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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

01 April 2009

Chablis/Crémant de Bourgogne: Maison Simonnet-Febvre

Maison Simonnet-Febvre - Chablis

This famous Chablis house (see my review of their 2007 Chabbers below, from my 'wines of the moment' page) isn't perhaps so well-known for its Crémant de Bourgogne - actually, according to their website, they're the only one is Chablis itself making these 'traditional method' sparkling wine styles. So, there you go, you've learnt something tonight. Anyway, they've just smartened up the labelling and relaunched a range of four attractive fizzies (I doubt they'll thank me for calling them that but I don't use that word in a condescending sense, as you'll see in my Cava mini-guide. It's just that you're not allowed to say 'Champagne style' even, and why would I compare them with those overpriced wines anyway). As usual I'm going off at a tangent...

 A bit of technical blah blah, but not much. All these wines have 8-9 grams/litre dosage, i.e. residual sweetening sugars added after being 'disgorged', which puts them at the 'drier' end of Brut (some Champagnes and other sparklers have up to 12g); except the 2005 vintage with only 6g dosage. They are bottle-fermented / lees-aged for "at least nine months" I'm told, with two to three years sur lattes, meaning the total bottle-ageing time 'on the rack', so to speak, before release (I'd guess). And all four weigh in at around a relatively light 12% alcohol. Simonnet's Crémants are distributed in the UK and USA by Louis Latour's offices based in London and California, by Gilbeys in Dublin and lots of other places too - see their website below. Retail prices across this range are approx €7.95 - €10.50 (France), US$20 - US$25 or £11.99 - £15.99.

Sampled March-April 2009:
Crémant de Bourgogne Brut (60% Chardonnay 40% Pinot Noir) - restrained appley style with very lightly honeyed and toasty undertones; savoury biscuit fruit v gentle acidity, refreshing off-dry finish; attractive wine although quite straightforward, nice with salmon actually and becomes addictively light and quaffable with refreshing 'sweet v salty' finish. 80-85
Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Pinot Noir (100%) - a touch finer and more 'serious', perhaps a little toastier too v fresher structure and length; elegant acidity v rounded honeyed and bready palate, good although still didn't set the world alight. 85-87
2005 Crémant de Bourgogne Brut (65% Pinot Noir 35% Chardonnay) - toastier and richer yet more appley / 'saltier' too; yeastier weight and intensity with a drier finish than the others, tighter and finer perhaps not expressing itself fully yet. 87-89
Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Brut (Pinot Noir + Gamay) - quite complex and delicate showing subtle red fruits then hints of chocolate biscuits; nice dried marzipan flavours v yeasty / 'salty' texture, off-dry finish with lively intensity. Attractive well-made style with 'sweet & savoury' mix, a hint of sweetness & oiliness v fairly dry bite and gently red fruity. 89

From Wines of the Moment winter/spring 09:
2007 Chablis (Chardonnay 12.5%) - you know how sometimes you really fancy a nice Chablis but are then disappointed having splashed out a little? Well, you won't be with this one. All the hallmarks which make that classic Chablis style so distinctive - attractive subtle balance of slightly exotic, buttery fruit v elusive greener, citrus mineral edges; elegant and tasty with fresh acidity lifting it up on the finish, making it good with smoked haddock even. €8 89
More info @ simonnet-febvre.com.

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