Orpale 2002 – a new vintage of De Saint Gall’s prestige Champagne

The Champagnes of De Saint Gall have always shown well when I have tasted them, and usually delivered good quality in relation to their price. Their prestige Champagne is called Orpale and is a blanc de blancs. The 1998 has been around for quite some time, and   some time ago the 2002 finally showed up. 2000 and 2003 are also available, but I’ve never seen them in standard 75 cl bottles, only in magnum. De Saint Gall aren’t alone in having distributed 2003, a hot vintage that be suspected to mature early, before 2002.

I haven’t found any specific technical details for the 2002 Orpale, but 1998 were produced from grapes from four grand cru villages: Avize, Cramant, Oger, and Mesnil-sur-Oger. 30% of the wine had gone through malolactic fermentation. I don’t have any information about use (or non-use) of oak.

2002 De Saint Gall Orpale

Medium yellow colour, medium mousse. Nose of rather ripe yellow fruit with peach and yellow plums, citrus, bread, some smoke, a hint of butter, white flowers and a hint of vanilla. The nose hints at ripe grapes for a Champagne and that oak has likely been used; it is a blanc de blancs with a rather Burgundian nose. Full-bodied and good concentration of fruit on the palate, a creamy impression, again yellow fruit with yellow apples, peach and yellow plums, and some citrus. Has a good acidity but not at all high acidity for a blanc de blancs, and a rather fruity and long aftertaste. Comes across as rather ready to drink now, although it will naturally get more mature notes with additional cellaring and surely will keep for a long time at a high level. 92 p.

This wine definitely has the weight and concentration that a prestige Champagne should have. The reason that I don’t score it even higher is that I wouldn’t mind a higher acidity and more mineral notes, in particular since it is a prestige blanc de blancs. Although 2002 was a vintage of mature grapes, most vintage Champagnes from this year also has quite good acidity and a style made for long cellaring. To me, the 2002 Orpale shows more hot vintage character than most 2002s, so it reminds me more of a 2003 or 2005. As far as I remember, the 1998 showed more acidity and mineral, although the 2002 is more full-bodied. The aromas of the 2002 more clearly hints at some oak treatment than what the 1998 did. The 2002 Orpale is likely to please general Champagne drinkers more than blanc de blancs purists. I would perhaps say that this is a Champagne for those who enjoy Comtes de Champagne rather than for those who enjoy Salon. However, this wine is “hotter” and more accessible than the 2002 Comtes, and not quite as good.

De Saint Gall is produced by the Union Champagne cooperative, based in Avize in Côte des Blancs, and consisting of 13 smaller village-level Champagne cooperatives. Their members have almost all of their land in grand cru and premier cru villages. In total, the members own 1 247 ha of vineyards, or 3.7% of the total vineyard surface of the region, of which 755 ha grand cru, which is a very impressive figure. A part of their production is sold to the major Champagne houses, but they also produce their own Champagne under the De Saint Gall brand. In my opinion they are the best of all Champagne cooperatives I’ve tried, and their quality is higher than several of the major houses. Another good cooperative is Champagne Mailly Grand Cru, a village cooperative in the village of – you guessed it – Mailly, but I’d consider De Saint Gall a notch better.

De Saint Galls tasted in April 2013

This seemed like a good occasion to include my tasting notes on the De Saint Gall wines from the annual “Champagne Day”, held in Stockholm in April 2013. They showed well as usual, and since this were quick tasting notes under crowded conditions (and with screaming Justin Bieber fans outside, he happened to be staying at the hotel that hosted this event, and at the same time), I add a “?” to the score.

De Saint Gall Rosé Brut

50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay

Somewhat salmon pink. Nose with wild strawberries, red apples, slightly smoky. Rather fruity palate with red apples, rather foody. 86 p?

De Saint Gall Premier Cru Extra Brut

Nose with citrus and white flowers. Dry palate, citrus, mineral, high acidity. 88 p?

De Saint Gall Brut Blanc de Blancs 2005

Nose with ripe yellow apple, some peach and dried fruit, pear, discrete flowery aromas. Good concentration on the palate, foody, not that high acidity for a blanc de blancs. 88-89 p?

Orpale Brut Grand Gru Blanc de Blancs 1998

Nose with ripe citrus, zest, discrete flowery aromas, some honey and marzipan, almond and some nuts, bready, some spice. (Notes of oak treatment?) Palate with good concentration, ripe citrus – grapefruit, high acidity, some mineral. Rather developed, can take more. 93 p?

The Swedish version of this post can be found here.

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One Response to Orpale 2002 – a new vintage of De Saint Gall’s prestige Champagne

  1. Pingback: Champagne 2002 tasting with a focus on big producers | Tomas's wine blog

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