Champagne village profile: Cuis, a premier cru in the Côte des Blancs

Diagram Cuis 201510Key facts for Cuis

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 176.0 hectares (434.9 acres), of which 96.2% Chardonnay, 3.5% Pinot Meunier, and 0.1% Pinot Noir.
Classification: Premier cru (95%)
Noted for: Chardonnay from premier cru-classified vineyards.


The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow is other open terrain, orange is built-up areas, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

East: Chouilly, grand cru
Southeast: Cramant, grand cru
South: Grauves, premier cru
Southwest: Mancy (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)
West: Monthelon (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)
Northwest: Pierry, premier cru (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

Cuis with the church in the foreground. The picture is taken from the hill south of the village with the camera directed northwest. The vineyard-clad slopes in the background are located in Pierry and Moussy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2011).

The village

Cuis is located southsoutheast of Épernay, in the northern part of the Côte des Blancs “heartland”. The village is situated just below the vineyeards on the northern part of the slope, as well as along the D10 road that runs from Épernay to most of the other Côte de Blancs villages.

The Cuis commune covers 827 hectares and has 408 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as cuitats and cuitates.

The town hall (mairie) of Cuis. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).


The vineyards in Cuis are primarily located around the northern part of the small forested area above the genuine Côte des Blancs slope. The slopes in these vineyards are from northeast- via north- to west-facing. Other than that, there are some vineyards just north of the village, partly on flatter ground and partly close to the small forested area between Cramant and Chouilly. Chardonnay dominates greatly in the vineyards.

The current vineyard surface in the Cuis commune is 176.0 hectares (434.9 acres). There are 169.4 ha Chardonnay (96.3%), 6.2 ha Pinot Meunier (3.5%), 0.1 ha Pinot Noir (0.1%), and 0.3 ha others (0.2%) Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was also 17 ha. There are 98 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Cuis includes Basses Vignes, Blancs Chiens, Bourgs, Croix Blanche, and Les Roualles.

Champagne style

Grapes from Cuis often give slightly lighter blanc de blancs Champagner than those from the nearby grand cru villages, not in the least due to the more-or-less north-facing slopes, and the level of acidity tends to be quite high. Properly used, this style can give firm Champagnes where the minerality comes to the fore even more than usual, and “aperitif Champagnes” of the elegant kind. This “lightness” probably explains why it is less common to find oaked Cuis-only Champagnes compared to oaked versions from the grand cru villages.

The premier cru status

On the now defunct échelle des crus scale, where 100% = grand cru and 90-99% = premier cru, a smaller number of villages had different numbers for white and black grapes, i.e., for Chardonnay and for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Cuis was one of them, with 95% for white grapes and 90% for black grapes, which in both cases meant premier cru status. Cuis has kept this premier cru following the abolishment of the échelle des crus, just like other villages that achieved it.

The church in Cuis. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

Champagne producers

Champagne houses/négociants

The producer status NM = négociant-manipulant means that purchased grapes can be included in the Champagnes. NM producers can be anything from small producers that supplement their own grapes with some that they buy in, to large Champagne houses that primarily rely on purchased grapes. ND = négociant-distributeur, which means that they at least partly sell Champagnes produced by someone else, but under their own name.

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name. Smaller producers with unknown status are placed under this heading.

  • Thierry Bournault (RM, Facebook page) has 4.5 ha of vineyards and started to produce under the own brand in 2004.
  • Jean Gimonnet (RM), also written Gimonnet Jean, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Pierre Gimonnet & Fils (RM), a good Special Club producer with 28 ha of vineyards, all Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs, 14 ha in Cuis, 11 ha in Cramant and Chouilly, 1 ha in Oger and 2 ha in Vertus. The annual production is 250 000 bottles. Vinification takes place in tanks, without the use of oak barrels, and the reserve wines are stored in bottles (under a light pressure). True to the Cuis standard, the style of the Champagnes tends to be light rather than heavyweight, and also elegant and mineral-driven. The range includes several vintage Champagnes from 100% Chardonnay in different styles: Gastronome, which is intended to be fresh and is sold the youngest (usually after just the minimal time on the lees, three years), Fleuron, which is more “vinous” and is produced in the largest quantity of the vintage wines, and Œnophile which is produced without dosage. Special Club originates mostly from Cramant and old vines. Current (as of 2015) and future Special Club vintages include 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. Some particularly good vintages are sold as Millésime de Collection, often (e.g. the 2005) only in magnum, but exceptionally (most recently the 2002) as an add-on designation for the Special Club, and then also in 75 cl bottles. The non-vintage Rosé de Blanc is rather new in the range and is a rosé that contains about 6-10% Pinot Noir from Bouzy. They also sell Champagnes under the brand Gimonnet-Henry.
    Pierre Gimonnet started to vinify hos own wines in the 1930s. His son Michel Gimonnet (d. 2008) was active from 1955 and retired in 1996. Since then, his sons Olivier and Didier Gimonnet have run the company. Some of the vineyards come from Larmandier Père et Fils (see below), that Gimonnet took over via Françoise Larmandier, Olivier’s and Didier’s mother. 8 ha vineyards were included.

