Moët & Chandon will be lowering the dosage of its market-leading Brut Impérial from 12 grams per litre to 9 g/l according to its chef de cave Benoît Gouez. This follows the decision by Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy, who recently gradually lowered the sugar levels on the prestige cuvée champagnes. Geoffroy said, “There has been a strategy of lowering the dosage in the last 10 years and we are now between 6 and 7 g/l.” This decision by the biggest brand in the region follows a global trend towards adding less sugar to the world-famous fizz. Partly explaining this development is kinder weather in Champagne, giving riper and more complex fruit with less reliance on a conventional dosage of between 10-12 g/l. Michael Edwards from Drinks Business states “Even climate change skeptics cannot deny that, since 1990, harvests have progressively begun two to three weeks earlier than in the ’70s and ’80s – in better-tended, eco-friendly vineyards, under warmer autumnal skies.” As for the right level of sugar, opinions vary, but a balance appears to have been struck between 6-8 g/l, ensuring there is enough sugar to enhance the Champagne’s aromas but also protect the wine from premature oxidation. (this is an important statement as sugar helps the wine from premature oxidation. Philippe Thieffry, senior winemaker at Veuve Clicquot, says “If the Champagne has a moderate dosage – 6-8 g/l – and is well protected by SO2, it will release the same bouquet as one traditionally dosed at 10-12 g/l; it will not suffer oxidation.” Below 6-8 g/l however, and Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, vice-president at Louis Roederer, says “you reach an oxidative stage that quickly changes the fruit and aromas of the wine.”
Where does one go for the full oenophile experience? Men’s website AskMen.com offers its top 10 list of wine destinations for those keen to travel for the grape.
The ancient ocean beds that have receded to give life and fertile soil to the Beaune give Burgundy its depth and complexity. Like an ever-evolving maze, each sip of luscious Pinot Noir or clean, crisp Chardonnay lends itself to a bevy of adjectives and thoughts. The gem among the subclassifications of Burgundy is the Côte d’Or, or the “Golden Slope.” The hillsides in Burgundy gather up the sun’s rays, and paired with the nutrient-rich dried seafloor, give character to famous vineyards like Domaine Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée and Chassagne-Montrachet. Not only do these wines age perfectly if kept in a climate-controlled storage system, but the subtle nuances of the Pinot Noir evolve and mature into silky, smooth perfection.
Champagne is a region known not only for its quality but also its consistency. Big-name producers make both consistent house styles as well as single vintage products, and the quality is unrivaled. With a combination of steady prices and a surge of smaller producers who are meticulous about their quality — like Pierre Gimonnet et Fils — the region offers new products as the big names of Perrier Jouët, Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon continue to provide classic styles that define elegance, sophistication and celebration. Life would be a little less special without Champagne.
The home of some of the most recognizable and consistent wines in the world, Tuscany produces such wines as Chianti Classico, Brunello, Carmignano, and the red blends known as Super Tuscans. (Due to the government regulation on the blending of wines, Super Tuscans do not have to adhere to a formula.) Tuscany embodies hard work, dedication and passion. The terroir and texture imbue Tuscan wines with a richness that stands out.
No one region has had as much influence over the past century as Bordeaux. Creating everything from a wine culture to mythical vintages that garner more attention than some celebrities, these wines have set standards and tasting profiles worldwide. The two rivers that separate Bordeaux into “left bank” and “right bank” are the Garonne and the Dordogne. Merlot is the granddaddy here and lends its texture to historic wines like Pétrus and Château Ausone. Due to over production, many of the Châteaus are failing to make the same landmark wines they were able to in the early 2000s.
No 5. Mosel
Two rivers, the Saar and Ruwer, cut through the dramatic German landscape and converge into the Mosel River, creating a gorgeous backdrop for some of the most complex wines in the world. The steep south-facing slopes gather as much sun as possible as the delicate Riesling grapes gain a deep minerality from the rich slate soils. Riesling, the soft wine grape, is king here. Before Bordeaux took the world by storm, it was the Rieslings produced here that basked in the world’s attention
No. 6. Napa Valley
The first of the wine regions in the United States to garner international praise and attention, Napa, California, is home to some of the world’s greatest wineries. With a tradition that spans from early settlers to finding a “legal” way around prohibition, the American “cowboy” mentality comes through in the determination to make a world-class wine when they were told they never would. The outstanding Mediterranean microclimate and a mixture of decomposed oceanic fossils and lava ash give the rich grapes of Robert Mondavi, Chateau Montelena and Harlan Estate their bold and elegant flavors.
No. 7. Piedmont
Wine in Piedmont is as much a part of life as breathing. The leading grape here is Nebbiolo, which produces the superb Barolo and Barbaresco wines. To complement the depth of the Nebbiolo wines, sweeter wines Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante are made from Moscato Bianco. The mineral-rich wines from Azienda Cerreto feature the citrus and pear flavors of the Arneis grape.
