Everything Gourmet

It’s Champagne Time with the House of Charpentier

The Champagne Charpentier vineyard in autumn. Photo Champagne Charpentier. Charly-sur-Marne. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

This is a champagne for connasseurs, champagne that has been carefully curated by the Maison Charpentier, a house that brings out complex champagnes, champagnes for a simple champagne time, but, too, for drinking throughout a meal. These champagnes are of a certain purity, each tasting of the work of an author behind it. This author is Jean-Marc Charpentier, the eighth generation of the family to grow and manipulate the grapes and to transform them into great champagnes. One of the house’s signature collections is called Terre d’Emotion, which perhaps can be translated as the good territory of emotion. While the entire range of Terre d’Emotion should be discovered as soon as possible, the Blanc de Blancs was a particular standout fashioned from 100% Chardonnay grapes and aged on lattes for 60 months, adding a certain complexity to its extra brut effervescence.

The Champagne Charpentier vineyard in spring. Photo Champagne Charpentier. Charly-sur-Marne. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The champagnes of Charpentier also proved to be excellent for pairings during a multi-course meal. A recent success was played out at EnYaa, a gastronomic Japanese restaurant in Paris specialized in the cuisine of the region of Kyoto, artfully mastered by the house’s chef Daisuke Endo. The seven-course meal was enhanced by Charpentier champagnes. All were memorable but highlights included the oyster served in a broth of poultry and champagne and served with the Blanc de Blancs, the sea bream sashimi with turnip and a host of secret spices and served with the Pinot Meunier zero dosage (more on that later in the article). The mixture of textures in the sweetbread tempura was brought out with the Terre d’Emotion Rosé while the choice of champagne for the memorable mackerel sashimi was left up to the diner. The Gourmet Gazette went without regrets back to the Blanc de Blancs.

The house of Charpentier and its old historic vineyards are located in Charly-sur-Marne in the Marne Valley where all three of the traditional champagne-making grape varieties are grown: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot-Noir. The Charpentier vineyard is planted on hillside slopes and as is atypical for the region is planted in 45 % Chardonnay (the Marne Valley is known for its Pinot Meunier), complemented by the other two leading Champagne country grape varieties and Jean-Marc is currently converting the vineyard into organic agriculture. This is a vineyard that has been carefully handed down through eight generations. It all began back in 1855 with Prosper.

The lush vegetation in the vineyard of Champagne Charpentier vineyard. Photo Champagne Charpentier. Charly-sur-Marne. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The Maison Charpentier offers a collection of Tradition champagnes as well, representing the quintessence of the good earth of the Marne Valley and its rich tradition of Pinot Meunier vine plants. The house of Charpentier has brought out a remarkable 100% Pinot Meunier zero dosage champagne with the grapes emanating from the Les Chauffours parcel of their vineyard, a vineyard that was planted in 1962. Dosage is the last step before final corking and involves the addition of a small quantity of liqueur de dosage which contains a certain quantity of sugar per liter. The zero dosage version means that less than three grams of sugar per liter is found in the liqueur rendering the champagne exceptionally, and for those who like it this way, delightfully dry. The champagne is made solely from grapes from the 2017 harvest , a particularly difficult, yet rare harvest in which only 50 percent of the grapes were retained, and it has been brought out in limited edition of just 3,508 bottles.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

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