crayeres

Watching The 100

-Clarke is hella annoying in season 1.

-Charlotte was a dick and Wells didn’t deserve to die.

-Octavia and Lincoln are cute af.

-Hated Bellamy at first.

-Finn is a psycho.

-Octavia is extremely attractive.

-Abigail is fucking annoying.

-Super excited about Lexa.

-Reapers are cray.

-Mountain men are even crayer. 

Cuvée des Crayeres by Eric Rodez

Pair With: Lille
From the northern reaches of France comes the origin of our Coulommiers-style cheese and thicker ancestor to Brie, and the name itself, Lillé. Handmade in small batches, each wheel is a slightly different weight. Aged in its own special room, and lovingly turned regularly, the delicate rind develops evenly with a white downy bloom. This decadently sumptuous soft-ripened cheese has a supple paste core enveloped by a rich creamy body and reveals a subtle mushroom nuance with notes of nut and butter. The rind gives a nice salty bite versus the delicate interior.

About the Wine:
Varietal Composition: 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay

Tasting Notes: Champagne gold color small light golden reflections. The nose delivers floral and mineral notes allowing sweat to the relief of agitation white and red fruits. The mouth fresh and generous plays notes of berries spring.

Producer: Champagne Eric Rodez is a family-run business comprising a 16 acre-large vineyard, all of which in Ambonnay. As planting the Pinot Meunier is not allowed when you want to obtain a Grand Cru Wine classification, the Rodez plantations are composed of 55% Pinot Noir and of 45% Chardonnay.

BEYOND THE BUBBLES... Champagne in soil and sips

The Crayeres of Champagne

Most of us arrived in Champagne in one piece.  Some had lost their luggage and others had gone straight from working the floor to their flight.  Overall, we managed to settle in over a light and casual lunch at Le Café du Palais with our fearless leader for the week- Chef du Caves of Ruinart, Frederic Panaiotis.  After running inside to avoid the afternoon rain and then sneaking back outside when it simmered down, and then back indoors when it started again and then back out when the sun showed promise- we understood that this wine region is truly at the mercy of the weather’s emotions.

After lunch we headed to Ruinart where we crawled underneath the city of Reims and into the notorious Crayeres.  These ancient cellars carved out of chalk provide the perfect environment for aging Champagne.  Through the winding tunnels, over 2,000 years old, we went deeper until we eventually were 125 feet underground.  Originally these old quarries were discovered when people started to notice that their livestock went missing in the fields.  The cows and goats had been falling through crevices in the ground and escaping into these massive tunnels!

Originally, it was illegal to sell Champagne in bottles since these little containers were easier to smuggle out of the region than large barrels.  When barrels left Champagne they were taxed, hence smaller containers were not welcome until 1728.  This change sparked the years of success that followed.  In 1729, Ruinart was the first house to officially start a Champagne business.  The Benedictine Monk, Dominus Ruinart, with a degree in philosophy, theology and french literature started the legacy.  His nephew, who ran the family textile business, began giving the Champagne away for free, as a thank-you gift to his loyal customers.

The Crayere cellars were used as a shelter during World War II, a perfect haven where locals were safe from the bombing above.  It was also after the war came to an end that Ruinart began to focus seriously on the Champagne market.  The fresher style appealed to the current owner who in 1947 produced one of the first vintage Blanc de Blancs.  In the 1980’s their style became a bit more reductive in style.  Chardonnay was already the perfect grape to capture aromatic freshness and this new method defined the now well-known house style.  This is what gives the wine it’s signature toasty and fresh fruit aromas.

Vertical of Dom Ruinart Champagne

To start the vertical tasting of Dom Ruinart out of magnums we prepped our palates with the Ruinart blanc de blancs, also in large format.  Frederic reminded us that this is a wine that unlike Dom Ruinart, they are not looking for aging potential in.  To achieve this accesibility they use some village level fruit but the majority is sourced from Premier cru sites in the Montagne de Reims and the Cotes de Blancs.  The wine spends 3-3 ½ years on its lees and as always Ruinart makes their Champagne in a very reductive method.  This adds to the toasty aromatics and out of a magnum, these notes are exemplified.  The bottle we tasted was a blend of the 2010, 2009 and 2008 harvest.  Typically they use 3 consecutive harvests for their entry blanc de blancs.

Now ready, we jumped into the Dom Ruinart vertical. Since the 2005 Chardonnay crop was too small and the 2003 vintage was too warm, no Dom Ruinart was made.

