Tag Archives: champagne

Dom Pérignon P2 2000: Second ‘Plénitude’ of its millennium vintage champagne

Some things take time to perfect. In the case of Dom Pérignon’s P2 2000, a good 17 years was spent ageing the second “Plenitude” of their Millennium vintage. The French winemakers have unveiled a worthy follow-up to their 2000 vintage champagne.

Aged on lees from 2001 to 2016, Dom Pérignon’s latest offering bears all the hallmarks that we have come to expect from the famous champagne house. Like its predecessor released back in 2008, the P2 2000 is composed of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. However, thanks to an extended period of maturation, the latter boasts a more vivid, energetic taste.

From just a sip of the P2 2000, it’s easy to tell that the extra 9 years spent in Dom Pérignon’s Epernay cellars have paid off. The lees have done their magic in transforming the rich, rounded taste of the Dom Pérignon 2000 into one that is younger and livelier for the P2 2000.

Credit should also be given to the natural cork closures of the P2 2000 bottles. Unlike crown caps which are typically used for vintage champagnes, the natural cork preserves the freshness of the wine a lot better. Granted, a crown cap would have produced a more consistent wine, but the allure of the P2 2000 lies in its unmistakable zest.

It goes without saying that Dom Pérignon spends a lot of time fine-tuning the little details. (After all, that is only to be expected of a company owned by the prestigious Moët & Chandon.) In that vein, the brand only produces vintage champagne in years when quality allows. As its name suggests, the millennium vintage champagne was made from grapes harvested in 2000. That year was marked for its particularly challenging summer: mostly gloomy up to the sunny days of August. However, it was this very climate that has made all the difference in the quality of the wine — as Dom Pérignon has proven, once again.

Champagne sales in 2016: Lower global sales numbers despite 306 million bottles exported

The French aren’t the only ones with a taste for their country’s finest of home-grown fizzes, it seems. In fact, champagne enjoyed another bumper year in 2016, with orders worth €4.71 billion worldwide. In terms of volume, global champagne sales fell slightly in 2016, by 2.1%, with the French wine-growing region’s producers exporting 306,096,000 bottles. In comparison, sales in France fell 2.5% to 157,737,000 bottles.

The 2016 figures confirm the enduring appeal of the French sparkling wine on a global scale. In terms of volume, the British are still the biggest consumers of champagne, with 31.1 million bottles shipped to the UK. However, the Brexit vote has affected the market, with a 14% drop in export value and an 8.7% drop in volume of sales. What’s more, champagne faces tough competition from the Italian sparkling wine prosecco on the British market.

While the British take the top spot for champagne exports in terms of volume, the USA pips the UK to the post on export value, up 6.3% to €540 million.

The new champagne drinkers

Other countries buoying the champagne market include New Zealand, with export volumes up 29.1% to 648 million bottles, for a total value of €9.8 million (+25.4%). Champagne is also proving increasingly popular in Russia, with 1.3 million bottles shipped for a value of €22.5 million, and in Mexico, with 1.5 million bottles shipped (+30.9%) in 2016. Exports to South Africa (856,000) and South Korea (825,000) are also on the rise, with sales volumes up 21.9% and 16.1% respectively in 2016.

As champagne continues to gain popularity in more and more countries, the sector is also diversifying with new options and flavors. Rosé exports were up 8.5% on 2015, for example, and prestigious vintages were up 4.6%.

Finest French champagne: Interview with Perrier-Jouët’s Chef-de-Cave, Herve Deschamps

Chef de Cave: Herve Deschamps

No celebration is complete without a glass of bubbly in hand to toast to the occasion and champagne house Perrier-Jouët knows how to serve up a delectable glass like no one else. With its chief wine-maker, Herve Deschamps, as the man in charge, each bottle serves only the finest that the Maison has to offer. We spend some time with the man who has over 20 years of experience in his field to learn more about the brand, his role and what makes Perrier-Jouët the perfect pairing for any occasion.

Tell us about the origins of the Perrier-Jouët Maison.

Ever since its foundation, Maison Perrier-Jouët’s history has been like a myth; and this fabulous tale started in 1811. That year, Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adélaïde Jouët got married and founded their Champagne House. Inspired by a constant quest for perfection and a passion for nature, and recognized thanks to the unique character of its wines, Perrier-Jouët has turned the champagne tradition into a homage to art: doubtlessly because it has never stopped in its attempt to add beauty to everyday life.

You are one of the most iconic Chef-de-Cave in Champagne. What brought you to Perrier-Jouët?

Born in 1956 into a family from the Champagne region, I studied agriculture and oenology at Dijon, going on to earn degrees in both agronomy and oenology. I completed my studies with work on nutrition and food sciences, before joining Perrier-Jouët in 1983 as oenologist in charge of the fermentation process and the cellar ageing of wines. I was soon appointed as assistant to Cellars Master André Baveret, the guardian of the Perrier-Jouët House style for almost 30 years. During that time, I learned much about the art of blending the various Champagne wines while retaining the hallmark charm and elegance of Perrier-Jouët’s cuvées.

As a guarantor of Perrier-Jouët’s know-how, I have been awarded Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in February 2016.

Perrier-Jouët is a House where we take care of tradition and love for beautiful wine. The continuity of more than three decades in the style of the cuvee where finesse and elegance are essential made me become a Champagne cellar master associated to an iconic house.

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Autumn 2005

Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque

What distinguishes Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque from the rest of the Perrier-Jouët range ?

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque is different from the other cuvees because of its blending, where it is more focused on Chardonnay, the grape with white flowers and citrus fruit aromas. It is the finest and most delicate of grapes used to create Champagne.

