Friday, 25 April 2014

HV Wines - The perfume of wine: Dominant animal: Part 6

This section of our quest in fine tuning our nostrils and memorizing the smells and aromas, is animal characters. Surprisingly you will discover that many wines do hold notes of animal scent. As you will discover along the way there are naturally more animal aspects in red wine but you will occasionally find it as well in some white wines even rose's. 
The Animal in wine indicates that wine is a natural element depending on its environmental surroundings and that even so with the much needed human intervention to make wine, it is truly the terroir and grape that will define the outcome of a wine. There are about 8 different animal smells detected in wine.


The composition perfumer of ambergris is a substance formed in the stomach of the Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus. We find them in the mammals stranded on the beaches of New-Zealand, Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, and Norway.
Once of great value, ambergris isn't commercialized any more, as the sales of the components of the Sperm whale is forbidden. In perfume it is still used very often but principally from synthetic origins. Ambergris is often confused with the tear of a fossil resin. 

The principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Ambergris: Aplha ambrinol, Ambreine, Muscone, Palmatic acid.

Wines containing relevant notes of Ambergris

We can find back facets of Ambergris in several types of wine, especially those made with Montepulciano, Pinotage, Sangiovese, as well in old wines particularly the reds.

Smells close to Ambergris

Castor, Beeswax, Leather, Hay, Iris, Jasmine, Musk, Narcissus, Carnation, Venison.

Castor (beaver)

The composition perfumer of Castor is a secretion of the sexual glands of the European Castor fiber. These glands are situated between the back legs near the tail. Originally from Europe, this rodent is found all over Europe, Mongolia, and Siberia. 
The secretion of Castoreum (Castor) prevents it from becoming submerged, it also delineate it territory. Frequently used in the middle ages, the Castoreum powder was considered as a miracle remedy in many diseases.

Principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Castor: Benzoic acid, Muscone, Acetophenone, Indol, Benzilic Alcohol, Ethyl phenol.

Wines containing notes of Castor

Castoreum only confined itself to smell (bouquet). Red wines like Mouvedre, Bonarda, Gamaret, Garanoir, Nerello, Mascalese, Pinot noir.
Sometimes after some years of ageing we can note tones of it in white wines.

Smells close to Castor

Amber gris, Leather, Orange flower, Hay, Jasmine, Musk, Narcissus, Horse sweat, Green Tea, Peat, Venison.


We extract the absolute of beeswax by alcoholic extraction, from the common bees wax, "Apis mellifera".Originated from Africa, this insect is today present all over Europe as well as in Asia.
According to Greek mythology, Icarus and his father Daedalus who were locked up inside a labyrinth created by Minos. Their way to escape was to create wings from feather glued together with beeswax. Despite instructions from his father, Icarus flew too close to the sun, which made the beeswax melt and crashed into the sea, drowned and died.

Principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Beeswax: Palmatic acid, Ceroleine, Linoleic acid.

Relevant wines containing  notes of Beeswax

Beeswax is one of the principal notes of evolution in rose and white wines. We also detect Beeswax frequently in sweet white wines. Sometimes it might appear in young wines made of grapes like, Assyrtiko, Chardonnay, Falanghina, Mauzac, Petit manseng, Pinot gris, Savagnin blanc, Semillon, Sylvaner Viognier....

Smells close to Beeswax

Amber gris, Oak, Hay, Broom, Jasmine, Narcissus.


The composition perfumer reproducing the smell of the Civet is the anal gland secretion of the Viverra civetta. Originally from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), this small carnivorous mammal lives in Africa and Asia.
It is a product who's use is very old, Cleopatra already used regularly the secretion of Civet. A very rare coffee "le Kopi Luwak" from South-east Asia  is produced by the Civet digesting pulp grains in its stomach, which is harvest in the faeces of the animal.

Principal components

Smells /Molecules

Civet: Civettone, Scatol.

Relevant wines containing notes of Civet

Like other animal smells, this of the Civet is frequently a sign of evolved wine, as much for white, rose and red. It can also be present in young wines at times, as in those made from Cabernet-sauvignon, Pinot noir, Nerello mascalese.....

Smells close to Civet

Amber gris, Musk, Venison.


The composition perfumer of leather is obtained by tanning the skin of different animals, predominately Cattle and Swine (Pigs).
Leather dates back to the origin of humanity, although leather objects have not resisted the Millennia. We have discovered objects that served for working animal skin and bones showing traces of skinning. In Greek mythology there was a large lion (Nemean Lion), whose hide was impervious to weapons, which plagued the district of Nemea in the Argolis. King Eurystheus commanded Herakles to destroy the beast as the first of his twelve labours. The hero cornered the lion in its cave and seizing it by the neck wrestled it to death. He then skinned its hide to make a lion-skin cape, one of his most distinctive attributes. Hera afterwards placed the lion amongst the stars as the constellation Leo.

