Head Som­me­lier of Odette

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Sip -

Roses de Jeanne Cham­pagne by Cé­dric Bouchard:

Based in Celles-sur-ource in the Côte des Bar re­gion, Bouchard only started pro­duc­ing wines in 2000, yet has firmly es­tab­lished his rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best in Cham­pagne. He fo­cuses on dif­fer­ent va­ri­etals from sin­gle vine­yards. Fur­ther­more, he re­duces his yields to a mere fourth of an av­er­age pro­ducer’s out­put—and if one con­sid­ers that he started with only 1.37 hectares (he has since added 1.47 hectares from his fa­ther’s hold­ings), the quan­ti­ties are ex­tremely scarce. In­ter­est­ingly, he bot­tles all his cham­pagnes at a lower pres­sure as he be­lieves that the bub­bles only serve to ob­struct the flavours. Of course, he rec­om­mends his cham­pagnes served in a wine glass. I would rec­om­mend any of his cu­vées, from the ba­sic Val Vi­laine to his Creux de l’en­fer rosé, but if there’s one to seek out, it would be the Presle—a new cu­vée planted in 2007 to 10 dif­fer­ent root­stocks of pinot noir and from a mere 15 rows. It of­fers lay­ers of red berries, ap­ples and sweet spices. Barely 100 bot­tles of Presle are pro­duced an­nu­ally, so it’ll take a touch of luck to se­cure one.

Cham­pagne Agra­part:

This would be my pick for tex­ture. Now man­aged by broth­ers Pas­cal and Fab­rice, Agra­part has been pro­duc­ing grower cham­pagnes since 1894. While they are very much blanc de blancs spe­cial­ists, the wines are fresh and tart, yet never too sharp or ag­gres­sive. Agra­part man­ages to seam­lessly meld fresh­ness and round­ness, per­haps due to its mas­tery in the use of oak. It leans to­wards old 600-litre bar­rels as op­posed to the more com­mon 205-litre bar­rels, as it es­chews the in­flu­ence of oak. The ox­ida­tive na­ture of bar­rel age­ing does al­low the wines to mel­low out. Among the cu­vées of Agra­part, the two stand­outs would be

L’avi­zoise and Venus—two dif­fer­ent parcels of vines from Avize, where the wine­mak­ing is kept iden­ti­cal to show­case the ter­roir’s diver­sity. My pref­er­ence would be Venus, named af­ter the horse which con­tin­ues to till the 0.3 hectare La Fosse vine­yard to­day (it was first planted in 1959). The richer of the two cu­vées, Venus dis­plays riper notes and con­cen­tra­tion of flavours while main­tain­ing the salin­ity that is al­most a sig­na­ture of the house. A text­book blanc de blancs, it’s also tex­tu­ral and weighty on the palate to the point that it al­most feels chew­able.

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