    Below a general presentation video about Pierre Gimonnet (French audio, English subtitles) followed by another about their vintage Champagnes:

  • Gimonnet-Oger (RM), which seems to sell their Champagnes with rather high age.
  • Camille Grellet (RM)
  • Dominique Grellet (RM)
  • Larmandier Père et Fils (RM), a Special Club producer with vineyards primarily in Cramant, Chouilly, and Cuis. The annual production is 20 000 bottles. In principle run as a brand of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils. The range consists of two vintage-designated 100% Chardonnay: Perlé de Larmandier, a premier cru, Special Club, a grand cru from Cramant and Chouilly. Current (as of 2015) and future Special Club vintages include 2005, 2006, and 2008.
    The original Larmandier Père et Fils has been divided on four siblings: the brother Guy started Guy Larmandier in Vertus, Philippe started Larmandier-Bernier in Vertus, a sister married a Waris and created Wair-Larmandier in Avize, and the sister Françoise Larmandier has kept the name Larmandier Père et Fils, but was married Michel Gimonnet who were behind Pierre Gimonnet & Fils. A smaller part of the 8 ha Larmandier vineyards that have ended up with Gimonnet are still (2015) used for production of Champagne under the name Larmandier Père et Fils.
  • Marie-Le Brun (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants with 4 ha Chardonnay in different premier cru and grand cru villages in the Côte des Blancs. The range includes a  vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Didier Michel (RM), which has about 70% of the vineyard holding in Cuis and about 30% in the grand cru villages Chouilly and Cramant. The range includes a vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Paul Michel (RM)
  • Patrice Miraux (RC)
  • Benoit Munier (RC), has vineyards in Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, and Oger.
  • Daniel Robert (RC)
  • Jean-Claude Vallois (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. The range includes a vintage blanc de blancs.

Comment: the list may not be complete.


  • Coopérative Vinicole de Cuis is a cooperative in Cuis founded in 1947. The Champagnes are sold under the brand:


© Tomas Eriksson 2015

Posted in Champagne villages | Tagged | Leave a comment

Champagne village profile: Celles-sur-Ource in the Barséquanais with quite a lot of Pinot Blanc

Diagram Celles-sur-Ource 201505Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Barséquanais
Vineyards and grape varieties: 307.8 hectares (760.6 acres), of which 82% Pinot Noir, 11% Chardonnay, 2% Pinot Meunier, and 6% other, mainly Pinot Blanc.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)
Noted for: Several varietal Pinot Blanc Champagnes originates from this village.


The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow is other open terrain, orange is built-up areas, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

Northeast: Ville-sur-Arce
East: Landreville
Southeast: Neuville-sur-Seine (a small strip of the commune)
South: Buxeuil
Southwest: Polisy
West: Polisot
Northwest: Bar-sur-Aube
Northnorthwest and north: Merrey-sur-Arce
Comment: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been added.

The village

Celles-sur-Ource is located along the Ource river, on its left bank, which means south of the river. Ource empties into the Seine river just downstream of Cells-sur-Ource, on the border between the neighbouring communes Bar-sur-Seine and Merrey-sur-Arce. Celles-sur-Ource is counted as part of the Barséquanais area, which simply means the “Bar-sur-Seine area”. Barséquanais is part of the Côte des Bar, which is the southernmost part of the Champagne wine region, and is located in the Aube department.

Vine growing in the upper Seine Valley is supposed to have a history back to Roman days, but the founding of the Cistercian monastery in Mores (in the Celles-sur-Ource commune) in 1156 was of importance for the Medieval wine production in the area.

The Celles-sur-Ource commune covers 959 hectares and has 492 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as cellois and celloises.

A bridge over Ource in the Celles-sur-Ource commune, in Mores which is upstream from the village itself. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Philippesalv, 2013).


The vineyards in Celles-sur-Ource are located on both sides of the Ource river, both the right bank (north) and the left bank (south). Pinot Noir dominates greatly.

The current vineyard surface in the Celles-sur-Ource commune is 307.8 hectares (760.6 acres). There are 251.8 ha Pinot Noir (81.8%), 32.5 ha Chardonnay (10.6%), 6.1 ha Pinot Meunier (2.0%), and 17.4 ha others (5.7%). Most of “others” is likely to be Pinot Blanc. Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 239 ha. There are 162  vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc, though in this case grapes growing somewhere in Germany (where the grape variety is known as Weißer Burgunder). Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo ANKAWÜ, 2004).

Celles-sur-Ource is the source of several of the Champagnes produced entirely or mainly from Pinot Blanc, which is one of the four unusual but allowed grape varieties of the wine region, together with Arbane, Petit Meslier, and Pinot Gris. At 86 ha (0.25% of the total vineyard surface of the appellation), of which 78 ha in the Aube department (1.0%), Pinot Blanc is after all less unusual than the other three varieties. Many growers in Celles-sur-Ource use 5-10% Pinot Blanc in their cuvées without branding them as any kind of “special Champagner”.

Pinot Blanc can be rather similar to Chardonnay, but tends to go more in the purely fruity direction, sometimes with slightly sweeter fruit notes such as melon or tropical fruit. The character of flowers or mineral tends to be less developed than in Chardonnay, but when it comes to minerality, it may play a role where the grapes are grown.

Pinot Blanc is also the most common grape variety in Crémant d’Alsace, the sparkling wines from Alsace, so also in other locations it is known as a variety suitable for sparkling wines.

Single vineyard sites

  • Beauregard, a vineyard with north- and northwest-facing slopes. Comte de Cheurlin produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from here, from 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Le Champ du Clos. Charles Dufour (in Landreville) has Pinot Blanc in this vineyard. Most of it is used for the cuvée Bulles de Comtoir, which contains 10% Pinot Blanc, but a smaller part is used for a vineyard-designated Champagne, Le Champ du Clos Blanc de Blancs. Also Comte de Cheurlin produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this vineyard site, from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Blanc.
  • Les Proies. Pierre Gerbais has a plot of Pinot Blanc in this vineyard planted in 1904, which is the main source for the cuvée L’Originale, from 100% Pinot Blanc.
  • Le Suchot. Comte de Cheurlin produces a vineyard-designated rosé Champagne from this vineyard site, from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir.