Principal components

Smells /Molecules

Leather: Muscone

Relevant wines containing notes of Leather

Leather is a not of excellent evolution for most of the time, leather detects fairly rapidly according to the grape used in the wine. The wine taster can despite smell notes of leather on young wines elaborated from, Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Humagne rouge, Malbec, Merlot, Mouvedre, Nebbiolo, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional......

Smells close to Leather

Amber gris, Castor, Jasmine, Musk, Narcissus, Venison.


The composition perfumer of Musk is a secretion coming from the abdominal gland, the Chevrotain or Port-Musk Moschus moschiferus. Originally from the Himalayas, you can equally find it on the high plateaus of Asia and Siberia. The practise to obtain the substance of Musk is forbidden, the animal is killed and an alcoholic extraction is conducted on its secretions to obtain after filtering the tincture of musk.
Today most natural musk are replaced by synthetic musk. We attribute since a long time aphrodisiac characters to musk, as it contains a high content of Pheromones. In certain Arab countries, men sometimes wear it, most of the time hidden, in hope to benefit from its effects.

Principal components

Smells /Molecules

Musk: Muscone

Relevant wines containing notes of Musk

Musk let its animal characters been detected on many grapes such as, Lambrusco, Merlot, Mouvedre, Riesling, Syrah, even on the Amarone wine. Old white, rose and red wines can reveal notes of musk along its lifeline.

Smells close to Musk

Amber gris, Castor, Leather, Jasmine, Narcissus, Venison.

Horse Sweat

It is the synthetic molecules that reminds us of horse sweat. It is a molecule principally produced by the yeasts Brettanomyces spp. These yeast can produces characteristics in certain beers, like the Lambic beer, or a beer of spontaneous fermentation like the Gueuze and Kriek beer. Certain interpretations of this molecule, describe it as pharmaceutical, close to the smell of plaster, even reminding of gouache.  

Principal components 

Smells /Molecules

Horse sweat: Ethyl Phenyl

Relevant wines containing noted of Horse Sweat

Considered for most of the times as a default by winemakers, the smell of horse sweat is capable of hiding the intensity of other aromas, even if it represent a very faint concentration. Nevertheless a very faint concentration can help participating at the complexity of the wine. We can encounter it in different grape varieties, like Cabernet-Sauvignon, Carrignan, Merlot, Mouvedre, Primitivo, Syrah......

Smells close to horse sweat

Castor, Leather, Narcissus, Peat.


The composition perfumer of Venison consists of the flesh of big wild game, deer, suede, roe or wild boar. Once venison came only from hunted animals, but these days it isn't rare to find some from farmed provenance. Today open to pretty all social classes well almost all, hunting was a privilege almost exclusively to nobility and the clergy during the middle ages.

Principal components

Smells /Molecules

Venison: Muscone, Civettone

 Relevant wines containing notes of Venison

Often very distinguished of other perfumes, venison can often flair up in old red wines. Also in wines elaborated from grapes like Cabernet franc, Gamaret, Garanoir, d'Humagne noir, Merlot, Mouvedre, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Syrah and sometimes Tempranillo...

Smells close to Venison

Amber gris, Castor, Civet, Leather, Musk.

So here another chapter to get closer to grips with wines and its perfume, till next time please do drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

HV Wines - Karasi 2011 Zorah Armenia

Once it was the cradle of wine, but for a long it has been silenced by its trials and tribulations, since communism has fallen new shoots of wine life in the origins where wine has set birth are coming back to the surface.

Now I have to say at first, I was not entirely convinced but I bought the bottle at Philglas and Swigott (London shop in Clapham junction) and these guys do not take wine lightly but rather darn seriously. Karen, at the helm of the shop told me that this is pretty amazing and will most likely open the doubtful views we often have on Eastern European wines.

True to say I have tasted Romanian wines two years ago and I was surprisingly impressed. Yes improvement is surely to be made, but a page has turned so with the trust given by Karen from Philglas and Swigott,  I am not going to experience my first ever Armenian wine.

Not much is known of this small country landlocked between Europe and Asia, between Slavic and Arab worlds. Russia and Georgia to the north, Iran to the south, Turkey to the west and to the east Azerbaijan, It seems that Armenia represent the meeting point of these cultures reflecting in its geography, religion, history and politics.
Even so Georgia now is dubbed as the seed of viticulture, Armenia has factual proof of viticulture practice of more then 6,000 years ago and Proof of the vine "Vitis vinifera and vitis silvestris" being present for more then 1,000,000 years (begs you the question of religion and its statement).
As the use to which these vines have been put has changed dramatically over the centuries, as war and religion have either prevented or suppressed Armenian wine making.

