Tag Archives: france

Champagne will meet growing demand

At a meeting between the Syndicat Général des Vignerons (SGV) and the Unions des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) on 21 July in Epernay, it was agreed to fix 2017’s marketable yield at 10,800 kilograms per hectare, which is identical to last year’s figure.

However, this year’s limit includes the release of 500kg/ha from the reserve – still wine held in tanks, which is held back as security in case of a bad harvest, as well as to add balance and complexity to non-vintage blends.

As the quantity from the reserve is significantly lower than last year’s figure, which was 1,100kg/ha, it means that the amount of grapes that can be picked for making base wine for Champagne from this year’s harvest is higher in 2017 – it was agreed to set 2017’s harvest yield at 10,300 kilograms per hectare with the aforementioned 500kg/ha from the reserve taking the total to 10,800kg/ha.

Last year’s large allowance from the reserve was granted because the 2016 vintage was naturally low-yielding by Champagne standards due to late spring frosts, hail and, as a result, a high incidence of grey rot in the region.

In other words, to reach the desired 10,800kg/ha for 2016, more wine had to be released from still wine from previous harvests.

In contrast, this year, the Comité Champagne has recorded good conditions in the vineyards and a favourable weather forecast for harvesting, which together should ensure a natural yield of around 10-11,000kg/ha on average in the region.

It will be an early harvest too, with unusually warm weather early on in the season bringing forward the growing cycle by 10 days compared to the average over the past decade, according to the Comité Champagne, which has also forecast that harvesting will start in late August, making 2017 among the five earliest harvest start-dates in the region’s history. (Other vintages with an August start-date are 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2013).

With the total marketable yield for Champagne remaining the same, it is clear that the region is attempting to prevent an oversupply of Champagne, and this year’s limit continues a trend of keeping supply below 11,000kg/ha since 2013, when total yields were set at 10,500kg/ha (lower than the 11,000kg/ha total set in 2012, which in turn marked a 12% decrease on 2011).

But, while the total yield is the same in 2017 as 2016, retaining an identical level of supply actually points to a positive mood in the region – a yield of 10,800kg/ha translates into roughly 315 million bottles, which, in 2016, was significantly greater than worldwide sales of Champagne, which totalled 306 million.

Indeed, in January this year Michel Letter, the director of Mumm said during a discussion about yields from the 2016 harvest – that the region had thought sales of Champagne would be higher when the decision on yields was made in mid-2016.

“We were a bit optimistic”, he said, pointing out that the global market for Champagne was looking more promising in May and June last year when the yields were set, adding that the French and UK markets had declined more than expected, while the US had not risen as much as many in Champagne had initially thought.

Moving forward to the situation today, the Comité Champagne pointed out that marketable yield of 10,800kg/ha gives Champagne “the means to meet a growing demand”.

Macron as ‘Ambassador’ of Bacchus

The newly elected President of France Emmanuel Macron reportedly is a connoisseur of French wines, which is a splendid news for wine lovers in the  5th Republic, and around the world. Decanter, the UK reputable wine journal, claimed Macron appears to be not only a wine lover but a skilled enthusiast with serious blind-tasting skills.

Macron’s appreciaton of oenology is a crucial factor for the status of wines because previously French presidents were not overwhelmingly supportive of the viticultre. Nicholas Sarkozy was actively antagonistic to France’s world-leading wine industry, notorious for his  abstinence, while another,  Jacques Chirac, openly preferred Mexican beer ‘Corona’ to wines. The last president who actively supported French wine as an export industry was François Mitterrand in last millenium (!).

In the run-up to the election, French magazine Terre de Vins filmed a series of videos with Macron flaunting his blind tasting skills, concluding the show with a autoproclamation as a  ‘wine is an ambassador’ for the country.

Macron correctly identified two of three unidentified samples: a Bordeaux Blanc and a Côteaux d’Aix en Provence rosé. His only miss came in identifying a Château Pape-Clément 2005 as being from Pauillac, not Pessac-Léognan.

