May 11, 2015
It’s an impressive feat to hold bragging rights as France’s
favourite Champagne producer when you’ve only been
in business for 40 years.
Nicolas Feuillatte’s production rolled out 11 million bottles of Champagne last year (2014) and 55 percent of that was sold in France – the rest is exported around the world. As a producer, they have the ability to store a mind-boggling 100-million bottles.
There are 15 different Champagnes in the Nicolas Feuillatte portfolio, the most popular being the classic NV or non-vintage. The premium, Palmes d’Or is their iconic sparkling in the famous dimpled bottle resembles either bubbles or a golf ball - depending on perspective.
Nicolas Feuillatte is a negotiant.
Meaning, they own none of their own vineyards but purchase grapes from roughly 5000 of the 15000+ growers (there are about 100 Champagne houses) in the Champagne region and produce wines from those grapes.
Stylistically, the wines are known for being very fresh with wonderful fruit and floral characters, plus very good mousse (bubbles creating foam when poured) and persistent bead. These energetic strings of tiny beads (bubbles) remain so important to their wines and are due to maintaining constantly cool temperatures during fermentation and subsequent ageing.
I visited the Nicolas Feuillatte tasting room in Paris recently. This small shop, tucked away on a corner of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honré is not open to the public, per se, unless you want to pop in and purchase a special bottle.
There, Guillame Oualle and Jean-Philippe Mayer led me through a small tasting of some of their most popular wines.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, NV is, as expected, the largest portion of production (80%) and as all Champagne houses, it is imperative to maintain consistency and house style in this label. The dosage on this label is 10 grams per litre (residual sugar) and the wine I tasted (current release) is a blend of the 2011, 2010 and 2008.
A blend of mostly Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir with the remainder, Chardonnay. It was aged three years in bottle.
It is pale straw in colour and fresh with a mix of red summer berries, peach skin and golden fruits with wild flowers. It is approachable and fruity on the palate with a small persistent bead. Very tasty - a perfect aperitif!
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay), 2006 – The gold label is a blanc de blancs (white from white grapes) is a rich and delightful wine made from the fantastic 2006 vintage in Champagne. The Chardonnay grapes come from 70 premier cru vineyards of the Cote de Blanc. As expected this wine is richer with some caramel hints, vanilla and brioche/patisserie aromas and honey, which come through on the palate. It was aged for six years
before release and has a dosage of 8 grams per litre
residual sugar so a slightly drier style than the non-vintage.
Creamy with very good persistence.
A wine to pair with creamy dishes, chicken and other white meats or lobster in butter.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose, NV - A blend Pinot Noir (60%) Pinot Meunier 30% and the rest is Chardonnay.
As is typical, it’s a blend method – a small amount (18%) of still wine – Pinot Noir - is added for structure and colour.
It is a method invented by Madam Clicquot – widely used in the production of rose Champagne.
Light ruby colour it offers loads of berry aromas - strawberry raspberry and black currents. It has good structure and a kiss of sweetness at 10 grams per litre. Expect very good acidity and length.
Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut, 2002 - This is their premium Champagne in the recognizable dimpled bottle (it looks either like bubbles or a golf ball - depending on your perspective). Like the other cuvee bottles in the line the unique bottle shape makes them recognizable and is also a solid marketing move to differentiate these wines made from the first pressing. First pressing is the highest quality of juice from the grapes - superior to the second pressing (known as taille), which contains more must/skins and the remaining grape juice.
It has a darker golden hue with a rich, creamy and complex nose layered with nuts and sweet buttery croissant. On the palate, tropical and golden fruits roll across a gorgeous ripe and weighty wine with great acidity. It is very complex (assisted by it’s age and time in bottle) and quite powerful – elegant and finessed. An equal parts blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 99% Grand Cru vineyards – one percent is from Montgueuex, a non-cru vineyard that has special qualities, Nicolas Feuillatte desires in this wine.
This wine is aged a minimum of nine years and the dosage is six grams per litre.
A dosage is added to the wine after it's secondary fermentation and is up to the producer and depends on the style they are trying to acheve.
Below is a guideline to residual sugar in grams per litre.
Extra Brut: less than 6 grams
Brut: less than 12 grams
Extra Dry: between 12 and 17
Sec: between 17 and 32 grams
Demi-sec: between 32 and 50 grams
Doux: 50 grams
~Daenna Van Mulligen