The weather is favourable to make good healthy fruits and as such hopefully good wines to. Cold winters, which is good for the fruit, wet spring fuelling the roots with nutritions, hot dry summers with cool nights, gives the vine and fruit the ideal environment to develop. Over here they still are attached to traditional grape varieties like the one we going to discover on our wine "Areni noir".

Zorah winery

It is a truly beautiful and gripping journey, Zorik (the founder) went to visit his roots after a very long absence and quickly came to the conclusion that destiny was not set for Tuscany (where they were living). The beauty and spirit of the homeland quickly settled in his heart and rapidly decided that a return was needed. Also because of its soviet rule much that was alive in viticulture was fast erased from the culture and genes of the Armenian people.
But Zorik kept up the faith and belief and for ten long years and much investment Zorah the winery was born. The team around this winery is highly professional and motivated, they are determinant to achieve and create Armenia's best wine.

The team exist of Zorik Gharibian (the founder), Alberto Antonini (the winemaker) and Stefano Bartolomei (Agronomist/Viticulturist).

They have 40 hectares of vines planted, on a rocky soil rich in Limestone, with warm sunny days in the summer and cool tempered nights, gives this an ideal climate for healthy grapes production. Winters are bitter cold and rain fall is regular. Little in our modern wine knowledge do we know about Armenia, but I am sure that soon more wines will emerge of the new/old European wine fields.

Zorah Karasi 2011 Areni noir

Bought: Philglas and Swigott UK

Price: £23.45 €27 $35
(on my video blog I could not remember exactly the price as it was awhile since I have bought it. I mentioned that I thought it was between £14 and £16, I might have accepted £18. Now that I do know the price I think that it is not entirely great value for money

Visual: A cherry/ burgundy red colour, It looks slightly cloudy (very tiny), So its reflection is fair, and the acidity is somewhat shy. The way it looks is unpretentious, timid, not yet fully set with confidence.

Nose: Fruits are the first thing that jumps out, redcurrants, raspberries, cherries with a little under layers of spice and pepper here in this case. It is pretty straightforward and lacks complexity (but as this wine is still in its early stages of its existence, I did not expect it either). The Areni noir grape does remind me on several aspects of the Grenache Noir grape.

Palate: The attack is a fair good fruits burst all over the palate, the tannins are soft-ish but not too pronounced, the acidity and aromas are not entirely there yet, this sadly does however stop short, there no length in the wine, so another sip is quickly required. The wine is not heavy it lays in a good medium weight, so fairly easy to drink on its own, food wines you think veal, cheese (not strong flavours), charcuterie, crusted bacon salads, mushroom pastas/risotto's.....

Conclusion: I am very happy to have bought this wine and discover that there is a bright future for Armenian wines, technically the wine is well made. The 13%  alcohol it carries in not detectable on the nose which is always a very good indication that true professionals and minds with passion are at work here. It is for me a bit weak in the middle and end. But as the soil is young in its culture and the grape might as well be a factor (maybe a blend might complete the need for this wine). Do not get me wrong I really am pleasantly surprised with this wine and I will definitely look out for future vintages and other members of the family.  As I wrote in my comment on the price, I think that £23.45 for this wine is just a step or two too high. For that price the consumer (a general view that is) will most likely spend that on a wine from France, Italy, maybe Spain. I would rather have seen this wine at £18 on the shelves.

Score: I rate this wine 17.5/20 75/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Friday, 11 April 2014

HV Wines - Chile an insight


Chile, a subject often in debate with the general public from the land where they make good wine at a cheap price! Is that really true?

As with Argentina, Chile gives you similar thrills when driving through the countryside, struck by the sheer beauty of it all. On one side the Pacific Ocean on the other side the Andes mountain range, 4,345 kilometres of land (2,700 miles) a width of no more than 177 kilometres (110 miles). One is said never to be more than 2 hours away from the ocean no matter where you are in the country.

Chile has a wine history dating back to the Spanish conquistadors, who arrived in the sixteen century. As for most missionaries, planting or cultivating wine was a prime occupation as then drinking water wasn't readily available and the vine presented itself with a great opportunity. This has been known throughout modern civilization evolution that the grape gave great taste just as a juice or fermented into wine (rest assured back then the wine was far from what we know it today, it was much sweeter and had to be consumed pretty quick).

The grape variety originally grown there is the Pais or Mission grape, which was vinified into sacramental wine for the use in the Catholic Mass. It is thought that that this grape made its way to Chile via Peru, having first travelled to Mexico where Hernan Cortes brought grapes in 1520.

