newsletter June 2011; the travellers are back, the 2003 vintage, unique champagne auction Åland

Dear member of The Richard Juhlin Champagne Club;
This is the first of our monthly newsletters addressed to our ever growing international member base. Through this format it is our ambition to send you regular updates about Richard Juhlin´s thoughts and adventures, about the club in general and other champagne related information that we find relevant.

As you may or may not know, Richard Juhlin is Swedish, and many of his activities as well as private life naturally revolves around Sweden. Some of the topics in these newsletters will therefore have a natural “Swedish flavor”, but in general we will selectively focus on things with a global perspective.

the lifestyle file

Trips and dinners with Richard Juhlin and TRJCC, restaurant recommendations (globally, with great champagne menues), champagne recipe of the month (we suggest delicious recipes that go well with champagne), etcetera.

The travellers are back – a spring trip to Champagne

 

We were 22 happy souls from The Richard Juhlin Champagne Club who browsed among the champagne houses in Eperney and Reims during the weekend of April 8 – 10, and all came back with mind and limbs intact! Many also with exciting bottles from charming producers, and, we hope, with memories for life! The intricate and very hands-on directions from Sami, the memorable dinner comments from the giggly girls at the far table, the fantastic rooms at Villa Eugene, and all great champagne…. here is a more complete recapitulation, with pictures and all!
Champagne Club´s own Bjornstierne Antonson guided, inspired and led a ’bon-vivant’-thirsty group on a unique journey.


FRIDAY, APRIL 8
The day started early, with the ‘fakir express’ landing at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris, mid morning. Our humble cicerone, Bjornstierne Antonson, came directly from the primeur tastings in Bordeaux, and joined the group at the airport. Anxious anticipation and a short walk to the designated area, where monsieur Lif, the driver, waited with his bus. And off we went, direction Aÿ.

We arrived at lunch time, at the classic and family owned house of Bollinger, where a tour and tailor made tasting awaited. The lunch was extraordinary, with one delicassy after another. Naturally different Bollinger cuvées to every course, and a decadent and perfectly chilled Bollinger rosé accompanying the dessert. Outside the estate the British Aston Martin Club, as if requested, had a rendez-vous, and displayed some astonishing cars glittering in the sun, adding to an already surreal atmosphere. After lunch we wandered up into one of the three classic vineyard locations that are part of the “Vieille Vignes Francaises’ – Terra Rouge. This visit has never been depicted in any Ian Fleming novel or filmatization, but it goes without saying that James Bond must have visited these fields, at some occasion…

Saying goodbye to Bollinger, we took a short bus trip to the other side of the village, and paid a visit to the young Louis Cheval Gatinois at Champagne Gatinois. Together with Bollinger, Gosset-Brabant and Gotourbe, he is alone in producing an Aÿ rouge. The Gatinois family have been wine makers in Aÿ since 1696, and own 29 locations there, spanning over 7 hectares. Half the yearly production is sold to the neighbor Bollinger. Gationois themselves produce classic Aÿ champagnes that take many years to fully mature. Stock and age anything you can get your hand on…!

After this second visit of the day we set course towards Eperney, where we checked in at the newly renovated, and comfortably luxurious Villa Eugène on Avenue de Champagne. Some of us managed to find time for a bottle of L & R Legras at the pool, before a well-needed shower, and a change of clothes. A 15 minutes promenade down Avenue de Champagne then took us to La Banque, a new restaurant with an astonishing 9 meter long bar counter. We hurried to rob this bank, and after a variety of bubbly beverages and a 3-course dinner, tired but happy feet took us back to the hotel, and a well-deserved good night´s sleep!

