Cédric Moussé is pretty pleased with this year's harvest. In this one minute video he'll explain why
17 years spent living and working in Champagne has allowed Jiles to build up a vast amount of knowledge about all things bubbly as well as a very extensive network of contacts, especially amongst the smaller and less well-known champagne makers whose champagnes will probably amaze you with their quality and diversity.
A job as area manager for Asia and Australia with Moët et Chandon was what first drew Jiles to Champagne after completing an MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC, a prestigious business school just outside Paris.
After nearly 9 years at Moët Jiles moved back to the UK where he started one of the first online businesses promoting and selling grower champagnes, wrote two books on champagne and created an online champagne study course.
However the draw of ‘The King of Wines and the Wine of Kings’ once again proved irresistible and another 8 year stay in Champagne was the result.
Jiles now puts his knowledge and contacts to work in helping businesses and individuals to create their own private champagne brand.
Every year there are choices to be made by the champagne makers:
If the weather is good the question is 'Do we start picking whilst the sun is shining or do we wait to see if the grapes ripen even more?'
If the weather is poor the question is ' Do we wait to see if the weather improves and the grapes ripen a bit more, or will the weather get worse?'
In the short video below you'll find out what has been going through the vignerons' minds in the first few days of the 2015 harvest.
Region : Grande Vallée de La Marne
Vineyard area: 171 hectares
Pinot Noir: 92 Hectares
Chardonnay: 47 hectares
Meunier: 32 hectares
Many years ago, back in the 17th century before champagne had become popular, the Champagne region was best known for its still wines, particularly red wines. One of the centres of production was Cumières and Cumières Rouge is still produced to this day although it’s something of a curiosity that is rarely found outside Champagne.
The vineyards of Cumières are rated as Premier Cru and lie just at the very entrance to the main valley of the Marne River. Just a few kilometres beyond Cumières you enter into the heart of the Marne valley where Meunier reigns supreme but in Cumières itself Pinot Noir is the most widely grown grape varietal in the village, but both Chardonnay and Meunier are grown as well.
Cumières sits on the north bank of the river Marne just 2 or 3 kilometres west of Epernay. A trip on the river by paddle steamer provides an original and enjoyable way to enjoy the peaceful landscape.
Whilst the village ‘ dips its toes’ so to speak, in the waters of the river, behind the village is a broad and steep, south facing slope where the grapes can ripen in the full warmth of the sun. Consequently Cumières is regularly amongst the first villages to start harvesting and this year (2015) is no exception – picking started in Cumières on September 3rd and only 4 villages, out of well over 100 in the Marne départment, started earlier.
Amongst the many small brands in Cumières Georges Laval (organic) and René Geoffroy are particularly worth mentioning. Georges Laval is hard to find hidden as it is behind a big yellow door with no sign in the tiny Rue du Carrefour. Geoffroy moved their offices to Aÿ a few years ago their vineyards and perhaps the heart of the brand also, are still in Cumières.
The harvest in Champagne is under way. The first village to start picking was Montgueux down in the south of the region near the town of Troyes, but that's 100 kilometres south of Reims and Epernay and in this moire northerly areas they're not going to get started for a few days yet.
Typically the villages on the north and north-east facing slopes of La Montagne de Reims are amongst the last to start picking and in this short video, filmed in the Grand Cru village of Verzy, you can see why they need a few more days yet for the grapes to reach full maturity.
You'll also learn an easy way to tell a Pinot Noir vine from a Chardonnay vine.
Come back soon for more harvest news from Champagne
Do you struggle to find the right words to describe wine aromas? I know I do.
The pictures below, courtesy of the CIVC, may help. They show how champagne aromas develop with age ranging from 2 – 8 years.
Many champagnes can age for far longer than 8 years, provided they are stored in good conditions, but it’s always hard to know exactly how long to keep champagne.
Here’s a useful rule of thumb that I was given several years ago. It’s a bit simplistic, but if you use it you’re unlikely to go far wrong:
Keep champagne after purchase for as long as it was aged in the cellar before being sold –
i.e. 2-3 years for non-vintage champagne and up to 7-8 years for vintage champagne
Pictures by the CIVC (Comité Champagne)
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