CULT STA­TUS

Cuisine - - CHAMPAGNE $100 & UNDER -

Smaller grower Cham­pagnes join the Grandes Mar­ques to make today a very good time to be en­joy­ing this as­ton­ish­ing wine style, says JOHN SAKER.

EIGH­TEENTH-CEN­TURY France was rev­o­lu­tion cen­tral. It was a time of rad­i­cal new ideas and the bub­bly wine be­ing made east of Paris was one that re­ally caught on. In the twin­kling of a coupe, Cham­pagne grew to be­come one of France’s proud­est prod­ucts. There has never been a bet­ter time to en­joy this as­ton­ish­ing wine style than today. De­mand is as high as it’s ever been, as is the com­mit­ment to qual­ity by the peo­ple who are mak­ing it. Our Cham­pagne $100 & Un­der cat­e­gory rep­re­sents a broad range of la­bels and styles. The Grandes Mar­ques (the global Cham­pagne brands) are well rep­re­sented, which is un­der­stand­able. Their suc­cess is based on re­mark­able con­sis­tency of qual­ity. There are also sev­eral grower Cham­pagnes, wines pro­duced by small out­fits who vinify fruit they grow them­selves, in our top lineup. Over re­cent years a num­ber of grower la­bels in the re­gion have at­tained cult sta­tus. BEST BUYS Those wines of­fer­ing an out­stand­ing mix of qual­ity and price are awarded Best Buy sta­tus. Price points dif­fer, de­pend­ing on the va­ri­etal, but if you see the Best Buy sticker you can rest as­sured you’re get­ting a great wine at an ex­cel­lent price. Look out for the sticker on wine bot­tles at all good wine re­tail­ers. TAST­ING PANEL The sparkling wine tast­ing panel also tasted Cham­pagne $100 & un­der. 1 TOP CHAM­PAGNE $100 & UN­DER Veuve Clic­quot Yel­low La­bel Brut NV $80 ★★★★★ A LOVELY PALE

gold in colour and of­fer­ing fine cit­rusy scents, the Veuve was cer­tainly “en forme” at this tast­ing. Bright, fresh, com­pact and per­sis­tent, with at­trac­tive lemon and chamomile notes, this is an el­e­gant, juicy wine that cap­tures the essence of non-vin­tage Cham­pagne. (F) 147 YEARS OF VEUVE IN NZ It was re­cently dis­cov­ered that our top wine has been pleas­ing palates in Aotearoa for close to 150 years. On a re­cent visit to Veuve Clic­quot HQ in Reims, Moet Hen­nessy se­nior brands man­ager Ali Camp­bell was pre­sented with a copy of the first hand­writ­ten or­der for a ship­ment of Veuve Clic­quot des­tined for New Zealand. Dated 24 May 1870, it called for 10 cases of 12 bot­tles each to be shipped. The wine was dis­patched sev­eral days later, along with a note that said it was “from the great vin­tage of 1868”, and trust­ing that “this wine should be praised by con­sumers for it is the per­fect type of Cham­pagne wine”. Un­for­tu­nately, the grande dame her­self was not there to learn of this new an­tipodean mar­ket for her Cham­pagne. The widow Clic­quot had died just a few years be­fore, in 1866.

2 / J. Las­salle Préférence Pre­mier Cru Brut NV

★★★★★ $60

Run by three gen­er­a­tions of women, this grower Cham­pagne es­tate has built an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity. This is a beau­ti­fully bal­anced wine, with a creamy, even flow, in­tense chalky flavours and whis­pers of toast. There’s a lot of so­phis­ti­ca­tion to be had here at a smart price. (D)

3 / Piper-Hei­d­sieck Cu­vée Brut NV

★★★★★ $60

This one en­tranced Tony Jor­dan – “fine, el­e­gant, lovely.” It leads with patis­serie and wet chalk aro­mas. In the mouth it bursts on to the palate, scat­ter­ing cit­rus and biscuit notes, yet never sac­ri­fices poise and el­e­gance. The fin­ish is per­sis­tent and fine. Try it with mush­room cros­tini. (D)

“The best Cham­pagne houses have per­fected their own sig­na­ture styles, from grace­ful to nervy to flam­boy­ant. This tast­ing con­firmed that each de­serves its place.” JOHN BELSHAM

4 / Charles Hei­d­sieck Rosé Réserve NV ★★★★★ $99

Pale sal­mon in colour, this rosé is quite aus­tere in style, but cer­tainly not lack­ing in com­plex­ity. Bready, dried fruit aro­mat­ics, lifted by a fine flinty seam, usher in a crisp, dry mouth­ful with lively acid­ity. All the el­e­ments pull to­gether as one. “Lovely and well-bal­anced,” said Tony Jor­dan. Try it with sauer­kraut and sausage. (D)

5 / Charles de Cazanove Tête de Cu­vée NV

★★★★★ $49.95

This is a smart pack­age and rep­re­sents ex­cel­lent value too. Muted aro­mat­ics presage a se­duc­tive mouth­ful, with cit­rus, nougat and light yeast­i­ness wrapped in a soft tex­ture and a fine mousse. A touch of sweet­ness lends round­ness to the palate, and fresh­ness is main­tained all the way. (A)

6 / Piper-Hei­d­sieck Vin­tage 2008 ★★★★★ $90

This is a dis­tinc­tive wine from a vin­tage re­garded as some­thing very spe­cial. Fas­ci­nat­ingly com­plex, with at­trac­tive yel­low fruit char­ac­ters laced with stony fi­nesse, it treads a tight, dry line, lifted by in­ci­sive acid­ity. “It leaves you want­ing more,” said John Saker. (D)