Other vineyard sites include:

  • On the right bank of Ource (north): La Côte Bricard.
  • On the left bank of Ource (south): Les Bodonnots, Le Bruyant, Les Caurois, Presle, Le Val d’Eviée, Les Vignes Basses.
  • Unknown part of the commune: Les Côtes, Sainte-Marie.

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Veuve Cheurlin (NM), also J. Arnoult, which has 3 ha of their own vineyards in Celles-sur-Ource, Landreville, Loches-sur-Ource, Chacenay, and Saint-Usage. The vintage Champagne is composed of  80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Blanc, where the latter is from old vines and is oaked.
    Edmond Cheurlin planted his first vines in 1898, the son Raymond started his own “RM production” in the 1930s, and his son Alain Cheurlin created the brand Veuve Cheurlin in 1978. In 1985, the Champagne house Jean Arnoult was bought; it had been founded in 1919 as the first Champagne house in Aube.

Other Champagne houses/négociants

The producer status NM = négociant-manipulant means that purchased grapes can be included in the Champagnes. NM producers can be anything from small producers that supplement their own grapes with some that they buy in, to large Champagne houses that primarily rely on purchased grapes. ND = négociant-distributeur, which means that they at least partly sell Champagnes produced by someone else, but under their own name.

  • Brocard Pierre (NM), with two varietal vintage Champagnes in their range: a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.
  • Thomas Cheurlin, with the company name Le Suchot, sells Champagnes under the names:
    • Cheurlin-DanginCuvée Origance is composed of 80% Pinot Blanc from old vines, 10% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier.
    • Comte de Cheurlin (NM). The upper part of the range is made up of three vineyard-designated Champagnes: Blanc de Blanc Champs du Clos from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Blanc, Rosé Célébrité Le Suchot from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, and Blanc de Noir Beauregard from 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Paul Dangin & Fils (NM). The vintage Champagne is 100% Chardonnay and is oaked (refers to the 2005 vintage). The range includes a 100% Pinot Blanc named Cuvée St Cyr. Champagnes are also sold under the brand:
    • Dangin-Fays
  • Daniel Deheurles (NM)
  • Pierre Gerbais (NM). The range includes the cuvée L’Originale from 100% Pinot Blanc, which mainly originates from a plot in the vineyard Les Proies planted in 1904.
  • Didier Langry (NM). Réserve is composed of 80% Pinot Blanc from old vines and 20% Pinot Noir.
  • Marcel Vézien (NM), has about 20 ha vineyard in Celles-sur-Ource, Landreville, Ville-sur-Arce, and Les Riceys.

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Baroni (RM), has 3.47 ha of vineyards in five villages in the Côte des Bar including Celles-sur-Ource andLes Riceys. The vintage Champagne is a varietal Pinot Noir (refers to the 2004 vintage).
  • Cédric Bouchard is one of the new generation of high-end small growers, and runs his company under the name Roses de Jeanne, and earlier (before 2014) also Inflorescence for some part of the range. The entire range consists of varietal wines (all except two are Pinot Noir) that all are vineyard-designated. Vinification is performed entirely in steel tanks or enameled tanks, i.e., no oak is used, and the Champagnes are sold with less pressure than usual (4.5 instead of 6 atm). Before the two ranges were fused, the annual production was about 6000 bottles of Roses de Jeanne and about 9000 flaskor of Inflorescence, so the bottles aren’t too easy to find. The entry wine is called Côte de Val Vilaine and is in a slightly lighter style than the rest, but has good concentration and often shows so much minerality that it could be taken for a Chardonnay-dominated cuvée despite its 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is located in the neighborhood of Polisy. (It is common to see this Champagne referred to as Inflorescence, but when that label was used its full name was actuallyInflorescence Blanc de Noirs Côte de Val Vilaine.) Côte de Béchalin, which is a bit more powerful, was also part of the former Inflorescence range, initially under the name La ParcelleLes Ursules from Pinot Noir was the first Cédric Bouchard Champagne, and it was followed by Le Creux d’Enfer, a rosé saignée, La Haute-Lemblée from Chardonnay and La Bolorée from Pinot Blanc, all from the Celles-sur-Ource area. Presle is produced from Pinot Noir. The vintage is specified by a code on the label: V + the last two digits of the vintage, for example V12 = 2012.
    Cédric Bouchard started in 2000, then 1.09 ha, under the name Roses de Jeanne which is taken from his grandmother Janika and her roses. The first vineyard used was Les Ursules, and it was launched in 2002. The three other Champagnes in the original Roses de Jeanne range followed 2004-2005. The vineyard Val Vilaine near Polisy was leased by him from his father starting in 2003, and the brand Inflorescence was created for those Champagnes. In that case, Cédric Bouchard had the status of négociant-distributeur (ND). Côte de Béchalin was purchased in 2007 from a friend of the family, and some bottles from older vintages were also taken over. From 2014 all Champagnes are sold under the name Roses de Jeanne, after Cédric took over ownership.
  • Jean-Claude Bouchard et Fils, has 5.4 ha of vineyards with 80% Pinot Noir, 19% Chardonnay, and 1% Pinot Meunier. The annual production is about 48 000 bottles.
  • Michel Brocard (RM), has 8 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne consists of 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Blanc (refers to 2008). The cuvée 100% is composed of 100% Pinot Blanc.
  • Lionel Carreau (RC)
  • Arnaud de Cheurlin (RM), has 6 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is composed of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier (refers to the 2009 vintage).
  • L&S Cheurlin
  • Richard Cheurlin (RM)
  • Marcel Deheurles & Fils (RM), has vineyards in five communes. The range includes Céleste, a 100% Pinot Blanc.
  • Maurice Delot (RM), sometimes M. Delot, just Delot or Delot Père et Fils, has 8 ha of vineyards. Of the two vintage Champagnes, La Champenois is composed of 100% Pinot Noir and L’Orée du Bois is a 100% Chardonnay which is oaked. The range also includes Montre Cul, a vineyard-designated 100% Chardonnay, and Cuvée Légende from 100% Pinot Blanc.
  • De Lozey. The vintage Champagne is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (refers to the 2004 vintage).
  • André Fays & Fils (RM), has about 5 ha of vineyards.
  • Philippe Fays (RM), has 5 ha of vineyards.
  • Fumey-Tassin (website not active in Oct 2015)
  • Michel Furdyna (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants with vineyards in Celles-sur-Ource, Gyé-sur-Seine, Landreville, Loches-sur-Ource, Neuville-sur-Seine, and Plaines-Saint-Lange. Of the two vintage Champagnes, Cuvée Préstige is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and La Loge from 100% old vine Pinot Noir.
  • Gautherot (RM), which has several Champagnes including Pinot Blanc in their range: Carte d’Or (non-vintage) with 25% Pinot Blanc and 75% Pinot Noir, Grande Réserve (non-vintages) with 5% Pinot Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, and 75% Pinot Noir, and the top cuvée Exception composed of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir from the best vines. The vintage Champagne is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.
  • Gyéjacquot Frères (RM), has vineyards in four villages.
  • Huguenot-Tassin, has 7 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Noire Spéciale Millésimée and consists of 100% Pinot Noir from old vines. The rage also includes Cuvée Les Fioles Rosées Friandise, which is something highly unusual, a rosé demi-sec.
  • Robert Jaillant
  • Jean Laurent  (RM, website not active in Oct 2015; Facebook page), has about 16 ha of vineyards with about 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. Older labels are simply labelled Laurent.
  • Raymond Laurent (RM), can also be labelled Laurent.
  • Marin-Lasnier (RM), has 5.3 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 40 000 bottles.
  • Eric Legrand (RM), also Legrand Frères, has vineyards with 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Blanc, and 5% Pinot Meunier. The vintage Champagne is 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Eric Maître (RM)
  • Eric Patour, has 7 ha of vineyards in Polisy, Polisot, Landreville, and Viviers-sur-Artaut.
  • Michel Patour (RM)
  • Petit-Camusat (RM) has an address in Noé-les-Maillets but the labels also specifies “elaboré á Celles-sur-Ource”, so they obviously have a facility in this village. The range also includes a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs produced from Pinot Blanc from old vines of at least 50 years.
  • Gérard Pilloud
  • Julien Prélat (RM)
  • Jean Sandrin (RM)
  • Simon-Devaux (RM)
  • Benoît Tassin (RM), has 4.75 ha of vineyards in Essoyes and Celles-sur-Ource.
  • Emmanuel Tassin (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants.