SATURDAY,  APRIL 9
The sun beamed, and so did the now rested travelers. Saturday was allocated towards a number of champagne related activities, where focus was on some smaller growers/houses that may or may not yet be discovered by the general public. We set course toward Vertus, and the first visit of the day, at Larmandier-Bernier. The tasting was conducted by the extremely skilled biodynamic growers Sophie Larmandier, representing a house that produces some of the purest chardonnay champagnes today. The family has owned a couple of hectares of very old chardonnay stocks in Cramant for a long time, and now the entire winification is biodynamic. All their wines improve with at least 10 years ageing, in a good cellar. The champagnes have an unmistakable creaminess, and the quality is top notch all the way through. Sophie was happy to hear Bjornstierne´s reference to a Vieilles Vignes de Cramant'90; he revealed that his son Nikolai hade a few drops of this monster champagne on his lips before he was even 10 minutes old. Sophie ran down and came back up from the cellar with a bottle, for a blind tasting. The group looked at Bjornstierne, who after 30 seconds of analyzing declared with uncanny certainty; ’mature developed nose, extremely crisp acidity and structure…it has to be the brilliant vintage of 1996’ . And of course it was!

After the visit (which terminated in a frenzy of champagne shopping for some..) a 15 minute bus ride took us to Etoges, and the marvellously beautiful castle Château d’Etoges, for a delicate lunch.

After lunch we took the bus back to Vertus for a visit and tasting at Veuve-Fourny. The wine maker and cellar master Charles Fourny displayed and array of elegant champagnes, from a pure extra brut, to the oaky and ultra serious Clos Notre Dame. The Fourny family has made their own champagne since 1955. Today Monique and Charles Fourny produce great champagnes from their 6,5 hectares. Biodynamic cultivation, old stocks and oak casks are the key factors to their rapid success. The top cuvees are characterized by oakiness and concentrated organic beauty.

Next, the time had come for the most unusual excursion of the trip. When the group thought it was time to head toward Reims, Bjornstierne instead ordered monsieur Lif to take the bus to the top of the Grand Cru village Le Mesnil-sûr-Oger, where in the middle of the vineyards a table was set for our very own champagne tasting. Now we weren’t guests, but could extract our own especially selected bottles from some hidden spaces in the bus, gaze out over the fields, and just mind our own business… Some curious locals couldn´t help but stop their Citroens and Renaults, and inquire if they possibly had missed some unique occurance of global importance, here in their own little part of the world…
Then, just before sunset, we reluctantly climbed back into the bus, which in just 30 minutes took us to Reims, and the Grand Hôtel

Continental, a majestic building re-furbished from an old manor house in 1862. We were, as have been the tradition for more than 130 years, welcomed in a cosy, warm and sophisticated atmosphere. Truth be told, and it probably should, maybe the rooms no longer measure up to the proud traditions, especially with the fresh pictures of the extravagant luxury at the previous hotel in mind, but somehow everyone seemed to notice this more as a picante detail than as an inconvenience. A shower and a brief rest later it was time for a short walk (oh well, it would have been short, if Sami hadn´t relied on intuition instead of carefully memorized recollections of a previous visit, but we did get to see the fantastic cathedral from all four cardinal directions!) to Rue Bertin, where the scene at the innovate restaurant Le Millénaire was set for a four course dinner. The dinner was memorable for many reasons, not just the good food and (naturally) champagne, but also from the giggly and untranslatable comments of some ladies at the table, as well as from the insight that even our somewhat snobbish French maitre d´at this fine establishment in fact sweated and fumbled a great deal, probably due to the knowledge that he served 22 picky members of The Richard Juhlin Champagne Club… Four courses and lots of champagne later, the group once again admired the cathedral, this time on the way back (and this time only from one direction).

SUNDAY, APRIL 10
After breakfast and check-out, we boarded the bus for our last excursion, a visit to the village of Sillery, and a tasting at François Secondé. François Secondé is the uncrowned king of Sillery. From his 4 hectars he produces first class wines with a lovely and distinctive character. Vintage Blanc de Blancs is always a juicy, dense and wonderfully personal champagne! There is the same difficult-to-describe sunny taste of mature yellow fruit that Richard Juhlin sometimes finds in Dom Ruinart, who coincidentally uses the same Sillery chardonnay grapes as Secondé. This is a wine that really should be sampled by anyone who wants to recognize all the of the shapes and distinctions of the district. Jérôme and François then took us to the nearby restaurant le Relais de Sillery for a nice long Sunday lunch. It was a tired but elated group who then boarded to bus, for the final 2 hour drive to Charles de Gaulle and the late flights back to our respective home cities.

