Friday, September 10, 2010

Debate a Bubble - 2010 Champagne Harvest - They're Off

Debate a Bubble - 2010 Champagne Harvest - They're Off

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

2010 Champagne Harvest - They're Off

Posted: 10 Sep 2010 05:45 AM PDT

The CIVC has now announced the start dates for this year's Champagne Harvest

Waiting for the harvest This may sound a simple thing to do but what happens is that each one of the 300 + villages is given a date on which they can start picking.

To make things more complex, a date is given for each of the three grape varieties because they don't necessarily ripen at the same pace.

So the table of starting dates will contain hundreds of different dates

The first villages start tomorrow 11th September with the last ones bringing up the rear almost two weeks later on 22nd September and the majority starting sometime next week.

It's interesting to look at the local variations: here in Verzy they are getting going next Thursday 16th, whilst two kilometres away in Verzenay they don't start until 17th. Yet in Villers-Marmery, 3 kilometres in the opposite direction, they can start on Monday 13th.

It just goes to illustrate the subtle differences that the soil, the exposure and the micro climate can make, plus of course in Villers-Marmery 90% of the vines are Chardonnay with only 10% Pinot Noir whereas in Verzy and Verzenay the opposite is true.

In the last blog post I mentioned the problem of botrytis (rot) and from this picture  you can see how bad it is in some places. Botrytis

I imagine that in the villages which are the worst affected they'll be wanting to get the harvest done and done with as soon as possible

If you want to learn more about champagne but haven't got time to attend a lecture, then the perfect solution is MONICA, the Mad About Bubbly On-Line Internet Champagne Academy

You'll find full details on the link below

See you next time and meanwhile...

Stay Bubbly

More Champagne Information Please

Posted: 08 Sep 2010 05:06 AM PDT

GH MARTELL Victoire 2000 I was given a bottle of GH Martel Victoire Vintage 2000 the other day.

Lucky me, you might say and indeed it's always nice to be given a botle of champagne

I didn't keep it long as you can see from this picture. I'm not a believer in keeping champagne for ages and this bottle only lasted about 24 hours before an occasion arose to drink it.

It was a pleasant champagne, but considering 2000 was supposed to be a superb year in Champagne, I wasn't blown away by the Martel offering.

(The idea of some years being better than others in Champagne is another thing I'm not too hung up about, but that's a story that will have to wait for another day)

Anyway what I wanted to show you was the back label from the Victoire. Take a look at this...

GH MARTELL Victoire 2000 back label

This is hardly what you'd call a mine of information is it? In fact in my view, it's a prime example of the poor marketing that goes on in Champagne far too  often.

To be fair to GH Martel, this bottle was released a few years ago, so they may have improved since, but this back label has absolutely no information about what's in the bottle and is evidence of a blind assumption that the brand name alone will persuade the consumer to try it.

Well, that may work for the really big names who have each built their formidable brand image over many decades: the Moëts, the Bollingers, the Pol Rogers and the Taittingers of this world, to mention just a few. But it simply isn't enough for lesser-known brands.

These days consumers are more and more demanding of information of what they are consuming and the least response to this demand is to have an informative back label.

Most wine brands have realised this and have made an effort. Here's a prestigious brand from Western Australia and even they have provided something to intrigue and inform the drinkerVasse Felix Heytesbury 2002

Look at the back label of almost any bottle of wine on the market today and you'll find  the blend of grapes, a few words about the taste and perhaps a line or two about the maker as well.

Look at many champagne bottles however and all you get is some woolley marketing speak about long ageing, respect of tradition and the use of the 'classic blend of the three champagne grapes'

And for all their marketing expertise I think that the big brands are as guilty of this as anyone.

Next time you're in a wine shop take a look at the back label of a bottle of Veuve Clicquot or Moët, for example, and see what you really learn  from reading it.

Fortunately and refreshingly, some of the small 'grower champagnes' are taking the lead.

O.K  You could say that they have no choice but to adopt a different tack to the big brands, and you'd be right, but despite that, their efforts to inform the consumer are to be applauded.

Here's an example of what I mean. This is from Benoit Tarlant

Rosé Zero back label

Here you'll find the exact blend, the date of bottling, the date of disgorgement, the dosage (level of sweetness) and a few more bits and pieces of information too. What a difference!

What's inside the bottle is just as exciting as what's on the label and Tarlant makes a range of fabulous champagnes that are well worth trying. I'll do a feature on them soon.

In the meantime I 'd love you to share some examples of useless back labels with me and the readers of Debateabubble. Do send them in by posting a reply and we might even come up with a prize for the best, or rather worst, one.

A bottle of GH Martel Victoire 2000 maybe?

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