by Ian Blackshaw
We have just received our Spring Newsletter from the Champagne House of Goutorbe-Bouillot, which is a timely reminder that Easter is approaching, and that means it is time for one of our visits to the Champagne region.
There are hundreds of Champagne growers and producers, ranging from the leading Houses, such as Moet et Chandon, to the smaller ones, spread over many villages in the region. So, one is spoilt for choice. Indeed, which Champagne House do you choose? Fortunately, in our case, we had a very useful and, as it turns out, very good introduction to Goutorbe-Bouillot, from our eldest son, whose accountant, when he ran his own business selling shellfish to France, was the niece of the proprietor of this Champagne House. We had sampled and liked their products, and so we visited them a number of years ago and have been visiting and buying from them ever since!
Last year (2011), Goutorbe-Bouillot, who are located in Damery, north of Epernay and on the banks of the Marne, near to Hautvillers, the birthplace of Champagne, where Dom Perignon first elaborated this fine sparkling wine and which is well worth a visit, including the Abbey Church, where the renowned Benedictine monk served as cellar master, celebrated their centenary.
However, it may be noted that, before these two Champagne growing families came together through marriage in 1911, they had already individually been producing Champagne for six previous generations.
Such is the tradition in the Champagne region. And, indeed, the future of this particular House is assured, since the son of the present owners, who had been working in Harrods’ wine department in London for a number of years, recently came back to France to join the family business. Also, as he will be marrying at the end of this month, hopefully, a further generation will be born and will secure the future of the House.
Goutorbe-Bouillot produce a range of Champagnes to suit all tastes, including rose, which is very good and quite fruity. But their best-selling cuvee (blend) is their ‘Carte D’Or’, which they offer as a brut or demi-sec. Retailing at €13,90 a bottle, this Champagne is of a high and consistent quality, made from the classic blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. In my opinion, this Champagne, which is exhibits a fine balance between acidity and fruitiness and is very smooth, represents very good value for money.
Furthermore, if you are not able to visit them yourselves, then they will deliver their Champagnes to you within France, and have kept their transportation costs at the same level as last year (2011). However, if you are able to visit them, you will not be disappointed, as they have a very fine and interesting sampling salon, which includes prints, photos, maps, documents and other artefacts showing how Champagne is made and also illustrating the history of their Champagne House. All very informative.
And, incidentally, they are very generous with their samples and you will also receive a very warm welcome from them, as they are particularly anxious to show off and for you to enjoy their versions of what they call ‘The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines!’