The Polar Opposite of House Style at Champagne Coessens #winophiles

Does a celebration call for bubbles, or can bubbles create the celebration?!

French Winophiles Look for Unexpected Pleasures in Champagne
This month, our French Winophiles are looking in the dusty corners of Champagne for surprises and unexpected pleasures. Join us as we explore.  Do you have an unexpected pleasure of Champagne? Join our chat on Saturday June 20 on Twitter. Just look for us 10-11am CDT at the #winophiles tag! Take a look farther down in this post for links to all my fellow Winophiles discoveries

A nice Champagne, to be sure. With 4 million bottles produced, you can count on house style and nothing unexpected.

House Style in Champagne
The vast majority of Champagne comes from the twenty-four Grande Marque Houses. Veuve Clicquot, Roederer, Krug are well known examples. These are large wineries producing enormous volumes of Champagne both from grapes they grow themselves and grapes they purchase from local growers in the Champagne region.

Most of the Grand Marque houses have a “house style”, a repeatable set of aromas, flavors, sweetness, delicacy of the mousse (bubbles) their customers can count on. All their Champagnes will reflect that house style to some degree, from their basic non-vintage Brut to their top luxury vintage cuvée.

Grower Champagnes – an Unexpected Pleasure
In the last 20 years or so, some Champagne grapegrowers who once supplied all their grapes to the Grande Marque Houses started to keep their grapes and make their own Champagne, even though it required investment in all the required equipment (and there is a lot). Grower Champagne has an official designation, and in order to qualify, at least 95% of the grapes they use must come from their estate. As these are small land holders, they have neither the capability nor the interest to show a “house style”. Instead, their goal is to show a sense of their land, their grapes and the season.

Note how far away the Aube region (lower right corner) is from the other Champagne regions
Champagne region map courtesy of Comité Champagne (https://www.champagne.fr/en/homepage)

Champagne Coessens
The Coessens family owns a single 5.5 acre plot in the Aube region of Champagne, the far southern tip of the region. This region has historically been the underdog, and was viewed as most useful for simply providing good Pinot Noir grapes to the Grande Marque houses. As Grower Champagnes started to show some success, winegrowers in this region embraced the new freedom and have become some of the most exciting and experimental small producers in Champagne.

Jérôme Coessens took over the reins for the family business in 2003, in 2006 he decided to stop being just a grape growing family and to become a grower producer. Even though their plot is small, they found multiple soil types and also found the grapes produced wines of different character. Rather than blend them, Jérôme decided to keep them separate, to show their differences. Their Millésime bottling comes from their Matière plot within their 5.5 acre L’Argillier vineyard.

3000 bottles from a single sub-plot of the 5.5 acre L’Argillier vineyard, there is sure to be a surprise here.

Champagne Coessens Extra Brut Millésime 2014 ($75 from Caveau Selections or online here)
Eye: Clear medium gold with a fine, persistent mousse
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity aromas of ripe red apple, pear, white peach, apricot. Yeasty notes are prominent with hay, bread dough and butter. Finally, subdued dried apricot and hazelnut.
Mouth: Off-dry (5 g/l dosage) with medium+ flavor intensity, high acidity, medium alcohol, medium+ body and long finish of fruit and nuts. Flavors follow the nose with ripe red apple, pear, white peach and apricot. The yeasty notes are still prominent.
Conclusions: A very good quality wine today, it may reach outstanding if held for longer to allow further development. It has nice fruit, secondary and tertiary aromas, excellent structure and plenty of intensity. While enjoyable now, this wine is suitable for further bottle aging.

One More Unexpected Pleasure
One final unexpected pleasure with Grower Champagne (not just this nice example): open a bottle on a Wednesday evening with whatever you’re having for dinner.  Champagne isn’t just for celebration, Champagne can make the celebration! We enjoyed Champage Coessens with smoked pork shoulder enchiladas.  Maybe not your typical Champagne pairing but it was a delicious combination and a celebration of a summer weekday evening!

Other Posts from Our French Winophiles
Take a look at a few unexpected pleasures of Champagne from my fellow Winophiles:

Comments
19 Responses to “The Polar Opposite of House Style at Champagne Coessens #winophiles”
  1. I’ve had quite a bit of Grower Champagne. I love the better farming often deployed by the growers and the value! Great to see you feature a champagne from the Aube. It doesn’t get enough love!

    • Thanks Martin. One thing I’ve realized is that I have had mostly Grower Champagne and I actually need to spend some time learning the Grande Marque houses!

  2. culinarycam says:

    I love this post…and pairing. I went back and looked at our event posts from August 2018 when we covered Growers Champagne. It’s time to track down another bottle. I might just have to make some enchiladas to go with it. Cheers.

  3. Sounds like a lovely Champagne, love the pairing.

  4. Susannah says:

    Love your post and your pairing. I can feel the bubbles in your glass through your photography.

  5. robincgc says:

    I love grower Champagne! It’s just often hard to come by here in my neighborhood, but thanks to a great new wine shop that’s changing! The video was wonderful (you back yard is so beautifully green!). Your food and plating, as always are spectacular!
    Thank you by the way for the biodynamic insights. I am reading away!

  6. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Oh boy do those pork enchilladas look good! YUM! I’m unfamiliar Champagne Coessens — I will now be on the lookout!

  7. Kat Rene says:

    That’s the beauty of champagne – it can pair beautifully with so many things. And there seems to be more and more attention to Aube these days which I just love.

  8. I love your approach to this prompt by developing the point about house styles and comparing and contrasting them as well as the point that Champagne is worth pairing with food — and not just the expected French cuisine!

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