Champagne Philipponnat revisited (I)

Thierry Garnier, Chef de caves, and Charles Philipponnat tasting still wines from barriques in their winery in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Their résumé: 2010 was good harvest, despite the rather small crop due to botrytis. With Champagne Philipponnat a lot has changed in the last ten years: In 2003 a new cuverie was inaugurated, also a lot of oak wine barrels were purchased. The methods of vinification are rather sophisticated; using non-malo-lactic fermentation for a part of the still wines, the Clos des Goisses is 100 percent non-malo. In general malo-lactic fermentation is most often chosen for wines processed in vats, whereas the wines in barrels do not undergo malo-lactic fermentation.

A very good move was the concentration of one Brut sans année, the Cuvée Royale Réserve. "It doesn't make any sens for a house like us to have two Bruts", Charles explains, an innuendo on the former Cuvée Le Reflet. Now the Royale Réserve is a powerful but very good drinkable wine; on can taste the the dominance of Pinot Noir in the blends, particularly, as Charles mentioned, "that of our very well southern-facing vineyards from the South of the Montagne de Reims". Usually the assemblage is 40 to 50 percent Pinot noir with Chardonnay (30 to 35 percent) and Pinot Meunier (15 to 25 percent). The fraction of reserve wines is 20 to 40 percent. The dosage is relatively low, nine grams per liter. The same assemblage is also available without any dosage, the Cuvée Royale Réserve Non Dosé. This is a well-aged and balanced wine which impressed with his intensity and freshness. A special recommendation goes to the Grand Blanc 2004, which will be reviewed later this year under the front page column The Best of the Best - Blanc de Blancs.
Photo: Oliver Rüther


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