Champagne Day: Pierre Peters Cuvee Reserve Grand Cru
One of the biggest slaps in the face when it comes to cross border wine pricing is the simple reality that you can buy outstanding Champagne in the United States for $40-$60, which brings it down out of the super-luxury category and makes it possible to explore one of the world’s greatest wine regions. The abundance of grower champagne makes this journey even more exciting. Today’s Pierre Peters, which I picked up down in Portland, is one of the best growers for blanc de blancs Champagne.
The Chalky Vineyards of the Cote de Blancs
Peters makes this Champagne from a blend of several Grand Cru vineyards in the Cotes de Blancs, including Oger, Avize, Cramant, and the famous Le Mesnil Sur Oger. While all of these sites offer impressive quality fruit grown in the famous chalk based soils that provide both superb drainage and humidity that allow high quality grapes to grow in such a northerly region, it is Le Mesnil Sur Oger that steals the spotlight.
Les Mesnils sur Oger sits south of the village of Epernay and is one of the greatest Crus in the Cotes de Blancs (and home to Krug’s famous “Clos de Mesnil”). The vineyards here face south to southeast and tend to be located mid-slope, which guarantees good sun exposure, similar to what you’d find in the Cote d’Or. While some fruit from this Cru makes it into the Cuvee Reserve, it is Pierre Peters single vineyard and vintage designated “les Chetillons” Champagne that highlights this special terroir to its fullest. Of course, it is also extremely rare and costs twice as much as this wine!
One of Champagne’s Oldest Growers
Pierre Peters (formerly Camille Peters) was one of the first growers in Champagne to start bottling and selling wine under its own label, with its first vintage being far back in 1919. By 1944 Camille’s son Pierre had taken over and renamed the domaine, which has since increased production by increasing holdings and increased focus on foreign markets, which now comprise 65% of total sales by volume. The Domaine has maintained, and perhaps even improved, quality throughout this period of growth, which improves size is not always inversely correlated with quality.
Made up mostly of wine from the 2007 vintage, this is in fact a blend of 15 different vintages in the classic blending style of Champagne. The nose is exceptionally vivacious and precise, with intense and refreshing minerality dominating the aromas. What makes this Champagne so special, however, is its impressive development across the palate, which proceeds like an inverted hourglass: a precise and focused entry leading into a round, silky and powerful mid palate that allows richer fruit flavours to come through and then ending on a clean, direct and extremely minerally finish as the wine drifts off with incredible focus. As for flavour, I noticed green apple, an almost in-your-face chalky minerality, and stone-laced lemon.
This is palate whetting stuff, goes down way too easily and is the perfect match for tempura, katsu and other fried Japanese foods or anything with sufficient richness to balance out the wine’s acidity. This Champagne is quite an outstanding effort and made with very high quality and ripe fruit, which is particularly impressive for an entry level cuvee. This is amongst my favourite styles of Champagne and I highly recommend buying some if you see it.
$50 at Vinopolis Portland