The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Some Background Perspective on Bubbly

Posted on | December 7, 2009 | Written by Christy Canterbury | 2 Comments

This week proved to be as hectic as I anticipated:  the holiday season is in full swing at IWM!  After a long week of work and catching up with friends, I was craving a quiet Friday night at home.  When I finally walked-in my front door, I popped a half bottle of Deutz Champagne Brut NV as I kicked-off my shoes.  Baked apple, cream and hazelnut bliss!

I love bubbles in all forms, but I particularly like the styles of the classic “grandes marques.”  Never a worry – I’m not turning away any glass of “Grower Champagne” – I just find the toasty, biscuity character typical in the grande marque wines, as well as in older Champagnes, to be my overall favorite.  I also find the perlage of the large houses to be finer, more whispy (if you will allow me that descriptor), due to longer lees ageing and colder fermentation temperatures. Grower Champagnes tend to have a youthful exuberance that lends to quaffability and that comes from having fewer stocks of older wine to blend into non-vintage wines. This does not detract from their complexity; it just gives them a different character.

For casual drinking, I find a dollop or more of Champagne’s red varieties appealing, but for maximized complexity and enchantment, I look to Blanc de Blancs.  Disclaimer:  I often find Blanc de Blancs a bit challenging without age or food, given their feisty acidity.  Rosés come in a plethora of fascinating hues, and while I generally find them less complex, I do have a clear favorite: any cuvée from Billecart-Salmon.  As for the escalating trend of low- and no-dosage wines, I am skeptical.  I often find them more interesting than enjoyable, and I have company.  Chatting at the Bubble Lounge on Thursday night, Bernie Sun (Wine Director of Jean-Georges Management) brought up Roederer’s announcement that very day that it is releasing a new Brut Nature called Ultra Brut, to be priced in the area of Roederer vintage wines.  For both of us, Champagne’s high acidity, which is further emphasized by its bubbles (CO2 creates perceived acidity – just think of how sparkling water is more refreshing than flat water), needs a little taming of residual sugar and certainly needs the accompaniment of food, regardless of the arguments made about mounting ripeness levels in the region.  Finally, there are the Champagnes that drink with the weight of pensive, still wines.  The Roger Coulon wines Sergio discovered for IWM are a fine example.  Here is a perfect example of one of those maddeningly, delightful exceptions that are all over the wine world – grower Champagne with mind-blowing complexity that shows more mature flavors from cask-aging the base wines.

This week we are offering a generous selection of bubbly, from 375ml to 15L, from non-vintage to tête de cuvee, from grandes marques and growers alike.  There’s an occasion for each, and we hope you find many so that you can experiment among the plethora of styles.


2 Responses to “Some Background Perspective on Bubbly”

  1. Tweets that mention Some Background Perspective on Bubbly : Inside IWM --
    December 7th, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa Sutherland , ItalianWineMerchants. ItalianWineMerchants said: Explore the styles of Champagne […]

  2. served raw. Schooled by a Bubbles Hipster (Think Hot Yoda with a Champagne Flute)
    January 12th, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

    […] Next, pick a non-vintage grower champagne and a classic “grande marque” house to explore the differences in the two. […]

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