When wines finally move from church to home, other grape varieties arrived including Muscat and Torontel, a close relative to the well known Torrontes. In the mid-seventeenth Century, Philip III of Spain limited grape cultivation and prevented Chile, Argentina and Peru from selling wine back to Spain.
The Phylloxera epidemic of the mid late nineteenth Century first cause havoc in Europe and France in particular, so the French winemakers seek other lands to ply their trade.

Wealthy Chilean landowners had already imported French vines, at the same time that French enologists were moving to Rioja in Spain, bringing along with them their expertise. A similar trend took place between Bordeaux and Santiago. Grape growing took mainly place in the Central valley.

Don Silvetre Ochagavia Echazarreta is widely credited as the first Chilean to import and grow French Vitis vinifera varieties from Bordeaux, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon.

With a total vineyard area of 118,000 hectares (291,500 acres) divided into 14 regions (plus a new DO which is not yet producing wine), Chile offers a wide range and diversity of styles and attitude mainly thanks to the soil styles and altitude. Also the only country in the world so far to be Phyloxera free, mainly thanks to the strict quarantine rules for cuttings and plantings brought in from other countries.

The latitude of where wines are made in Chile is 29 degree latitude north to 38 degrees latitude south. Because of its proximity from the Ocean as well as the Andes mountain range, the temperatures can range  in great differences from sea level to more than 2000 metres (6 to 562 feet) altitude.

Chile has a vast variety of Micro climates, sheltered from the east by the snowcapped Andes, the cold Pacific from the west, to the north the Atacama - the driest dessert in the world and the south by Antarctica. All this creates conditions to which Phylloxera can't survive, because of the lack of humidity and sandy soil, two good ingredients to prevent phylloxera to thrive.

It is also unique in an other way as most vines throughout the world and especially in Europe are grafted on American rootstock (only way to defeat Phylloxera) in Chile they are not which gives the vines a much longer life then those grafted. Chile's warm dry summers and wet cold winters, very Mediterranean climate, and large fluctuation in temperature between daytime and nigh time gives it the perfect environment to grow strong vines producing excellent grapes.

Chile is also working hugely on eco friendly methods to maker their wines, a code of sustainable wine production is developing. This code will set in motion guidelines for environmentally friendly systems that are also economically feasible.
Chile's sits on a seismic plate (the Nazca plate) and has suffered terrible damage (2010 was a biggy) So it is also important for them to see how they can avoid such damage again (they lost over 125 million litres of wine), even so fighting nature is something we try to achieve but so poorly succeed. Maybe we should work with it?

The wine region of Chile

The 14 wine regions of Chile

  1. Elqui Valley
  2. Limari Valley
  3. Choapa Valley
  4. Aconagua Valley
  5. Casablanca Valley
  6. San Antonio/Leyda Valley
  7. Maipo Valley
  8. Rapel/Cachapoal Valley
  9. Rapel/Colchagua Valley
  10. Curico Valley
  11. Maule Valley
  12. Itata Valley
  13. Bio Bio Valley
  14. Malleco Valley 
The four region closest to the capital Santiago, Maipo, Casablanca, Curico, and Rapel (divided between Colchagua and Cachapoal valley) are responsible for almost two-thirds of all the wine made in Chile.

The predominately grape varieties
  • Cabernet-Sauvignon is the most popular red planted grape with 35 % of the total vineyard area. 
  • Merlot is the next most popular red grape with about 10% planted
  • Carmenere follows closely
  • Syrah accounts for 5% 
  • Pinot Noir makes up for less then 3%, but that will most certainly change very soon as higher altitudes are challenged so cooler climates and there Pinot Noir will be king 
  • Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are almost tied for second most grape planted, of course first amongst the whites at just over and just under 12% planted 
  • Gewurtztraminer small amounts 
  • Viognier similar
  • Riesling little 
  • Muscat and Pedro Ximenez are still grown but north of the country but used for Pisco distillation. (Pisco is a brandy style drink)
In 2010 Chile exported a total of 738 million litres of wine, its primary market is the United States, followed by the UK and Canada, since recent China and Russia have jumped onto the wagon. Within the current decade, the Chilean wine industry aims to become the leading producer of sustainable and diverse premium wines from the new world. A very bold statement and setting the bar very high. The problem they will have to overcome is the mind the the overseas consumer as most still to this day see Chilean wines as inexpensive, good quality wines and like it that way. The aiming to export of bottled wine to reach the 3 billion US by the year 2020.  Hopes are really high.....

