Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

Champagne

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Stephen W

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Champagne

by Stephen W » Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:26 am

Last week we heralded in the New Year with Carmel Champagne (Brut). I enjoyed it very much. It was fresh , crisp cold and quiet bubbly. A new experience for me as I stick to the kosher wine products and 99% Israeli.
Can you give me a bit of info on the difference between the Yarden and Carmel Champagnes? Does one store these in a wine fridge if one buys stock?
What is shelf life or drinking windows? Does Champagne improve with age in the same way red wine does?
Any other interesting info would also be welcome.
Thanks and Gmar Chatima Tova

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Steve Weil
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Daniel Rogov

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Re: Champagne

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:04 am

Steve. Hi…

First of all, the wines in question are not "Champagne". Only wines made in the Champagne region of France are entitled to be called by that name. These wines, although made by the methode Champenoise (that is to say the traditional way in which Champagne is made by second fermentation in the bottle), are properly referred to as "sparkling wines".

As to the wines in question. To the best of my knowledge, there are currently four sparkling wines worthy of note that are made in Israel. The three of those that are kosher are the Brut in Carmel's Private Collection series, the Brut in the Golan series of the Golan Heights Winery, and the Blanc de Blanc wines in theYarden Series of the Golan Heights Winery. The one that is not kosher is from Pelter. All are worth of consideration.

For comparison's sake, my most recent tasting notes of each follow.

Carmel, Brut, Private Collection, n.v.: A far, far better sparkling wine than Carmel has ever done before. Made by the Charmat method (with the second fermentation accomplished in pressurized stainless steel tanks), a blend of French Colombard, Chardonnay and Viognier (50%, 40% and 10% respectively), with a portion of the Chardonnay oak-aged, shows simple but appealing aromas and flavors of apples, pears and citrus. A short mousse and sharp but not well-focused bubbles here make one think more of Spanish Cava than of French Champagne. Drink now. Score 86. K

Golan Heights Winery, Blanc de Blancs,Yarden, 2001: The best Blanc de Blancs to date from the winery. Made from Chardonnay grapes by the traditional methode Champenoise, this medium-bodied sparkling wine shows just the right balance between yeasty sourdough bread, peaches, citrus and minerals. With a generous mousse and sharp, well-focused bubbles that go on and on, this crisp and sophisticated wine goes on to a long, mouth-filling finish. Drink now–2012. Score 92. K

Gamla, Brut, n.v.: Made by the method champenoise, a light- to medium-bodied, light golden straw blend of 50% each Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A generous mousse when poured, sharp long-lasting bubbles and clean aromas and flavors, opening with citrus and apples and going on to hints of cherries. Good acidity to keep in lively, a good but not overly complex quaffing bubbly. Score 88. K

Pelter, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, n.v.: A sparkling wine made by the Champenoise method with Chardonnay grapes entirely from the 2003 vintage despite its categorization as non-vintage. Gentle yeast and hints of toasted white bread with sharp bubbles that go on and on. Fresh, aromatic, well focused and intense, with grapefruit and lime fruits backed up by hints of cloves, ginger and roasted nuts. Drink now–2010. Score 90.

As to differences, you will note that the two Blanc de Blancs are made entirely from Chardonnay grapes and the Brut wines from a variety of grapes. The Carmel Brut is made entirely from white grapes while the Gamla Brut is made with the same grapes that are most often used in making Champagne, that is to say, including Pinot Noir.

Concerning storage – if stocking up, best bet is to store as you would any other wine but unless planning to cellar for more than five years there is no need to lie sparkling wines down. With regard to drinking windows, it is fairly easy to give drinking windows to vintage sparkling wines (such as is the Blanc de Blancs ofYarden) but not to non-vintage wines as it is difficult to know when the wines were disgorged and bottled. As a rule with the Gamla and Carmel wines, I'd say cellaring for up to three, perhaps four years, with regard to the Pelter a bit longer.

With regard to true aging – some fine vintage Champagnes do age well and often for many years, even decades, but such aged wines change personality dramatically as they develop, taking on a darker color, a less fruity and more subdued set of flavors, and perhaps even a far gentler sparkling nature, although that can be no less complex or enchanting. Some say that the appreciation of truly mature Champagne requires a developed palate that not all want to develop. I would not gamble on even the finest of the Yarden Blanc de Blancs to cellar for more than 10-12 years from the vintage date.

As to Champagne in general, see my article at http://www.stratsplace.com/rogov/believ ... pagne.html Also be aware that several of the better Champagne houses produce kosher editions, among others those including Nicolas Feuillatte, Laurent Perrier, Louis de Sacy, Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidseick.

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Rogov
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Stephen W

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Re: Champagne

by Stephen W » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:25 am

Thanks for such a comprehensive answer.

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