Updated: Jan 14
In December, we were lucky to have a very interesting conversation with Raymond Ringeval, export director of champagne Palmer & Co. We discussed the fascinating topics of champagne ageing, the art of blending and much more. We tasted three of their non vintage cuvees which have extended lees ageing: the Palmer & Co. Brut Réserve, the Brut Blanc de Blancs and Rosé Réserve.
He had many interesting points of view to share with viewers tuning in from all over the world.
1. Time is the main ingredient
The Brut Réserve is the timeless signature of Champagne Palmer & Co. The autolytic character in the wine comes from the ageing on the lees and which is where time plays an important role giving back a plethora of characteristics to the wine. This is why there are rules of ageing in Champagne and a Non-Vintage is supposed to be aged on lees for 15 months to let the champagne develop its autolytic character. The Brut Reserve NV spends no less than 4 years on lees, and an additional 6 months ageing after disgorgement. This means that the current NVs on the market are 2013 or 2014 base, with a considerable amount of reserve wines (30%).
2. An unconventional Blanc de Blancs from the Montagne de Reims has become their flagship wine
The Montagne de Reims is known for it's pinot noir. However there is a small island of chardonnay in the sea of pinot which is Villers-Marmery. This is where the fruit for their blanc de blancs comes from, i.e. 90% of chardonnay coming from the great terroirs of Montagne de Reims. The chardonnay here gives a citrus character and provides minerality, structure and the freshness to the champagne. With just a dash, i.e. 10% of chardonnay comes from Côte de Sézanne, the southern part of Champagne known for its richer style chardonnay, which balances the character of the champagne by having a riper fruit expression and providing more exotic notes like pineapple, mango and imparting an aromatic character to the champagne.
3. Reserve Wines is a Champenois invention
Reserve wine is a clever model and is considered a historical gift to deliver the best possible wine experience to champagne lovers all across the world and throughout time. They help in keeping the style consistent year after year despite the potential differences in harvest due to mother nature. These wines are going to bring the lacking element of the base wines from each vintage. They are identified for their specific characteristics and are being kept in temperature controlled vats for the future blends. The team of oenologists at Palmer & Co. believe that this is the key to securing the future of the "naturally elegant" Palmer style and they have recently invested in a stunning new facility just outside of Reims. As well as keeping their reserves in crus and varietals, they are increasing their capacity to build up perpetual reserves (or solera style reserves), by adding the wines into one tank from a single plot, vintage after vintage. This is the reserve used for their rosé blend and it enables the older wines to 'train' the younger juices that are added, building up complexity over time. Therefore from 2020 their Rosé Réserve will be renamed Rose Soléra.
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