Well, yes, I am meant to be having a non-drinking month, but it's not every day one gets invited to drink champagne. A group of artisanal Champagne producers are visiting Australia to promote trade and culture connections. This connection they envisage is to be made with the indigenous culture - via indigenous art and agriculture - based around the concept of 'place'. Both growers of champagne and the indigenous art of Australia are unique celebrations of place; both products of unique and ancient places; both are movements that started with traditional practice and then completely re-imagined it.
The six champagne growers of the Trait-d-Union are represented by Bibendum Wine Co., so Plonk received invitations to the event, held at the National Gallery of Australia, and I went along as a representative. There were speeches and ceremonial welcomes and short explanations about both the dots of the art and the bubbles of the beverage, and then there was the opportunity to taste some of the finest fizz you could imagine. Also, I know there are six, but did you really think I would turn one down?
6 Champagne Houses:
- Larmandier-Bernier - Longitude (minerally, flinty and bright from chalk soils); Grand Cru (made from tiny grapes, with spicy fruit notes and traces of nuts); Premier Cru (floral perfume aromas and elegant characteristics from a single vineyard)
- Roger Coulon - Reserve de l'Homme (intended as an aperitif, dry and zesty); Les Coteaux de Vallier Cuvee Heritage (honey, spice and floral aromas and a clean acidic backbone, featuring 20% Pinot Meurnier and matching well with food); Millesime Blanc de Noirs 2006 (50/50 Meurnier/Noir with strong bread aromas, earthy, nutty characteristics, and a clean crisp finish)
- Jacques Selosse - Les Carelles (from Mesnil-sur-Oger, exhibits a beautifully silky minerality with orange peel, earth, nuttiness and smoke, expertly layered with complexity); La Cote Faron (from Ay, providing a delightful contrast between the expressive nose of musk, pear and earth, the tight, crisp palate, and the superb length - one of my favourites of the tasting); Sous le Mont (the magnesium on the site of Mareuil-sur-Ay delivers a zesty freshness of spice and roses)
- Jacquesson & Fils - Cuvee no. 738 (restrained nose, full body, good acidity); Cuvee no.733 D.T. (aged for five years on lees and has developed aromas of brioche and pear, fruit richness, and honeyed characters; my other favourite of the day); Dizy Corne Bautray 2005 (floral character with notes of citrus peel and a touch of oak)
- Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru - Brut Tradition (redcurrant, earth and light toast on the nose with satisfying length); Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes (citrus, smoke, apple and brioche with powerful fruit palate)
- Jerome Prevost - Les Beguines (bright, grapefruit and floral acidity); Fac-Simile Rose (soft strawberry fruit but clean acidity)