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque is always a vintage : it is only produced during the years where the balance between alcohol and acidity is perfect and that the ageing potential is outstanding, because this cuvee stays at least 6 years in our cellars.

Perrier-Jouët is famous for its Art Nouveau styled bottles. Tell us more about the close association between Perrier-Jouët and the art world that started in the 1920s ?

Creation is the DNA and the heritage of the House since its creation by Rose Adelaide Jouët and Nicolas Perrier in 1811.

In 1902, Perrier-Jouët started its first notable artistic collaboration, with the Master of Art Nouveau, Emile Galle. He designed for the House the iconic Japanese anemone flower, which can be found still today on every bottle of Belle Epoque cuvee.

Since then, the Art Nouveau is the key of all the artistic collaborations, by the way it is being expressed (lines, curves and inspired by nature), and by the philosophy of the artistic move that puts beauty at the center of daily life.

As a prominent patron of the arts our relationship with the world of creativity centers on three areas:

– Design Miami, which Perrier-Jouët has been working with as exclusive partner since 2012. The House provides young studios with a global platform to support their creative work and give a new vision of the art nouveau philosophy.

– There are special collaborations with artists for limited editions. Perrier-Jouët works with many artists to showcase our limited editions such as Mischer’Traxler. We also worked with Daniel Arsham for the Bicentennial champagne box set or with Tord Boontje for service rituals such as the Enchanting Tree. Lastly the House has been working with Ritsue Mishima, a Japanese artist, to offer a limited edition of Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs.

Is Perrier-Jouët opening its door to visitors ? What can be visited ?       

Perrier-Jouët is not opened to the public. However it offers a virtual tour of its cellars by using the most advanced virtual tour technologies. This allows a glimpse of a history of loyalty to Champagne tradition and strong relationships with the world of art.

Perrier Jouët’s vineyards

How unique is the Cellar or “Cave” at Perrier-Jouët ? We have been told the visit is a fantastic experience.

Perrier-Jouët cellars are very unique. Thanks to the virtual tour, you will enter the secret cellars of Perrier-Jouët in Epernay, and follows the main stages of how champagne is made, from tending the vines to maturing in the cellars, not withstanding the art of blending. This interactive tour will also take the visitor to the “Eden”, the cellar reserved for the oldest vintages, the area dedicated to the By & For Cuvée, the vault dedicated to the bicentenary of the House since 2011, as well as “Lost Time”, an installation as poetic as it is dramatic by studio Glithero.

Perrier-Jouët and the Asian consumers, a fast growing love story ?

Perrier-Jouët has a very strong link with Asia and in particular Japan for a very long time. The obvious representation of this link is the emblem of the House : the floral arabesque made of white anemones from Japan.

This flower was chosen by Emile Galle in 1902, one of the pioneers of the Art Nouveau move, to design several magnums. Emile Galle, who was a botanist and passionate about nature, chose from among the 3000 species of plants and flowers of the world the white anemone of Japan. This design created more than 100 years ago by Emile Galle still appears on all the Belle Epoque cuvees today. Asia , today, represents a key market to leverage the growth of the brand.

Your best memory of your years at Perrier-Jouët ?”

My best memory is the celebrations of the bicentenary of Perrier-Jouët and the tasting I had the pleasure to share with a few champagne expert journalists. The vertical tasting took us back in time with some exceptional cuvees. We tasted the 1825 vintage, the oldest vintage we have in our cellars.

GH Mumm Appoints New CEO: Usain Bolt

French champagne house GH Mumm caused an uproar, followed no doubt by giggles, when it announced this week that Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt is its new CEO. Of course, CEO in this case stands for Chief Entertainment Officer so no, Pernod Ricard (owner of the Mumm brand) hasn’t lost its marbles.

Bolt was appointed Maison Mumm’s newest Chief Entertainment Officer, a rather fitting role for the athlete who is known for entertaining his legions of fans around the world after his race wins. Of course, Bolt remains the fastest human being ever but we assume he’ll sip his champagne. In his debut for the brand, he made quite the explosive delivery.

In a new promotional video for the brand, which is accompanied with the hashtag of #DareWinCelebrate in keeping with the spirit of the house, Bolt can be seen dramatically opening a bottle of champagne with one of his many gold medals before striking a pose with his signature ‘lightening bolt’ move.

Commenting on his new role, Bolt said, “I’m honored to take on the role of CEO for Maison Mumm and to show the world what it means to celebrate and entertain in daring ways,” said Mr. Bolt.  “My number one mission will be to enhance Mumm’s legacy in celebrating victories in stunning ways, and I’m very excited to invite all my fans around the world to raise their glasses with me.”

Bolt can be seen in action in his new role now on YouTube:

Moët & Chandon MCIII 001.14

Moët & Chandon MCIII Brut 001.14: Multi-Vintage

Aging has never looked this good and it is all thanks to the Moët & Chandon MCIII Brut 001.14. More about that somewhat awkward name in a bit. Released just over a year ago, it has taken awhile to get to some markets here in Southeast Asia. The luxury champagne producer has created a multi-vintage champagne using vintage wines that are matured in three distinct environments. To craft a truly bold and unique vintage, Moët & Chandon captured the attributes that are associated with each aging environment.

Using a three-stratum assemblage process, the ultra-premium cuvée has been 15 years in the making and appears to be a new favorite amongst champagne lovers around the world. The first of the stratums sees an equal mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 2003 vintages, aged in stainless steel vats that provides a rich and fruity flavor.

The second stratum sees grand vintages from the 1998, 2000 and 2002 harvests that have been aged in oak casks before being stored in stainless steel vats. The final 25% of the cuvée is made up of the third stratum that blends Grand Vintages from 1993, 1998 and 1999. The three acclaimed vintage champagnes were bottled, aged and then disgorged before being blended into the mix.

