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Jeff B

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Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by Jeff B » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:26 am

There is something special about a prestige cuvée that is truly a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. For many, it's what makes champagne, "champagne".

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that a 50/50 blend makes the "best" champagnes. Besides, most prestige cuvees are "close" to being a 50/50 blend so it's somewhat of a moot point.

But it is said that a perfectly even balance of CH and PN creates a unique tension in the mouth and in the wine.

I think if I was a cellar master, I would designate that my finest cuvée would always be an exact 50/50 blend each and every vintage. I think it would make the blending an interesting yet firmly stated challenge. If I had trouble doing that with a vintage champagne, then I might opt to make my prestige cuvée a blend of vintages a la Grand Siecle. I could then tinker with older vintages but always return to making sure it was precisely 50 CH and 50 PN.

Anyway, I found that only a few "big name" prestige cuvees are a perfect 50/50 blend (or so they are stated):

Heidsieck & Monopole Diamant Bleu for the years of 1995, 1996, 1998

Laurent-Perrier 90/93/95 Grand Siecle

1990 Dom Perignon Rose
1996 Dom Perignon
2000 Dom Perignon


Dom Perignon seems to pride itself on being "nearly" 50/50 every year. And it is always one of the most finely balanced champagnes, in my experience. Just a coincidence? :)

Perrier Jouet's famous Belle Epoque bottles are also "fixed" in their nearly even percentages every year except they always include 5% Pinot Meunier in the cuvée.

Jeff
"Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne. Knowing him was like drinking it." - Winston Churchill
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by David M. Bueker » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:47 am

Jeff,
Champagne houses tend to vary blends to maintain a style. Some years Chardonnay is stronger, while others years it's one or both of the Pinots.

Where did you get the percentages you are quoting?

And there are plenty of prestige cuvees that are nowhere near 50/50, with some even using a rather larger amount of Meunier.
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by Paul Winalski » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:51 pm

I always thought that pinot meunier brought a lot to the table in blending Champagne, but it doesn't have the prestige or name recognition of chardonnay and pinot noir. Sort of like the role that cabernet franc plays in Bordeaux.

-Paul W.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by David M. Bueker » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:17 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:I always thought that pinot meunier brought a lot to the table in blending Champagne, but it doesn't have the prestige or name recognition of chardonnay and pinot noir. Sort of like the role that cabernet franc plays in Bordeaux.


Complete agreement. And as with cab Franc, Meunier is getting more respect these days. I love Champagnes that have large percentages of Pinot Meunier, and have really enjoyed some that were 100% Pinot Meunier. If I have to choose, I will always go with the Champagne that has more red grapes.
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Jeff B

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by Jeff B » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:43 pm

Hi David,
The percentages for those select few champagnes are from Richard Juhlin's Champagne Guide.

Jeff
"Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne. Knowing him was like drinking it." - Winston Churchill
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Jeff B

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by Jeff B » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:59 pm

I tend to go back and forth on preferring red-heavy or chardonnay-heavy champagnes. Every time I have a Krug or Bollinger that I love, I also run into, say, a Comtes De Champagne that leaves me breathless. So in my book there's no clear-cut winner. Which kinda leads back to my love for champagnes that are, more or less, a 50/50 blend (if I have the choice).

I think the thing with Blanc De Blancs or champagnes with high Chardonnay content is they take a good deal of bottle age to show their delicious and nutty charm.

In other words, I might be saying that, if I'm drinking a younger champagne, I might prefer one with a healthy Pinot balance. But if the champagne is older, I start to get more spellbound by the Chardonnay.

But this is just my humble opinion based on my tastes of course. In my book, both grapes are essential. Or, should I say, all three grapes... :)

Jeff
"Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne. Knowing him was like drinking it." - Winston Churchill
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by David M. Bueker » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:19 am

Jeff,

Try to source a very young bottle of Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs NV. It shows a ton of charm.
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Dale Williams

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Re: Prestige Champagnes That Are Truly A 50/50 Blend...

by Dale Williams » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:33 pm

I like all wellmade Champagne, but my favorites tend to be BdB- Taittinger, Dom Ruinart, Peters

Re Meunier
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/dinin ... e.html?hpw

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