The Champagne Warrior

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Mention Champagne to people, and their eyes just light up. Thoughts of New Year’s Eve, wedding toasts, and other celebratory events jump immediately to mind. But, Champagne is a wine, first and foremost, and shouldn’t be relegated to some once-in-awhile beverage. So, how does one find out more about its versatility? Well, fortunately, we’ve invited a guest to educate us on some of the nuances of Champagne.

Although Michigan resident Brad Baker grew up drinking Australian Shiraz and California sparklers, it was a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee that really rocked his world, and made him want to dedicate himself to learning and discovering as much as possible about the people, land, culture, and wines of Champagne – as well as other sparkling wine regions around the world. Of course, discovery and knowledge often leads to something further. In Brad’s case, all of this knowledge led quite naturally to developing “The Champagne Warrior”, his newsletter to inform subscribers all about great Champagne and sparkling wine.

Join us as we talk with Brad about his passion and enthusiasm for Champagne. We’ll also learn a few geeky things about this bubbly beverage that will have you saying, “no more flutes.”

For more info on The Champagne Warrior: www.champagnewarrior.com

Sponsor: The Independent Champagne and Sparkling Wine Invitational: www.icswi2010.com

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Show #263
(1:01:38min 44MB)

16 Responses to “The Champagne Warrior”


  1. 1 Thomas Mar 18th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    The link to the event is broken

  2. 2 John A. Martelly Mar 19th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I love bubbles. From $6 to $60 I am not fussy. Say what you want,one of my favorite sparkling wines is $10.00 Freixenet. I love it. Its like your favorite shirt. Is it the best looking? Is it the fanciest? No. It just fits comfortably. As always,great show guys.

  3. 3 Brad Baker Mar 20th, 2010 at 8:54 am

    John,

    You won’t get an arguement from me on Cava especially the Ferrer family’s Freixenent group’s of wines. From the Freixenet & Segura Viudas Cavas to California’s Gloria Ferrer to Henri Abelé in Champagne to the mostly still wines like René Barbier, just about everything the Freixenet group does is a great QPR.

    Like you said, the Cava isn’t going to blow you away, but it is hard to beat in the $5-$15 price range.

  4. 4 Pedro Guedes Mar 23rd, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    The reason why the disgorgement is not all at the same is because, the longer the wine stay in contact with the dead yeast better will be. So, the wine is released only when needed. This is the main reason. More aging time.

    Brad you should taste some protuguese sparkling wines from Douro Valley. We have a few good ones …

  5. 5 Brad Baker Mar 24th, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Pedro,

    I don’t know if I agree with the blanket statement that longer time on the lees is always better; certainly a good amount of lees aging is needed, but sometimes 6 years may be better than 12 and vice versa. I do like late disgorged wines to compare to an original release, but when an original release is disgorged on 4-8 different dates over 2 years, it gets confusing and you do get different wines sometimes – it makes it hard to know what you are getting and what to expect.

    You are right on needing to try some Portuguese sparklers. I have heard good things, but haven’t tried any yet. I need to add that on to my “to do” list.

  6. 6 GrapeRadio Bunch Mar 24th, 2010 at 6:08 am

    I would like to know what descriptors tend to used more often for late disgourged wines.
    Jay

  7. 7 Brad Baker Mar 24th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Jay,

    If you are talking about the flavors you would find in a late disgorged wine like a Bollinger RD, Dom Perignon Oenotheque, Krug Collection, or Clicquot Cave Privee: with wines that are truly older (as in 20+ years aging before disgorgement), you are likely to get some mix of toasty, biscuity, coffee, nutty, spice box, vanilla, chocolate, mocha, tropical fruit, forest floor, mushroom, caramel, toffee, and cream notes – often mixed with a still young acidity. The cool thing with late disgorged wines (when drunk withing a few years of release) is that they show a great mix of more mature flavors, yet are still very lively. When the late disgorged wines are still relatively young (like a 8-15 year old Bollinger RD or Dom Perignon Oenotheque) then you tend to get more toast and biscuit mixed with a more concentrated fruit and cream profile.

    The thing to remember is that a late disgorged wine doesn’t mean a better wine. Overall, I prefer original disgorgements stored and aged properly over late disgorgements, but late disgorgements are nice because they guarantee provenance.

    Cheers!

