Make Mine A Double, Tasting Events

Pink Fizz [Make Mine a Double #45]

Although my favourite rosés are often Champagnes, my favourite Champagnes aren’t often rosés.  If you followed this then you will realise that it takes a very good pink fizz to get my recommendation – and here are TWO stunners I tasted chez Tindals earlier this year:

Champagne Gremillet Brut Rosé NV (12.0%, RRP €50.00 at Searsons)

Champagne Gremillet Brut Rose NV

Champagne Gremillet is situated in the Côte des Bar, the most southerly of Champagne’s subregions which lends itself to Pinot Noir dominated wines.  It was founded by Jean-Michel Gremillet in 1979, now joined by his children Anne and Jean-Christophe.  They have 33 hectares of their own vines, split 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, and purchase grapes from around 80 other growers each harvest.

This rosé is from their “entry level” range, if there is such a thing in Champagne.  As you’d expect it is Pinot dominant, with the blend being 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.  The colour comes from the addition of 10% red wine, and 20% of the total is from reserve wines of several prior vintages.  The blend spends at least 22 months on the lees and dosage is fairly standard at 9g/L. This is a lovely, soft rosé that is neither too acidic nor too sweet, but shows bright red and black fruit in a very approachable Champagne.  For the quality in the bottle this is a real bargain.

Champagne Henriot Brut Rosé NV (12.0%, RRP €80.00 at Searsons)

Champagne Henriot Brut Rose NV

Champagne Henriot are more than a Champagne house – they also own Bouchard Père et Fils (Côte de Beaune), William Fèvre (Chablis) and Villa Ponciago (Beaujolais).  Based in Reims, Henriot are known for their Chardonnay-dominant wines (their Blanc de Blancs is fantastic) mainly sourced from chalk soils.

The Brut Rosé is a blend of Montagne de Reims Pinot Noir (50%) and Meunier (10%) with the balance (40%) Chardonnay; around 12% of red wine is included.  70% of the grapes are from Grand or Premier Cru villages, and reserve wines make up 35% of the blend. Maturation on the lees is for three years with dosage at 9g/L or less.

The nose shows abundant lifted aromas of citrus and red fruits.  On the palate it is very gentle, perhaps not as immediate as the Gremillet, but instead elegance personified.  Juicy grapefruit and lemon are joined by fresh raspberries and strawberries – very delicious indeed!


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Book Review

Root Cause by Steven Laine [Book Review]

Root Cause

Root Cause is a wine-themed thriller, a subcategory with meagre extant examples.  The title itself is just one of several wine-themed puns, as the main characters are in a race to find out what has led to the reappearance of phylloxera, an aphid which eats and eventually destroys the roots of vines.  Furthermore, the heroine of the tale is called Corvina which is an important grape in the Veneto (at least she wasn’t called Chardonnay!)

It has the requisite twists and turns* and changes of location for a thriller, somewhat akin to a Dan Brown novel, but with symbology replaced by wine references.

With zero expertise in symbology I find Brown’s asides interesting, but as someone with a reasonable amount of wine knowledge it’s difficult to place myself in the shoes of a reader who doesn’t have that background.  Is there too much side chat and exposition?  Or does wine make for an interesting theme?  I’d go for the latter option, but each reader must make their own determination.

In certain facets Root Cause is like a James Bond novel, moving from one glamourous or famous location to another: London, Chile, Canada, Dubai, South Africa, Hong Kong and Champagne are among the places visited.  In fact, Corvina’s employer – Universal Wines – is named as a nod to James Bond’s fictional employer Universal Exports.

Of course, as this is fiction there is no issue for our heroes in booking lots of international flights – and paying for them – at very short notice.  It does make me think that a lost, stolen or stopped credit card would have been sufficient to leave them stranded in a far-flung location!  But what would have been the fun in that?

And fun is the operative word, mainly from the interaction between the heroine Corvina and her sidekick Brian, plus some interesting characters they meet on their journey.  A few of them are flagged as potentially being important to the plot but ultimately they are minor diversions – the author keeps you engaged and guessing, two critical attributes for a thriller!

This book is unlikely to win any prizes for high literature, but it’s not trying to be that.  Whether you have an interest in wine or not (and if you’re reading this, you probably do) then it’s well worth a read!


Disclosure: I was sent an “uncorrected proof copy” to review, but opinions remain my own

* like a twisty-turny thing, per E. Blackadder