Wine Talk

Snooth User: Stephen Harvey

Champagne and all things Sparkling

Posted by Stephen Harvey, Mar 10, 2011.

Given NG's Californian Cab thread had morphed into Sparkling, I thought maybe that was a good time to take the interesting stuff coming through into its own thread.

So I will start with the following sort of recap

Champagne is a bit like Burgundy in that it is clearly leading the world in its reputation even in the places where local equivalents are made.

In Australia the best Sparkling White/Rose [as opposed to Sparkling Red eg Shiraz , Cab etc] comes from Tasmania [The little Triangular Island in the South East corner of Australia - Apologies to those with good Geography, but we get lots of people who confuse Tasmania and New Zealand which is its own Sovereign Country, sadly many of them US tourists?]

Tasmania is very similar to Champagne in weather and has some areas has similar soil profiles.

Importantly, Champagne is made using three methods

Méthode Champenoise -

This is how proper Sparkling white is made

Metodo Italiano - Charmat

The Charmat process is used for a lot of Australian Sparkling in the $8-15 range as well as most Proseccos.

Lastly there is Carbonated Sparkling which is adding bubbles to still wine under pressure, this is used for Sparkling under $10 usually and well it is what it is!

My favourite Australian Sparklings are:

Janz NV

Janz Vintage

Arras Vintage

Arras Grand Brut

Croser Vintage

Favourite Champagnes




Pol Roger

Billecart Salmon

Ayala ZD


Top 12 tried to date

96 Salon

96 Krug

90 Krug

98 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque

96 Dom Perignon Rose

96 Pol Roger Winston Chuchill

02 Roederer Cristal

95 Krug

98 Pol Roger Winston Churchill

99 Perrier Jouett Belle Epoque

96 Dom Perignon

90 Dom Perignon

Sadly this lot are incredibly expensive but I have organised tastings with larger groups to try them and you can get the cost to be quite reasonable [relative term I know!]

But price aside they are amazing drinks and IMHO well worth price for celebrating a special occasion eg GDD's new arrival

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Reply by hhotdog, Mar 11, 2011.

i bet GGD can't wait!  she gets one incedible celebration and another after!  best wishes to GDD. 

i have to admit i drink less and less sparkling than i should.  i am a fan and Perrier Jouett has been the one that made me a big fan. it seems that only at special events do i get lucky enough to indulge!  what a shame.  new years eve seems to be the number one event for them!  i need to visit the bigger sparkings more often.  great subject SH as always.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Mar 11, 2011.

Thanks, guys.  She's coming April 4th, if not before.  We're soooooo excited!

I was gifted a BS Rosé for the occasion.  Not my number one overall pick, but a nice gift just the same.  ;)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 11, 2011.

Haven't had all of SH's picks, but I concur on the 99 PJ Belle Epoque and have purchased it at pretty good discount at KL and BevMo here in the Bay Area.  (The 2000 is fetching more, but I have no complaint at all about the 1999.)  Billecart Salmon is priced fairly similarly here and we've been given a bottle or two as gifts by friends.  I might pay the freight if PJ BelleEpoque went up again.

Not impressive was Nicolas Feuillatte, which we had last NYE.  For about the same, I can drink Mumm Cordon Rouge or Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and be plenty happy.  Haven't tried Pol Roger, but that's going to be on the list to do.

Based on your recos, SH, I think I need to try some of the Tasmanian sparklers--now with less fear because of your guidance.  No offense taken at the geography lesson: Many Americans think that Tasmania is an invention of the American studio Warner Bros and their animation division--had to set a family member straight on that the other day.  (She's been to Nepal and Mongolia, among other places, but what Americans learn about your continent and country?  Not a lot.)

Wondering also where you put Veuve NV, Moet White Star? 

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Mar 11, 2011.

Foxy, you try the Feuillatte Rosé?  I think it drinks way better than the regular Brut.

White Star has been discontinued and is now Imperial.  Same (subpar) juice.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 11, 2011.


Veuve is pretty good, I am right on song with GDD, Moet Imperial as average booze and I rate many proseccos and Aussie Sparklings as much better on an experience and price basis.

Pol Roger NV is good and those up the food chain in the range are good too.  Perrier Jouet Grand Brut is pretty good.

Delamotte NV is the interesting one as it is the baby sibling of Salon, definitely worth a taste

Question does anyone know what price Salon is going for in the US at the moment?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 11, 2011.

GDD- nice to see someone agrees about the old White Star.  Missed the name change--I see Moet on the label and turn to something else.

I'll give the NF rose a shot if I see it at a decent price.  The Brut was just kind of bitter, the bubbles were a little too aggressive, like seltzer water instead of fine, creamy effervescence. 