Rules and regulations

Chile has seven denomination of origin.
These are divided into the main grape-growing and wine-producing valleys.
The latest addition to the DO system is Atacama
There is the Coquimbo DO, which includes Elqui valley, Limari Valley and Choapa valley
The Aconcagua DO is made up of Casablanca valley and Aconcagua valley
Valle Central is the most known area close to Santiago, which includes, Maipo, Rapel, Curico and Maule DO's
The Southern Chile DO's are Itata valley, Bio Bio valley and Malleo valley.
Then there is Araucania DO a new one added
Los Lagos DO is the other new one as well

On a label you can state a single grape variety once there is at least 75% of that grape present in the bottle.

The wine regions and their famous wines

Elqui Valley

The further most north situated area in Chile. Since only recent have wineries been erected to produce fine wines, this area is mostly in production for the Pisco drink. Since 1998 wineries have been growing,

  • Falerina, Ruta 41 Kilometer 52, Vicuna. 
  • Mayu, Chacabuco 255, Vicuna, IV region.       
  • O Fournier, Caminoa Constitucion km. 20, San Javier.                                            
Limari Valley
Once a power seat of the Inca Empire, Limari is named for the Franciscan monk who first planted grapes here in 1548.


Choapa Valley

The very fertile colluvial soil has given great challenge to wineries here in the Choapa Valley. Fed by El Rio Choapa, which originates in the Andes and its tributary the Illapel river, the valleys two main towns are Illapel and Salamanca.


Aconcagua Valley
Named after the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere- the 7,010 meters high Mount Aconcagua. The Aconcagua Valley has produced fine wines for more than 150 years. The valleys orientation is mainly west to east, running along the twisting length river of the same name. The closest city is Valparaiso, nicknamed "The Jewel of the Pacific".


Casablanca Valley
At only 75 kilometres (47 miles) from Santiago, Casablanca with a cool-climate is the highest producer amongst Chile's new regions. Often referred as the Napa Valley of  Chile, August Hunees is recognized as the pioneer who put Casablanca on the map. In 1990 there were only 40 hectares of vines planted, since his arrival and now the total is 5,680 hectares of vines are planted (14,036 acres)


San Antonio/Leyda Valley
It seems like to be a chase going on in this part of Chile, to see who can plant the most vineyards. Another popular area very close to the Pacific, most vineyeards have full view of the ocean. The soils a re suited for full crisp and lean wines, it is also know as the boutique wine area. The area is divided into six zones, Lo Abarca, Rosario, Malvilla, Llolleo, Cartagena and Leyda of which it has turned out to be the most significant of them all, it received a D.O status in 2002.


Maipo Valley

The Maipo Valley is claimed to be the only wine region in the world that contains a capital city that also has vineyards within the city; Santiago of course. Maipo is not the even the most densely planted in Chile, but because of its close proximity of Santiago and a large number of top wineries, makes Maipo not just the centre of Chilean wines but the world of Chilean wines.


Rapel-Cachapoal Valley
The v-shaped area south of Santiago has build its reputation on reds. It is more inland and was formerly known as the Rapel Valley, and it is divided into three sub-zones: Rancagua, Cachapoal Alto and Peumo. Cachapoal is positioned between the Andes to the east and the Coastal mountain to the west, keeping the effect of the pacific at bay. The main sources of water is the Cachapoal river. 


Rapel-Colchagua Valley
Chile's most famous Terroir, Apalta is the jewel in the crown of the area of the Rapel Valley known as Colchagua Valley. Most Vineyards and wineries in the area run from the north-east corner of the valley down through Alpata and up north again towards the coast and Marchegui. Further south-west closer to the sea are the newer grape-growing areas of Lolol and Paredones, which are now producing innovating cool-climate whites. 


Curico Valley
Grape farming and wine making are the primary industry of Curico. The dominant landscape feature here is the ever-present sight of the white-capped Andes, the string of dormant volcanoes to the east, and the undulating coastal hills to the west. The valley takes its name from the indigenous Mapuche word "Kureko" meaning " land of black water" it describes the colour of thre many streams that once crisscrossed the region.


Maule Valley
The part of the further south of the D.O's Central Valley Maule has more land dedicated to grape cultivation than any other Chilean region, its vineyeards cover 31,792 hectares (78,560 acres). A sharply contrasted combination of high-end wineries and their more industrial cousins producing bulk wine, Maule is rapidly changing as some older vines are displaced by new plantings. At the same time, old-vine Carignan from unirrigated plantings is making waves among wine geeks worldwide.


Itata Valley
This region is going through a total transformation and the number one change has been the eradication of the older vineyards in favour of higher-quality and more commercial, international varieties. This means that the total planting is down hugely so for now there are no wineries stated until the newly planted varieties are ready and rich to produce.

