- NV Ernest Rapeneau Champagne Brut, Epernay, France ($9.99@Trader Joe’s, California)
We celebrated the solstice yesterday by popping the cap on this bottle. We are in the home stretch of 2022 people, and this bottle (or bottles!) would be good to have in your fridge for several reasons. If you’re like us, there are holiday Mimosas in your future. Not to mention midnight toasts on New Years’ eve. But perhaps most of all, this is a 375ml half bottle, perfect for sharing with a partner. Or two. Ooh, la la!
If you are a long time reader of these posts, you know that we like to keep them light and fun, and to also provide some wine education in the process.
A short history of champagne:
The story of champagne begins over 300 years ago with Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who lived in the Champagne region of France from 1638 to 1715. Dom Pérignon spent 47 years of his life in the Abbey of Saint Pierre, where, among other duties, he worked on improving some of the oldest aspects of champagne-making. The Abbey is located overlooking the beautiful rolling hills of the Marne Valley, an area which is famed for growing champagne grapes. Dom Pérignon dedicated his time to making some of the earliest champagne, and it is from this beginning that champagne became a beloved drink in countries all over the world.
He was known for his skill at blending different wine vintages to bring out the best of their flavours, Dom Pérignon is accredited with perfecting the artform of blending cuvée champagne. Cuvée champagnes are those which have been specially blended, or where the champagne has been chosen from a vat which is of superior quality. He also developed techniques which are essential in the champagne-making process, including a method for keeping grapes skin separate from the juices they produced during pressing, in order to keep the colours from dark red grapes skins out of the liquid so that the end product has a beautiful light straw colour.
Another contribution to champagne made by Dom Pérignon was the creation of the first champagne cork. Previously, champagne bottles had been closed with wood, which did not always fit perfectly. Dom Pérignon’s use of cork as a closure ensured a better fit, so that the tiny bubbles in the champagne would be preserved. Dom Pérignon also made changes to the shape of champagne bottles, using thicker glass to prevent costly and dangerous explosions caused by a build-up of gases within the bottles during transportation. The classic shape and style of today’s champagne bottles are thanks to Dom Pérignon.
The story goes that when Dom Pérignon first created his delicious bubbly champagne, he called out to his fellow monks “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” This quote has been associated with champagne ever since.
Fast forward to 1901, Ernest Rapeneau founded his champagne and wine business in the village of Hautvillers, France. Same basic area as Dom Pérignon farmed centuries earlier.
This particular wine is made from the grapes varieties: 45% Pinot Noir (45%), Pinot Meunier (35%) and Chardonnay 20%. This blend is the same as the Kirkland Signature champagne we featured last week from Costco.
See that wire cage in the photo above. Impress your friends by referring to it by its French name: muselet, pronounced “miz-lay”. A muselet is a wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. It derives its name from the French museler, to muzzle. The muselet often has a metal cap incorporated in the design which may show the drink maker’s emblem. They are normally covered by a metal foil envelope.
Muselets are also known as wirehoods or Champagne wires.
Pours a clear pale yellow colour with a delightful foam. A crisp nose of mineral with hints of brioche,almond and pear. Fresh on the palate, an elegant effervescence and a harmonious melange of citrus, apple and yeasty bread. Dry but with a touch of sweetness. A winner!
We will be back next Thirsty Thursday to give you one last featured wine for 2022. In the interim, Merry Christmas to those who observe. Stay sane, and stay safe.
If you’re headed to Costco soon, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.
And if your shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.