The result of this carefully crafted mix is a fragrant champagne that features notes of coffee, malt, mocha, praline, liquorice, Tonka bean, pecan, citrus peel, citron, kumquat, bergamot and verbena. According to the Chef de Cave of the House of Moët & Chandon, the MCIII Brut 001.14 is best enjoyed in a Zalto Denk’Art Cristal Glass, which boasts ideal proportions and angles that preserve the freshness of the wine and enhances its flavor. Getting back to the name, the 14 refers to the year of disgorgement (2014) while the 001 refers to the batch (it is the first).

The Moët & Chandon MCIII Brut 001.14 can be purchased at Moët & Chandon.

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Autumn 2005

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Edition Automne 2005

You can never say no to a glass of champagne by Perrier Jouet, especially when it is the limited edition Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Edition Automne 2005. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this vintage before because the exclusive cuvée was just recently unveiled, just in time to usher in the season of fall that also serves as the inspiration behind the champagne.

This is hardly the first time that the brand has used nature as an inspiration, which is unsurprising given that champagne is, you know, a product of nature. The new cuvée, which we’ve been teasing since the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS previews, is a follow up to the Belle Epoque Edition 2007 that was released for spring.

The man behind the champagne, Chef de Caves of Perrier-Jouët, Hervé Deschamps was so mesmerized by fall that he crafted a creation that reflects the season’s shades perfectly. It also happens that autumn 2005 played a vital role in the final flavor of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Edition Automne 2005. The pink tone of the champagne is something that captures your attention in an instant but when you experience it, the sharp bite of the after-taste might just be the most memorable element.

“The richness of the 2005 vintage inspired me to create this cuvée in tribute to autumn’s allure and vitality as a way of savoring the beauty of an ephemeral season” said Hervé Deschamps. Blending Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier the champagne offers notes of various berries, orange, sour cherry, spice and cream on the nose.

Reflecting the season that has inspired the special cuvée, Perrier-Jouët presents the champagne in a bottle that features a swirl of pink anemones. Designed by Emile Gallé in 1902, the flowers featured on the bottle are a link to the brand’s love of Japan. The result of this affection for Japanese autumn, is the presentation of “A Haiku for Every Season” by Perrier-Jouët.

Visit us and Perrier-Jouët at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS from today to Sunday for your own taste of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Edition Automne 2005.

Perrier-Jouët

SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS: Perrier-Jouët Pours The Bubbly

Armed with a glass of bubbly, Perrier-Jouët no less, the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS will be one enjoyable event we can all look forward to. As the official champagne of the inaugural event, the brand is set to have their own lounge that will serve up not only a special cuvee but also demonstrations.

The 105-year-old champagne brand is the perfect match for a luxury lifestyle event. Guests to Raffles Marina in October will be treated to an experiential lounge by Perrier-Jouët that will give privileged visitors a chance to learn more about the brand’s illustrious heritage. The Perrier-Jouët Lounge will host creative demonstrations and displays as an all-new category of champagne is served.perrier-jouet-belle-epoque-2006_high-res

While we are unable to divulge too much information at this point about the new bottle — all the more reason for you to come down and try it yourself — we can provide a few hints as to what you can look forward to. The time-limited cuvee will see an all-new category of champagne make its debut at SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS. The new bottle is said to embody the innovation and craftsmanship that rests at the core of all Perrier-Jouët champagnes.

Another highlight of Perrier-Jouët‘s partnership with SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS is the Art Wall that will not only raise money but merge creativity and beauty. With the purchase of each Perrier-Jouët bottle, guests can extract a limited edition Perrier-Jouët “anemone” that will come to be part of an art piece. For each tag affixed onto the art wall, S$2 will be contributed to the Perrier-Jouët Artisan fund that supports local artists.

Grape Expectations: French Wine Harvest Begins

Grape Expectations: French Wine Harvest Begins

The wine harvest has kicked off in France and experts predict smaller-than-normal yields but “great quality.” After a growing season challenged by frost and hail but capped by abundant sunshine, output is certain to be down so all that’s left to bank on is quality.

Growers on the balmy Mediterranean island of Corsica began the harvest in mid-August, while Rhone vineyards in central France got to work only last week.

Other regions including Bordeaux in the southwest and the Loire Valley are holding off until October.

Vintners everywhere are thanking a dry, hot summer for “lovely, healthy grapes”, said Jerome Despey, who heads the wine division of agriculture ministry offshoot FranceAgriMer. “Overall, we are going to see wines of great quality,” he said.

However, output will be down because of freezing episodes and hailstorms in the spring, especially in Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, Despey said, predicting “one of the smallest harvests since that of 1993”.

Late last month the government forecast a 10 percent drop in wine production compared with 2015, to 42.9 million hectoliters.

The Bordeaux, Alsace and Beaujolais regions were largely spared the ravages of the spring and are expected to match or exceed last year’s output.

Even within regions some vineyards fared better than others, such as in Champagne where mildew and a fungal disease, esca, added to the weather woes.

France is the world’s top wine exporter by value, accounting for 29 percent of the market at 8.2 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in 2015.

In terms of volume, France ranks third with 14 million hectoliters last year, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

Vignoble-de-Champagne

What Lies Beneath Champagne Vineyards

In caves deep underground in France’s Champagne region lie thousands of shells that are 45 million years old, a site researchers describe as “rare and exceptional” – and which may have influenced the flavor of the local bubbly.

“It’s my paradise,” says Patrice Legrand, a champagne producer and owner of the “Cave aux Coquillages” or Shell Cave, in the Montagne de Reims regional park in northeastern France.

