/L)
- Extra Brut (0–6 g/L)
- Brut Nature/Zero (0–3 g/L).
Chardonnay – Pinot Noir are commonly blended together to produce sparkling wines around the world. The best cuvees are typically made in the traditional methode champenoise (though charmat and carbonation are possible) and may be produced as vintage or non-vintage wines. The blend has its roots in France, but is successfully produced in Italy and a number of New World countries.
The proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will vary according to the preferences of producers and vintage conditions, but using equal amounts of the two is not uncommon. Wines made in this style can be crisp and fresh-tasting in some examples, steely and mineral-driven in others or have characteristics of bread, toast and butter. Some of the best wines will have elements of each of these categories and be rich, integrated and ageworthy.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blends
The sweetness varies considerably depending on the desired style of the producer. Dry wines will be indicated by the term brut, while sweeter styles will be called sec, or doux.
Sparkling rosé is another common interpretation of the blend, made by adding a small amount of red Pinot Noir wine to the cuvee, or occasionally by allowing an extended period of skin contact before the juice is pressed. Consequently, sparkling rosé has more red-fruit characteristics than its white counterpart, and has a color that ranges from light salmon to brilliant ruby.
Grapes used in sparkling Chardonnay – Pinot Noir wines are picked earlier than those used in still wines to maximise acidity; the style is therefore suited to cool-climate viticulture. Chardonnay adds texture and nutty and brioche flavors, and Pinot adds its myriad aromas and red-fruit notes.
In France the blend’s most famous role is in the wines of Champagne, although it is differentiated from the traditional Champagne blend by the absence of Pinot Meunier. It is also used in Burgundy to produce the region’s sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne.
The Italian region of Franciacorta, with its gravely, sandy soils, has had great success with Chardonnay – Pinot Noir wines, sometimes with an addition of Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco).
Outside Europe, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are used to make sparkling wines in various parts of the United States (particularly California and Washington), in Australia (most notably Tasmania and the Adelaide Hills), in New Zealand (predominantly Marlborough) and South Africa (Stellenbosch).
Food matches for Chardonnay – Pinot Noir wines include:
- Bay scallops with garlic and parsley butter
- Freshly shucked oysters
- Camembert cheese
(sources : wine-searcher)
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