Therefore, we started with the 2004 Blanc de Blancs which was disgorged in June 2013 with 5.5 grams of dosage.  The Chardonnay here is all Grand Cru fruit coming from the Cote des Blancs (Les Mesnil, Chouilly and of course Avize) as well as a tiny bit from the Montage de Reims for added structure (Sillerey, Puiselex and Ambonnay).  This is the standard blend for Dom Ruinart.  Still a baby, the wine held tight to it’s core of lemon and grapefruit.

The 2002 DR BdB was disgorged in January of 2013 and because it has more structure, Frederic decided it could hold up to a bit more sugar (6.5g/l), which is barely perceptible.  A favorite of the group, the ’02 is much fresher and displays waxy, biscuity and honeyed aromas.

In 2001, to the delight of local Champagne mushroom foragers, it was a wonderful year for Porcini’s.  To the dismay of winemakers, a good mushroom year usually means a bad grape year.  There was too much botrytis on the grapes.  In 2000, a Dom Ruinart was actually made but it wasn’t released.  Sadly, it quickly oxidized and fell flat.  1998 was a musty year of sorts and a crown cap problem halted any DR releases.

One of the coolest vintages in the last 20 years, the 1996 DR BdB showed as such.  Frederic warned us- “90% of 1996 Champagne’s are dead now from a lot of premature oxidation.”  This vintage in particular attracted a lot of attention in the press who claimed it was a perfect vintage.  The fruit was harvestsed at 10.5% alcohol potential and with 10g of acidity- textbook excellent champagne grapes.  The problem was that many growers were distracted by the acidity and the grapes weren’t actually physiologically ripe.  The wine still sung well.  It displayed typical green/grey cool year aromatics and the dosage, although high (at 10g/l), was unperceptible.  The wine was disgorged in 2008 and today is waxy and high-toned.  Frederic also ventured to guess that the similair 2008 vintage might show like 1996 in the future.

The next, 1993 DR BdB, was as expected, showing much more development.  The palate was all clotted cream, oily, hazleuts, lemon curd but still there was an underlying freshness.  It was around this year that people began to start controlling malolactic fermentation and this insight is obvious in the final product.  At Ruinart, all of the wines go through this process but only for the mouthfeel, Frederic tries to avoid most diacetyl notes.  The 1992 and 1993 vintages were variable and many houses were divided on whether or not to release vintage wines.  With 9.5g/l of dosage, this wine was degorged in 2005.

The 1990 DR BdB is a bit unusual.  Here, half of their fruit is from the Cote des Blancs and half from the Montagne de Reims.  This down-the-middle split gives the wine more structure however it is not as refined and its’s age begins to show with mushroomy and oxidative notes.  With high acidity (8.7), this big year still carries some freshness.

Next, we switched to Dom Ruinart Rose, starting with the 1998 vintage.  The only difference between the DR Rose and DR BdB wines is the addition of up to 20% Pinot Noir to the base white blend.  The Pinot Noir spends 9-10 days macerating with it’s skins (some pigeage is performed) to pick up tannin and color for better aging potential.  In the 1998 you have all Grand Cru fruit- 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir with 5g/l of residual sugar.  The wine is fresh and floral- tons of potpurri, hibiscus and herbaceous notes.

The 1996 DR Rose is much more savory and powerful.  Dried roses on the palate give way to smoked meats and pungent aromatics.  Beguiling us all with 10g/l of residual sugar, this quickly became a favorite.  Sometimes wines with a lower residual sugar content can oxidize at a more rapid rate than their drier counterparts, which certainly proved true here.  Their cepage here is 17% Pinot Noir (mostly from Sillery and other Montagne de Reims Grand Cru sites) and 83% Cote des Blancs Chardonnay.

A cold vintage was next- 1988 Dom Ruinart Rose.  Displaying an orange tinge, it was funky and gamey with truffle, leather, moss and miso jumping out of the glass.  It carries a similair cepage of 18-20% Pinot Noir and was picked with 9.2% potential alcohol.  However, like the 1996 vintage, the fruit was harvested when it was not quite physiologically ripe.  

Lastly, a magnum was poured for us and we had to blind-taste and guess the vintage.  By the color we could obviously see it was Rose and it shared similair elements with the 1988 we had just tasted.  Some thought it was displaying more youthful notes and others thought it definitely held more age.  Overall, this vintage I found to be holding up much better than it’s close friend of ’88.  The wine turned out to be 1986 Dom Ruinart Rose and it was surely a darling amongst the group.