No. 8. Ribera del Duero, Spain
Sitting on the northern plateaux of Spain along the Duero River, the rocky terrain of Ribera del Duero is home to the vines that give birth to the most expensive wine in the world, Vega Sicilia. The Tempranillo grape and the ability to grow world-class Cabernet Sauvignon give this region the leg up on its Rioja brother.
No. 9. Barossa Valley, Australia
Wines from Australia continue to push the envelope in terms of the amount of flavor you can pack into a bottle. An anonymous Australian winemaker once said, “We make wines that punch you in the face and then kick your teeth down the road.” Even though they’re jam-packed with intense fruitiness, the wines are well balanced. For wine drinkers who are looking for a fruit-forward wine that cuts through a meaty steak or a rosemary lamb roast, try a Grenache or a Shiraz.
No. 10. California’s Central Coast and the South of France.
Dubbed by aficionados as “the next frontier,” California’s Central Coast is filled with bar-setting vineyards like Longoria, Foxen and Sanford. Heavy producers of fresh, strawberry-scented Pinot Noirs and clean, woody Chardonnays abound, and producers often experiment with biodynamic farming.
The South of France sets the tone for most of the “green” farming in wine. Coupled with huge flavors and floral bouquets, these wines span palate ranges and have set the groundwork for a new breed of wine making. Regions like CÃ´tes du RhÃ´ne and Gigondas produce some of the most complex and dynamic wines in the world. The ChÃ¢teauneuf-du-Pape style of red-blended wines inspired some of California’s Central Coast’s best Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre wines.
The worldwide sales of champagne increased from 293.5 million bottles in 2009 to 319.5 million bottles last year, an increase of 8.9 %t. Germany exceeded this trend.
The German market showed particularly good growth of 21.6 per cent, exports from Champagne to Germany increased from 10.9 to 13.3 million bottles. As in the previous years, Germany is the third largest export market for champagne after Great Britain and the USA.
Austria also appears to like champagne -exports to this country last year totalled 1.1 million bottles after 675.046 bottles in 2009, a volume growth of 64.4 %
The upmarket restaurant operator Searcys plans to open their new champagne bar “One New Change” in a few weeks!
This is the second launch this year for Searcys Champagne Bar brand, and their spokesperson states they plan on launching five more in 2011, to be found in and around transport hubs and retail outlets.
Due to open on 30 March, the Champagne Bar at One New Change will comfortably seat 100 guests and will sell over 30 varieties by the glass, with over 100 different cuvees by the bottle including traditional method sparkling wines.
The company, which was bought in an £8m management buyout last year, says its Champagne Bar concept is based around “stylish indulgence”, which it says works well in its existing sites.
Searcys last year expanded the capacity of its Champagne bar in London’s Westfield shopping centre from 36 to 72 covers by taking over the adjacent area, saying that “affordable luxury” was still popular in the UK despite the austere economic times.
The new site, a ceiling-to-floor glass case, was designed by Interbar. Its “plush armchairs”, marble bar and warm copper and brown tones target a “retro1970s chic” atmosphere.
Tapas-style food will also be available to match with champagne, such as Foie Gras and green peppercorn terrine or Smoked Tuna with almonds.
When it comes to the preferences of American wine drinkers, the proof is in the wine glass: from 2009 to 2010, total volume of French wine exports to the U.S. went up +6.4% to 10.5 million cases and wine value increased by +15.6%, with sparkling wines leading the pack. Champagne, in particular, experienced explosive growth with volume increasing by +51.3% and value by +58.6%. The numbers illustrate that on- and off-premise consumers are spending more per bottle on French wines than they did in 2009. While the economy continues to recover, American wine drinkers have shown that because of the quality, tradition, diversity and value that French wines offer, they are confident to put their money where their wine glasses are, whether it’s for a celebration or everyday enjoyment.
Champagne’s top performance indicates that consumers no longer only look to sparkling wine to celebrate a special occasion, but are now purchasing it on a more regular basis due to Champagne’s high quality, versatility with food and the craftsmanship of its producers. Other sparkling wines from outside of the Champagne region grew +7.3% in volume and +18% in value. As a whole, the total sparkling wine category went up +32.5% in volume and +54.3% in value, attesting to the fact that, in 2010, consumers were trading up across the board in this category.
In the still wine category, AOP (previously known as AOC) wine exports were up overall with the Loire Valley leading the way with an increase of 40% in volume and 34.7% in value; the Languedoc made huge strides in 2010, increasing by 29.4% in volume and 39.4% in value; and both Burgundy’s and the Côtes du Rhône’s value percentages increased, exceeding their volume, showing that consumers are keen to spend more money per bottle on wines from these particular AOP regions.
IGP wines, or Vins de Pays, experienced a decline in volume of -15%, but a +10% increase in value which indicates that while consumers are buying fewer wines from this category, the wines they are purchasing cost more per bottle. Wines with no geographical denomination, previously known as Vins de Table, have continued to decline with a loss of -6% in volume and -0.11% in value, proving that, in general, Americans are now preferring wines from the other two categories.