Legrand, 55, who is also an amateur paleontologist, acquired the vineyard in the early 1990s and set about excavating the caves, which are now open to the public.

Trapped in a thick layer of limestone, in around 250 meters (820 feet) of underground galleries, are thousands of shells that have been untouched since their sudden disappearance for reasons that are still unknown.

Apart from cephalopods and tiny seashells, some of them microscopic, which Legrand has painstakingly cleaned and catalogued, the star of the visit is undoubtedly the Campaniles giganteum – gastropods with spiral tube-shaped shells that are 40 to 60 centimeters (16 to 24 inches) long.

In the Lutetian age, or between 47.8 and 41.2 million years ago – and some 40 million years before the emergence of Homo Sapiens – “the Champagne region was covered by a warm sea and it enjoyed a tropical climate,” Legrand said in the winding galleries which are up to 28 meters (60 feet) underground.

“These are not fossils as such, as in reality they are not fossilized. The homogeneity of the calcified rock and the impermeable clay layer led to this conservation,” says Legrand, pointing to the shells, which are smooth inside and have a pearly sheen outside.

What Lies Beneath Champagne Vineyards

Patrice Legrand, a winegrower and amateur paleontologist looks at the preserved seashells © AFP PHOTO/FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI

Link to Champagne

Legrand has catalogued some 300 species. And his work has attracted the attention of French and Belgian researchers.

“This site has given us a look at the past,” says Didier Merle of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, who has visited the site several times.

“It’s exceptional because you can find a large quantity of Campaniles giganteum. We have thus been able to better understand the evolution of the shellfish, the environment and the biodiversity of the era.”

He says there “are no longer many sites from this era due to urbanization. This one is rare from the point of view of the geological heritage and we must preserve it.”

The caves, where ancient shells have replaced champagne bottles, attracted about 7,000 visitors last year.

In some places, the shells are stuck together in a tangled lump.

“You need patience when you find shells: you take them out in a block, it’s the best way not to damage them,” says Legrand, who has been excavating tirelessly since 1997, with the help of some basic tools such as an electric jackhammer.

“The Digger” as his neighbors call him, spends his days in the cool subterranean galleries like “a real kid” dazzled by the profusion of shells.

The shells are “inexhaustible, even frightening. I will never have time to dig them all out, I will leave them for future generations.”

Besides guided visits, tourists can receive tastings aimed at showing the link between the marine sediments, the vines and the champagnes of that particular part of the region, including the owner’s own Legrand Latour brand.

“Shells hold the marine iodine and only release it when it dissolves,” explains Legrand, who has developed a champagne with a low level of sugar that is specific to the region.

“And that goes very well with shellfish, like oysters,” he adds with a smile.

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

France’s Duval-Leroy champagne house is celebrating the upcoming grape harvest with day-long immersion experiences offering wine-tasting and a look behind the scenes of this key stage in the wine-making process.

Known for the refined, elegant nature of its wines, the champagne house located in Vertus, France, is a heavyweight of the official champagne-growing region. More than 250 Michelin-starred restaurants serve one of the house’s tipples, such as the emblematic “Femme de Champagne” vintage.

For the first time, the family has accepted to open the doors of its estate to wine lovers during the upcoming grape harvest – a crucial time for any wine grower. Duval-Leroy has developed a special tour for anyone curious to discover a typical day in the life of a grape picker, without having to sign up for a whole season’s work. During the upcoming harvest, wine lovers are invited to grab a pair of secateurs and follow the instructions of the full-time harvesters. A lunch – an important moment that traditionally brings together all the seasonal workers – will then be served in the vineyard. In the afternoon, “students” will visit the estate and sample the house’s “vins clairs,” the base wines used to make Champagne. This is a rare opportunity for fans of the bubbly stuff to discover the wines used in champagne’s “assemblage” process, before it gets its fizz. The tour costs €50 (approx. $56) per person.

For those with more cash to splash (€300 or approx. $336 per person), a second “immersion” experience concludes the same program of events with a gastronomic dinner, cooked by the Duval-Leroy in-house chef. This champagne-steeped meal promises to tantalize taste buds with stuffed macaroni, black truffles, asparagus and foie gras. Participants can also enjoy a wine-tasting lesson from the cellar master in person. The estate’s “vins clairs” feature on the agenda, along with the chance to sample one of the estate’s most prestigious vintages.

The grape harvest in France’s champagne region is expected to take pace in mid-September. The country’s most northerly wine-growing region experienced challenging weather conditions at the beginning of the year. Almost a quarter of the area in the official champagne-producing region was hit by frost at the end of April. Hail and rain in the springtime brought further damage. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which represents growers and producers, reported this summer that certain sectors saw twice the average rainfall seen over the last 20 years.

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

The Duval-Leroy estate in Vertus, France

Bad Weather Hurts French Wine Output

Bad Weather Hurts French Wine Output

Lovers of fine champagne take note as vintage 2016 looks like it will be in short supply. Fierce storms that hit France in April will help to push wine production down almost 10 percent this year on 2015 output, the ministry of agriculture announced last week.

Unseasonably cool weather through the spring and into the summer will drag overall production down to 42.9 million hectoliters from 47.8 million a year ago, a seven percent fall on a five-year basis, according to the ministry’s statistical service Agreste.

In revising down its outlook, Agreste blamed “the spring freeze that hit certain winegrowing areas, recurring winds made worse by drought around the Mediterranean and damage stemming from frost.”

Champagne was one of the worst hit regions after several bouts of spring frost and hailstorms which are forecast to drag output down by as much as one third, leading to harvesting being already a week behind schedule based on a 10-yearly average.