Bio Bio Valley and Malleco Valley

Two adjoining valley's in the southern region D.O. Bio Bio and Malleco, are respectively  the southernmost and northernmost areas of the neighbouring provinces of Bio Bio and Araucania. The river Renaico separates them. Although this was previously thought to have been the farthest south that grapes could be reasonably grown in Chile, they are now joined by D.O's Araucania and Lagos where planting have not yet yielded a viable harvest.

In all as you will see when you reach this point, there is much happening and great ambition in this long stretched, thin country with such a variety in climates and conditions, where much is set in a none spoilt environment (so far). There are definitely some very good wines from there. to end this blog on Chile here some 10 big guys from Chile.

  1. Errazuriz Vinedo Chadwick, Maipo Valley $183 £122 €107
  2. Vina Almaviva, Puente Alvo $128 £86 €75
  3. Errazuriz Kai Carmenere, Aconcagua Valley $123 £82 €71
  4. Vina Casa Silva Altura Colchagua Valley $115 £77 €67
  5. Concha Y Toro Carmin de Peumo Carmenere, Rapel Valley $115 £77 €67
  6. Sena Aconcagua Valley $102 £68 €59
  7. Casa La Copostolle Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley $82 £55 €48
  8. Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto $80 £53 €46
  9. Montes Alpha M, Apalta $77 £51 €44
  10. Montes Folly Syrah, Apalta $75 £50 €43
(source of information wines of the southern hemisphere Desimone & Jenssen, Sterling epicure)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.


Monday, 7 April 2014

HV Wines - The Class that is Alexandra Rose Champagne the Laurent-Perrier

I always feels deeply moved when it comes to this Champagne. It is a Champagne that many will not have heard of but she is truly and honestly one of the best Rose champagne the world of bubbles. Alexandra Rose Champagne from the house Laurent-Perrier.

The house Laurent-Perrier Champagne


The house Laurent-Perrier was founded in 1812, by a gentleman named Andre-Michel Pierlot but it was not named Laurent-Perrier yet. He was a former cooper and bottler from AY (important champagne town), settling in Tour-sur-Marne and setting up as a Champagne negociant (merchant). His son Alphonse Pierlot, who succeeded his father established the Champagne house: Le Roy Fils & Pierlot. Upon his death in 1881 and having no heir, he left the house to his cellar master, Eugene Laurent and his wife Mathilde Emilie Perrier. The then became know as "Eugene Laurent & Co.

Eugene ensured that his business had the essential basis for producing great champagne, he bought several existing houses in Tours-sur-Marne to build up his own estate. In parallel, he acquired a number of plots located in the very best terroirs of Tours-sur-Marne, Ambonnay, Bouzy and Dizy.
He also excavated 800 meters of cellars and installed a tasting laboratory, only to have met a premature accidental death; crushed by one of the newly installed lifts in the cellars in 1887.

As tradition calls at the time the widow Mathilde decides to take over the business herself and renames the house as "Veuve Laurent-Perrier & Co", linking her name with that of her late husband. Great importance is attached to the hyphen as it signifies the link between the family names.

By 1914 Laurent-Perrier is a significant producer of champagne and has over 600,000 bottles in the cellars. This was a highpoint at the region Champagne suffered hugely during the FWW, and with the crash on wall street in 1929, the great depression and the WW2, the region shrunk considerably with many growers going bankrupt, some even change to other cultures to survive.

Mathilde dies in 1925 and her daughter Eugenie inherits the company. She faced huge challenges but wanted to keep up the spirit and determination of the family ethos. However eventually, in 1939 with only 12,000 bottles in the cellar, she sells the house to Madame Louis Lanson De Nonancourt, sister of the champagne producers Victor and Henry Lanson. She already purchased the house of Delamotte for her eldest son Charles. It was intended that the house Laurent-Perrier be inherit by the next eldest son: Maurice, but he was killed in a concentration camp duiring WW2 and so it was the youngest son Bernard De Nonancourt who came to inherit the house.

When Bernard returns from the war in 1945 he begins his apprenticeship learning all he needs to know about how to make champagne in the houses of Delamotte and Lanson, and so by 1949 he was finally ready to take over ownership of Laurent-Perrier, which at that time it was still called "Veuve Laurent-Perrier" he finally changed it to "Champagne Laurent-Perrier" in 1964.

Today Laurent-Perrier is the largest family owned champagne house and the group is the 5th largest. Laurent-Perrier champagne is producing about 10 million bottles. The combined group include the houses Salon, Delamotte, de Castellane and Lemoine.

The range 

As with all house the most important champagne is the BRUT NV, as this is the champagne that most of us will drink so it has to be the one that gives the just impression of the house, LP is a house predominately based on Chardonnay and their style is LIGHTNESS, FRESHNESS and ELEGANCE.

