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Posted: 2019-12-18 12:12:32

Exploring Louis Bouillot’s collection of vintage wines: “Les Millésimés”.

Tasting the vintage cuvées by famous Burgundy house, Louis Bouillot, specialized in crafting fine sparkling wines since 1877, we explore the wonders of being able to taste the vintage variations in Crémants de Bourgogne wines.

About Non-Vintage Sparkling Wines

Most sparkling wines you find at your local wine shop are non-vintage cuvées, meaning that the producers blends wines from different vintages.

This gives them the advantage of making the taste of their wine more consistent over time, as the climate conditions can vary greatly year on year, impacting on the expression of the grapes.

Warmer vintages provide less acidity and riper fruit characters, while colder growing seasons deliver acidic, crisp, and zingy wines.

Blending the new wines with older wines stored at the winery for a few years with those wines called ‘reserve’ wines also allows to deepen the non-vintage cuvées with wines that are softer and often more complex after some time maturing in the winery’s cellar.

There is nothing wrong with non-vintage cuvées. More than any other wine, they use the art of blending sparkling wines to a level of craftmanship that is not often found with still wines. Still…

Why bother with and what are vintage sparkling wines?

However, next to their non-vintage wines which carry the house style and the pride of most sparkling wine makers, most quality sparkling wine producers make smaller quantities of vintage cuvées.

Those are generally given the best chances to convince careful tasters of the skills in crafting outstanding wine any given House may have.

Vintage cuvées are the expression of the growing conditions the grapes endure in any given year.

Winery select some of their finest vineyards and blend them to express the best possible harmony a vintage could deliver within their own house style.

Much like with still wines, vintage cuvées give access to the genuine expression of grapes and vintages.

Of course, you may therefore encounter more variations between one bottle and another from a vintage cuvée over time.

While some find this disconcerting or annoying, a careful wine taster will enjoy observing, tasting and experiencing how every vintage is slightly different in its expression to another.

Vintage sparkling wines are a little more advanced and demanding in terms of wine tasting abilities because you need to be able to taste those subtle differences.

But once you get to feel the vintage variations, it opens up a whole new level of appreciation for sparkling wine….

Éminent et Grand Éminent Crémants: The Elite of French Sparkling Wine

Since 2016, some producers of Crémants de Bourgogne including louis Bouillot have upped their game and created a new stamp of quality for their best sparkling wines in the form of the designation Eminent and Grand Eminent.

To claim the designation of Eminent and Grand Eminent, wineries have to obey stricter production rules for their Crémants de Bourgogne AOC sparkling wines. Only the first pressings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay must be used and only Brut dosage be applied.

More importantly, these wines have to go through a much longer period of ageing on lees in the bottle (‘sur latte’) to refine the wine’s texture, smoothen the bubbles and deepen the sparkling’s flavor profiles.

Eminent wines must be aged for a minimum of 24 months on lees in the bottle, while the Grand Eminent must rest for no less than 36 months before disgorging.

Beyond the greater grape selection and the more premium winemaking techniques used, to guarantee the higher quality of these wines, all Eminent and Grand Eminent are tasted blind and approved by an independent panel of tasters, namely the union des Producteurs-Elaborateurs de Crémant de Bourgogne together with the école d’ingénieur AgroSup-Dijon.

Eminent and Grand Eminent are the new spearhead towards the greater recognition of the French Crémants de Bourgogne on the international stage.

Louis Bouillot’s vintage cuvées have been awarded the Eminent and Grand Eminent mentions, proof of their premium level of quality.

The revealing influence of vintage on sparkling wines

Watch how the influence of vintage on sparkling wines unfolds as I taste vertical series of 6 Crémants of Premium and Prestige cuvées by famous Louis Bouilot Burgundy house in the video below:

Learn about the influence of grapes for making sparkling wines

In a previous video I made, we looked into the influence of the different grapes used for making sparkling wines (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for example) over the taste and the flavors of fine bubblies.

You can learn everything about it watching the video below:

A Word on Crémants de Bourgogne, Fine Burgundy Sparkling Wines

It is not very well-known outside of France, but Burgundy, arguably the region in France that produces the finest of all wines, and yes, one of the most prestigious of all wine regions in the world, well,  beyond the illustrious still Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, Burgundy also produces very fine sparkling wines using those same grape varieties and using the méthode traditionnelle, or traditional method of fermenting the wines in the bottle and ageing on lees, that same winemaking process as is used in Champagne which is the best way to produce fine and refined bubblies.

In Burgundy, those wines come under the name of Crémants de Bourgogne, or Burgundy Crémants.