The Vineyards of Champagne

The next day was spent in the vineyards.  We started in the northernomost Grand Cru, Sillery, overlooking the Moulin a Verzenay.  In order to ripen grapes in such a northern, cold climate one needs to optimize exposure to sunlight.  This allows carbonic gas to turn into sugar in the process of photosynthesis.  Temperature also plays an important role as well as high-density planting.  In Sillery, there were 7,500-8,000(vines per hectare), one of the highest averages in France.  The vines are no more than 2 feet from the ground so that they can absorb heat from the warmed soils.  Conversely, spring frosts can become more severe the closer the vine is to the ground so a balance is necessary.

In Champagne there are four approved pruning methods- Chablis and Cordon (the only two approved for Grand Cru vineyards), Valle de la Marne (common for Meunier) and the Double-Guyot (common in the Aube).  Frederic noted that in order to manage the shape, growth and rejuvenation of the plant the Chablis method is best although it’s pruning is much more time consuming.  In comparison to the Cordon method, it will take a worker 30% longer to prune in the Chablis method.  Funnily enough, they do not use this method in the region of Chablis itself where the Guyot still reigns.

In Champagne it isn’t all cheery celebration.  Problems such as powdery and downy mildew as well as botrytis are prevalent.  The catepillars of moths will make a nest in the grape bunch which can make the fruit more susceptible to botrytis.  To combat bud-eating insects and moths, many use a method known as Sexual confusion.  Since you don’t want these bugs to lay eggs, pheremonesa are emitted throughout the vineyards.  Once the area is saturated, the males are confused and cannot find the females in order to produce and they simply die.  Although rather efficient the application is time-consuming.

After walking around the vineyars of the Montagne de Reims, we hiked from Champillon to Hautvillers in the Vallee de la Marne.  The silvery tops of Pinot Meunier vines shone in the sun and we found fossils, chalk as well as the infamous “les bleus de ville.”  After a light lunch we took our tour underground to La Cave aux Coquillages (cave of seashells) in Fleury La Riviere.  Here we focused on the geology of Champagne and what lies underneath these well-known vineyards.  These caves had been excavated by local winemaker, Patrice Legrand.  He first started digging as a hobby, but as more shells were found and discoveries made, he enlisted his family’s help to create over 250 metres of tunnels!  He gave us all his 90% Pinot Meunier Champagne to sip on, Legrand-Letour, and insisted that the minerals we see in the caves, the smells of iodine and chalk, can all be picked up in the wine.  

Regardless of whether or not “minerality” can actually be translated from soil to wine, one cannot deny the influence of Champagne’s soil on the final product.  45 million years ago the whole region was a tropical sea filled with sharks, crabs, coral, gastropods and other marine life.  Over the years these creatures and their remains settled into the sandy soils which today we know to be the Kimmeridgian Ridge, a basin of limestone marl.  One shell that kept popping up was the “Campanille Giganteum,” a large snail measuring up to 60cms.  The excavator speculated that the creature might have died of over-population due to a lack of natural predators in the old sea of Champagne.

Blind Tasting of Blanc de Blancs

The next morning we really put our palates to work.  Ahead of us was 6 flights of Champagne.  Each flight held 5 wines- all Non-vintage Blanc de Blancs.  The goal of this tasting was to see the many different expressions of pure Chardonnay from different producers, regions and styles.

Flight 1: Lesser known regions for Chardonnay (excet Leclapart)

- Francis Boulard & Fille VV, Cormicy (’11 base)- super bone-dry the base vintage of 2011 showed some botrytis and a green character. Group Rank- #4

- Chartogne Taillet Heurtebise, Merfy (’08 base)- Leesy/beer quality, harsher bubbles, white pepper. Group Rank #3

- Pascal Doquet, Vertus- Buttercup, honeysuckle, pretty. Group Rank #2

- Bernard Lonclas, Bassuet- More toasty, great acidity. Group Rank #1

- David Leclapart L’Apotre, Trepail- rich, weighty, diacetyl. Group Rank #5

Flight 2: Aube Producers (except Chiquet)

- Demarne-Frison Brut Nature- Fleshy, slightly oxidative, floral. Group Rank #1

- Vincent Couche- 6 g/l dosage, Chardonnay from Montgueux, 45% oak used.  Group Rank #2

- Gaston Chiquet Brut- Burgundian aromatics, reductive.  Group Rank #2

- Cedric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne (V.10)- highly reductive potentially from too many yeasts fighting for nutrients, salami, smoked meats, the structure is wonderful but sadly too reductive on nose.  Group Rank #5