The inclement weather means France, which has also had to battle outbreaks of rot and mildew, will likely remain behind Italy, which last year claimed the crown as the world’s biggest wine producer.

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion vineyards 2016

5 Vineyards and Chateaux Seeking Summer Guests

Deep into the weekend, we’re recapping our tour of five vineyards in France and the California. We’re also reexamining our love of wine with an aggressive Pinot Noir from New Zealand (our thanks to the team at Omega Singapore and Salt Grill and Sky Bar at ION, Singapore) and a gentle Merlot from California. At the same time, we will busy here with the upcoming wine auctions in September, notably at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

This frenzy of interest in wine was all sparked with the opening of the Cité du Vin, a cultural center for all things wine-related, in Bordeaux (of course!), and the first anniversary of the Champagne region’s hillsides, houses and cellars gaining UNESCO World Heritage status. All told, we have looked at five impressive vineyards and chateaux, compiled by the AFP Relaxnews.

For your convenience, we’ve reassembled all five choices we published recently and summarized them below.

Ridge Vineyards, California: American Dream

The Monte Bello vineyard

The Monte Bello vineyard

This long-standing wine business is proof that the French are not alone in having been producing wine for centuries. The vast property, which also has vines two hours away by car in the Santa Cruz Mountains, has been making wine since 1885. You might know it for its Monte Bello vintage and its acknowledged expertize with Zinfandel, an emblematic grape variety in California.

Château La Coste: Contemporary Wine

Château La Coste

The Franck O. Gehry music pavilion at Château La Coste

It seems vineyards in France have something of a reputation for hospitality and cultural tours of a sort. Château La Coste for example offers a tour of its art works and architectural structures (15 euros for an adult ticket), which includes pieces by Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder and Frank O. Gehry. You can even stay right on the grounds in the appropriately named Villa La Coste, a new luxury hotel. The wines are known for being completely organic since 2009, with even the old vines being worked organically.

Champagne House Bollinger: Rare Vintages

Bollinger Champagne Estate

The Bollinger Champagne Estate is located in Ay, France.

You will of course be familiar with Bollinger, either for its association with James Bond or its British royal warrants. On site in Ay, France, Bollinger has an exquisite oenotheque (otherwise known as a wine library), which is well worth a visit and just opened this year. Be warned though: you can’t just go blustering in without calling ahead first, which is only polite.

Château de Béru: Pop-Up Wine Bar

Château de Béru facade

Château de Béru is located near the famous wine town of Chablis. © Thierry Malty Thierry Malty/Château de Béru

Unlike some of the other names here, you may not be familiar with Château de Béru and that is exactly what the winery wants to change. Until August 31, visitors can enjoy a vertical tasting, among other things, with the estate’s owner herself, Athénaïs de Béru. The estate is in Burgundy, in the Chablis region and you should visit with an unprejudiced palate.

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion: 21st Century Winery

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion

Vat painted by Ara Starck

Like Bollinger, this is a name that requires little introduction outside the world of dedicated wine lovers. Established in 1584 when the Carmelite order took over running the estate, it actually dates further back along with the other Haut-Brion names. This grand old age is masked today by the winery’s reputation for 21st century touches. The Philippe Starck-designed building you’re looking at here is just one example: it is the wine cellar. There are plenty of other contemporary touches, with a strong design philosophy bringing an extra level of charm to the wines.

Ayala

Interview: Hadrien Mouflard for Maison Ayala

AYALA is synonymous with fine champagne. Consumed and collected by discerning individuals the world over. We sit down with Hadrien Mouflard, Head of Maison Ayala to discuss everything champagne.

Having celebrated the Maison AYALA’s 150th anniversary a few years ago, what would you say makes AYALA Champagne unique? How do you manage heritage and modernity?

We celebrated our 150th anniversary in 2010, Champagne AYALA having been founded in 1860, is over 155 years old! Our House is one of the oldest still in activity today: we were one of the original founding members of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques, the ancestor of today’s Union des Maisons de Champagnes and in that sense, we belong to the 20 or so Houses that really helped to forge Champagne as we know it today.

Back in the 1920’s, Champagne AYALA was truly one of the leading Houses in the region, producing over 1 million bottles a year, when Champagne did not even weigh 10% of its current production. Since the Bollinger family bought Champagne AYALA in 2005, a wind of change has been blowing on the House and we can now proudly say that we have a talented, young team in place, bringing a contemporary spirit to a historical House of Champagne.

Hadrien Mouflard

Hadrien Mouflard

How important is London, the UK and the royals in the history of the Maison AYALA?

Right from the very beginning, London and the UK have played a key role for Ayala. Fernand de Ayala, brother of House founder Edmond de Ayala, settled in London in 1863 and became very close to the British aristocracy and royalty, gaining the friendship of the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII. He introduced him to our famous 1865 vintage, which was very dry for the time, and he became a great follower of Ayala. He even rewarded us with a Royal Warrant, which we held for the first half of the XXth century, until 1952. The House also had the great honour of welcoming Queen Mum, HRH Elizabeth II’s mother, in 1983.

Today, the UK remains our biggest export market, with almost 25% of our sales, thanks to very special partnerships, like the one we have with world-famous chef Gordon Ramsay, who selected our Brut Majeur as the House pour in every single one of his restaurants in the UK, from the more accessible ones all the way to his 3-Michelin star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London.

How important is it to keep AYALA Champagne family-owned, especially versus the emergence of large groups in the champagne world?

Champagne AYALA has always belonged to small, independent and family-owned structures: it really is part of who we are. This independence allows us to keep quality as our main focus, which is a key component of how we want Ayala to evolve in the coming years, as we believe it will always be an important differentiating factor in an ever more competitive business. Being independent means being able to make decisions that put quality first.

