jamie goode's wine blog: Champagne and sparkling wine

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Champagne and sparkling wine

Continuing my semi-obsession with bubbles at the moment, I opened two fizzes side-by-side this evening. It felt a little decadent, because like it or not it is hard to get away from the image of bubbly wine and celebration, celebrity and conspicuous consumption. Two very different bottles, though, and this wasn't intended to be a straight shootout.

First: Champagne Mumm de Cramant NV Grand Cru Brut Chardonnay. There's a bright, fresh, perfumed, almost salty quality to the nose. It's tight, savoury and shows lemony freshness alongside some denser herby, toasty notes. The palate is bright, fresh and savoury with complex toasty, honeyed, herby depth. There's precision here, as you'd expect from a Blanc de Blancs, but there's also some midpalate depth and savoury weight. All in, it's a really lovely fizz. Bottled with 8 g/l dosage and a lower pressure (4.5 atmospheres versus the usual 6, which makes it less fizzy). Very good/excellent 93/100

Second: Deakin Estate Brut NV, Australia. Sealed with a crown cap, this is an attractively packaged fizz showing bright, delicate lemony fruit and nice acidity. A very fresh, almost transparent style of sparkling wine. It's not the most complex example of its genre, but at this price it's a great value all-purpose fizz. Very good 84/100 (£6.99 Oddbins, 6 for the price of 5)

Aside: crown caps are great for sparkling wines, but they aren't hermetic seals. The seal between the rim of the bottle and the cap is what determines the oxygen transmission properties, and this case it is some sort of plastic material, which allows oxygen diffusion. So for this sort of fizz it's fine; I'd be cautious about cellaring crown capped bottles for any length of time, though.

In the Mumm picture the corner is turned down: apparently, in days gone by the wine was delivered unlabelled, and the turned-down corner of the business card indicated personal delivery. Although made since 1882, this cuvee wasn't released commercially until 1960.

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At 9:25 PM, Blogger Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

The Mumm used to have a more interesting name -- Cremant de Cramant. But Cremant as a term for a fizz with less pressure was given up by Champagne as part of the deal where others stopped using Methode Champenoise.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger andyincayman said...

Jamie. Is it true that crown caps are used for sealing bottles for secondary fermentation? If so are these different to the seal on the Deakin? If not how does this effect the wine when there is long maturation pre disgourgement?

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for the useful info, Peter

Andy, yes. That's a very good question. I need to do some research on this one.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Darren said...

Jamie - I know absolutely nothing about Champagne/Sparkling wine and am in the process of purchasing a great deal of one for my wedding. Is it worth paying a premium for Champagne's label/region or will my guests really care if I go the sparkling wine route?

At 1:41 AM, Anonymous steve said...

Not only was it called Cremant de Cramant, it used to come with the crudest enclosure ever seen on a champagne bottle, what looked like a bent nail which hooked over the cork and into holes on each side of the neck. It was like something an Italian peasant might use on a home bottling of a frothy red. Is this still the case?

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Quentin Sadler said...

The seal for Mumm Cremant de Cramant was not crude, it was rather stylish. Instead of a wire cage, they used the metal staple system that is used to keep the cork on the very finest Champagnes during the second fermentation. These top cuvés do not use a crown cap. The staple, or band of metal, went through a deep V shaped groove in the cork.

It was a little funky, rather in keeping with the stainless steel crown caps of today in Australia. Also there was no capsule - so, the effect was of being hand made.

At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Harry said...

Good collection of champagne & sparkling wine bottles are available at Laithwaites with amazing discounts......!


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