Two Kosher Champagnes I have tried recently – Feb 2022
This post will be quick but I also want to talk about sparkling wines. As I have posted a few times, people think of sparkling wines around either the Jewish New Year or the Gregorian New Year. However, Sparkling wine is great all year round! It is one of the few white wines that you can truly enjoy with a steak! It can literally be enjoyed throughout the meal and is one of the very few wines you can enjoy with a salad made with a vinegar vinaigrette. All great reasons to enjoy Sparkling wines more often! When I am in Israel and I go to a restaurant and I want to enjoy some wine and there is no Netofa or Vitkin I always go for Yarden Sparkling wines and am 100% happy no matter what I am enjoying.
I will not go into all the aspects of Sparkling wines and my feelings about all things Brut Nature/Zero Dosage, etc. You can read all about that and much more, like how Champagne is made here in this long post.
Now, on to the new wines at hand. I tasted two Champagnes over the past few weeks – one from Bonnet-Ponson and one from Barons de Rothschild. To be honest I have not been a fan of previous vintages from Barons de Rothschild. I do not know if it is the Mevushal process or the Champagne itself, but it often feels rushed, short, and lacking much in style. This tasted fresh, alive, and enjoyable, all around. Sadly, Rothschild does not use a disgorgement date like others so there is no easy way to see which batch you may be buying.
That leads me to the new Bonnet-Ponson Champagne, Extra-Brut which is very cool! Now, fear not this is not another Zero Dosage wine, we have all lived that and we can move on. This is a lovely, elegant, and refreshing Champagne that has a very fine attack of mousse, while also being quite citrusy and alive. The mouth is full and long and it is underpinned by lovely minerality and fruit. It is not as weighty as previous vintages but what I love the most is the elegance. Note – the wine is fine but there are fewer bubbles in the glass after a minute or so than I normally like. So, beware that I do not think this wine will last very long.
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
N.V. Bonnet-Ponson Champagne, Extra-Brut, Champagne – Score: 91.5 (QPR: WINNER)
WOW, this is unique, fun, and may well be the perfect balance of what we need in the Champagne kosher market. Look, we have said it over and over, Yarden has the grip on QPR forever until someone removes them from the king of kosher wine bubbles – period! However, as you can see, they are gone from the market, for now. I never place price, availability, or access in a wine quality score, so do not think what I stated affects the score, but in the world of Champagne, this is cool! We have had too many Brut-Nature, Zero-Dosage Champagne wines die on us over the past many years. This Champagne is extra dry, but it still has a sweet dosage, and that should hold it for a few years, I HOPE! Now, to the notes!
The nose on this wine is classic low ABV Champagne, tart citrus, apple, quince, green notes, but now you get to truly enjoy and appreciate the nuance of Champagne, what comes out is the yeast, lovely baked goods, wrapping a bushel of green and yellow stone fruit, floral peony notes, roasted almonds, white pepper, and baked Pear/apple pie. The mouth on this medium-bodied sparkling is layered, tart, acidic, and rich, while not being a beast like Yarden, but far more subtle, a wine geek’s joy, toasted apple, bruised pear, buttered brioche, wrapping Asian pear, with rich saline, great minerality, but what hits you is the tiny mousse bubbles that enrich and enliven the palate, a truly refreshing and joyous mouthful. This is not a wine for those looking for a full-bodied and rich sparkling wine, this is a balanced, well-made, and elegant wine that is mineral-driven, and quite fun! The finish is long, green, tart, and refreshing, with slate, tannin, yeast, and acid lingering long.
Personally, while this wine is a lovely wine it loses its bubbles fairly quickly, so while I love it, I would not hold on to it for too long. Drink until 2024. (tasted February 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 12%)
N.V. Barons de Rothschild Brut Champagne, Champagne (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine is the best one I have had yet with tart and bright fruit notes, citrus, lemongrass, baked apple pie, quince, yeast, and lovely minerality. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine brings to mind freshly baked and then toasted quince brioche with grapefruit, yeasty notes, with a lovely small-mousse mouthfeel, all wrapped in a very nice mineral-based and refreshing approach. The finish is long, tart, refreshing and bright, with slate, rock, and tart fruit lingering long. Nice! Drink now. (tasted February 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 12%)