Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Holiday Bubbles

Millésime is proud to be the US source for Champagne Baron-Fuenté. I spent 3 years in Champagne and have a fair bit of experience with these wines. This small house has everything I was looking for: tiny bead, great intensity, that heavenly creamy texture that comes only from prolonged ageing on the lees, awards across Europe, and very competitive prices!

Baron-Fuente is a small family-run House located in the Aisne making champagnes that stand up to those of the 'fancy' (90+ rated) villages of the Marne with a much better QPR. Gabriel Baron and his wife Dolorès Fuentes founded Champagne Baron-Fuenté in 1967 from one single hectare of vineyards. Today Baron Fuenté produce a wide range of exceptional Champagne from 50 hectares of vineyards (of which the House of Champagne Baron-Fuenté owns half). Located in Charly-sur-Marne, these vineyards are planted on the best sites overlooking the river Marne. A full range of superbly crafted, elegant champagnes is produced that are regulars in the various winners’ circles, from Brussels to Mâcon by way of Paris and the Guide Hachette.

MDO Bruxelles, Mâcon 2005

60% Meunier
30% Chardonnay
10% Pinot Noir

Superb creamy champagne with exquisite richness and definition.

MDO Mâcon 2006

70% Meunier
25% Chardonnay
5% Pinot Noir

Gold Medal Effervescents du Monde 2005
Gold Medal Best Rosé London Wine Challenge 2003
Gold Medal Mondial de Bruxelles 2003
Gold Medal Mâcon 2003

40% Meunier
40% Chardonnay
20 % Pinot Noir

This is easily the best rose champagne around for anything near the price.

Gold Medal Mâcon 2006

45% Chardonnay
40% Meunier
15% Pinot Noir

Superb Vintage example.

The origins of this winery with the funny English name "Cavas Hill" goes back to the 1660s when a certain Joseph Hill immigrated to the Penedes and began growing vines at the "El Maset" estate. In 1887 his descendents founded a winery bearing the name Hill. In 1918, underground cellars were dug and production of first-rate sparkling wines (cavas) began.

These cavas are "méthode champenoise" and in the case of the Reserva Oro exceeds minimum champagne aging standards by 250%! They are superb examples that easily stand up to French champagnes that are 3x the price. Cheaper cavas are needless to say utterly dwarfed by these wines. Having lived three years in the heart of Champagne (I lived first in Bisseuil then in Epernay, I worked in Aÿ), I mean it when I say that these cavas are superior in quality and complexity to many available French champagnes. Not for mimosas! Enjoying top quality sparkling wines does not need to break the bank.

Reserva Oro Brut Nature:
45% Macabeo
40% Parellada
15% Xarel.lo

Aged a minimum of 30 months on the lees (French champagne has a minimum of 12 months), the bead is tiny, the nose toasty, doughy, floral and mineral. On the palate, a most seductive, creamy richness.

Reserva Artesania Brut de Brut 2003:
45% Macabeo
35% Xarel.lo
20% Parellada

Aged a minimum of 3 years on the lees, the same as for vintage champagnes, but for around 1/4 of the cheapest French vintage. 1g/l dosage. Microscopic bubbles. Toasty doughy nose of 'viennoiserie'. Absolutely stunning richness, class, and value! Amazingly silky, creamy and elegant texture.

Reserva Artesania Brut Rosado:
60% Garnacha
40% Monastrell

Aged 24 months on the lees. Vibrant, lively rosé that is really hard to compete with.