- Jacques Lassaigne Vignes de Montgueux- Oxidative, salty, savory.  Group Rank #4

Flight 3: Cote des Blancs

- Pierre Peters Grand Cru Extra Brut- Vegetal (2011 base), low dosage.  Group Rank #4

- De Saint Gall Extra Brut- Co-op in Avize, rich, biscuity, low dosage. Group Rank #1

- Guiborat Fils a Cramant- elegant, floral, pretty, slick palate. Group Rank #3

- Agrapart & Fils Terroirs Grand Cru- darkest color, 25% oak used, dosage 5g/l, 2010 base, caramel and rich palate.  Group Rank #4

- Veuve Fourny 1er Cru- 25% oak used, 6g/l RS, reductive.  Group Rank #1

Flight 4: Cote des Blancs

- Diebolt-Vallois a Cramant- floral, musty, vinous.  Group Rank #1

- Pierre Gimonnet “Cuvee Cuis, 1er Cru”- clean, soft, elegant.  Group Rank #2

- Pierre Moncuit (2011 harvest base)- musty, vegetal, wet rocks and hay, great acidity.  Group Rank #4

- Pascal Doquet Le Mesnil Sur Oger Grand Cru- (2004 and 2003 base harvests), disgorged in 2012, this particular bottle might be slightly lightstruck, some diacetyl, creamy, honeyed.  Group Rank #5

- Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus- perfumed, charming, pinkish color, no dosage, 2009 base vintage.  Group Rank #3

Flight 5: The Big Houses

- GH Mumm de Cramant- cheese rind, must, high acidity.  Group Rank #4

- Gosset Grand- tart, some mineral notes, rubbery.  Group Rank #2

- Billecart Brut Grand Cru- white flowers, delicate, pretty.  Group Rank #3

- Henriot Brut- reductive, smokey, stinky meat, fuller in style.  Group Rank #5

- Delamotte Brut- very minty, palate fresh and clean.  Group Rank #1

Flight 6: Unicorn Wines

- Ulysse Collin Brut- heavily oaked, a bit reductive, smokey, meaty.  Group Rank #5

- Bereche et Fils “Les Beaux Regards” Brut Nature- disgorged Jan. 2015. 3 g/l dosage. 2011 harvest base.  Savory, good acidity.  Group Rank #3

- Jacques Selosse Brut Initiale- darkest color, white dried roses, showing development.  Group Rank #3

- Vouette et Sorbee “Blanc d’Argile” Extra Brut- zippy, zesty lemon.  Group Rank #1

- Laherte Freres Brut Nature- waxy, dusty, dried leaves, tart palate. Group Rank #2

CIVC Experimental Vineyard and Sustainable Viticulture

After a quick lunch at Les Avises (restaurant of Anselme Selosse in Avize) the group headed to Chouilly where the CIVC has established an experimental vineyard.  The history of Champagne is respected while steps towards bettering the future are made.

In 496, King Clovis was baptized in Reims.  This started the tradition of crowning the Kings of France in the little town, calling upon a need for a celebratory beverage.  The local wine of course happened to be Champagne, connecting Royalty and ceremonies to the beverage.

Today the region has a production area of 34,000 hectares, with a small 15 hectare carved out for experimentation.  Here, in the vineyard of Plumecoq, the CIVC are playing around with different grape varieties- Muscat, hybrids and even old friends (Petit Meslier, Arbane and Pinot Blanc).  They focus on sustainable development- answering the current generations needs without hindering the future generations.

This continued improvement is carried out by researched protection of the vineyards and organic viticulture.  Since 1996, pesticides have been reduced by half in Champagne.  Biodiversity is used to fight problems with natural predators (like Sexual Confusion).  Organic viticulture believes in the use of only non-synthetic products whereas sustainable viticulture uses synthetic products when necessary.

They also preserve and promote the region’s terroir by installing Hydraulic facilities in the vineyards and monitoring soil erosion and run-off.  Responsible management of water and waste products is essential, they aim for 100% recovery of byproducts.  In respect to conserving energy, they must optimize oenological processes and transports as well as promote responsbile purchasing.

Walking around the Plumecoq vineyard, each row was different.  Aside from vines, a multitude of experimental plants are present to promote or deter different insects.  Organic and sustainable viticulture is compared as well as different exposures and water usage.  The future of Champagne is not being left to chance, the CIVC is carefully monitoring and planning steps for generations to come.

