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The Great Cuvées of Champagne


It is in an exceptional setting, in the heart of the Champagne vineyards, where the Relais & Château La Briqueterie is nestled, that the magazine SommelierS International inaugurated its new tasting event.

For this novelty, sommeliers and wine growers are from now gathered as from the morning over the wines. In order to meet the expectations of the owners, each of them can present his cuvées to the sommeliers who will write their tasting comments afterwards. A way of binding informal and constructive exchanges for each of the professionals, but also of esta­blishing real links through the direct advice and a better approach of the work of each.

So 40 sommeliers of the Association des Sommeliers de Champagne-Ardennes and the Association des Sommeliers Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie could discuss their impressions with 40 owners of great Champagne houses who presented some 73 cuvées. Gérard Basset, Best Sommelier of the World, Michel Hermet, president of the French Sommellerie, Eric Arnaud, president of the sommeliers of Champagne-Ardennes, Michel Widehem, president of the sommeliers of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, as well as Jean-Pascal Paubert, UDSF board member, were the masters of ceremony for a day.

Brut, Extra-Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Blancs de Noirs and vintage wines allied in an elegant danse of bubles. A tasting enhan­ced by the refined character of Chef & Sommelier's Reveal'Up glasses.

In prelude to the lunch, Hervé Lelarge presented the Mytik Diam corks (Diam Bouchage) that ensure a perfect homo­geneity and an optimal quality of corking, and cork tasteless.

During the meal that enabled to extend this moment of sharing, a refined menu was proposed by the Chef Jérôme Feck and his team. A foie gras with Ratafia, apple and tamarin opened the ball for the greatest pleasure of the guests. The show continued with a Ségala veal loin, panisse (fried chickpea cake) from Liguria and small chanterelles on a juice of burnt onions. The 3rd act was played with a chocolate mousse, a mango sherbet accompanied by the warmth of the Joy Armagnac.

The event then ended by warm embraces showing that the revival always is a good omen.

Sandy Bénard
Photos: Michel Jolyot

Vidéo: Lay Up Production – Xavier Paris


What the sommeliers think of it

Gérard Basset, Best Sommelier of the World 2010
“I much appreciate this new approach. It leads the sommeliers to be much more precise in their analysis, and in parallel the wine growers can assess the seriousness of the sommeliers' work. When we finish analyzing their wines, they then have the possibility to explain, even defend, their wine, all of that in the spirit of sharing, a bit like we experience in a cellar. This year's event, more than the others, is marked by the variety of the cuvées tasted and the level of quality is once again progressing. This approach should be retained and developped in the future.”


Michel Hermet, President of the French Sommellerie
“It certainly is better thanks to the collaborative character for the wine grower as well as the sommeliers. It enables to forge better links and fruitful exchanges between the ones and the others. This system goes the right way. Pairing the degustation and the encounter sanitizes the relationship whereas, before, some UDSF members could not attend the encounter organized in the second part of the day, obliged to go back to their work, although such an encounter is desirable.”


Eric Arnaud, President of the association of sommeliers of Champagne-Ardennes

“The concept of these tastings had to be reviewed and the choice made is the good one. It enables the wine growers or their representatives to live them from inside. They feel integrated in the college of tasters and can better understand the spirit nurtured by the sommeliers, what they expect from a wine and what they seek. At last, they encourage many exchanges over different cuvées and also enable our interlocutors to meet in an atmosphere that favours discussions.”


Jean-Pascal Paubert, Treasurer of the French Sommellerie
“The approach is much better. What is interesting is that we could taste, analyze the wines objectively and comment freely. The representatives of each house accepted our remarks more easily and the discussion resulted in a useful exchange. Indeed from that moment, they can explain how they work. To meet one another as from the degustation enbales to extend the discussion during the meal, and pairing the wines with the dishes provides a different approach.”


Michel Widehem, President of the association of sommeliers of Nord-Picardie
“Having only some ten wines to taste, we have more time to analyze them in depth. I appreciated the contact that is born with the wine grower or his representative, the dialogue that establishes is essential and all the questions we can have get an immediate answer.”





Photos of the event