Besides Champagne, what are your passions and how are they reflected in the Maison AYALA’s art de vivre?

One passion often leads to another and it is probably not a great surprise for you to learn that I am also passionate about cooking and gastronomy. I think this passion is really reflected at Champagne AYALA with the great care that we put in looking for and sourcing the best “ingredients” possible to craft our wines, as much as the continuous quest for the perfect balance. It goes without saying that I feel Champagne is a great companion for food and wine matches, something that we really care about here at AYALA and that our guests are able to experience when they share a meal with us at the estate.Ayala

What is champagne to you? (A drink for celebration, a personal moment …?)

Champagne is first and foremost a drink for special moments. It is a great companion for all the great milestones in life, a true and unique marker for pleasure. That being said, opening a great bottle of champagne can also become a special occasion per se and this is also what makes this product so special.

Tell us about your Chef de Cave/Cellar Master Ms. Caroline Latrive? What mission and objectives drive her?

Caroline was born and raised here in Champagne and her father was himself a great oenologist. She joined our team in 2007 and has not stopped to amaze us with her great skills since. It is a very challenging mission to respect the style of a historical House like Ayala and she managed to do so brilliantly since her beginnings, but also succeeded in bringing her personal touch to our blends, for example by using a lot of Chardonnay, a grape variety she especially loves. Her main mission is to help Champagne AYALA to keep on growing in quality, by refining the style of our wines and expressing the best Champagne has to offer.

What type of audience do you target in Asia? Any specific products (Millesime, Serie Limitee) being driven to the Asian clientele?

Asia as a whole is hard to generalise, because a lot of markets have different approaches to Champagne. For example, China remains a rather small market, where Champagne as a whole sells less than 2 million bottles, whereas Japan does more than 5 times more. For a brand like Ayala, we try to target those more mature markets, able to more easily appreciate the refinement of a smaller, boutique-style House. The recent launch of our limited edition Rosé No.8 should hopefully have success on markets worldwide, including in Asia!Vignoble-de-Champagne

How is the 2015 harvest looking like?

Our first impressions of a very highly qualitative vintage were confirmed by the recent tasting of the vins clairs. We had a very hot growing season and most of the region featured great ripeness, without losing too much acidity. The grapes were harvested in a great sanitary state, with very little if any diseases reported. The juices were very expressive from an early stage on and we can expect great blends to come out of 2015, along with some vintage wines.

Your most personal memory working for the Maison AYALA?

I will always remember my very first day at AYALA, when I visited the beautiful, historic cellars and discovered the fantastic heritage that the House had. I felt right from the start that very powerful fundamentals were present to help relaunch that Sleeping Beauty of Champagne. From the very beginning, I had the feeling that it would be a very exciting adventure to form a new team and work closely on building a new communication and commercial strategy for the brand.

Another great memory I have took place during a visit to Boston in the US where a sales representative meeting me for the first time brought a bottle of 1959 AYALA that he had found in his family cellar to share it with me, to celebrate the fact that “Ayala was back” as he said! The wine was fabulous and proved to me once again that the great heritage and history of this Champagne House really deserved to be rediscovered by wine lovers all over the world.

This article was first published in Palace magazine.

Bollinger Champagne Cellar

Bollinger Vintage Wine Cellars Open To Public

Fans of champagne would be no strangers to the prestigious Bollinger R.D. 2002, brewed by the storied house of Bollinger. Renowned for being the official supplier to the British court (it received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1884), as well as for its “Special Cuvee” champagnes, this 2016, the French label is celebrating its past with two new cellars.

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Before we delve a little into the new cellars, however, one needs to look back six years for more context. The scene is set in Ay, France, in the year 2010, where a collection of very old wines – with the oldest dating back to 1830 – was found hidden behind a section of the estate’s cellar. As a result, Bollinger launched a project to restore and rehouse its stocks of old wine, compiling them into an “oenotheque”, or a wine library. The fruits of this labor are the two new cellars, of which the “Galerie 1829” cellar is home to all of the estate’s old wines, while the “La Reserve” cellar houses Bollinger’s reserve magnums.

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Should you wish to check out the 3,000 magnums stored in the dark and quiet conditions of these specially made cellars, Bollinger’s oenotheques can be visited by appointment.

The Bollinger Champagne Estate is located in Ay, France.

The Bollinger Champagne Estate is located in Ay, France.

Champagne Bollinger, 16 rue Jules-Lobet, 51160 Ay, France.

More Red Wine, Less Red Tape

Wine lovers and exporters around the Pacific Rim will have reason to pop the cork this week after officials slashed red tape on shipments in the region that will ease an expensive bottleneck. This is specific to wine so that includes champagne of course and anything that fits the definition of “wine“.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group said in a statement that the 21 member economies had agreed on a standard, simplified certificate, replacing the multi-layered system that had led to losses of about $1.0 billion a year in the industry.

And while exporters such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the United States are expected to benefit from the simplified regime, wine drinkers will also have a reason to celebrate as it is should lead to a wider array of choices at cheaper prices.

“Easier, more inclusive wine trade can improve product availability and prices for consumers and improve job creation and growth,” said Tom LaFaille, international trade counsel for the Wine Institute, the private sector overseer of the APEC Wine Regulatory Forum.

Jamie Ferman of the US Department of Commerce described the model certificate as “a win-win for the industry”.

Rocio Barrios Alvarado, chair of the APEC sub-committee on standards and conformance, said the single certificate “will reduce administrative burdens for producers endeavoring to take advantage of the increasing taste for wine in the region”.

APEC said the bloc’s wine trade had more than tripled to over $23 billion since 2000, but “unnecessary non-tariff barriers” and overlapping certificates had meant companies were facing huge costs.

