5 am on 24th March and we’re shivering outside our warehouse on a sprawling Industrial estate near Blanchardstown. Shivering with excitement that is! 7 of us were off on a team building/training trip to Champagne and Alsace. Yippee! The blogger gets to see some first hand ‘bl’info!
Airport – check, terminal 2 – check, 7 people – urm… Declan, where’s Declan, Declan (running a little late) – check, on plane – check, sleep – CHECK!
On arrival at Charles de Gaulle we shunt into Paris to get the train to Colmar in Alsace. Ronan takes charge, he’s made the trip between the two main Train Stations in Paris with beer goggles on on a previous trip and winds us through the streets to Paris Gare de L’est. Pleased we’ve arrived in plenty of time for our train we all relax. I try to order some water from the coffee shop “une bouteille du vin s’il vous plait” is met with a funny glance… wine on the brain! Nicole makes some friends… or her suitcase does when left all alone. 3 armed police officers are found surrounding it! And we nearly miss the train, nearly!
On arrival in Reims (still can’t pronounce it properly) we check into the hotel and have a quick bit of lunch while waiting for Henriot and an afternoon amongst the vines.
Kalina and Beatrice picked us up and took us on a really informative drive around the vines. We drank the blanc-de-blanc on the hill where the grapes were grown, the Rose on the Pinot Noir slopes and then returned to their cellars for a tour and more tasting. I’m a big advocate of training and education and this trip just showed how you can bolster enthusiasm and love for a wine by ‘living’ the wine.
Champagne Henriot’s Rosé Brut is obtained by adding Pinot Noir vinified as a red wine to the assemblage. Rosé Brut is made up of a majority of Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs. More than 15 crus are blended, including the following village crus: Avize, Chouilly, Mareuil sur Aÿ, Verzy, Verzenay, Avenay, Vertus, Trépail and Epernay. Pinot Meunier adds a delicate fruity note.
Rosé Brut contains 25% reserve wines.
The wine was delicious, with hints of a more vegetal aroma on the nose the breadth on the palate was very enticing, all sorts of flavours were present. Tindal team agreed this was one hell of a rose! What was quite amazing on some of the vineyards was the presence of plastic and other worn down rubbish materials, heralding back from the old days when the refuse of Paris was dumped on the vineyards. Whether this affects the vines, or indeed us has yet to be proven, but it gives you something to think about. Perhaps we’ll be getting notes of ‘rubber’ on our champagne in the future!
Champagne Henriot’s Blanc de Blancs is an assemblage of Chardonnay grapes mainly from the Côte des Blancs and village crus: Mesnil sur Oger, Avize, Chouilly, Vertus, Montgueux, Trépail, Epernay and the Vitry region. The assemblage is made up of 30% reserve wines. Each year they put upto 50cm of mulch on the vineyards to prevent too much erosion of the delicate chalky soils and nourish the roots of the vines.
Having raved about the Rose, the Blanc de blanc took the biscuit (literally) the yeasty notes on the nose and complexity of evolution on the palate enthused us all, we were hooked! Henriot’s secret seems to be money, they have lots of it. Which enables them to age the wines for longer and keep more of a collection of reserve wines for blending. Lucky them and lucky us!
Back to base and a tour of the very deep cellars at Henriot, not quite the historically beautiful ones of Bouchard’s Château du Beaune (their sister company) but filled with very beautiful juice! We tried: Brut Millésimé 2000 (not yet available over here) and the Cuvée des Enchantaleurs 1996 of which we have the 1995 available. This is my all time favourite flagship wine from a champagne house. It is mouth wateringly delicious!
That evening we went to a typically French bistro and enjoyed some fantastic Oysters, although from Nicoles face the next morning, one was not so fantastic!
Daybreak Day 2 and it’s off to get the train to Colmar in Alsace for some vertigo inducing talks on the edge of very high terraces! See our Alsace blog article for the notes on this part of the trip.