Wine Reviews of Louis Bouillot’s Vintage Crémants de Bourgogne

2016 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare’ Éminent Brut Grand Millésime Crémants de Bourgogne

Score: 91+/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: Perle Rare 2016 is about the harmonious complementarity of the four emblematic varietals of the Bourgogne region, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aligoté, and Gamay, combined with the power born from rich terroirs on the Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Châtillonnais, Couchois, Mâconnais, and the Beaujolais. Ageing of a minimum of 24 months brings out the very best in this rare, fruity, and indulgent vintage cuvée.

Perle Rare is an Eminent Crémants aged for a minimum of 24 months on lees in its bottle.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

With a bright and shiny lemon-yellow color featuring youthful green hues, Perla Rare 2016 boasts very delicate aromas of fresh lemon, limoncello, green mango and elegant notes of paddock blossoms. Touches of brioche and subtle sweet spices deepen the aromatic profile.

This dry sparkling is crisp and vibrant, the acidity bringing in citric tension that underlines and empowers the powerful lime and lemon flavors. The balance is achieved thanks to the smooth and fine bubbles while a rich oily texture coats your palate pleasantly.

Sweet spices explode to the finish paired with buttery toasted hazelnut tones for a very satisfying, rather powerful and elegant long-lasting tasting impression. A very fine, zingy and youthful sparkling wine with depth and layers of refined complexity.

2015 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare’ Eminent Brut Grand Millésime Crémants de Bourgogne

Score: 91/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: Perle Rare 2015 is a powerful and harmonious Crémant de Bourgogne. It brings out the best of a blend of the four classic Burgundy varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aligoté, and Gamay. Only made in the best vintages, this exceptional 2015 cuvée is already highly-anticipated. It is part of the prestigious club of Crémants de Bourgogne wines that bear the Éminent denomination.

Perle Rare is an Eminent Crémants aged for a minimum of 24 months on lees in its bottle.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

The 2015 vintage of Perle rare features a bright color filled with rich hues of gold.

Its aromatic profile it rich and nutty, ripe apricot and rich mango dominate the nose while subtle notes of wax, acacia honey and subtle coconut make for an opulent impression to the smell.

The richness and opulence of the warm 2015 vintage shines through the powerful notes of ripe stonefruit, apricot and mongo while the clear citrus notes are here slightly jammy and sweet-tasting. The wine is still crisp and vibrant, refreshing and zingy, but its flavor intensity filled with rich and generous ripe fruits combined with sweet vanilla and coconut tones make for an opulent, explosive and concentrated, comforting tasting impression.

2014 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare’ Eminent Brut Grand Millésime Crémants de Bourgogne

Score: 92+/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: Perle Rare 2014 is an elegant, powerful, and harmonious Crémant de Bourgogne. It is an alliance of four varietals; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Aligoté. This vintage cuvée takes the very best of each terroir in Burgundy. Full of charm and extremely delicate, this wine is perfectly suited to festive meals. Made exclusively in years that promise an exceptional cuvée, the 2014 vintage was highly anticipated, after the elegant and rich 2012 vintage.

Perle Rare is an Eminent Crémants aged for a minimum of 24 months on lees in its bottle.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

The shiny lemon-yellow color of this 2014 vintage is both filled with delicate green hues and some golden ones indicating its relative freshness with subtle signs of evolution. The aromatic profile is here more evolved, dominated by elegant notes of honey and beeswax while the apricot and lemon tones remain discrete yet well present and satisfying to smell at.

This is a very balanced vintage torn between two clear facets.

The crispiness of a sharp acidity on the one hand, counter-balanced by richness of smooth bubbles and an oily texture that are each fighting for your attention. The whole however feels harmonious and very lively.

Every second of the tasting results in a different sensation while the different elements of the texture react with your taste buds.

Meanwhile, gorgeous tropical fruits, cumquat and orange, the ripe and lemon and always the clear apricot flavors delight with their layered fruity freshness. The waxy signs of evolution are in fact very discrete to the palate, simple adding a spicy serenity and depth to the background, amplifying the spiciness of the finish too.

Perhaps the longest and the most attractive of the 3 vintages of Perle Rare tasted here, from the depth and length it’s acquired through its longer ageing.

2014 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Or’ Grand Eminent Brut Millésimé Crémants de Bourgogne

Score: 92+/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: 2014: This was a harmonious vintage, resulting in a wine with long ageing potential. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in the purest tradition of great Crémant de Bourgogne wines, Perle d’Or 2014 enjoyed exceptional ageing in oak barrels, followed by three years on laths. With delicate fruit and a broad mouthfeel, it is complex and sustained with lovely balance, the mark of this outstanding cuvée.