Comment: It is not certain that the list is complete.

Former Champagne producers

A list from 1975, published in the brochure of the 4ème Fête du Champagne in Essoyes, includes 30 “manipulants”, of which the following names are not found above. I list them the way they are written in this source, generally surname first name. Several of these could be former names of current producers, before change(s) in generation.

  • Baroni Ovidio
  • Brocard Henri
  • Brocard Marcel
  • Carreau Maurice
  • Cheurlin André
  • Cheurlin Daniel
  • Cheurlin Raymond
  • Dangin Etienne
  • Gautherot André
  • Gerbais Ulysse
  • Joffroy Pierre
  • Joffroy Maurice
  • Langry Louis
  • Marteret Etienne
  • Prélat Maurice
  • Sandrin Pierre
  • Tassin Bernard
  • Tassin Jean-Marie
  • Tassin Marcel
  • Tassin Raymond


© Tomas Eriksson 2015

Posted in Champagne villages, Pinot Blanc | Leave a comment

Piedmont wines from Ferdinando Principiano

French-Swedish online wine dealer Caviste, with a habit of selling mixed cases from one producer at a time, shocked his faithful customers by moving outside of France, to Italy, Piedmont and the producer Ferdinando Principiano. Admittedly, if a shortlist of “non-French wines most Francophiles approve of” is drawn up, the wines of Piemonte will definitely be on that list, at least those produced using Nebbiolo grapes. Or as I once heard a highly opinionated Swedish wine writer say: “I don’t like Italian wines, but Piedmont is in France”… :-)

Principiano is a producer who have worked with both traditionalists and modernists, and for a time in the 1990s he produced his own modernist wines, which means wines with powerful concentration built on vinification using a lot of extraction, small oak barrels, and quite a bit of new oak. In the early 2000s, he changed his views and aimed for a more non-interventionist style and lighter wines. This means that he comes close to the traditionalists, but I get the impression that his style is more “light and polished” than what may come to mind when some hear the term Piedmontese traditionalist, and several of his wines are in a style that is approachable already on release.

On the labels, Principiano writes his name in the order surname first name, which makes some erroneously believe that he’s called “Principiano Ferdinando”.

Principiano 20151021 flaskor

These were my impressions of the wines:

2013 Dolcetto d’Alba Sant’ Anna
Grape variety: Dolcetto. 10 months in steel tanks.

Nose with cherries giving an impression of morellos and fresh cherry juice, slightly flowery and with some violet-flavoured candy. A berry- and juice-dominated palate with cherries, in particular morellos, high acidity, some cherry and cranberry bitterness, some tannins, and a long and berry-dominated aftertaste. Should probably be consumed in this young and berry-tart state, 85-86 p.

Considering the typical French style of Caviste, this is a wine that is likely to appeal to those that enjoy young Beaujolais in the “modern, elevated quality” style.