 

Click up by the banner for pic´s from the trip….

Enlighten us

This is the first news letter to our international members, and we are curious about what you think. What kind of material would you like to see in future news letters, what kind of information do you crave, etc. Please email us your ideas, thoughts, praise or criticism. We don´t promise to blindly adhere to every request, but we promise to read all emails, and try to improve!

the champagne file
The monthly article by Richard Juhlin

THE 2003 VINTAGE IN CHAMPAGNE

It is at last beginning to be time to evaluate the much-discussed champagne vintage of 2003 at this point when almost all the wines of that vintage have been out on the market for a while since they are now eight years of age. In Champagne, most people were in agreement that they would not make any vintage wines at all from that year’s vintage which was at first considered to be a failure, and if they tried to do so anyway contrary to expectation then they viewed the wines mostly as curiosities and experiments. I personally consider that this year of summer heat is particularly interesting to follow up since this curiosity of a wine might well turn out to be a normal vintage in the future if the greenhouse effect develops as dramatically as people prophesy. With the two most recent bitterly cold winters freshly in mind we might not allow ourselves to be convinced as unanimously by the worst terror scenario that has been presented, even if it is impossible to reject the changes in climate completely as being the fruits of natural cycles without the influence of human beings. Regardless of conviction and climate ideology, it is most probable that extremely warm years with harvests as early as August like in 2003 will appear more often than before and that classically slender, dry, slowly-developing, graceful beauties harvested at the end of September will become more and more rare.

To read the full article; login and follow the link…

Exclusive seats to the unique champagne auction in Åland

Wreck Champagne Sells to the Highest Bidder. During the summer of 2010 divers discovered unique bottles of champagne in a shipwreck in the Åland archipelago in Finland. Following a successful salvage operation, it was clear that the discovery consisted of the world’s oldest champagne of the labels Veuve Clicquot, Juglar and Heidsieck. The Government of Åland, which owns the bottles, has decided that two of these bottles will be sold at an exclusive champagne auction to be held in Mariehamn, Åland, on 3 June 2011.

This unique auction will feature two single bottles, one of each from the legendary houses of Veuve Clicquot and Juglar. These vintage champagnes, which date to the early 1840´s and are thought to be the oldest champagnes for sale in existence, are among the most exciting discoveries ever in the world of wine. The auctioneers will be Acker Merrall & Condit, the world’s premier wine auction house.

“There are few truly historic events in the world of wine, but this is one,” said John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall & Condit. “Having survived nearly two centuries, these amazing bottles of vintage champagne are without precedent. And it is our enormous privilege to partner with the Government of Åland in presenting these unique wines to the world. The events surrounding the auction will be filled with excitement and anticipation, and the auction itself is sure to be one of the most important and exhilarating in the history of wine.”

The world’s foremost champagne authority, Richard Juhlin, calls the auction one of the great moments in the world of wine. Richard Juhlin said, “These bottles are unparalleled in the world of wine. One can only speculate on the final price, but it is likely to reach a record level.” The Government of Åland has decided that whatever the financial surplus is, it will go to a good cause.
“The financial surplus that can be generated by the sale of the champagne bottles will go to charitable causes, such as environmental measures for improving the quality of water in the seas,” said departmental head Rainer Juslin of the Åland Government.

The name of the sunken vessel is still unknown, as is also its destination. A total of 145 bottles of champagne were salvaged. The now defunct champagne house Juglar made 95 bottles. The number of bottles from Veuve Clicquot is 46. Of the Heidsieck label four bottles have been recovered. After so many years on the seabed the contents of the bottles are extremely well preserved. The constant temperature and low light levels have provided optimal conditions for storage, and the pressure in the bottles has prevented seawater from seeping in through the corks.

Champagne Club offers exclusive seats

The Åland Government has offered Champagne Club and its members five seats at the gala dinner Thursday, June 2 and 5 seats at the exclusive auction on Friday 3 June. The auction will be held in Mariehamn, Aland. Interested pleas email to Herman Johansson. These seats are offered to members that are seriously interested in bidding at Friday's auction. In addition to these five sites, there is obviously an opportunity for other interested parties to visit the auction. This is done by accreditation to the auction house Acker Merrall & Condit.

