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Jeff B

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How brut do you like your brut?

by Jeff B » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:54 pm

It seems that anything from around 0 to 15 grams of residual sugar can be classified as "brut" when it comes to champagne.

I'm still very much a novice when it comes to determining the difference between the dosage and the natural fruitiness of the wine. In other words, some champagnes from ripe vintages can taste like they are on the high end of the brut scale but may contain a very small dosage.

Champagne being an acidic drink by nature, do you prefer the dosage to be noticeable enough to balance the wine or do you steer towards the extra brut end of the spectrum?

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Howie Hart

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Howie Hart » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:19 pm

I don't think I've ever seem it labeled as such, but I believe sparkling wines with 0 RS are called "Naturel". I often disgorge mine this way - no dosage - only topping up wine. I have done some about 2%.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Mark Lipton » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:11 am

Brut Natur for me. We've been groovin' on non-dosé Champagnes (especially BdBs) for the last few years. Of course, we also love Muscadet! :mrgreen:

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Peter May » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:00 am

I've enjoyed Brut Nature - (zero dosage) but Brut (=<15 grams per litre) is the most common Champagne on sale here (and in Champagne) and that's good for me.

I like the brisk acidity, but how acidic the wine is depends on more than the Brut classification. How aged the wine is (keep it for a year or two and those sharp edges will be smoothed), whether it underwent malo (a favourite of mine is Lanson Black Label which doesn't have malo) and I suppose general winemaking.

We're currently in the annual supermarket Champagne price war and I've been buying up stocks at rock bottom prices and all on sale are brut.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Howie Hart » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:45 am

Thanks Peter. I've never considered MLF in bubbly before, so I found this article. Interesting. I don't think I will try it, however. http://www.champagnewarehouse.com/malolactic-fermentation/
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by David Creighton » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:11 pm

i like between 8 and 12 grams/ltr - so .8 to 1.2%
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Jon Peterson

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Jon Peterson » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:13 pm

With food, Extra Brut. By itself, at midnight for example, Extra Dry.
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Bill Hooper

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Bill Hooper » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:15 pm

Maybe not surprising, but the Extra Brut category is very popular in Germany. I really like it for Weißburgunder and other 'Champagne' blends, but mostly prefer regular old Brut for Riesling.

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:15 pm

I don't like the hair shirt style, as a general rule it sets my teeth on edge. Also there's a reduction in the aroma of a given sparkling wine with very low dosage.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Steve Slatcher » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:09 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:I don't like the hair shirt style, as a general rule it sets my teeth on edge.

:)

Me too. I can handle very dry and acidic wines normally, but the addition of bubbles is a step too far. I don't know about RS levels, but most Brut Champagnes are fine for me.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Bill Hooper » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:40 pm

Here is how the EU sweetness scale works for Sparkling wine (since 2009):

0-3 g/l: naturherb, brut nature
0-6 g/l: extra herb, extra brut
0-12 g/l: herb, brut
12-17 g/l: extra Trocken, extra dry
17-32 g/l: trocken, dry, sec
32-50 g/l: halbtrocken, medium dry, demi-sec (I think that demi-doux is also allowed)
over 50 g/l: mild, sweet, doux

A lot of German sparkling wines (Sekt) and increasingly (so I’ve heard) many Champagnes are actually made in the 0-6 g/l range, but continue to be labeled ‘Brut’, which is more recognizable. It also allows the residual sugar to fluctuate from year to year depending on vintage conditions without alienating customers. 7g/l can taste drier than 5 g/l depending on other components of the wine. As long as the wine is balanced, I don't think that most people can definitively say how much rs a bottle contains from tasting (within a few g/l anyway). When we make Sekt though, we taste through many different possibilities with minute differences in rs and proportions of base-wine in the liqueur before making a decision about the dosage. Usually, it comes down to the minerality, acidity, texture and perceived extract of the base-wine.

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Tim York » Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:43 pm

I'm very comfortable with the Bollinger style which I guess to be around 5g (any accurate info, anyone?).

I have have a number of excellent non-dosé Champagnes without sharp edges, the most recent being Champagne Royale Réserve non-dosé – Philipponnat – Alc.12%. My note from this time last year says "made mainly from Pinot Noir and specified on back label as from 2007 disgorged in February 2011, is now becoming a regular at home. It was served with the starters. As usual, it was very dry, crisp and mineral but in also had a certain roundness, white fruit and biscuit touches; 16/20++."