2013 Barbera d’Alba Laura
Grape variety: Barbera. 10 months in steel tanks.

Nose with cherries, red currants, hints of dried red berries, hints of resin and pine cones in the background, as well a light perfume note. Palate with cherries including morellos, hig acidity, some stony minerality, some tannins, a berry-dominated aftertaste with some tannins and tartness. Can be consumed now if a slightly tough style is preferred, but would probably benefit from some cellaring, 86-87 p.

Compared to the Dolcetto, this Barbera isn’t quite as juice-styled – neither in the nose nor on the palate. Altogether, it is also somewhat firmer and slightly tougher.

2011 Barolo Serralunga
Grape variety: Nebbiolo, from young vines. Raised 24 months in big oak barrels (botti) of 2000-4000 liters.

Clear light red colour with a paler edge. Very elegant nose with strawberries and other red berries, orange peel, noticeably flowery notes, some dried petals and notes that hint at development. Palate with ripe red berries including cranberries, rather good concentration, stony minerality, high acidity, prominent tannins, definitely a tough mid-palate and finish, and an aftertaste with red berries and powerful tannins. Much younger in the palate than in the nose. Young, should preferably be given a few years of cellaring, 89+ p.

In the nose, this showed quite a bit of Pinot Noir feeling, but the palate is definitely more Nebbiolo/Barolo. (It’s more common to find a similarity between Piedmont and Burgundy in mature wines.) The nose indicated that this wine has potential to reach quite high.

Principiano 20151021 baksidor

Another top wine from the same producer was sold separately, in a small amount:

Principiano Bosceto 20082008 Barolo Boscareto
Grape variety: Nebbiolo, from old vines. Raised 24 months in big oak barrels (botti) of 3000 liter.

Rather light red colour with slightly paler edge. Elegant nose with ripe red berries including cranberries and red currants, rose hip and some dried berries, some orange zest, noticeably chalky minerality, perfumed and flowery notes with rose petals. Palate with cranberries, good concentration of berries, chalky minerality, high acidity, noticeable berry-tart feeling, some tannins, aftertaste with cranberries, some minerality and some tannin. Rather tough palate but also some smoothness. It grew in the glass, which indicates that cellaring will be rewarded – which is as it should for a “higher” Barolo from a classical vintage. Young, would benefit from further cellaring, 92(+) p.

This wine showed a “heavier” flowery note, than the 2011 Barolo Serralunga and showed more dominance of minerality in the nose as well as on the palate. Despite being a “bigger wine”, I actually consider it more drinkable than the 2011 at present, since the smoother palate “makes less resistance” – for being a Barolo.

In summary, Caviste may have left France this time, but not his typical style! These are wines that are on the somewhat lighter and fresher side for this region. None of them showed any oaky notes, which in a way isn’t too surprising since the first two aren’t oaked and the two Baroli were only raised in large old botti.

Swedish version of this post.

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Some thoughts after yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris

Already before yesterday’s multiple terrorist attacks in Paris, I didn’t have much sympathy for Islamists in general or Islamic terrorists in particular. What is obviously relevant to this blog – the Islamist intolerant views on alcoholic beverages – is of course hardly worthy of notice compared to these Jihadist barbarian’s love of mass murder of civilians and other acts of terrorism.

The targets this time around seems to have been regular French citizens out for a pleasant Friday evening, at a restaurant, concert, or football match, rather than any directly political or military targets, or any of the “enemy groups” of the Jihadists. This makes this attack different from the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January (and that on a Jewish store the day after). As it happens, there was a wine angle on the Charlie Hebdo attack, since several of the murdered satirists had drawn “Rabelaisian” wine labels with indecent and very entertaining drawings, as reported by Wine Spectator.

Since France is the country in the wine world that interests me the most, I’m a regular visitor to various French wine regions. This year, though, I have only made one visit, which is less than in any of the previous eight years. That visit was to Bordeaux in the end of May, and on my way back I spent one day in Paris and visited some museums. This is a bit out of habit, since most of my visits to Paris only involve one of the airports. Anyway, this time I visited the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Wikipedia article, website) located in the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th arrondisment. They had a very interesting exhibition about Henry Darger (1892-1973), a loner and highly odd American writer and artist, the production of which was discovered only after his death. He left a 15,145 page manuscript titled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, accompanied by several hundreds of large illustrations in watercolours and collage techniques. This is a fantasy story that seems to borrow a lot of inspiration from the American Civil War and World War I. A selection of these illustrations were on display in the museum, together with a film about the life and work of Henry Darger. Some of the illustrations were idyllic summer scenes of a typical “children’s book character” with the seven Vivian sisters, but others were deeply disturbing, including mass scenes of hanged and crucified children murdered by the Glandelinians, which were the evil side in the Darger story. An example can be found below. I can’t help connecting those scenes with what happened yesterday in Paris, and the Islamist terrorists with the Glandelinians. And France is far from the only country considered an enemy by the evil and murderous Glandelinians.

Henry Darger illustration

In my opinion, one of the best ways to show sympathy with France and simultaneously showing Jihadists the finger, is to drink a good French wine, preferably together with good food. The bon vivant attitude is an important part of the French identity, and they are quite proud of their wines, perhaps more than any other country in the world of wine. And as we know, the Glandelinians don’t approve of wine.

Swedish version of this post.

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Fontalloro and other Tuscan wines from Fèlsina

Fèlsina 20150910 Andrea BoniventoI had the opportunity to taste through some wines from Fattoria di Fèlsina, a winery in Tuscany, when Andrea Bonivento from Fèlsina visited Stockholm, invited by their Swedish importer Vinunic. Fèlsina is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga, which is in the southern part of the Chianti Classico area.

