Alfred Gratien Blanc de Blanc
Non-Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
The vinification in oak casks confers fullness and richness to this Blanc de Blancs. Characterised by a strong and complex nose, this champagne unfolds vanilla brioche aromas and reveals hints of invigorating citrus on the finish. The same complexity and feel of substance are present on the mouth. A fresh and vivacious attack is brought out by elegant citrus fragrances. The body and substance of this Blanc de Blancs is reinforced by captivating hints of brioche and buttered bread.
Wine & Spirits - "Focused on pure apple flavor and pale limestone structure, this wine tastes joyous, bright and a little eccentric in its style. There's an elegant push-pull between the freshness of the apple, pear and ginger notes and the oak spice, which feels almost tannic. It’s the freshness that lasts in a complex finish, one that will continue to develop with age."
Wine Spectator - "With a steely backbone of acidity, this offers lightly grained texture and hints of peach, anise, fresh flowers, green apple and fresh ginger. Tangy, lip-smacking finish. Drink now through 2015. 1,666 cases made."
Alfred Gratien Winery
If the exception in the Champagne region bears a name it is most certainly that of Alfred Gratien.
At Alfred Gratien’s, craftsmanship is worshipped, and it is not by chance that the house is one of the last to respect the traditions of the champagne business, while still adapting to progress.
And the willingness of the directors to remain faithful to the philosophy of the founder, Alfred Gratien, can be seen at each stage in the production of these wines of distinction. Rigorously selected grapes, traditional vinification, purposefully limited quantities and respect for the " terroir " make Alfred Gratien really unique. View all Alfred Gratien 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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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.