Thursday, September 23, 2010

Classy Champagnes from Alfred Gratien

I love Champagne, so when the opportunity to taste four or more cuvées from one producers comes up, I jump at the chance. Last week, at the Domaine Select Portfolio tasting in New York City, I was able to taste through much of the lineup of Alfred Gratien.

Founded in 1864, the firm of Alfred Gratien is located in Epernay, one of the most famous of all Champagne towns. They produce wines from vineyards in the finest districts, such as the Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne. Production is limited and fermentation takes place in wooden casks, assuring greater complexity and giving the wines a nice edge. The overall style to me is one of elegance over power, though these wines are quite rich in their own right. Freshness is another factor in their wines, especially with the bottings of rosé. Overall, the quality of Alfred Gratien Champagnes is very high; each cuvée has beautiful complexity, notable concentration and impressive length and structure.

Below are notes on the wines:

Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (non-vintage)
White peach, pear and chamomile aromas; quite rich on the palate for a Blanc de Blancs; lengthy finish with good acidity; overall very flavorful and quite elegant. Excellent ($80)

Brut Rosé (non-vintage)
Fresh strawberry and cherry aromas; excellent persistence; quite dry with lively acidity and good persistence. Very Good ($70)

1999 Brut
Lemon peel and peach aromas; medium-full, very good persistence and freshness; excellent complexity; enjoy over the next 3-5 years - perhaps longer. Excellent ($75)

Cuvée Paradis Brut (non-vintage)
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, primarily from Grand Cru vineyards; lemon, pear and biscuit aromas. very fine bubbles; medium-full, quite rich on the palate; excellent persistence; great finesse. Enjoy over the next 5-7 years. Excellent ($135)

Cuvée Paradis Rosé (non-vintage)
Dried strawberry and dried cherry aromas; medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Lively acidity and a wonderful freshness; very good persistence and fine bubbles. Delicious - enjoy over the next 5-7 years. Excellent ($135)

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