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February 2023
As the year rolls over, and my birthday arrives, it’s time to review the drinking window of the champagnes now residing in their city wine room. No more trips to the cellar in the Adelaide Hills! At great expense to the management, our wine room is set at twelve degrees, but the argon-filled double glazing helps. What a handsome room it is, and how naughtily tempting to have it so close! Also no cellar stairs….

As you can see from the photo below, I was spoiled for treats this month. The Comtes isn’t really ready to drink yet, but what magnificent structure for ageing! I’ve included it in the photo for its promise. 

The other champagnes are drinking at superlative peaks…. I felt like shedding a tear when the Krug was finished, especially as my dear husband consumed half of it. See further champagne news below.

Kaaren Palmer
Kaaren Palmer Champagne

February 23, 2023


Through its Artémis Domaines wine brand department, the Artémis investment group founded by François Pinault (one of France's richest men - CEO of Kering) has acquired Jacquesson champagne in its entirety. Artémis Domaines is part of the Kering Group which also owns brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves St Laurent. Readers of my page, and book, will know that Jacquesson has long been a favourite because of their unique approach to blending their NV cuvée from the very best that each year has to offer. These days, we have luminaries such as Roederer doing the same thing to delicious effect, and Lanson is about to embark on a similar journey, about which more here.

Image © copyright Lanson Champagne
For those of us who love and respect Jacquesson as it is today, we look past its illustrious historical beginnings (not to mention the invention of the wire cage that covers the cork and its capsule – the muselet) and take heart in the fact that Jean-Hervė Chiquet will remain on the board of directors. Former Krug employee, Jean Garandeau will be the new managing director. We can only trust that we'll still receive all the back label info that makes it easy to include Jacquesson champagnes in educational sessions.
Chiquet brothers of Jacquesson Treats....image © Jacquesson


France Today published a very thoughtful article last December, and the topic will remain current for the foreseeable future. Well-researched and written by Jennifer Ladonne, she sweeps from south to north with an overview of the seasons and how final production is affected by unpredictable weather. Read the piece in full


Apropos of the article above, it would be remiss of me not to mention the sad departure from this life of Erick da Sousa. A pioneer of biodynamics, he leaves his Avize domaine in the hands of his three children. Those who follow champagne group Les Fabulleuses would have met Charlotte.


What a terrific job Gilles Descotes did at Bollinger after the departure of chef de cave, Mathieu Kauffmann. Modest, unassuming, warm and knowledgeable, his diffidence on assuming the chef role was charming, as was his English! But the work fitted him like a glove. So very sorry to hear of his passing. Condolences to the family and the crew at Bolly.


Deutz's energetic CEO, Fabrice Rosset, is retiring. We'll miss his visits to Australia very much. Chef de cave, the highly skilled Michel Davesne, will also retire after he's finished handing over to Caroline Latrive ex Ayala. Those of us who love the freshness of the Ayala blanc de blancs vintages can expect to see a bit of that influence come across with her. Sad for Ayala, good for Deutz.
Moving from Aÿ, it was with a tad more than consternation that we heard that Cyril Brun will leave Charles Heidsieck. Cyril came from Veuve Clicquot, a house with a depth of reserve wines that slotted in well to Charles Heidsieck. We just hope fervently that we don't miss him too much. Listen to Dave Allen MW extolling the virtues of Cyril's NV creation.


The esteemed wine journal, La Revue des Vins de France has selected Champagne Palmer & Cie as the cooperative of the year in its annual awards ceremony in Paris. Noted for its prize-winning cuvées combining freshness and complexity, Champagne Palmer consistently produces wines at or near the top of major wine awards and blind tastings. And it's fitting to be offered as our 'house champagne'. The name in common might be a coincidence! A cooperative 'by invitation' (a winegrower must be invited to join), the group has effectively harnessed vignerons 'from a thousand terroirs' alongside meticulous champagne-making by its skilled staff to find itself the only representative from Champagne at this year's Grand Prix accolades. Chef de cave Xavier Berdin and Managing Director Rémi Vervier accepted the recognition on behalf of all concerned.
The distributor in Australia is J-J (Jean-Jacques) Peyre, founder of Paradox Wines in Queensland


The New York Post unearthed a little known piece about Missouri scientist saving the champagne industry – not to mention the rest of French viticulture! That's right! Charles Valentine Riley was the entomologist who prescribed the provision of American rootstocks for the French vines succumbing to the dreaded phylloxera louse. The French grafted their vines onto the phylloxera-resistant American root stocks, and the French wine industry, including Champagne, slowly recovered click here to read the full and interesting story.


Image above the cork in question...copyright © Kaaren Palmer Champagne

One of January’s wonderful bottles contained such a cork as I have never seen before. Moreover, the bottle had wept some its goodness through the cork and out past the muselet, which had begun to rust. With trepidation, we nosed the champagne in the glass. The bead was excellent, the colour of straw with a golden hue. The contents of the bottle were truly magnificent. We have experienced this wine before, but I can truly say that this was the best example. Intrigued about the cork fault, I asked my friend, Steve Miller, who was with cork supplier Armorim for many years before his retirement.

Although he wasn’t 100% sure without seeing it first hand, his opinion was that the face disc had a 'wormhole' through it (wormhole is a general cork industry terminology for a hole created in the bark on the tree by ants/insects). Basically, that would have affected the  integrity of that disc, thus, leading to it breaking down as per the photos. That face disc may have broken down over time, but equally could have failed when being highly compressed during the corking process.

'I'm tipping,’ wrote Steve, 'that this has allowed for easier penetration of pressurised liquid into the body of the cork  and overall impacted on  structural integrity and ability to seal properly.'
'I'm assuming that the cork body was very hard?’ Steve quizzed. Indeed it was, but with a trusty pair of clean pliers, we were able to remove it to our satisfaction


Pick a magazine or a reviewer – Bettane et Desseauve, Vinum, Le Figaro, La Revue du Vin de France, for example – and you may well find Champagne Veuve Fourny there. Or choose a three-star Michelin restaurant, such as the eponymous Pierre Gagnaire, and you'll find some examples on their wine list. We urge you to head for your nearest supplier to re-try these delicious champagnes whose development I've followed over the years since I included brothers, Emmanuel and Charles in the Next Generation chapter of Champagne – A Tasting Journey. Even then, the champagnes were very good, having been made from grapes from magnificent old vines in Vertus.
Your local suppliers:
De Bortoli - Nick's - The Parade Cellars - Liquor Legends (many outlets)
Also at Prince, CHampagne Gallery, Wine Star, Wine Square, Freo Doctor, Nillumbik, etc.


One bottle of En Valingrain Chardonnay Coteaux Champenois Blanc led to another at Gimlet Restaurant in Melbourne, where an inspired sommelier had placed it on the wine list. From the same terroir as neighbouring Chablis, there it could well be called a 'Monopole', and delicious it is indeed. Ask about it at your local bottle shop – it might help to tell them that it's imported by Ludovic Deloche at Halle Aux Vins.


In alphabetical order, no favourites please, ignore Tyson's non-champagne events and head for his other offerings. Here’s your handy link.

If you’re enticed by Vine and Bubbles ‘ events, including a dinner in Sydney with one of the young guns from Frèrejean Frères, here's your link. Frèrejean Frères come from Champagne stock. They’re young negociants, that is, they buy their fruit and/or juice, and blend their own champagne. Which means that I reserve my judgement until they’ve had some experience.

If the events on offer don’t appeal, or you’re feeling tired, or busy, just chill a bottle and recover your joie de vivre after a single glass.

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Kaaren Palmer

Champagne Editor
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Kaaren Palmer
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