I sometimes think that it is a good job that I don’t have any money, because if I did I would spend rather a lot of it on Champagne. I love Champagne and cannot think of any occasion that wouldn’t be improved by a glass or two of the stuff.
Recently I was able to taste a couple of Champagnes made by a single domaine, or grower – it is always such a pleasure to speak to growers who make their own wines. To see the passion and belief behind their eyes is so refreshing and exciting.
Alain Bergère comes from a long line of Champagne grape growers, 370 years according to some records apparently. In addition the family have been producing their own Champagnes since 1936.
Alain’s estate is based in the Côtes des Blancs villages of Etoges, somewhere south of Pierry, where he grows Chardonnay in several small vineyard parcels. He also has a vineyard in the Vallée de la Marne near to Château Thierry, where he grows his Pinot Meunier.
I think there is something quite romantic about producing Champagne on a small scale and this house is small with production of just 30,000 bottles a year. If that seems like a lot to you, remember that the famous Champagne houses have a production measured in many millions.
Champagne Alain Bergère
80% Chardonnay together with 20% Pinot Meunier – 10% is made from reserve wines, the rest is 2006 vintage.
The colour was a lovely rich deep golden hue.
There was rich baked apple and buttery brioche on the nose.
The palate was quite fleshy with stone fruit and some flashes of dried fruit, nougat and caramel too, all balanced by fresh acidity and a creamy mousse. The finish was long and pure with an attractive dried raspberry character right at the end.
A most enjoyable Champagne – 90/100 points.
£22.50 a bottle from Adnams.
86% Chardonnay with 14% Pinot Noir.
The colour was a very traditional pale coral or partridge eye – it had been made by the addition of red wine, which I have come to the conclusion is more satisfying as it gives that red fruit aromatic lift to the wine that you do not get with skin contact.
Indeed the nose had some red fruit as well as a floral note.
The palate was beautifully seductive with lovely strawberry and raspberry fruit together with rose petals and a very wine-like character. It even had a rich-ish texture and finished long and clean.
A lovely, elegant rosé – 90/100 points.
£20.99 a bottle from Adnams.
I liked the passion behind these wines and thought the Champagnes themselves were delicious and great value for money.