I have a real tug-of-love writing my top five Autumn champagnes. Because I am from sunny Queensland, I live near the beach, workout outdoors every day at 5am, and just LOVE summer, Autumn makes me a bit sad. I really don’t look forward to running and training in the dark and the cold…. OK so we never really get cold for long but anything below 20 degrees is cold to me!
But what I do look forward to – as a self-confessed pinot-champagne lover – is that the change of season also heralds a change of champagne season.
So while it’s spring for me now, in the northern hemisphere it’s Autumn and you can start to leave the blanc de blancs and chardonnay-led champs in the wine fridge until Spring and start to pull out the pinot-heavy, oaky, reserve winey champagnes I just LOVE because…
Autumn is time to pinot-up and let reserve wines rule!
And so, here are my top five Autumn champagnes (2021) but for more inspo, check out my list from 2018.
My top five Autumn champagnes (2021)
Champagne Brimoncourt Extra Brut
I have tasted all the champagnes from the Champagne Brimoncourt range and the Extra Brut is my favourite.
The house of Brimoncourt is quite young… it was re-born in 2008 by Alexandre Cornot, a former lawyer and art collector who almost accidentally started a champagne house (read more here).
Why I like the Brimoncourt Extra Brut for an Autumn champagne is that it’s 80% Pinot noir and 20% Chardonnay and extra brut at 2g/l. So it’s led by full flavours of pinot noir but you still feel the chardonnay’s presence with hits of citrus and white flowers, which is a perfect fit for a mixed season of cooler nights and warmer days.
The wine is made from grapes from six villages, all classified as Grand Cru (Aÿ, Ambonnay, Bouzy, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cramant) giving this champagne a superior edge. The low sugar lets the Grand Cru grape selection speak for themselves.
If you need it in a hurry you can get Champagne Brimoncourt Extra Brut from Vintage Cellars for $109.99 (but you may need to travel – they only stock it in special stores). Or order it online at Emperor Champagne for $94.99.
Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut, Extra Old
This a relatively new offering from Veuve Clicquot. I am a big fan of the Yellow Label, which is a high-pinot blend but it also has a lot of chardonnay (50-55% pinot noir, 28-33% chardonnay and 15-20% pinot meunier) so it retains a freshness that makes it the perfect champagne for the sunny Aussie Spring or Summer climate (even the label looks like sunshine!).
But the Extra Brut, Extra Old is perfect for Autumn.
The blend for the Extra Brut, Extra Old is the same as it is for the Yellow Label… (50-55% pinot noir, 28-33% chardonnay and 15-20% pinot meunier) but what is different and puts it on my Autumn list is…
- Use of reserve wines and
Extra Brut, Extra Old is a 100% reserve wine blend from six specially selected years – 1988, 1996, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Yellow Label blend draws on quite a high percentage of reserve wines for a NV (a bit of a hallmark for VC), usually originating from about 5 or 6 harvests and anywhere from 25 to 35% (or sometimes as much as 40%) reserve wines. The Yellow Label release that was current when the Extra Brut, Extra Old was first released and I tasted it was a base year of 2013 making up about 52% of the blend with 48% reserve wines from 2012, ’11, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07 and ’99. So you can see how young that blend is compared to the Extra Old.
The dosage in the Extra Brut, Extra Old is 3g/l compared to 10g/l in the Yellow Label, and again the lower sugar results in sharing the Yellow Label’s “complexity and cleanness, richness and freshness, brought into an even clearer relief.”
I actually did my first ever video tasting for the Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut, Extra Old… what a walk down memory lane! Check it out below!
Get your Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut, Extra Old from Vintage Cellars for $133.32 (why the weird prices LOL??)
Olivier Horiot Métisse Noirs & Blancs
Time to sound champagne geek alarm!
