Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Report from … Wine Writers' Circle Tasting – Groupe Soleil Growers Champagne – October 29, 2012

When I first heard of “Growers Champagne” I thought the Apple Cider company from BC was branching out.  But then it was explained to me that Growers Champagne is just what it sounds like – Champagne (from the actual region in France) made by the actual growers themselves, instead of the large Champagne houses … these “growers” aren’t looking for consistency in the bottle from year-to-year, they want the difference of each vintage to shine through, as well as the characteristics of their own vineyard to show in the glass.  According to Stephen Cohen, owner of Groupe Soleil – an Ontario wine agent specializing in these Champagnes, there are over 5000 of these growers Champagnes being made and many are organic and biodynamic.  Groupe Soleil usually has 20-30 different kinds at any one time but in very small amounts.

Today we tried 6 of these particular bubblies – four of them are reviewed below:

Andre Clouet NV Rosé ($59.95)
The wine is made from grapes grown on an 8 hectare vineyard and is 100% Pinot Noir.  Hints of raspberry and citrus with a lovely linger, good acidity; quite the yeast-based palate.  Only 3000 cases produced. (****+)

Champagne Bereche et Fils NV Bereche Reserve Brut ($49.95)
This house was started in the mid-1800’s and still has a modest 10 hectares of land.  This bubbly has a beauty of a nose with great almond biscotti aromas; the palate is biscuity and lemony with a short finish, but one that keeps you craving more.  Made from equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier (35% each) the rest being Pinot Noir.  5000 cases produced. (**** ½)

Andre Clouet NV Clouet Silver Brut – Brut Nature ($49.95)
“Brut Nature” refers to the wine having no sweetened dosage, which means it’s naturally dry; made from 100% Pinot Noir.  The aromas are reminiscent of lemon cookies and fresh bread, while the palate shows off a certain amount of creaminess along with lemon curd and vanilla cream … it all ends with a medium length finish that’s acid-driven.  3500 cases produced. (****+)

Champagne Laherte 2008 Les Clos ($78.00)
Here’s a unique Champagne made from 7 grape varieties (all official for the region): Fromenteau, Arbanne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Petite Meslier; and it all comes from a single hectare vineyard, kind of a field blend Champagne all picked and crushed together.  Interesting to note that 60% of the wine used comes from the 2008 vintage.  Lovely floral, biscuit, almond and mineral make their way through the wine at one point or another on either the nose or the palate … mostly both.  Lovely finish.  (****+)

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