It said focus now is on having the certificate implemented. APEC agreements are implemented on a voluntary basis and results are achieved through dialogue, cooperation and peer pressure.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

It will take awhile for us to feel the effects of this new development but you should go look for some new wines to enjoy on Epicurio now. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now

Krug Champagne Releases Second Book on Eggs

Speak of champagne and a plethora of possible food pairings will spring to mind: caviar, foie gras, and other luxurious likes. This year, the House of Krug subverts conventions yet again, releasing its second global publication of unexpected food pairings with its famed champagnes in Singapore. The food item of choice this year: eggs.

“Poached, scrambled or fried?” is a collection of unique egg-based creations from 17 of the world’s highly talented Krug Ambassade Chefs. While basic, common and very humble, the egg opens up a world of transcendent possibilities when paired with the Krug Grande Cuvee. An exquisite blend of 120 wines from more than 10 different years, the pairing is a classic commoner-meets-royal marriage. As always, the result is magical and sublime.

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More than just a simple collation of original food pairings, the publication also marks the gathering of some of the most esteemed chefs worldwide, doubling it as a tribute to the culmination of culinary expertise. Swedish photographer Jenny Zarins also lends her artistic proficiency to this publication, lensing the chefs with her characteristic subtle lightheartedness.

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“Poached, scrambled or fried?” can be found in Krug Ambassades and Krug restaurant partners, all of whom will be celebrating Krug & Egg with specific menus and experiences throughout the year. Egg-citing times wait ahead.

See Krug Champagne on Epicurio! Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Small Discoveries: Perrier-Jouët Belle-Époque 2007

Nothing is so beautiful as spring,” the English poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote as an opening line to his poem, Spring. Indeed, the loveliness of the season has been the source of inspiration for many an artist, not least for Austrian design duo, mischer’traxler, a moniker that amalgamates the last names of Vienna-based Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler.

The pair was commissioned by champagne house Perrier-Jouët to create a collectible limited-edition of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque 2007 in collaboration with cellar master Hervé Deschamps. Called “Small Discoveries”, the cuvée – which contains notes of magnolia, honeysuckle, ripe pears, peaches and almond milk – is housed in a bottle that calls to mind the blooming landscape of springtime. Butterflies and dragonflies flit among flowering Japanese anemones creating a mise en scène that is the encapsulation of everything that’s alluring about the natural world, and gives a nod to the Art Noveau movement and its fascination with insects as fantasy creatures.

Vienna-based Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, known collectively as mischer’traxler, are the duo behind the bottle’s pastoral design.

Vienna-based Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, known collectively as mischer’traxler, are the duo behind the bottle’s pastoral design.

When the cuvée was launched in London last September, mischer’traxler created an installation in the Norfolk House Music Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum, suspending from the ceiling 264 oversized blown-glass bulbs, each containing a hand-made model of an insect. When visitors drew near, thermal-imaging sensors triggered the fluttering of the 25 species of insects and the bulbs would also light up. “The heritage of Perrier-Jouët is very interlinked with Art Nouveau and they asked us to put it into a contemporary setting,” says Katharina Mischer. “Being in the installation is like being in a dream, because you have all these elements moving around you – it creates a really magical moment.”

And that’s the kind of moment one longs to have with any glass of bubbly.

The limited-edition Perrier-Jouët Belle-Époque 2007 Small Discoveries by mischer’traxler is now available
in Singapore.

Story Credits

This story was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

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4 Asia-Pacific Wine Trends Revealed at Vinexpo

We’ve previously covered wine trends in Singapore and Japan, now Vinexpo brings us the findings from Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Here, we bring you the four major trends of wine consumption in these Asia-Pacific countries.

1) Reds over whites

The consensus is clear: reds continue to be the wine of choice in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, accounting for 89 percent, 74 percent and 83 percent of market share respectively.

In Taiwan, this figure is forecasted to grow by another 13 percent by 2019. Taiwanese consumers tipped back 1.45 million 9-liter cases of red wine, compared with 180,000 cases of white and 2,500 cases of rose. Even so, the reception of white wine is expected to grow 14 percent by 2019.

While Koreans generally enjoy reds for its purported health benefits, white wines are also fast gaining favor for pairing well with Korean cuisine. It is also interesting to note that the per capita consumption of wine in South Korea has doubled over the last decade, to average 0.8 liters of wine a year. Between 2010 and 2014, the per capita consumption grew nearly 40 percent, and is expected to rise another 20 percent over the next five years. This marks the consumption in South Korea as one of the sharpest increases in the Asia Pacific region.

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2) French wines are still preferred, except…

French wines are reported to be the most popular import in Taiwan with 37 percent of market share and Hong Kong with 27 percent. After French wines, Australian, US and Chilean wines are most popular. Between 2010 and 2014, US wines saw major growth, increasing by 41 percent.

Taiwan’s share of French wines is expected to dip due to the increasing popularity of Chilean wines (currently second in popularity at 18 percent), which are perceived as better value for money. US and Australian wines follow closely behind.

South Koreans bucked the French wines trend, favoring Chilean wines, with 10.2 million bottles imported a year.

3) Getting tipsy over bubbly

Like the Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong people have developed a taste for sparkling wines. Vinexpo reported that its popularity has increased by a remarkable 51 percent over the last five years in Hong Kong, driven largely by the growing popularity of Prosecco and Cava which grew a whopping 89 percent and 110 percent respectively. Meanwhile in Taiwan, a 15-percent increase by 2019 is projected.