The 2015 Ruinart Challenge Sommelier trip was certainly luxurious at times.  Between meals at Michelin starred restaurants like L’Apicius and L’Assiette Champenoise, a tour of Berluti Bespoke Ateliers, the Reims Cathedral and staying at Grand Hotel Palais Royal in Paris, we became quite spoiled in our adventures.  However, this was just the make-up on an already pretty face.  The trip awarded us the opportunity to experience Champagne in an inclusive manner.  We became experts on soil types, viticulture in the region and winemaking styles.  Beyond the bubbles, the information surrounding Champagne is vast and no one can ever truly experience it all, but we certainly got a few sips closer…

I vini vanno conservati al meglio, posto in cantina affittasi

Roma, (askanews) - Per gli amanti del buon vino non contano solo l'anno della vendemmia, la casa di produzione, la regione d'origine. E’ importante anche come e dove si conserva. Dettagli che possono alterarne il sapore, il gusto e togliere il piacere di assaggiare una bottiglia speciale e pregiata. E a Parigi stanno molto attenti a questi dettagli e hanno preso spunto dalla Gran Bretagna dove da tempo si scelgono posti specifici dove custodire i vini.

Per questo, 20 metri sottoterra, c'è una della più grandi cantine dove vengono conservate oltre un milione di bottiglie, alcune anche rare e di valore, che arrivano a costare 100mila euro.

Andrew Amiach, manager del Crayeres des Monquartieres:

“Qui sotto la temperatura è di 13 gradi. L'umidità e i gradi vengono mantenuti costanti. L'igrometro è al 70%, perfetto per conservare al meglio l'etichetta e il tappo di sughero” spiega.

Inizialmente conservavano qui le loro bottiglie solo ristoratori o venditori di vini, in cerca di spazio e condizioni ideali, ora la cantina ha aperto le porte ai privati. Per meno di 10 euro al mese i clienti possono tenere fino a 50 bottiglie. Già ce ne sono 100mila, controllate meticolosamente.

A Lione creare cantine di questo tipo è già un business. David ha ereditato 1.000 bottiglie da suo padre e si è rivolto a questa cantina.

“Non potevo tenerle a casa e conservarle bene. La temperatura è un problema, non ho gli strumenti per garantire ciò che serve a mantenere inalterate le bottiglie. Ne ho troppe”.

La richiesta di vini della Bordogna e Bordeaux è cresciuta molto negli ultimi anni, soprattutto dai mercati asiatici. Per questo conservarli al meglio diventa sempre più importante.
I vini vanno conservati al meglio, posto in cantina affittasi-VIDEO

Roma, 21 lug. (askanews) - Per gli amanti del buon vino non contano solo l'anno della vendemmia, la casa di produzione, la regione d'origine. E’ importante anche come e dove si conserva. Dettagli che possono alterarne il sapore, il gusto e togliere il piacere di assaggiare una bottiglia speciale e pregiata. E a Parigi stanno molto attenti a questi dettagli e hanno preso spunto dalla Gran Bretagna dove da tempo si scelgono posti specifici dove custodire i vini.
Per questo, 20 metri sottoterra, c'è una della più grandi cantine dove vengono conservate oltre un milione di bottiglie, alcune anche rare e di valore, che arrivano a costare 100mila euro.
Andrew Amiach, manager del Crayeres des Monquartieres:
“Qui sotto la temperatura è di 13 gradi. L'umidità e i gradi vengono mantenuti costanti. L'igrometro è al 70%, perfetto per conservare al meglio l'etichetta e il tappo di sughero” spiega.
Inizialmente conservavano qui le loro bottiglie solo ristoratori o venditori di vini, in cerca di spazio e condizioni ideali, ora la cantina ha aperto le porte ai privati. Per meno di 10 euro al mese i clienti possono tenere fino a 50 bottiglie. Già ce ne sono 100mila, controllate meticolosamente.
A Lione creare cantine di questo tipo è già un business. David ha ereditato 1.000 bottiglie da suo padre e si è rivolto a questa cantina.
“Non potevo tenerle a casa e conservarle bene. La temperatura è un problema, non ho gli strumenti per garantire ciò che serve a mantenere inalterate le bottiglie. Ne ho troppe”.
La richiesta di vini della Bordogna e Bordeaux è cresciuta molto negli ultimi anni, soprattutto dai mercati asiatici. Per questo conservarli al meglio diventa sempre più importante.
Video su askanews.it