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Masters of Methode Tradionnelle & Champagne

“All Methode Tradionnelle is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is Methode Traditionnelle.”

Non Vintage Methode Traditionnelle is the true definition of a house style. Produced using a base wine, which is a blend of multiple vintages, the highly skilled Cellar Master or blender strives to produce a wine that consistently replicates the wines before it.

Each house or brand has a different style; using different blends of varieties, some use a high proportion of reserve wines, some use oak and others are left on lees for longer than required, all these factors are that distinguishes the wines from one another. No matter your personal preference, elegant, bold or light and crisp there will be a Methode Traditionnelle or Champagne to suit you.

Champagne Bollinger

Champagne Bollinger was established in 1829 and is a market leader all over the world. The winery contains the last cooper’s workshop in the region, the barrels are used to age the finest wines before blending, having visited it myself it is quite the sight to see.

Madame Lily Bollinger, one of the most well known ladies of Champagne took the helm in 1941 when her husband died suddenly and without an heir. She was very passionate about Champagne, Lily immersed herself in the business. She rode her bicycle through the vineyards of Aÿ and traveled the world representing the House, she may also have uttered the most famous wine quotes; “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.” I like to think we would have been friends.

Using a blend of predominantly Pinot Noir, and over 85% Grand and Premier cru reserve wines, Bollinger Special Cuvee NV is cellar aged for more than twice the time required for NV in the Champagne appellation. The wine is golden with a very fine bead, the aromas are complex with notes of ripe apple, roasted stone fruit and alluring toasted brioche, if you close your eyes you get hints of raspberry from the Pinot Noir. On the palate this wine is rich and powerful, but structured. Flavours of ripe peach, nectarine and red berries shine through and are complimented with warming vanilla and biscuit. The wine has a creamy mouth filling mousse and finishes with a lifted acidity. The intense flavours linger on the palate and encourage you to take another sip.

G.H Mumm

G.H Mumm was formed in 1827 in Reims, their vineyard holdings include over 160 hectares of Grand Cru holdings and they are the 4th highest selling Champagne brand in the world. The house has built its name by having an unwavering focus on quality, the now iconic red ribbon that adorns all their bottles was inspired by France’s highest civilian award, the red sash of the Legion of Honour.

Staying true to their motto Dare. Win. Celebrate. G.H Mumm have reinvented their bottle design with the release of G.H Mumm Grand Cordon. The bottle is a collaboration between the Chef de caves (Cellar Master) Didier Mariotti and Avant Garde designer Ross Lovegrove. The bottle neck has been elongated to enhance the development of aromas and the red ribbon is 3D printed onto the 75% recycled glass bottles, the ribbon indented into the glass is not only unique and stunning visually but makes pouring from the bottle easier too.

In exciting wine world news, Champagne Mumm have partnered with the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada, which is taking place in Auckland in 2021. As the official champagne partner Mumm will be poured at all America’s Cup events. Hopefully Team New Zealand give us a reason to celebrate!

Grand Cordon is predominantly Pinot Noir, which is sourced from some of the most prestigious vineyards in Champagne. It is aged for approximately two years in cellar and has a low dosage meaning the wine is quite dry.

The colour is pale gold with a persistent bead. Aromas of ripe peach, light tropical fruit notes, citrus and raspberry are accompanied by roasted nuts and honeysuckle that continue onto the palate. The palate is a refined yet energised blend of stone fruit and apple with delicious restrained toasty autolytic characters melded with a mineral quality that is highlighted by the crisp acidity. The mousse is rounded and soft and the finish lingering.

G.H Mumm Le Rose NV Brut is a blend of the three dominant grape varieties of Champagne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier. It is a beautiful pale salmon colour with a golden hue, it has an abundance of vigorous tiny delicate bubbles. The elegant aromas of strawberry, raspberry, apple and citrus blend harmoniously with the understated autolytic characters and there is an almost savouriness to the nose. Flavours of red berries and crisp apple are heightened by the acid structure of the wine. There is a chalky minerality on the stunning and a little surprisingly dry finish which leaves the palate refreshed and wanting more. This is a very unique Rose champagne.

Allan Scott Family Winemakers

With an impressive history of viticulture and winemaking in the Marlborough region, Allan and Cathy Scott were part of the first wave of independent wine brands to emerge from the region. Allan Scott Wines was established in 1990 in the Rapaura area along the northern edge of the Wairau Valley and has grown into an iconic New Zealand brand. With their three children Josh (Winemaking), Sara (Viticulturist) and Victoria (Marketing) working alongside their parents the business is truly a family affair.

In 1999 the first Methode Traditionnelle wine was released. Today the Cecilia Collection, with its new stylish packaging is named after Allan’s wife Catherine Cecilia Scott, the wines are an example of the stunning sparkling wines that can be produced from the Marlborough region. Allan Scott is a member of Methode Marlborough, a society of highly regarded Marlborough producers committed to building the reputation of sparkling wines produced in the area. The criteria to be adhered to guarantee’s that the wine has been aged for a minimum of 18 months on lees, is made using 100% Marlborough grapes and only uses the three most common varieties used in Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier.

The Allan Scott Cecilia Methode Traditionnelle Brut NV comprises of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from three separate vineyards which are expertly blended together. Bright pale straw in colour with a delicate but lively bead, the aromas of concentrated citrus and stone fruit mixed with pretty floral notes are followed by subtle aromas of freshly toasted bread. Crisp, pure fruit flavours of apple, lemon and white peach zing on the palate, the vibrant acidity leaves a lingering mineral finish. The wine is elegantly structured, medium bodied and the mousse although lively has a softness to it, the wine is very well balanced.

Cecilia Rose Methode Traditionnelle NV is made from 100% Pinot Noir, the wine has three days of skin contact to develop colour in the wine. It is a very pretty shade of pale pink with a salmon hue, the fine bubbles rising steadily to the surface. Aromas of ripe red berries, strawberry and raspberry and crunchy red apple dominate and are accompanied by rose petal, blossom and brioche following close behind. A blend of red cherry, raspberry and strawberry on the palate emphasized by the same vibrant acidity found in the Brut, the chalky note is also prevalent and the wine has a lovely long finish where the fruit remains the star of the show.

My Two Cents

Saving your Non Vintage Champagne for a special occasion? You can, but the wine is aged for a minimum of 15 months before release and in my opinion is best enjoyed whilst recently disgorged. Although I do have a friend who loves the bottle age characters of an aged NV, proving like most things in life it is definitely personal taste.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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