Gaston-Chiquet Special Club Brut Millesime 2004
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
Special Club 2004 is a golden yellow hue with a hint of green. It has a fine nose of red fruit, including prune, plum, glazed fruit, with a touch of oxidation. Lively yet fresh and balanced palate; hazelnut, ripe fruit, quince paste in the long finish. A refined grand vintage.
The Wine Advocate - "The 2004 Brut Special Club bursts from the glass with terrific energy and sheer class. It captures all of the potential of a year that was especially favorable to Chardonnay. There is plenty of nuance and detail in the glass. The 2004 shows off tons of personality and sheer class. Mint, sage and eucalyptus are some of the notes that wrap around the finish. This is first-class all the way. It is also one of the very finest wines I have ever tasted from Chiquet. The 2004 Special Club is 70% Chardonnay (from Dizy), 30% Pinot Noir (from Ay and Hautvillers)."
Wine Spectator - "Fresh and lively, with fine texture and a citrusy overtone to the flavors of white cherry, tangerine, pound cake and black licorice. Open-knit, with a smoky mineral note on the finish. Drink now through 2020."
International Wine Cellar - "Bright yellow. High-pitched aromas of citrus fruits, white flowers, ginger and toasty lees. Bright and energetic in the mouth, offering juicy orange and apple flavors and a touch of honey. Shows very good energy and cut on the spicy, clinging finish."
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Gaston Chiquet has made a name for itself as one of the best. In a region with thousands of small producers, it is a credit to owners Antoine and Nicolas Chiquet. Based in the evocatively named Dizy, the family first planted vines in 1746 but did not produce Champagne until 1935, when brothers Ferdinand and Gaston Chiquet took the bold step of setting up their own label, rather than merely selling grapes to the larger houses.
With vineyards in the great villages of Ay, Mareuil-sur-Ay and Hautvillers, they currently produce 15,000 cases each year, from a blend of 45% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir View all Gaston-Chiquet Wines
About ChampagneChampagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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