  8. 8 Nick Caruth Mar 26th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Jacquesson D.T. is another wine/producer who releases late disgorged.
    In sparkling, Argyle released their late disgorged, which is on some list, I have yet to taste a bottle but it is sitting in the house.

    Brad, I think you tossed around the word cuvee without explanation of its technical meaning in champagne. I think it is sloppy to refer to all champagne as a cuvee.

    Dosage has a minimal correlation with sweetness, I don’t think that disclosing that information is crucial… Balance is generally the goal in modern times, rather than the sweetness.

    There is a fundamental difference between an aged saignee and a mixed blend. My humble understanding is that the 50% saingee is a 50% sparkling wine and a 50% sparkling wine, while a mixed champagne has still wine added. Thus, it is clearly different. I have been a fan of several still wine additions, not including ruinart’s efforts.

    I think any wine beyond 10 years, PROVENANCE is the most important detail. I have had trash that is 20 years old and brilliant 20 year old champagnes. I have been very sad to see 1985 Dom sitting in a 70 degree store rather than its eurocave.

    I enjoyed the first couple newsletters Brad, keep it up.

  9. 9 Brad Baker Mar 27th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Nick,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed the newsletter.

    Cuvee has so many different meanings that I do agree it is mis-interpreted. In the US (and probably other regions), it tends to mean a blend or mix of wines, but if you look at its real meaning as related to Champagne my understanding is that it really just relates to the best/first (or really middle) part of the pressing or a particular “block/batch” of Champagne. Whether that block or batch is blended or not doesn’t really matter. All of that said, I do agree that it is confusing.

    As for the Saignee and Red Wine Addition, I will still disagree. When the wine is bottled, it is all still wine so unless the Saignee is a co-maceration of all grapes then it is simply a blend of wine or an assemblage in my eyes. I understand different views, but I don’t like calling a wine that is a mix of different still wines a Saignee. A number of producers are starting to move in this direction and assemblage is taking on more usage.

    Cheers!

  10. 10 Nick Caruth Mar 27th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    My understanding of a cuvee is that it is the first 2050 liters pressed out of the 4000 liter marc, in the first three pressings. (The marc is the traditional amount of grape/juice that fit in the press, traditionally sized at 4000 liters)
    Thus, when using the word cuvee it means that the champagne was made using only the first 2050 liters.

    Also, when a maker like Vilmart produces a champagne called Couer de Cuvee, the heart of the cuvee, it means that they used only the middle juice out of the cuvee.

    (only the cuvee and a little more of the juice is allowed to be used in champagne, the rest is used for the liquor which is added as the dosage, this is changing though)

  11. 11 Brad Baker Mar 27th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Nick,

    Cuvee actually comes from tank/vat/container and that is where some of the confusion arises. I view it as a word with different meanings. You are correct about cuvee in terms of the pressing except that many producers will disregard the very initial juice from the pressing hence my comment on it often being in the middle.

    As for what you can use in Champagne, you can use the taille and it can lift up certain wines when used right. I don’t know of anyone in Champagne using the rebeche in the actual Champagne (translation – rubbish), but their are sparkling wine producers that use it.

    I guess it really comes down to multiple meanings for a word and then different usages in different countries. Makes for a fun discussion. Cheers!

  12. 12 GrapeRadio Bunch Mar 27th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Strange how this conversation reminds me of how cognac is made. They are looking for the “heart” of the spirit.
    Jay

  13. 13 Jeff Apr 26th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    John,

    You won’t get an arguement from me on Cava especially the Ferrer family’s Freixenent group’s of wines. From the Freixenet & Segura Viudas Cavas to California’s Gloria Ferrer to Henri Abelé in Champagne to the mostly still wines like René Barbier, just about everything the Freixenet group does is a great QPR.

    Like you said, the Cava isn’t going to blow you away, but it is hard to beat in the $5-$15 price range.

  14. 14 Vicki Aug 20th, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Great show guys. It’s great to hear someone talk about champagne that actually has something useful and interesting to say. Thanks

  15. 15 Send Champagne Sep 12th, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Its very hard to find a good honest source for opinions and valued advice about champagne these days – and I am pleased a stumbled across you guys – fantastic show! Keep up the great work! chin chin!

  16. 16 Wine2Three Dec 11th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Fun show! Very interesting!

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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