Champagne Taittinger moves across England #france #england #wine



French champagne house is about to make history by producing sparkling wine in England.

Taittinger estate will be the first to invest in the UK, in particular in Kent, whose chalk soil is considered ideal for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines. Recently, climate change has led to effects of rising temperatures in England and it can create favorable conditions for rich growing vines.

“We believe we can produce a high quality English sparkling wine, drawing on our 80 years of wine-making expertise,” stated the president Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger.

TheTaittinger-English-sparkling-wine deal between Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and Patrick McGrath of British winemaker Hatch Mansfield shows a sincere friendship between the two countries.

The French estate, one of the largest and oldest in France, has bought 69 hectares in the English village Chilham, and the wine is supposed to be ready in five years. It will be significantly named Domaine Evremond, a famous diplomat very esteemed in England, who worked to abolish frontiers between UK and France.

Taittinger wine house has already gained a considerable success planting sparkling wine vineyards in USA, now it hopes to obtain the same results in England.

The main aim is to create a wine which has its own personality and singular characteristics, completely different from the others, a real expression of British terroir and tradition.

Valentina Gagliano



Learn the basics to taste champagne #france #champagne #wine #education #gastronomy

“There is a moment between the 15th and 16th mouthful of Champagne when every man is an aristocrat”, wrote Amélie Nothomb in her novel “Le fait du prince”.



Champagne, a sparkling wine

Champagne is an AOC wine produced solely in the eponymous place, from three main grape varieties : the chardonnay (giving white colored grapes),  the pinot noir and the pinot meunier (creating black berries). This beverage responds to a plethora of regional rules. For example, the bottles have to be stored for a period of at least 15 month before being sold. The Champagne-Ardenne is a region that often suffers from unsuitable climatic conditions to grow grapes (too humid, too cloudy). It might happen that grapes are picked up before they reach ripeness. Therefore, domain owners proceed to hide the fruit mediocrity by using two processes. The first one is called “sans année”, and consists in mixing different vintages in order to create a balance between the good and less good harvests, or to create a gustatory continuity over the years. The second one is the “dosage” and demands to add some “liqueur d’expédition”, a sugar-based addition, used to mask excessive acidity.
If you want to taste a high quality product, try to chose a champagne that does not overuse those methods. They should considerably differ from those mass-market brands found in superstores.
champagne conserverStoring the champagne

The sparkling aspect make this wine more difficult to store. The tasting temperature requires a special attention. If it is lower than 4°C, the bubbles might become minimal and make the beverage flat. If it is higher than 17°C, bubbles will explode in your mouth and the champagne will look more alike a cheap lemonade than like liquid gold.

It depends on the vintages and the grape-variety, but I think that the best temperature is 12°C. Before tasting it, refresh the bottle by letting it during 4 hours in your fridge, in a horizontal way, or refresh it 20 minutes in a bucket filled with ice and cold water. If the bottle traveled a lot, let it rest for some days in order to let the aroma come back to normal. Once it is opened, there is no sure way to keep the initial taste. The silver spoon is, unfortunately, an urban legend. Drink it as fast as possible. Trust me.


champagne verserPouring the champagne

Transparent flutes are particularly adapted to champagne, even if some people consider that an opened glass is more appropriate. Chose them transparent, so you can admire the robe. Pour half of the flute, so you can watch the nose without spoiling the bubbles. The bottle will be held by its base, and the champagne poured close to the glass. Flutes will be held by the base to limit the heat transmission.  The best place to taste it is not in the living room, but at the dining table, to facilitate the concentration. I advice not to stuff yourself with loads of appetizers. It might alter the gustatory balance and the aroma perception.
As astonishing as it might seem, champagne should not be served with desserts or sweet food. Champagne should be drunk in accompaniment with fish or poultry, and why not salty biscuits or cheese cubes.