Read the full press release.

Veuve Clicquot to partner shipwreck champagne auction. The Government of Åland has decided that premier champagne house Veuve Clicquot will partner them in the upcoming champagne auction in Mariehamn, Åland on 3 June 2011. Alongside the unique bottles of champagne found in a shipwreck in the Åland archipelago in Finland in the summer of 2010, Veuve Clicquot will bring rare vintage champagne bottles to the auction. Auctioneers are Acker Merrall & Condit, the world’s premier wine auction house. Read the press release.

See the add for the auction

Recipe of the month: escargot persillade

Each month Björnstierne Antonson, champagne club head sommelier, will share a nice recipe for those of you who do not think it is enough to drink champagne as aperitif. The recipes comes from travel in Champagne, memorable restaurants in Sweden and internationally, unforgettable meetings between champagne, food and people. A lot will provide inspiration after having worked as a sommelier for many years at top restaurants in Sweden and internationally.

Ingredients
Parsley
Egg white
Flour
Panco
Snails
Onions
Garlic
Carrot
Thyme
Chicken broth
Crème fraiche

method
Cook the snails in white wine and chicken broth with vegetables and salt until they are tender.
Allow to cool and dredge with flour, egg white and panco which is mixed with garlic and parsley.
Fry and serve with garlic dip made with crème fraiche and garlic.

Champagne-app in appstore

Just bought a new Iphone and now wonder which programs/apps to get? The region of Champagne can boasta very unusual combination: their biggest wines are blessed with an unparalleled capacity for ageing, and, at the same time, due to the custom of blending different base wines combined with prolonged ageing on the lees, champagne is one of few fine wines that is deliciously enjoyable at the time of its release. As a matter of fact most champagnes are ready for consumption right away, leading to the consequence that they rarely are able to reach their maximun potential. Since some wines need considerably more time than others, an international champagne magazine conducted a rigorous evaluation, in order to name and rank the 100 champagnes that are most enjoyable today. Ignoring the brand and the price tag, more than 1000 champagnes were sampled; prestige cuvees, vintage, and non-vintage wines. During the course of many blind tastings during 2010 these 1000+ champagnes of all styles and price levels were analyzed, and the result can be found through the app ’Fine champagne’. Click here for a free download.

B.Inspired
Champagne Club´s creative head sommelier wrote an article about rosé champagne for the magazinehar skrivit en artikel om roséchampagne för magasinet B.Inspired. click here to read it.

Swedish Bulletin
Champagne Club wrote a chronicle in the magazine Swedish Bulletin(page 94-95). Click here to read the article.

the champagne auctions

Here we let you know about upcoming wine auctions featuring champagne.

Southeby’s
June 15th & 16th, London
Finest and Rarest Wines featuring an impressive private collection

July 6th, London
A classic Bordeaux Collection featuring three glorious decades

July 20th, London
Finest and Rarest Wines

Click here for more info

Christie’s
May 27th, Hong Kong
Finest and Rarest Wines - Rarities from the Cellar of Château Latour
Click here for the auction catalog

June 6th, Amsterdam
Fine Wine, Vintage Port and Champagne: A Private Collection.
Click here for the auction catalog

June 7th, Amsterdam
Fine Wine and Vintage Port, including Finest and Rarest Wines
Click here for the auction catalog

June 8th, Amsterdam
Fine Wine and Vintage Port, including Finest and Rarest Wines
Click here for the auction catalog

June 9th, London, King Street
Fine and Rare Wines including Treasures from the Cellar of Sir David Frost
Click here for the auction catalog

June 10th, New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Fine and Rare Wines
Click here for the auction catalog

Click here for more info

Facebook The Official Richard Juhlin Champagne Club

The observant reader has probably noticed that we now have a Facebook group. Since January 2011 it has grown from 86 members to the present number of 1273. This month we say hello to 44 new friends. We will continually offer thses Champagne Club ‘friends’ interesting benefits and invitations. Go ahead and join! Invite your friends and their friends! When can we celebrate 2000 members on Facebook? Click on the link.


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