Have you ever had a non-sparkling red Champagne?! They don't make much and there's nothing quite like it. AOC Coteaux Champenois covers the same area as sparkling Champagne, with the same grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier), but is for still wines. "Voie de Chanay" is an old vineyard that is the highest vinegrowing named area of the village. It gives us beautifully ripened grapes for a ruby red wine. This Pinot Noir is subtle, delicate, and light. Best served at cellar temperature, it's a great wine to start off the evening with appetizers and can easily transition to a lighter main course.
The appellation Coteaux Champenois designates non sparkling wines from Champagne. "Voie de Chanay" is an old vineyard that is the highest vinegrowing named area of the village. It gives us beautifully ripened grapes for a ruby red wine.
Pinot Noir — is the most important and oldest form of Pinot. It is the grape variety wholly responsible for red Burgundy and one that suddenly became the height of fashion, thanks to the 2004 film Sideways. It gives its name to the noirien family of grape varieties. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, which can be grown in all but the coolest conditions and can be economically viable as an inexpensive but recognizably Cabernet wine, Pinot Noir demands much of both vine-grower and winemaker. It is a tribute to the unparalleled level of physical excitement generated by tasting one of Burgundy’s better reds that such a high proportion of the world’s most ambitious wine producers want to try their hand with this capricious and extremely variable vine. If Cabernet produces wines to appeal to the head, Pinot’s charms are decidedly more sensual and more transparent. The Burgundians themselves refute the allegation that they produce Pinot Noir; they merely use Pinot Noir as the vehicle for communicating local geography, the characteristics of the individual site, the terroir on which it was planted. This particular Pinot hails from the southern part of Champagne. A still Champagne wine, but Champagne nonetheless!
The Champagne house of the Dumont family is situated in Champignol-lez-Mondeville, a village in the southern Champagne region of the Aube, some 90 miles southeast of Reims and Epernay. Characterized by forested hills, streams and vineyards, it is a natural and reflective environment that has attracted people such as Saint Bernard (Clairvaux) and Renoir (Essoyes). The Dumonts have owned vineyards in this area for over two hundred years and today three Dumont brothers work together to produce champagne exclusively from their own 22 hectares. The soils are a geological extension of those in Chablis, namely kimmeridgian chalky clay. The vineyard is planted with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Bernard Dumont’s comments are insightful. “We grow grapes on the same soils as the vine growers in the Chablis region. There, they produce white wine from white grapes and here we produce white wine from red grapes.”
The greatest increase in Pinot plantings in Europe has been in Champagne, where it is used, as it is in the production of a wide range of sparkling wines made around the world in champagne’s image, as a still, very pale pink ingredient in the base blend of still wines. The grapes are pressed very gently and any remaining pigments tend to agglomerate with the dead yeast cells during the champenization process. In such a blend, Pinot Noir is prized for its body and longevity, as well it might be for that small proportion of champagne made exclusively from Pinot Noir is usually memorably substantial. In Champagne, only a tiny quantity of Pinot Noir is used for still red Coteaux Champenois and rosé des riceys (the champagne aoc for still rosé made in champagne).
Beginning in Chablis and extending toward the Aube, there are a multitude of scrumptious wild sour cherries which grow alongside vineyards. And, though I don’t know what precise compound of taste they share, I swear the taste of it is palpable in the red wines from the north.
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