There is an organization in Champagne which a number of great producers in the Champagne region belong to. This so called “special club” which is officially referred to as ‘The Trésors de Champagne Club’ is an elite group of 27 récoltant manipulants or R.M.s as they are known in the industry. Récoltant manipulants in plain English are grower producers. This means that they both own the vineyards where their grapes are grown and also own and operate the property and facilities at which the Champagne is produced. This is much rarer than one might think, as it is common practice in Champagne to both buy fruit from independently owned vineyards as well as outsourcing the production itself. The result of buying fruit from various vineyards throughout the Champagne region is that while one can produce a consistent product year after year the wines lack a true sense of place.
In contrast, the R.M.s are producing Champagnes that truly show that sense of place. Beyond the fact that the wines must be produced by R.M.s they must also adhere to several more stringent qualifications. When one of these producers decides to create a special club bottling, they must first present the base still wine to the committee and if it is approved they are then allowed to put that still wine into the special club bottle and induce secondary fermentation. The wine must then be aged for a minimum of 3 years and then re-tasted by the committee. It is only at this point that it may bear the name and label of “Special Club.” These Champagnes are only made in very special vintages when the producers and the committee agree that the Champagnes are of a certain quality. The idea is that these wines will truly represent the very best of the regions from which they come. We are currently fortunate enough to have two of these beautiful Champagnes in stock. They are the Paul Bara Special Club 2004 & the Vazart-Coquart Special Club 2005.
Paul Bara Special Club 2004 ($79.99) – Blanc de Noirs 100% Grand Cru – This beautiful Blanc de Noirs is a perfect showcase for the Pinot Noir coming 100% from Paul Bara’s Grand Cru vineyards in the village of Bouzy. It entrances the eyes with its beautiful straw-gold color and fine bead which release beautiful notes of yeast and freshly baked bread following on the palate with a surprising amount of orchard fruit and even a touch of holiday baking spices.
Vazart-Coquart Special Club 2005 ($79.99) – Blanc de Blancs 100% Grand Cru – This Special Club Champagne is made from Vazart-Coquart’s 100% Grand Cru vineyards in the village of Chouilly. In contrast with the Paul Bara’s Blanc de Noirs this Blanc de Blancs is made 100% from Chardonnay grapes. This stunning Champagne is produced in a richer style with notes of brioche on the nose followed by an almost creamy palate which will certainly appeal to those looking for a richer style of champagne. While certainly accessible now it will continue to improve over the next five years.
It’s not too early to consider which Champagne you’d like to pop for the up-coming holidays, and these are both excellent choices.
Bill A., Beltramo’s Assistant Manager