Taking a Saber to Farmer Fizz #Winophiles

Having Some Fun With Grower Champagne
This month, our group of French Winophiles are celebrating the recent ascension of Grower Champagne. I’ve covered Grower Champagnes several times, so today, we decided to have some fun with our bottle of Grower Champagne.  Let’s Saber!

Welcome to our Winophiles Celebration of Grower Champagne, aka “Farmer Fizz”

Saber That Bottle of Champagne
Popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne is a festive occasion.  How much more exciting is it to open that bottle as they did in the French Cavalry back in the time of the widow Clicquot?! It’s surprisingly easy once you know the steps, and mostly safe. The slight risk of a bottle exploding just adds to the fun!  Note: I’m not saying you should saber, you’ll need to make that decision yourself.  It’s just fun. And easy.

7 Step Process To Saber Success
My 7 step process

  1. Well chilled – chill the Champagne and don’t spare the ice.  Make sure you chill the neck of the bottle
  2. Remove foil
  3. Move cage up (bonus points for tying ribbon to the cage, makes it easy to find in the yard)
  4. Find seam – Champagne bottles are molded, there are two seams and they define the weak spot on the neck.
  5. Dull knife – use a dull knife or the backside of a chef’s knife, or something with a little mass
  6. Swing through – NO CHOPPING. You’re not chopping off the top of the bottle, you’re not knocking the cork off.  You’re making a relaxed swing along the neck of the bottle and swinging through the top.
  7. 1,2,3… Note: it is impossible to saber without saying “Wooooo!” when it happens. Try it!

Sabering safety tips
There are a few tips to ensure you have a great sabering experience:

  1. Make sure the bottle is well chilled
  2. NO CHOPPING – a nice smooth stroke along the edge of the bottle
  3. The bottle top and the glass around the cork are incredibly sharp. You can file down the glass around the cork to make it a safe souvenir.  The bottle top – just be careful. All you need to do is brush your thumb along the bottle and you’ll cut your thumb. It will bleed. For a long time. (not deep or dangerous, it just will bleed. I find 2″ gauze and white medical adhesive tape are handy…..)

Julie’s Harrowing Sabering Experience
Sabering is fun, but don’t get complacent. We had a lesson a while back.

Secret Codes: RM and RC
Most Grower Champagne is known by the “code” on the bottle: RM. This code says that the grapes were grown and the Champagne was made on the estate of the grower.  There’s another code you might see: RC. The RC tells us the grower supplied their own grapes, but the wine was made at a cooperative.  The RC code does require more care, as most RC Champagne is simply Coop Champagne. Not bad, but not the output of a single grower.  But it can be! Find an importer you trust, and you may find some great Champagne at a great price.

Look carefully to find the RC designation on the back of the bottle

Champagne F. Cossy
Scott Paul is a small importer of Bourgogne wines and Champagne. He specializes in finding smaller growers who are making great wines at competitive prices. I asked Scott to give a bit of detail about the Cossy Champagnes.

“The RC designation can mean many things. In Sophie’s case, her wines are 100% from her estate vineyards, she personally does the first fermentation in the co-op facility, does the 2nd fermentation in bottle at the co-op facility, then the bottles are stored in her cellar at the estate, then disgorged, dosaged, and corked and capsuled by sophie at the co-op, then finally labeled and packaged at her cellar.

Wines labeled RC can actually be a blend of grapes from all the other growers who sell fruit to the co-op, and the grower may actually have no involvement at all in the vinification. That’s one end of the spectrum, and Sophie’s case is the other. At the Jouy-lès-Reims co-op (of which Sophie is the managing director) there are some 50-60 different growers selling fruit, only 5 or 6 of which are making wine under their own labels from their own fruit. The rest is sold in bulk to the large negociant houses.”

Champagne F. Cossy Brut Eclat

Sophie Cossy’s Brut Eclat has become our “house Champagne”. It’s always delicious, produced by an artisan, and affordable. Win!

Champagne F. Cossy Brut Eclat NV ($32 available in the US via Caveau Selections)
Eye: Clear, pale gold in color with a fine mousse that persists nicely.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Lovely combination of lemon curd, brioche with a chalky mineral streak
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity. Bright, tart acidity balanced by a touch of sweetness. Fine mousse, provides delightful refreshment. The brioche and chalk flavors persist in a medium+ finish.

More Responsible Posts from My Fellow French Winophiles

Join Our French Winophiles As We Sip Grower Champagne!
We’re a friendly group.  Please consider joining the fun as we sip,  and tweet about Grower Champagne.   Join our chat on Twitter at #winophiles from 10-11am CDT on Saturday, August 18th.  

plaque de muselet of F. Cossy Champagne

Comments
19 Responses to “Taking a Saber to Farmer Fizz #Winophiles”
  1. spisark says:

    Nice post! Excellent cautionary advice.

  2. Lynn says:

    Interesting how Sophie Cossy produces her Champagne, doing it all herself but most parts at the coop. She is and isn’t a GC.

    That sabering… you are quite the expert. Under your steps, I especially like numbers 3 and 7!

  3. Lisa Denning says:

    Fun article Jeff! And I hope to find that F. Cossy Champagne soon!

  4. lizbarrett says:

    Love this post! I sabered for the first time on New Year’s Day and you’re right – once you do it, you ALWAYS want to do it! I taught my mom how to do it on her 80th birthday and the whole family went bananas. What a great idea for a post!

  5. Great post Jeff! I did most of this when I tried sabering (Gigi is better at it than I am – maybe it’s because she’s a golfer). Love the tying a ribbon to the muselet thing. Sounds like a wonderful bottle of Champagne!

  6. culinarycam says:

    What a fantastic post, Jeff. Now I think I need a saber! That bottle of Champagne sounds fabulous, too.

  7. lynda p seasly says:

    Love this post Jeff! I especially loved seeing Otto walk in the background:)

  8. I do not think I am brave enough to tackle sabering, but I love watching you do it! Thank you for the step by step to keep people safe when when they try this. I will be searching for the F. Cossy Champagne! Affordable, grower Champagne from a female vigneron has me sold!

  9. Jane says:

    I love your sabering videos! So, if I do get up the nerve I will refer back to your post. I think having a “cool” saber must add to the experience.

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