7 / Louis Auger Brut NV ★★★★★ $40

This is a lean, racy style. It opens its ac­count with fresh, ap­p­ley and pressed linen scents, then washes like a moun­tain stream over the taste­buds. Mouth­wa­ter­ing acid­ity and min­er­ally flavours give it edgi­ness and lift. This Cham­pagne would be per­fect along­side the fresh­est raw oys­ters you can find. (H)

8 / Jean-Jos­selin Blanc de Blancs Mil­lésimé 2011

★★★★★ $57

Made by a small fam­ily-owned pro­ducer based in the tiny Champenois town of Gyé-sur-Seine, this is an at­trac­tive 100 per cent chardon­nay ex­pres­sion from a strong vin­tage. “Gor­geous aro­mas of cream cus­tard,” en­thused John Belsham. In the mouth it opens with a cym­bal clash of cit­rusy min­er­al­ity. Round and softly tex­tured, it flows to a lengthy fin­ish. (I)

9 / Charles Hei­d­sieck Brut Réserve NV ★★★★★ $89

A golden hue and overt soy gin­ger scents alert you that you’re in for a rol­lick­ing, rich ride. Yel­low fruit and toasted brioche flavours are writ large. This is a big, pinot noir-dom­i­nant wine, an un­re­pen­tant ex­tro­vert. De­spite its en­ergy and grand di­men­sions, there is a com­pact­ness to the over­all pack­age. This is a style of Cham­pagne that would be per­fect along­side roast turkey and cran­berry sauce. (D)

10 / Ay­ala Brut Ma­jeur NV ★★★★★ $89

The Ay­ala Cham­pagne house (which is owned by Bollinger) has been hit­ting its straps over re­cent years. This re­lease has ter­rific drive and life, with ap­ple and fresh linen aro­mas and a lin­ger­ing per­sis­tence in the mouth. As with all fine Cham­pagne, it man­ages to be both im­pos­ing and el­e­gant. (G)

Piper-Hei­d­sieck Cu­vée Essen­tiel NV ★★★★★ $65

This is a rich style that of­fers up that dis­tinc­tive Cham­pagne com­bi­na­tion of fresh bak­ing and soy sauce aro­mat­ics. There’s plenty of fruit at play, and the flavours run from pen­cil shav­ings through to creamy vanilla cus­tard. It’s a big, round, buxom Cham­pagne that is im­pos­si­ble not to fall for. Serve it with mush­room vol au vents. (D)

Veuve Clic­quot Rosé NV ★★★★★ $99

The Veuve Clic­quot rosé style favours fi­nesse above all else. This re­lease’s del­i­cate, fresh berryfruit and or­ange peel notes led to John Belsham de­scrib­ing it as a “Wim­ble­don wine”. It is tight, dry, softly tex­tured and very moreish. The per­fect glass for a spe­cial sum­mer evening oc­ca­sion – or a spe­cial ten­nis match. (F)

H. Lan­vin et Fils Cu­vée Sélec­tion Brut NV

★★★★ $40

This non-vin­tage ex­pres­sion makes another of its reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances among our top placeget­ters. It’s a fresh, ap­proach­able style with bready com­plex­ity tak­ing the lead and sweet nougat in a sec­ondary role. Fine and tight in struc­ture, gen­tly tex­tured, it rep­re­sents out­stand­ing value. (C)

Serge Math­ieu Tra­di­tion Brut NV ★★★★ $60

A grower Cham­pagne where every care is taken to en­sure qual­ity, this is a punchy, steely ren­di­tion. Gen­er­ous flavours – yel­low fruit, spice, min­er­al­ity – flood the palate, which has en­ergy and range. “It’s an in­tense, in-your-face style that works won­der­fully well,” noted Tony Jor­dan. (D) Beaumet Brut NV ★★★★ (B) $45 Beaumet Rosé Brut NV

★★★★ (B) $50 Beaumet Vin­tage Brut 2012 ★★★★ (B) $56 De­laplace Brut NV ★★★★ (E) $58 Drap­pier Carte d’Or Brut NV

★★★★ (D) $50 Jean Jos­selin Cu­vée des Jean NV

★★★★ (I) $45 Mar­ion-Bosser Blanc de Blancs Pre­mier Cru Ex­tra Brut NV

★★★★ (I) $60 Mau­rice Ves­selle Mil­lésimé Brut Grand Cru 2004

★★★★ (I) $79.95 Moët & Chan­don Grand Vin­tage 2008 ★★★★ (F) $100 Moët & Chan­don Im­périal Brut NV ★★★★ (F) $70 Moët & Chan­don Im­périal Rosé NV ★★★★ (F) $85 Paul Louis Martin Bouzy Grand Cru NV ★★★★ (A) $89.95 Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV ★★★★ (D) $80 Pol Roger Cu­vée Rich NV ★★★★ (D) $89

DIS­TRIB­U­TORS

To source wines listed, con­tact the dis­trib­u­tor, in­dexed by let­ter. (A) Ben­nett & Deller Wine Mer­chants : 09-378 9463 (B) Caro’s Wines: 09 377 9974 (C) EuroVin­tage: 0800 338 766 (D) Glen­garry: 0800 733 505 (E) Kahu­rangi Liquor Dis­trib­u­tors: 03 543 2980 (F) Moët Hen­nessy: 0800 226 650 (G) Ne­go­ciants NZ: 0800 634 624 (H) NZ Wine So­ci­ety: 0800 809 463 (I) Three French Vines: 0508 2426 7246

Veuve Clic­quot

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