Spring has arrived! Flowers are blooming all around, the weather is warm, the days are getting longer, all calling for more time outdoors. We all want to see our friends and families after such a long time of social distancing; now that vaccines are becoming more available, the urge to get together is growing. We want to protect our physical health, but we also feel the need to heal our minds and souls. We want to celebrate and lift our spirits with our loved ones, talking, laughing, and hugging (someday, even without masks!). A glass of champagne becomes a close representation of those moments. Seeing those tiny bubbles dancing cheers one up.
The producers for this month’s selections are from the Vallée de la Marne. Both champagnes are made with Grand Cru fruit. Of the more than one hundred villages that are listed as part of this valley, only two have been granted the rank of ‘Grand Cru’, Aÿ and Tours-sur-Marne. Their ranking reflects the importance given to the presence of chalk in the soil and subsoil of Champagne.
The Marne Valley is considered the legendary cradle of the Champagne region because of its monastery and its cellar-master-monk, Dom Perignon. It is also home to prime producers like Billecart-Salmon, Philiponnat, Bollinger and Jacqueson.
The characteristics of these two champagnes are of being approachable, delicious, and easy to enjoy without being superficial.
Just as getting together is an act of joy so is champagne: always a pleasure.
À vôtre santé!
La famille PlumpJack
Champagne Lallier Grand Rose’ Brut Grand Cru N/V
Winemaker: Francis Tribault
Price per bottle / Price per case: $66/bottle $396/case (6pk)
About the Winery: The first bottle labels signed by Champagne Lallier dates back to 1906, when the Champagne house was founded by René Lallier (1861 – 1938). In 1996, René-James Lallier, the founder’s grandson, took the brand in a new direction. He carried out major modernization work on the production facilities in Aÿ and refurbished the cellars in which Lallier champagnes are left to age. In his quest for outstanding quality, he enlisted the help of Francis Tribaut, who worked at the time as an advisor to some of the most prestigious names in Champagne.
When René-James Lallier decided to retire and sell his business, he asked Francis Tribault if he was interested in buying it. The latter took up the challenge, convinced of the potential of this already lovely brand. The years that followed proved him right and firmly established the reputation for excellence that Lallier Grand Cru champagnes enjoy, year in and year out.
On the estate’s 15 hectares Francis Tribaut practices sustainable viticulture methods to protect and respect the environment. No pesticides are used.
Vinification: This wine is made of 35% Chardonnay and 65% Pinot Noir. Hot maceration chardonnay / pinot noir. Alcoholic fermentation with Lallier yeasts. Partial malolactic fermentation. 8% of reserve wine is added in the blending. Aging: Minimum 3 years in their old cellars
Residual sugar: 8 g/l
Tasting notes: This champagne shows a pale salmon/onion skin color with a persistent perlage. The nose detects red fruit presence with apple and strawberry as predominant notes. The palate gets wrapped in a creamy roundness. This is the right champagne for everyone; to be enjoyed with friends in a garden during a sunny afternoon.
Suggested Food Pairing: Any crustacean dish, from crab cakes to lobster bisque. Also great with desserts like crème anglaise with fresh berries.
Champagne Geoffroy Expression Brut Grand Cru N/V
Winemaker: Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy
Price per bottle / Price per case: $54/bottle $648/case
About the Winery: Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, who has 14 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne, is the fifth generation in his family to grow grapes in the region.
In the 1970’s Mr. Geoffroy’s father decided to keep all the grapes and turn them into Champagne. Today Jean-Baptiste farms, with the help of his father René, all the 14 ha, which has an average of 20-year-old vines with some very old planted in 1926! Viticulture is described as lutte intégrée, or “integrated pest control”—it is heavily aimed at sustainability, eschewing all chemical weed killers and employing methods such as the planting of cover crops, tilling of the soil, and the encouraged habitation of predatory insects to combat vine pests.
Vinification: The blend of this champagne is made of 28% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 41% Pinot Meunier. 49% of the wine in this cuvee comes from the 2015 vintage and the remaining 51% comes from a perpetual cuvée started by Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy’s father, René in 1970. For the base of Expression, half of the total perpetual cuvée is drawn off from two large concrete vats and replaced with the current harvest’s wine. No malolactic fermentation.
Ageing: This champagne ages 42 months sur latte, which are the typical wood wine racks used in Champagne to hold bottles in the cellar.
Residual sugar: 5 g/l
Tasting notes: Straw yellow in color with light golden reflections. Pain carré, dry white flowers, reminder of pear and yellow apples at the nose. Harmonic balance between fruitiness, acidity, and sapidity. Long fragrant aromatic persistence.
Suggested Food Pairing: Seafood crudo; pot stickers; prosciutto and melon; grilled cheese sandwich.