Tasting the champagne

Here comes the most interesting and the most complex part of the procedure. The champagne tasting differs from the wine by one additional criterion : the presence of bubbles. This could disconcert the oenologists but don’t worry!, once the gaseous explosion is passed, there is plenty of aroma to analyse.
champagne teinteStart by admiring it

Take the time to admire the flute. This first thing you will remark is probably the presence of the bubbles. How do they look? They can be large or small, persistent or not… The “collier de perles” (the bubbles around the glass) can stay a long time, or not.
The robe presents a large color palette, easily noticeable with a little bit of attention. The robe can be yellow, green, grey, pink… with all the shades that are associated to the color : gold yellow, salmon pink, light pink, green with shades of gold…


tappoNext step: inhale
Wait a little moment so the first gas go away and that the exhalations release themselves.  Then, approach your nose to the flute and inhale for a certain time.
There are five main categories of champagne aroma. The first one is the floral one : the smells are refreshing and may remind you of summer flowers, the violets, the hawthorn, the lime tree… The second one is gourmand. It goes from the cakes and bakeries, for example crumbs and brioche, to spices like cinnamon or vanilla, passing by the butter, caramel and honey…The third one is végétal : it smells like the woods, the hay, the fern, … and even the truffle! The fourth one is the fruits secs (dried fruits in other words) : wintry reminders of nuts, figs, raisins… The fifth and last one is fruité and smells like sweet, refreshing aromas of summer fruits, citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit…), white fruits, yellow fruits, and even tropical ones.

It is said that young champagnes (2-3 years) smell floral and fruité, mature (6-8 years) ones smell like gourmand and that the old champagnes (more than 6-8 years) smell fruits secs and végétal.

A simplified version of the 5 aromas

A simplified version of the 5 aromas


Here comes the best moment…

You can finally delight your taste buds. Take a sip and let it roll around in your mouth. Observe the acidity, the taste, the strength, the bitterness, the aroma… It can remind you of green apple, toasts, tropical fruits, vanilla, citrus fruits, nuts… The more experience you have, the more aromas you will perceive.
How is the aftertaste? How long does it last? A high quality champagne is supposed to leave a long finish. Besides, does the taste match the smell?
Share you meaning with your friends or family. Does they think the same way about that champagne tasting?

An article that started with a quotation has to finish by the same way. So… as said Coco Chanel, “I only drink champagne at two occasions : when I’m in love, and when I’m not”. In moderation, of course !

Anastasiya Tretyak

Saint Chinian Cuvée Baptiste 2012 #saintchinian #wine #france #languedoc


The Saint Chinian Cuvée Baptiste 2012 comes from the La Croix Sainte-Eulalie wine estate , in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The Gleizes family has owned this 31 hectares property since 1971. The village where the wine grows is named Pierrerue. The schist, sandstone and calcareous soil offer it this particular taste. The grapes are harvested manually and, when they have been rigorously selected, the grapes are put in oak barrels.

This wine has an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Côntrolée) Saint Chinian Rouge. It is made with approximately 50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan.

The editorial staff had the opportunity to taste it.
This wine has a dark robe, with ruby and dark violet reflection. The nose is spicy and fruity. It is well-balanced in mouth, but also tannic, bold and gourmet, with some fruity accents.

Anastasiya Tretyak



Cirque grenache gris 2014 #grenache #france #wine #roussillon

20150227_165506 (1)
The Cirque Grenache gris 2014 is a wine from the Catalan coast, from the Languedoc-roussillon vineyards.
The Tautavel wine-growers take care of this traditional variety grenache gris next to the Vingrau village.

The label sketches a Mediterranean climate landscape where, next to the chalky-clay cirque, lay vineyards that have been cultivated since Roman times.

This wine has an IGP appellation Côtes Catalanes (Indication Géographique Protégée), evidence of this wine-variety’s authenticity.

We had the occasion to taste this refreshing wine. Its visual appearance shows a light wine robe, with a gold green reflection. The nose is delicate, fresh and sour. When we taste, we feel a little of white peach. The aroma reveals itself  in a second time : the wine has a floral aftertaste.

It is a light,  summery, feminine wine that we particularly advice to accompany shellfish.

20150227_165524 (1)

Anastasiya Tretyak