From outside Champagne Domaine de la Taille aux Loup's (Jacky Blot) Montlouis Triple Zéro is a masterpiece. The estate's website explains the name by Zéro Chaptalisation, Zéro Liqueur de Tirage, Zéro Liqueur d'Expédition. It states that at the moment of bottling there remains 10-12g RS but does not specify how much is left after fermentation in the bottle; my guess from tasting the latest cuvée would be about 2g.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Howie Hart » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:15 pm

Tim York wrote:...From outside Champagne Domaine de la Taille aux Loup's (Jacky Blot) Montlouis Triple Zéro is a masterpiece. The estate's website explains the name by Zéro Chaptalisation, Zéro Liqueur de Tirage, Zéro Liqueur d'Expédition. It states that at the moment of bottling there remains 10-12g RS but does not specify how much is left after fermentation in the bottle; my guess from tasting the latest cuvée would be about 2g.

Interesting. I wonder how they would prevent the fermentation of the final 2g.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Victorwine » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:29 pm

For Champagne produces, the amount of sugar in the “dosage mixture” (or allowed to remain in the wine) is there mainly to just balance the acidity. “Zero dosage” or a “no sugar added dosage mixture” are only used for the champagnes that could “stand on their own” (the ones in “perfect balance” from the get go). In calculating the amount of sugar in a given “dosage mixture” one most consider any residual sugar remaining in the champagne. As stated in the article Howie posted, rising sugar and decreasing acidity levels in the grapes are a bigger problem. Higher alcohol levels and CO2 doesn’t compliment each other nicely. (IMHO the higher the alcohol in the presence of CO2 increases the perception of bitterness and astringency. But then again maybe in the future the need to “add sugar” to the “liqueur de triage” or the “dosage mixture” will not be necessary. (The necessary sugar will be already present. During primary alcoholic fermentation ferment to 12% ABV leave the rest of the grape sugars to produce the necessary CO2 and the "dosage sugar").

Question for Oliver- why do you state low sugar levels reduce aroma?
I have a bowl of Bartlett Pears on my kitchen counter; they were slightly green and firm to the touch and tasted “pretty good” upon first buying them. Now that they have been sitting around for a few weeks, the slightly green color and firmness is giving way to yellow/ slight browning and softness. (Basically starting to “ferment” and IMHO tasting and smelling even better).

Salute
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Steve Slatcher » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:50 pm

Howie Hart wrote: I wonder how they would prevent the fermentation of the final 2g.

That's a pretty average dry wine isn't it, so I imagine the fermentation stops naturally - low temperature, alcohol levels and all that.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Jeff B » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:50 pm

I'm still on the fence as to whether I prefer Bruts on the low end or on the higher end. On the dryer end, the "purity" of the champagne seems more transparent and the chalky mineral tones seem more clear - something I love. But, on the off-dry end of brut, the wine often tastes more "exotic" and fruity. I love both ends of the spectrum. Perhaps it's similar to liking a great black and white film versus a great color film. The cinematogrophy can be great in either one, it just depends on your taste. :)

It does seem that the house prestige cuvees I've tasted the most (Belle Epoque, Dom Perignon, Comtes De Champagne, Grand Siecle) are all houses that appear to be on the mid to higher side of brut. So my palate might gravitate towards those just a little bit. But that's just a generalization.

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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:36 am

Victorwine wrote:Question for Oliver- why do you state low sugar levels reduce aroma?
I have a bowl of Bartlett Pears on my kitchen counter; they were slightly green and firm to the touch and tasted “pretty good” upon first buying them. Now that they have been sitting around for a few weeks, the slightly green color and firmness is giving way to yellow/ slight browning and softness. (Basically starting to “ferment” and IMHO tasting and smelling even better).

Salute


Salute, Victor!

My consistent experience when tasting different Proseccos has been that the normal quality dosage for that wine, Extra Dry, gives wines that are more aromatic than Brut. (The base wine is often the same, so the comparison is fair.) I have heard from a producer in Piedmont who loves hyper-brut sparkling Champagne that he had the same experience in dosage trials for his Classic Method/Classic Variety sparkler, despite his prejudice; and he told me that there is a reason why more RS would liberate more aromas, I don't know why. I have found that very dry Champagne tends to be 'pinched' on the nose.
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:38 am

Howie Hart wrote:
Tim York wrote:...From outside Champagne Domaine de la Taille aux Loup's (Jacky Blot) Montlouis Triple Zéro is a masterpiece. The estate's website explains the name by Zéro Chaptalisation, Zéro Liqueur de Tirage, Zéro Liqueur d'Expédition. It states that at the moment of bottling there remains 10-12g RS but does not specify how much is left after fermentation in the bottle; my guess from tasting the latest cuvée would be about 2g.

Interesting. I wonder how they would prevent the fermentation of the final 2g.


There are always unfermentable sugars, I think 2g/L is called dry as a rule. Hasn't that been your winemaking experience, Howie?
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Re: How brut do you like your brut?

by Howie Hart » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:02 am

Yeah, I keep forgetting about them. 2 g/l is pretty low. My brain thinks in percent.
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