1. Laurent-Perrier Brut NV
2. Laurent Perrier Vintage
3. Laurent-Perrier Ultra brut (or brut zero no dosage)
4. Laurent-Perrier Demi sec (very little made of higher sugar contents)
5. Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose NV
6. Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle (a blend of three exceptional vintages)
7. Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose Vintage

Laurent-Perrier Cuvee rose Alexandra 1998 

This champagne is truly something unique and totally special. How it all started gives this rose even more status and class. Bernard De Nannoncourt in 1987 presented this champagne first and foremost to the close family as it was created for the marriage of his daughter Alexandra.
It was his gift to her and what happened then gave the birth of something truly exceptional.

This rose is about 80% Pinot noir and 20 % Chardonnay, aged for at least 7 years and the production of this champagne is not enormous, just figures are not available but I have heard that about 25,000 bottles are made when a vintage Alexandra is released, Now keep in mind that only 7 vintages of this prestige cuvee has been released since its birth in 1982.

For those who are able to get their hands on one of these beauties, you will undoubtedly enter in a moment where time and space seems to stop and forget all that is around you as she will take over all your attention, take away all your sorrows and give you pure indulgence. I was given this cuvee as a gift for me and the most important person in my life and on the 4th of April we celebrate our 5th anniversary so I thought that it was the right moment to introduce you to the beautiful, wonderful, pragmatic, stylish, talented, creative, inspiring, hugely talented, overly inspirational and extremely professional Cuvee Alexandra 1998 from Laurent-Perrier.

Price; £211, €255, $350

Visual: A warm smoked salmon/pink colour, a mature and adult appearance. The bubbles are beautiful in line with each other extremely fine composed. The look of this Champagne is without a doubt a talent not like many others.

Nose: The nose is impressive and imposed with great control, almonds and Brioche are immediately apparent, followed by reds fruits confit, jam like, mineral hints like chalk and flint, reflecting the terroir, a tiny little hint of rose lays in the under layers, really subtle.

Palate: The attack is smooth, elegant, warm, delightful, impressive, the fruits burst all over the palate and last for a long time, on top of that the flavours comes back and back, the aromas and acidity are perfectly balanced, truly remarkable.

Conclusion: I have had this Champagne before a different vintage, but each time savouring this gem it makes me realise that there are little wonders on this planet, where your world becomes two, Alexandra and you. You have to taste it to discover how much light years this Champagne takes you, it seduces even the most sceptics of critics who cannot deny and admit that we are here in the company of beauty and purity in a pink glass. Yes some wines/Champagnes tell a different story than many others and Alexandra is one of them. 1998 was not an exceptional year but a very good year nonetheless. For those who want to offer themselves or someone special a Champagne with panache, Alexandra will not disappoint you.  

Score: I rate this Champagne 19.40/20  94/100

Thursday, 3 April 2014

HV Wines - Chablis Premier Cru an insight

After the Grand Crus Chablis, we have the Premier Crus Chablis, the difference between the two is pretty straight forward.
A grand Cru has the ideal exposure, perfect soil, and perfect slope inclination or percentage according to the institution of the appellation d'origine Controlee.
The Premier Cru has the same criteria only slightly inferior as a Grand Cru in any of the three points made above.

Premier Cru's Chablis are even more affordable and available as there are 40 climats of the Premier Cru of which 17 principle ones. I will elaborate the principle ones as they are the most interesting in my view.
Here as well remember that Chablis has good ageing potential and like a good Corton Charlemange it expresses itself better with a couple of years behind the back.

Chablis Premier Cru
Image result for chablis premier cru

1er cru Montee de Tonnerre
43 hectares of this climate sit just on the right side of the grand crus. The hill that rises leads up to the village of Tonnerre, born on a white earth little gravel and not deep, these wines are characterised by clay feeling even a bit fatty and rich in minerals but keeping a floral aspect much present. The floral part of the wine comes more alight after about 10 years.

The best Montee de Tonnerre of 2011 

Domain J-P et B Droin, Average price for a bottle of Montee de Tonnerre is about £20, €17, $29,50 

Domain William Fevre, Average price for a bottle of Montee de Tonnerre is about £25.60, €29,50, $38.40
Domain Gerard Duplesss, Average price for a bottle of Montee de Tonnerre is about £20, €12.50, $18.75
Domain Servin, Average price for a botle of Montee de Tonnere is about £20, €17, $29.50
Maison Samuel Billaud,  Average price for a bottle of Montee de Tonnerre is about £20,€17,$29.50

1er Cru Montmains, Forets, Butteaux

Montmains is the best 1er Cru in the left bank accessible young, and shines especially in the sub climates of Forest and Butteaux. On the left bank from Serein sur Chablis and Courgis lays Montmains which means average mount, it lays between two much higher coast. The slopes are here soft so gravel and especially marl with oyster fossils. Montmains covers about 15 hectares of vines, a large proportion of the wines have offer a rich, generous and at times heavy structure. Montmains is marked by a solid and dense middle passage on the palate which reflect the thermionic inert of the terroir. Here the wine maker has to work hard and precise to give there wines air and lightness. That's why Forets and Butteaux the two parcels in Montmains deliver the just identity of this 1er Cru Chablis.