The most well-known wine from Fèlsina is Fontalloro, which is a 100% Sangiovese wine which is usually counted to the “Super Tuscan” category, since it is a wine characterised by “modern” winemaking. The first Fontalloro vintage was 1983.

The grapes for Fontalloro originates from three vineyards, two in the Chianti Classico area and one in Chianti Colli Senesi. The wine spends 18-24 months in oak barrels before bottling, and they use a mixture of new French oak and barrels that have been used once before. Nowadays the proportion of new oak 45-50%.

The comparison between the 2011 and the older vintages gave me the impression that they propably have somewhat reduced the oak character in Fontalloro in recent years, something that was specifically mentioned for their white wine from the 2007 vintage. To me, this is a positive development. Also, they did quite a bit of replanting in the early 2000s, with vine clones they considered better, and this can also have affected the wine in a positive direction in recent years.

Fontalloro is classified as an IGT Toscana, which formally is a simpler classification than e.g. DOCG Chianti Classico, which is used for some other Fèlsina wines. The reason is that Fontalloro originally, being a varietal Sangiovese, fell outside the Chianti regulations of the day, thatb allowed a maximum of 70% Sangiovese and required at least 10% white grapes to be included in the red wines. Nowadays, Felsina could be a DOCG Chianti, but Fèlsina has chosen to keep it an IGT Toscana.

I got the impression that Fèlsina doesn’t see the term “Super Tuscan” to be particularly important to use, perhaps because there has been a bit of an inflation in its use in recent year. It probably also contributes that they really are a Sangiovese producer rather than winery that uses French grape varieties. The first Super Tuscans were Bordeaux blends or blends of Sangiovese with Bordeaux grapes classified as a lowly Vino da Tavola. This was the classification for “table wines” that was intended for wines considerably more modest than the simplest straw-decorated Chianti in its round fiasco bottle. In 1992, the possibility to use the “medium category” IGT Toscana was added, and since then it has been the most used designation for Super Tuscans, with the exception of those in DOC Bolgheri.

Fontalloro 20150910Tasting notes – Fontalloro

2011 Fontalloro

Medium red with a lighter edge. Nose with cherries, “crushed stone” minerality, spices, oak barrel notes with some chocolate, hints of flowery notes and liqueur. Palate with cherries, prominent acidity, noticeable tannins, good concentration, and stony minerality. Young and firm, 91+ p. Tasted from a half bottle.

The 2011 shows less obvious oak barrel notes and more elegance compared to the two other vintages, and more berry-dominated notes. Compared to the 2011 of the sister wine Rancio (see further down in this post), the 2011 Fontalloro has distinctly more firm and balanced palate. As a vintage, 2011 was not too easy for the producers, but the hot summer is not really noticeable in this wine.

2006 Fontalloro

Medium red colour, slightly darker and more opaque core with a lighter edge. Nose with cherries and somewhat developed notes with dried spices and other spicy notes, hints of leather and barnyard aromas, some crushed stone minerality, and rather well integrated oak barrel notes. Palate with cherries and other berries, good concentration, prominent acidity, noticeable tannins, some stony minerality, and an aftertaste with tannins and minerality. Still rather young on the palate, 91 p.

2006 is considered to be a good vintage with a good potential. The 2006 is more spicy than the 2011, with more prominent oak. The grape material of the 2006 with the vinification of the 2011 had probably resulted in a higher score from me.

1999 Fontalloro

Medium red, slightly opaque, and a paler edge with brick notes. Nose with cherries, dark plums, spicy notes with some dried spices, developed notes with barnyard aromas, leather, some charcuteries, glühwein/Christmas spices, and overall a complex character. Palate with cherries, dark plums, noticeable spice notes, good acidity, prominent but somewhat softened tannins. Fully developed, 92 p.

Other wines

White – dry and sweet

Fèlsina 20150910 I Sistri2012 I Sistri Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay, vinified in oak barrels, 8-10% new oak.

Nose with ripe yellow apples and yellow plums, some zest, some oak barrel notes with slightly smoky character, and hints of butter. Palate with good concentration, yellow apples, yellow plums, rather good acidity, minerality, and some spice notes, as well as a fruity aftertaste. A hot Chardonnay expression (as is usually the case in Italy) with good concentration, weight and foody character for its price level. Drinks well now, 88 p.

I Sistri has been produced since the 1987 vintage. Since 2007 they have become more restrained in their use of new oak, which I consider to be positive. My impression is that many Italian producers have stuck with bit too oaked style and clumsy of Chardonnay longer than those in e.g. Australia and the United States. Here, I had no complaints regarding the balance.

Fèlsina 20150910 Colonia Vin Santo2005 Vin Santo Classico
Grape varieties: Malvasia, Trebbiano, and 25% Sangiovese, dried grape stored seven years in caratelli barrels of 100 liter. Residual sweetness 156 g/l.

Golden and light amber colour. Nose with caramel, rather noticeable spicy notes, some orange zest, apricot purée and some dried apricot, some nuts and almond notes, discrete oxidation notes with volatile acidity, hints of vanilla, and a little bit of “Madeira notes”. The palate is sweet – I’d say “regular sweet” among sweet wines – and noticeably spicy with powerful concentration, apricots including apricot compote, dried apricots, good acidity, and a long aftertaste with dried apricots and some spice. 92 p. Tasted from a half bottle.

Red wine, other than Fontalloro

All red wines gave a distinct Sangiovese feeling, but with differing expressions.

Fèlsina 20150910 Berardenga Rancia2012 Chianti Classico Berardenga
100% Sangiovese, 12 months in small and medium-sized oak barrels.

