I can never get tired of Champagne. Not only is it a divine drink, but also something, which constantly are able to challenge my own palate. Whenever asked about “what’s your favourite Champagne producer?” I can’t give a name or a clear answer. Fact is, that I have several favourites and it’s not always about “best” in terms of big and complex, but also occasion, food, weather and my own mood. If you have read some of the previous post on this blog, you should know what I am talking about.
However if I should pin point a recent preference it would be that I am more and more drawn to Champagne, which reflects ultra clear flavours, soil tension and energy. I like nature’s brutality more than a wine making style. But already here I find myself in a grey area, because I can find endless days, where a wine making styled Champagne with velvet coated oak sweetness can make me smile and fulfil my needs.
When I first tasted the 2006 Blanc de Noir from barrel with Olivier Collin I was overly ecstatic about it. Since then – this previous soil preference has set it and I have found this Champagne a bit extreme. Recently some friends have chimed in with positive reports on this Champagne so I thought it was time to revisit.
2006 Ulysse Collin “BdN”
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Terroir: Chalk mixed with heavy clay
Vineyard: Les Maillons in the village of Barbonne-Fayel
Vines: Planted in 1971
Dosage: 2,4 g/l
Alcohol: Picked @ 12,2% finished @ 13,6% after the second fermentation
Other: The ’06 are the debut release for this Champagne
Glass: Spiegelau Adina red wine/water goblet + Adina Burgundy
Source for details are: Champagneguide.net
I have to mention the colour, which is truly amazing (I will have an image next time I taste it). It’s nearly a rosé, but with a dimmed saturation. Olivier kept some the natural colour, which was a result after the pressing and it just tells you that the Champagne is picked from really ripe grapes.
Well it’s certainly better than it were just upon it’s release. Back then a really troublesome note of ginger and bitter alcoholic notes spread like a disease all over the Champagne. It brought flashbacks to the Viognier grape and especially some of these very alcoholic driven Condrieu cuvées.
The first pour (besides that colour) wasn’t a treat either – or was it? Well…it’s certainly a Champagne which will pull down your pants, knocks you backwards invite you to a tongue kiss, if you’re in such mood. If you fancy some foreplay you have to sit it down and serve some food. I had a good friend stopping by – so I served a simple selection of duck pâté, salted almonds, pata negra and comté cheese. It made a huge difference and turned down the volume of notes dominated by; caramelized honey, apple pie, burned butter, vanilla, quince and plums. It’s extremely concentrated, both on the nose and palate, but the food prevents it from this slight alcoholic burn on the last meters. It’s also pretty complex - a real “sniffer and you can actually find a lot of layers. Yet very few of these are coming from a natural soil element, as I see it. This is more about wine making than a strong terroir orinated Champagne. I rested one third of the bottle, which I had two days later, where it had transformed almost into a dessert wine, with a fair amount of brown sugar and cinnamon notes
Overall it’s not something I am hugely in love with, but I can easily see myself serving this Champagne as the last Champagne of the night with a selection of cheeses. If to serve it like it did - with snacks, it will not be that successful if you intend to continue with more Champagne…if so they have to be equal in density and I can think of only Selosse or Krug to match such concentration.
Note: The subsequent releases of the BdN (it’s now labelled as “Les Maillons”) are made in a more conservative style.