Wine Talk

Snooth User: spoonymonki


Posted by spoonymonki, Aug 7, 2014.


Following a recent trip to Epernay and the Mercier House where they have the worlds largest oak barrel I was wondering how different champagne would have been before the introduction of stainless steel or concrete vats? I am assuming that the wines were pressed and stored in oak (or wood of some sort) which would presumably had a fairly significant impact on the final product compared to the current practice of using stainless steel.

I know Champagne from the 19th Century was traditionally was sweeter than we traditionally consume nowadays but the oak element was something I'd not considered before.

Any thoughts welcome!


Reply by edwilley3, Aug 12, 2014.

Try something like Krug Grande Cuvee in comparison to another tete de cuvee that is not oak fermented. I note a huge difference between Krug Grande Cuvee and its competitors from Moet, for example. Billecart-Salmon's excellent "Sous Bois" NV bottle also is quite good, at least when I tasted it. Vilmart is another option with oak fermentation. Their Grand Cellier NV is not cheap and not super easy to find, but it's a lovely wine.

I'm a fan of wines fermented in oak, but I admit that not every producer has an equally deft hand when it comes to classical winemaking. This results in pure butter (unbalanced) chards from California alongside voluptuous, deftly oaked, perfectly balanced wines like Peter Michael's standard-setting Belle-Cote, which is fully oaked but packs in enough fruit and flowers to be decadently beautiful.

I am just not a big fan of tart, acidic, and lemony Champagnes that don't give me a bit more "oomph". My "house" Champagnes are Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Charles Heidsieck, and Piper Heidsieck.  I do very much enjoy Agrapart's fabulous Sept Crus, a blanc de blancs NV that, in certain disgorgements, offers exceptionally pure fruit. Some 25% spends time in oak.

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