Perle d’Or is a Grand Eminent Crémants aged for a minimum of 36 months on lees in its bottle.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

With a bright yellow color filled with intense hues of gold, 2014 Perle d’Or features powerful notes of macadamia nuts, hazelnut and lemon curd. It’s nutty then for sure, predominantly but also citrusy, delicately waxy with plenty of orange-blossoms and honey. A very elegant aromatic profile split between the creamy nuttiness and an outstanding abundance of floral characters.

The creamy Chardonnay seems to dominate the palate.

It’s vibrant and acidic, fresh and zingy with tension and citric acidity that underlines the ripe lemon flavors. Yet smooth bubbles and a very oily texture coat your palate with a rich and oily texture.

Never heavy, it still tastes ample and ripe like a very concentrated Chardonnay, without the stickiness. Light yet extremely present and powerful on your palate, this is a very lively and complex sparkling wine featuring an immense concentration and excellent balance.

2012 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Or’ Brut Millésimé Crémants de Bourgogne

Score: 94/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: Our Perles d’Or wines are only produced in exceptional years. 2012, a rich and complex vintage, is a perfect illustration of this. For more than six years, this wine has patiently refined its style before releasing its ebullience. This carefully-crafted blend has resulted in a great Crémant de Bourgogne, harmonious and with true personality. Some suggested Burgundian food pairings: Snail gougères, œufs en meurette with Perle d’Or, blackcurrant and red berry puff with vanilla cream.

Perle d’Or is a Grand Eminent Crémants aged for a minimum of 36 months on lees in its bottle.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

The color of this 2012 Perle d’or looks still very vibrant and shiny, a bright lemon-yellow with delicate hues of gold, no signs a marked evolution despite the 7 years of age of this bubbly!

The nose is dominated but notes of toast and butter, toasted bread for sure with toasted hazelnuts and vanilla. It smells generous and rich yet mostly nutty.

The palate is where the magic happens here.

While every other sparkling wine in all the other vintages and wines tasted here seem to have a dominant feature, there is no obvious dominant trait here.

Every aspect of it seems to be interacting with your senses in a seamless coordination with the others. A vibrant acidity bursts with generous ripe citrus notes, lemon liqueur and zingy grapefruit. This zingy freshness though is perfectly integrated with a generous texture of smooth bubbles, a perfectly-balanced oily body, and delicate phenolics that make you salivate, adding a touch of savory bitterness that extremely satisfying.

Long and layered, citrusy and creamy, buttery and spicy, peary and tropical, waxy and subtle oaky. There’s an awful lot going on here, with marked concentration and rich opulence.

Perl d’Or here tastes remarkably light and aerial. Pretty much seamless a tasting experience. For me, the mark of great sparkling wines. This certainly is one here in 2012 Perle d’Or. If only, it might appear just a tiny bit too oaky to some.

2014 Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Or’ Brut Millésimé Crémants de Bourgogne Rosé

Score: 91+/100 points

 

Notes from the Winery: Perle d’Or Rosé is an exceptional Crémant de Bourgogne, which is only made in the best years.With this rare cuvée created from the 2014 harvest, we can discover the astonishing metamorphosis of a fruity rosé into a crisp pink sparkling wine that promises fine keeping potential. This wine like no other is a rosé approaching its peak, vinous and silky, the blossoming of more than two years’ ageing, with a small proportion in old oak barrels.

Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions

With a salmon pink color filled with orange hues and a solid intensity, Perle d’Or Crémant rosé bursts with notes of confit orange, quince, pineapple and fresh mango to the nose. The richness of the fruit character is what strikes, how sweetly-scented the citrus aromas are. Everything seems to be coated in sweet candy even though the smell shines with some herbal bitters too. Powerful and intriguing to smell at.

This is a rather dry rosé, with salivating phenolics that do bring in some bitterness to the flavors. It’s quite astringent and very vibrantly acidic on a very dry backbone.

Flavors of dried herbs marry plethora of citrus, the fresh pink grapefruit, the lime and the candied orange. Brioche, butter, sweet spices, this is a multi-faceted rosé all about the variety of sensations it delivers. Your taste buds go from bitterness, to fruity sweetness, sharp acidity to oily roundness, tannic astringency to pleasing warmness of raisin-like traits.

Very complex, it is a roller-coaster of a tasting experience, that calls for the right food-pairing that would undoubtedly put it all together. This is a wine for food, and it will certainly make a fantastic partner to refined gastronomic food dishes, delicate entrées or fresh or creamy seafood dishes in Michelin-starred-like type of restaurant. Sophisticated, concentrated and complex, altogether spicy, vinous and spicy…

Learn more about the producing winery and all Louis Bouillot wines on louis-bouillot.com

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