Light red colour with a lighter edge. Nose with ripe red berries, cherries, rose hip, hints of dried berries, some oak and spices. Became more flowery with time in the glass. Palate with red berries including cranberries including a distinct cranberry bitterness, prominent acidity, tannins with some bite, aftertaste with tannins and some hints of oak. Young, 87-88(+) p.

Berardenga definitely showed less prominent oak barrel notes than the Rancia did. In general, 2012 is said to be a good vintage, with good minerality and acidity/freshness.

2011 Chianti Classico Rancia Reserva
100% Sangiovese, 18-20 months in new French oak.

Light to medium red colour. Nose with ripe cherries, spices, some chocolate and oak, some dried berries, with a total impression of some cherry pralines. Palate with cherries, good concentration, spice notes, good acidity, noticeable tannins, oak feeling, and aftertaste with cherries and tannins. Young, 89(+) p.

Comment: Rancia is the name of the vineyard, not to be confused with the wine term “rancio”, which indicates an oxidised style of fortified and other wines.

2009 Colonia Gran Selezione
Chianti Classico. 100% Sangiovese, 30 months in new French oak.

Nose with cherries and other red berries, some orange zest, slightly flowery, some minerality of the chalky type, well integrated spicy notes, some animal notes, and well integrated oak barrel character showing more as oak wood rather than chocolate. Palate with red berries and powerful concentration, cranberries, some dried berries, high acidity, stony minerality, quite prominent tannins, and an aftertaste with cranberries and tannins. Young, 92+ p.

The first vintage of Colonia was the 2006, when it was an IGT Toscana. This wine is sold at a higher price level than Fontalloro. Compared to the Fontalloro, Colonia shows more classical Chinati character, but then again it is a Chianti Classico.

Swedish version of this post.

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Champagne village profile: Vert-Toulon in the Val du Petit Morin

Diagram Vert-Toulon 201510Key facts for Vert-Toulon

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Val du Petit Morin
Vineyards and grape varieties: 99.3 hectares (245.4 acres), of which 87% Chardonnay, 11% Pinot Meunier, and 2% Pinot Noir.

Classification: “Autre cru” (85%)
Also known as: Vert-la-Gravelle


The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow is other open terrain, orange is built-up areas, green indicates forest, and blue/purple is water and wetland.

Neighbouring villages

North: Loisy-en-Brie
Northeast: Étréchy (premier cru)
Southeast: Val-des-Marais (premier cru, part of the Côte des Blancs area)
Southsouthwest: Broussy-le-Grand
Southwest: Coizard-Joches
Westnorthwest: Congy
Westnorthwest: Fèrebrianges
Northwest: Étoges
Northnorthwest: Beaunay
Comment 1: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been added.
Comment 2: several of the communes on the map (in particular to the northwest) are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles.

View of Vert-Toulon/Vert-la-Gravelle. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo François Collard, 2014).

The village

Vert-Toulon is located in the Val du Petit Morin area, on rather flat ground at the close to the stream Le Moulin, which empties into Le Petit Morin close to the southern apex of the commune.

The main village in the Vert-la-Gravelle commune and is located in its centre. There is also a village in the northwestern part of the commune known as Toulon-la-Montagne. The Vert-Toulon commune was founded in 1973 by merging the two former communes Vert-la-Gravelle and Toulon-la-Montagne.

The Vert-Toulon commune covers 2204 hectares and has 295 inhabitants (as of 2012) referred to as vérats and vérates.


The church in Vert-la-Gravelle, Église Saint-Pierre. Picture linkde from Wikimedia Commons (photo Keniaar, 2015).

The main part of the vineyards in Vert-Toulon is located just west of Vert-la-Gravelle, between the village and a small forest. Here there are mild slopes of varying directions, including a fair amount of south-facing slopes but also some north-facing slopes. The vineyards are dominated by Chardonnay.

The current vineyard surface in the Vert-Toulon commune is 99.3 hectares (245.4 acres). There are 86.3 ha Chardonnay (86.9%), 11,2 ha Pinot Meunier (11.3%), 1.7 ha Pinot Noir (1.7%), and 0.1 ha övrigt (0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 97 ha. There are 79 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Vert-Toulon include (among others):

  • Les Pierrières, which is a site facing south. Ulysse Collin in Congy produces a vineyards-designated Chardonnay from this site.

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Hervé Brisson (RC)
  • François-Charlot (Facebook page)
  • Thierry Jacquet (RC), which also have an address in Tinqueux in the southern part of Reims.
  • Didier Leclerc
  • Sébastien Lefèvre, the vintage Champagne consists of 70% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
  • Raymond Leherle (RC)
  • Claude Mathieu (RC)
  • Jean-Marc Mathieu (Facebook page)
  • Vincent Mathieu (RC), has 1.63 ha of vineyards. Other than the regular vintage Champagne, there is a Cuvée Symphonie which is sold with more age.
  • Ploix-Decrouy
  • Yveline Prat (RM), has 20 ha of vineyards in the Côte des Bars, Sézannais, Chézy-sur-Marne, and Vert-Toulon with 40% Chardonnay (mainly in Vert-Toulon), 30% Pinot Meunier, and 30% Pinot Noir. The vintage Champagne is composed of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier (refera to the 2008 vintage). A video with images from the 2014 vintage can be found below. Also sells Champagnes under the brand:
    • Georges de la Chapelle, which is positioned as a more exclusive range. The vintage Champagne is composed of 60-65% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 15-20% Pinot Meunier (refers to the 2004 and 2006 vintages, with 60% and 65% Ch).

Comment: It is not certain that the list is complete.


  • Coopérative Vinicole La Grappe d’Or is a cooperative in Vert-Toulon founded in  1957. Of their production, about a third each goes back to the members (to be sold by themselves as RC Champagne), is sold to major Champagne houses, and is sold to small- and medium-sized houses.