WOW… this is a fascinating champagne from Olivier Horiot. It is one of those champagnes you are better off knowing a thing or two about before you try it. And probably not a drop for champagne rookies, but if you’re looking to upgrade from champagne fan to rock-star status, and you want to start trying wines like this to challenge yourself and blow your mind a bit, this is a good one!
Because it’s not what most people expect from champagne… in a really, really, really good way!) The wine maker, Olivier Horiot, originally made Rosé des Riceys (a still rosé wine from Les Riceys in Côte des Bar – there’s a blog post about Les Riceys here). In fact he is a legend at making Rosé des Riceys and has recently started making champagne too.
This gets on the Autumn champs list because it’s 80% Pinot noir and 20% Pinot blanc. That’s not a typo – I meant pinot blanc. There are actually seven grapes that can be used to make champagne, but I’d say 99.9% of champagnes are made with three (read more here). Olivier Horiot actually uses all seven grapes… just not in every champs! Being from the Côte des Bar, the terroir is not chalky but more clay so that’s the second thing that sets this champagne apart. This champs is 2 g/l and very low sulphur and when I first smelt this, I got a lot of fruit. Super-ripe fruit.. like I was standing in an orchard near a pile of fallen fruit… but it settled way down after the first glass. Too much for the summer heat, but on a quiet and cool night in during Autumn, this champagne will make a fascinating date!
Cool, edgy champagne making. Good luck getting your hands on it.. at the moment Emperor has it in stock now for $94.99 but that could change any day!
Bollinger 2006 Vintage Rosé
A lot of the time rosé champagnes are seen as soft and light and pretty and easy drinking, and I love them in their time and place! But this is NOT one of those rosés. This is warm and robust and full of flavour.
And classic Bollinger style. Pinot dominant… 72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay with a tiny 7% blended red wine and teensy 6 g/l dosage.
All the grapes come from nine specific Crus – 84% Grands Crus and 16% Premiers Crus – and are fermented entirely in barrels and – wait for it – cellar aged for more than 10 years.
When I first tried this wine I noticed rich fruits and flowers.
Bollinger is far more specific and note…
Subtle aromas that open with warm tobacco, chocolate, mocha and roasted coffee notes. This is followed by the fragrance of dried flowers and peony, and finally dried fruit and fruit compote notes, especially quince.
A fullness that strengthens the density of the wine, mature aromas, fruit jellies and honey. A great deal of length on the palate and a wonderfully fresh finish with notes of blood orange and mandarin peel.
From Champagne Gallery for $190. (I don’t know what I like more, the box it comes in or the wine itself.)
Vilmart & Cie Cuvée Rubis Premier Cru Brut Rosé
And last, but certainly not least, is another strong rosé. The Bollinger is a big blend at 72% pinot noir, but the Cuvée Rubis rosé from Vilmart & Cie is 90% pinot noir, and 10% chardonnay with about 15% blended red wine. Vilmart & Cie is a small grower in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne, and I visited for a tasting in June 2018.
(Read here about my visits in Rilly-la-Montagne while I stayed in Domaine Du Chalet, in the next village over).
I picked the Cuvée Rubis for the Autumn champagne list because of its powerful red wine blend which produces a stunning and intense attack of red fruits, including cherries, and a real sense of spices. The cherries and spice really warm this rosé up and lifts it from standard summer fare to something more. But the lingering lift from the chardonnay, where I picked out pink grapefruit and some peaches, balances it so it’s not overpowering. The house calls this cuvée a tribute to greediness. I certainly wanted more when I tried it so I think they are on to something.
Other tech deets… ten months in large oak casks, no malolactic fermentation and dosage is 9 g/l.
You can order Cuvée Rubis online from Emperor for $129.
Testing out these champagnes should keep you busy for the next three months (and don’t forget to check out my 2018 Autumn champs list too here – they will all still go well this Autumn.
If you do bring out any of these over the next few months, don’t forget to tag @bubbleandflute on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #happychamper in your Autumn champagne shenanigans!
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