Loved the Moet tour, though--Epernay was (this is 1988) small and village-like, Reims less intimate.  I snuck through twice--there was a tour in French starting, and I wasn't sure they would give one in English before I had to leave because it was off-season, cold, something between rainy and snowing, flooded in that part of France.  Just as I got done with the first tour, an English language tour started. Figuring I had missed something because my French was far from perfect, I went again.  But the English tour was led by someone whose English was not much better than my French, and it was plainly a lot of work for her, so she was abbreviating what I had already heard.  We drank a little Moet after each tour, and I even got a miniscule pour of something vintage--maybe for going through twice?  I don't think it was the Dom.  The tour was worth it just for the place that Moet holds in history, but it also was just amazing how unpretentious the caves seemed--still as moldy and dusty as they had been for probably 100 years.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 11, 2011.


If you go back stay in Etoges, about 25km south of Epernay, they have accomoadation in a 15th Century Castle with a moat, incredible little village.  Vertus is also a nice town and ther eis a small champagne house called Colin, whichproduce some beautiful champagnes - the owners a very nice people.

Eperney is great and is the home of PJ.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Mar 11, 2011.

I have to reco the whole Egly Ouriet line.  Easily my favorite grower juice.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 11, 2011.

SH:  Well, our trip to France next month was cancelled when mother-in-law decided to come out here after telling us she wasn't... we weren't going to make it to Champagne anyway, but might have gone to the Rhone.  Ah, well, another year.  I'll file those ideas away, thanks for the tips.

GDD, I will look for the Egly in my area and put them in the blind tasting if I can find some.

Reply by duncan 906, Mar 12, 2011.

I went to the Champagne district a few years ago with a group of British motorcyclists.We got a tour around the House of Mercier in Epernay which was an experience.The cellars are so large, containing over a million bottles of Champagne, they have a London Underground train to get around it.The labels have a picture of a hot-air balloon because the original M.Mercier was a balloon enthusiast.Apparently in the 19th century privileged guests went up in a tethered balloon to drink Champagne but on one occasion either somebody undid the rope or it came undone and the balloon ended up in Germany.There was no loss of life or serious injuries but M.Mercier was extremely displeased that the German authorities charged him import tax on the Champagne in the basket.We stayed in a hotel in a pretty little village called Ambonnay and the house next door was also a Champagne House.We got invited in for a look at this grand 18th century mansion and the cellars dug in the chalk by the owner's great-grandfather followed by a taste of his Champagne.I thought the area was pretty and interesting.We had a look at the magnificent Rheims cathedral and I spent a few hours riding along some minor roads alongside the River Marne down to Lac de Der Chantecoq in brilliant sunshine 

Reply by hhotdog, Mar 13, 2011.

i say we pick the brains here and come up with a worthy bottle for the grand day for GGD..  anyone in?  big  Perrier Jouett fan since it was the one that set the bar for me back in the day...seen 2 c-sections and one natual birth in my time...oh she's so deserves it!!!

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Mar 13, 2011.

I'm opening a Billecart Salmon Rose that was gifted to me for this exact occasion.  I believe it helped the fates decide to give me a girl.  ;)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 13, 2011.

Once again, GDD marches to the beat of her own drummer... and hits it out of the park, to mix metaphors.  Good luck!

Reply by napagirl68, Mar 14, 2011.
Edited Mar 15, 2011

GDD- I wished always for a girl, and had my little miracle baby.. After an emergency surgery at 4mos pregnant, 6mos of bedrest, and a c-section, I had my daughter..  She will turn 7 next week.

All-  I came home from my fav little city by the bay with two French sparklers... highly recommended to me by the owner of a wine bar/shop there in SF.  I did not taste either one, but have high hopes. The recommendations were based on my liking of a 2001 Huet Vouvray Petillant (which I, and others, can no longer find).  The two I bought are:

Francois Chidaine Montlouis sur Loire Brut  and Jacques Lassaigne Montgueux extra dry brut, blanc de blancs.

I know nothing about these wines, and hope I was not duped.  If anyone knows of these, I would love to hear more....


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 15, 2011.

NG - Thats soounds like one hell of rollercoaster ride, Lee had no 2 at 34 weeks due to complications but sounds like we had an armchair ride compared to yours.

Can't help with the wine sorry but

Janz NV is a good Aussie sparkler which I think should be available in your part of the world

Reply by VegasOenophile, Mar 15, 2011.

You should check out Tarlant, a small production grower Champagne.  It's really outstanding stuff!

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 18, 2011.

We had a Mumm 02 Vintage Champagne - $80 retail

Was an excellent Vintage Champagne

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 20, 2011.

Found a new Champagne

Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV
The descriptionon the bottle for the maker is

Elabore Par Union des Proprietaires Recoltants Les-Mesnil-Sur-Oger-France

This is an ecellent NV and I paid about $65 for it here in Australia

Has anyone else had any experience with this wine.


Reply by outthere, Mar 22, 2011.

We don't do a whole lot of sparkling wine unless it's a special event. Don't know why but that's just how we roll. Celebrated my 50th B-Day over the weekend and we enjoyed a wonderful '91 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs from a gorgeous 3L bottle. Was really surprised how well this wine held up after 20 years.


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 23, 2011.


Give us the list sounds great - what did you eat with it

btw - still need to arrange to purchase Graciana wines, just been out of control last couple weeks

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