The best Montmains of 2011 

Domain Francois Raveneau Butteaux, Average price for a bottle of Montmains is about £62.50, €72, $94.

Domain Vincent Dauvissat La Forest, Average price for a bottle of Montmains is about £23.50, €27, $35.20.

Domain Jean-Marc Brocard Montmains, Average price for a bottle of Montmains is about £12.50, €14.40, $18.80.
Domain Clothilde Davenne montmains, Average price for a bottle of Montmains is about £13, €15, $19.50.

La Chablisienne Montmains,  Average price for a bottle of Montmains is about £17.50, €20.20, €26.35.
Domaine Servin Butteaux, Average price of a bottle of Montmains is about £14.70, €16.90, $22

1ers Crus Beauroy, Cote de Lechet and Vaillons
These are the 1er Crus the furthest away from Chablis. They are often misinterpreted as their style is often prematurely revealed. These 1er crus here around the villages of Poinchy and Beauroy, in the Beine et du Serein valley, produce sunny Chardonnays, expressing the fleshy and white fruit confits wines which are rich and sometimes heavy. The many young vines give here wines with little minerality and stretching onto high acidic and vegetable wines. The best sector is the around Beauroy, where the wines are more elegant.
Cote de Lechet has about 50 hectares facing South-West, a steep terroir with much gravel, a geological coherent composition and when the conditions are right and the yields are reasonable the wines show fine minerality, with an average complexity.
South-West from Chablis you have the  Cote des Vaillons, which extend to over 120 hectares. It is the 1st Cru that holds most of the sub-climat of all the 1er Crus about 10. The most known is Secher (a dry Chablis), Beugnons (more mineral), Les Lys (most northern faced so best in the hot years).
Here the valley offers difficult maturing conditions on cold years. It is here that the wine maker has to work his vine extremely precise, but in all it is surely the Cru that has made most progress.

The best Beauroy, Cote de Lechet and Vaillons of 2011

Domain Bernard Defaix Cote de Lechet vieilles vignes, Average price for a bottle of Cote de Lechet is about £12.20, €14, $18.30

Domain Barat Cote de Lechet,  Average price for a bottle of Cote de Lechet is about £10, €11.50, $15
Domain Sylvain Mosnier Beauroy, Average price for a bottle of Beauroy is about £11.30, €13, $17

Domain Isabelle et Denis Pommier Beauroy, Average price for a bottle of Beauroy is about £12.20, €14, $18.30
Domain Christian Moreau Vaillons Cuvee Guy Moreau, Average price for a bottle of Vaillons Cuvee Guy Moreau is about £14.80, €17, $22.20
Domain Jean Collet Vaillons, Average price for a bottle of Vaillons is about £9.40, €10.80, $14.10

Domain Laroch Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes, Average price for a Vaillons is about £20.45, €23.50, $30.65

1ers Crus Vaucoupin and les Fourneaux

Two personalities to pamper, and their character affirm by only the very demanding wine makers.
About 30 hectares in these communes, Vaucoupin lays in the commune of Chichee, a valley with exposed hills facing south-West and soft slopes. The wines can be greedy but as well rigid and rustic. Les Fourneaux, are planted on steep white sunny slopes, which gives very ripe Chardonnays with exotic flavours and charming tendencies.

The best Vaucoupin and Les Fourneaux of 2011

Domain Corinne et Jean-Pierre Grossot Vaucoupin, Average price for a bottle of Vaucoupin and Les Fourneaux is about £11.50, €13.20, $17.25

Maison Samuel Bilaud Vaucoupin,,2507,9363.html?&args=Y29tcF9pZD0xNTAyJmFjdGlvbj12aWV3RmljaGUmaWQ9QjAwMTFCT1UwMDAwMDBOVSZ8 Average price for a bottle of Vaucoupin is about £13.10, €15, $19.60

So conclusion to the Grand and Premier Cru Chablis. They are wines that are real, true and great with character personality and identity. Wines that are so often forgotten or misinterpreted, I have given you in the Grand Cru and Premier Cru those to look out for and as I told you already they will not for all break an arm and a leg to purchase. Please enjoy and let me know your emotions about these Chablis as said often wrongly judged,

Until next time please do drink responsibly

(Sources from LRVF, Larousse, Hachette, Bettanne & Desseauve)