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4) Spirits still high in demand

As the world’s third largest market for single malt Scotch after the US and France, Taiwan boasted a consumption of 1.813 million cases of whisky in 2014, a figure expected to swell up to 1.921 million cases by 2019. Cognac and Armagnac are the country’s second most popular spirits.

The focus in Hong Kong, however, is on tequila and rum as its consumption is expected to grow 36 percent and 21 percent between 2015 and 2019 respectively. The popularity of whisky remains stable with 186,000 9-liter cases consumed, topping cognac at 77,000 cases. People in Hong Kong are also increasingly exploring Japanese whisky and American bourbon.

South Korea – the third largest spirits consuming nation in Asia-Pacific after China and India – has reported a decline in consumption of local spirits such as soju and baijiu. However, tequila, vodka and gin have marked improvements of 17 percent, 12 percent and 14 percent respectively.

The Vinexpo 2016 runs 24 – 26 May 2016 in Hong Kong. 

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Quality Champagne No Riddle for Remueurs

In a humid, dimly lit cellar of French Champagne house Ruinart, Cyril Guisant turns by hand some 60 bottles tilted downward in an A-frame-shaped rack. He is one of the “remueurs“, or riddlers, who with the dedication of a monk to tradition manually rotates the bottles of the great Champagne makers to loosen the sediment at the bottom left by yeast during fermentation.

“We come by two or three times a day, and turn the bottoms in a way to make the sediment move toward the neck of the bottle,” said Guisant, explaining the task of his dwindling group of remueurs. “And we work on the rack (of bottles) like reading a book, from left to right, from top to bottom.”

Dom Perignon, Moet et Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart, a roster of famous appellations owned by the world’s No. 1 luxury company LVMH, still use for a small part of their production manual “remuage“, or riddling. At this crucial phase sediment is collected in the neck of the bottle so it can be removed, a process nowadays mainly done by machines.

At Reims in northern France, Ruinart, the oldest Champagne house founded in 1729, traditional remuage by hand is reserved for the most prestigious vintages, which take several years to mature in the coolness of its eight kilometres (five miles) of galleries dug deep in limestone, some dating from the Middle Ages.

“You need around 10 years of experience to be a ‘remueur‘, to know whether to rotate the bottle a quarter, an 8th or a 16th, and to the right or to the left,” said Guisant of the process that takes about two months. It means learning “to read the wine” to carry out this extremely precise rotation.

This picture shows a chalk quarry used by Ruinart Champagne house in Reims. © AFP PHOTO/FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI

This picture shows a chalk quarry used by Ruinart Champagne house in Reims. © AFP PHOTO/FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI

“We take the bottle and we analyse the sediments, for example, if they are stuck or not…,” explained Raphael Joyon, a “remueur” at Krug, the only house that each year produces just prestigious vintages, known as “cuvees de prestige”.

Joyon estimated that there are about eight remueurs in France’s Champagne region still working for the biggest domaines, a token of tradition for the image of these houses at a time when they have already automated many tasks.

Krug, for example, uses remuage by hand for about a fifth of its production, manager Dorian Drancourt told AFP.

The other bottles are titled downwards in rows of 300 to 500 in big metal crates, and placed in a machine known as the “gyropalette”, which is programed with a precise rotating movement.

“Our manual work on a sample of bottles also helps to program the machines more precisely for the rest of the vintage,” added Joyon standing under a brick arch in a Krug cellar dating from 1843.

After several weeks of the skilled turns of the remueurs, the bottles are handed over to the “degorgeur” — or disgorger — who will plunge the bottleneck into a refrigerating solution to turn the deposit into a frozen plug which is then ejected under pressure when the bottle is opened.

After final corking the Champagne bottles are kept in storage for durations determined by the particular house before being sold.

This past weekend, the LMVH houses – Dom Perignon, Moet et Chandon, Krug, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot which last year sold 62 million bottles of Champagne worldwide – opened to the public part of their sites and cellars, including a chance to see demonstrations by the remueurs.

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Yen for Champagne: Japan Set to Lead Asia-Pac

Forget Sake and Shochu. According to the latest Vinexpo study, it seems the Japanese are developing quite the taste for bubbly. In fact, the study forecasts that Japan is on track to become the leading market for champagne and other sparkling wines by 2019.

Thanks in part to the growing popularity of lower-priced Cavas and Proseccos from Spain and Italy, the consumption of sparkling wine has been forecasted to grow 23 percent between 2015 and 2019. To put things into perspective, this equates to roughly equates to 4.84 million cases, overshadowing Australia as the largest market for bubbly in Asia-Pacific. To put this into even greater, though perhaps more confusing, perspective, Japan has a population of 127 million while Australia has roughly 24 million. We have to wonder what in the world is happening down under but we digress…

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The surprising result (the Japan news, not our belated Australia observation) was revealed at Vinexpo Hong Kong, a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals. Japan is one of the six countries, besides Singapore, to be profiled.

Here are some of the other trends emerging from the event.

France losing market share to Chile

Chile has the signing of a cost-advantage free trade agreement with Japan to thank for its whopping 144 percent rise in wine exports. French wines might still have the largest market share but Italian and Spanish wines have also seen an increase of 46 percent and 79 percent respectively over the same period.

Wine consumption set to continue growing

The Japanese wine consumption is set to reach a whopping 46.7 million cases between 2015 and 2019. That’s 14 percent of the market share, which will rank the country behind China and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. Yes, Australia is punching way above its weight class again.

Overall spirit consumption set to decline

Spirits such as gin and vodka are expected to decline in popularity, in stark contrast with the rising fortunes of wine. The projected decline between 2015 and 2019 is a significant but manageable 7 percent. Whisky, however, continues to keep its market share, with consumption reaching 12.38 million cases and projected growth of 12 percent over the next five years.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.