© Tomas Eriksson 2015

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Mixed Champagnes including several 2008s

A couple of weeks ago, Champagne-heavy French-Swedish online wine merchant Franska vinlistan (“French wine list”) ran a tasting of their current campaign. We got to taste a trio of 2008 Champagnes – a fabulous vintage – as well as “higher” trio from the same three producers. When it comes to the 2008s, I have so far not encountered a single Champagne from this vintage that wasn’t good. Those that know that they usually like the style of a particular Champagne producer should definitely buy their 2008s when there’s an opportunity.

FV 20151014

Here are the Champagnes we tasted. Reviewing my notes, it seems I was frugal rather than generous with my scores, but as always, they serve to make my descriptions less ambiguous, and I don’t claim that they represent the full truth.

2008 Legras & Haas Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay

Nose with ripe green apple, some citrus, minerality of the chalky kind, some bready notes with some nutty notes. Acquired some flowery notes when it sat in the glass and got to a higher temperature. The palate is dominated by ripe green apple with some minerality and high acidity, and shows a fresh style an a pure aftertaste. Rather young but approachable now, 89(+) p.

Of the three 2008s, this is most likely to appeal to those that want something that’s very fresh, but still drinkable now.

Compare to my notes on the 2007 vintage.

2008 Taittinger
50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.

The lightest colour of the first three. Nose with yellow and red apples, noticeable bready and toasted notes, a classical Champagne nose. Palate with green and red apples, a fresh apple note, rather high acidity, some minerality and mint, and a fresh and apply aftertaste. A pleasant Champagne with a fresh palate, rather young but reasonably approachable already, 89(+) p.

At present the most approachable of these three 2008s, and shows quite a bit of pleasant and highly classical Champagne notes, although it may not be a heavyweight for a 2008. This seemed to be the most popular of the first three among the average participant at the tasting. But I suppose it is fair to say that anyone who likes Champagne in general will like this one, simple as that.

2008 Philipponnat Blanc de Noirs
100% Pinot Noir, a low dosage of 4,25 g/l.

A rich colour. The nose was initially a bit shy, but developed quite a bit in the glass, so young but with great potential. Once it had unfolded a bit, it showed a ripe and almost sweet fruity note with ripe red apple, peach, some nectarine, some spice notes, hints of honey and rum raisins, discrete bready notes, and a hint of oak barrel. The palate is distinctly dry with notes of apple, citrus, some ripe stone fruit, hints of honey, pronounced minerality of the stony type, high acidity, some spice notes, and an aftertaste with green apples. Young with quite a bit of potential, 90+/91(+) p.

This was my favourite among the three 2008s, and here my personal taste definitely come through in the scoring! I definitely like when Pinot Noir-dominated Champagnes get powerful and simultaneously show minerality and a good level of acidity, that provides balanced and elegance.

This is the first vintage of this particular Champagne. Philipponnat has discontinued their previous vintage cuvée, Réserve Millésimée (Pinot Noir-dominated but also with about 30% Chardonnay) and instead produces this Blanc de Noirs. Their other vintage Champagne, the Cuvée 1522 (Aÿ-Pinot Noir-dominated with 30-40% Chardonnay) is still  produced.

Legras & Haas Exigence No 8
50% Chardonnay (Chouilly) and 50% Pinot Noir (Aÿ), produced in a solera (= continuous blending of vintages, where a certain proportion is withdrawn and replaced in each vintage) commenced with the 1996 vintage, and where the most recent vintage could be about 2009-2010. The different releases are numbered and nowadays have different label colours.

A complex nose with ripe apple, both green and red apples, some peach, a “creamy nose”, spice, some dried yellow fruit, rum raisins, hints of vanilla, and some developed notes. Palate with apples of different colours including red, powerful minerality, spices, definitely a high acidity, some hints of development, and a fresh and mineral-dominated aftertaste. Not extremely developed in the nose or on the palate for a Champagne produced in a solera, and in this case I think it could benefit from additional development in bottle, so my judgment is: rather young, 90 p.

2005 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
100% Chardonnay, a small proportion is treated in new oak. Actually, the 2006 was sold, but it hadn’t arrived in time for the tasting, so we got to taste the 2005 instead.

Powerful nose with noticeably smoky and toasted notes, ripe yellow apple, some fried apple, some yellow plums, spice, i.e., quite a bit of notes usually found in a white Burgundy from the Côte d’Or. Palate with powerful concentration, quite high acidity, powerful minerality, some apple in the background, some Burgundy feeling also on the palate, and an aftertaste with stone fruit and minerality. Rather young, approachable now, 92(+) p.

Could be compared to my score earlier this year, when I said 92-93(+) p. In my opinion, the “2005 opulence” now has emerged more in the 2005 Comtes, but it still has quite good acidity and quite pronounced minerality (in particular on the palate) for a vintage with a somewhat hot character.

2005 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses
65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from a vineyard in the home village of Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ; there’s more on Clos des Goisses in my village profile. Vinified in oak, disgorged in March 2014.

A big and complex nose with quite ripe and sweet fruit, peach, nectarine, some wild strawberries and red currants, melon, red apple, some perfume note and hyacinth, spices, noticeable and well handed oak notes. Palate with powerful concentration, yellow and red apples, peach, good minerality, quite good acidity, spice, and a long aftertaste with minerality and ripe apple. Rather young, 93(+) p.

Clos des Goisses handles the power of the 2005 vintage well, in similarity to Comtes de Champagne. On the other hand, Clos des Goisses is always a powerful wine, since it originates from a distinctly south-exposed vineyard, is dominated by Pinot Noir, and is vinified in oak barrels.

Swedish version of this post.

Posted in 2008, Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir | Leave a comment