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Message from Michael, Champagne Education Series Round 2!

Beth Ribblett

A heartfelt “Merci!” to all of you who attended my series of tastings at Swirl last year.  I hope you had even a fraction of the fun and enjoyment that I had spending those evenings with you, exploring the best wine in the world.  And, I hope you’re ready to do it again!  We’ll of course start at the very beginning - a refresher course (with different wines) for those who attended last year, in order to get new tasters up to speed with the complexity of champagne.  As the ongoing exploration of terroir by the champenois vignerons is what makes this a vital, dynamic wine region today, we will take a guided tour of the various sub-regions of the Champagne appellation.  By the end, I hope you will have a deeper understanding of how the climate, soil, and grapes, via the decisions and talents of the winemakers, give rise to the immensely intriguing and satisfying array of wines we call champagne.
-Michael

Each single class is limited to 20 people and will be accompanied by various cheeses and snacks, cost is $45/class.  You can guarantee your spot for all 5 classes and receive a 10% discount by prepaying, cost is $202 and you can do so here or register for the individual sessions:

Advance Payment Champagne Education Series, $202

Individual sessions:

Session 1:  “Champagne 101 v2.0”, February 16, 6:30pm, $45
Champagne is wine first and foremost.  But, it is also the most complex category out there.  Because of this, it is often misunderstood, overlooked, and “relegated” to celebratory occasions rather than being enjoyed on its own merits as a wine.  This overview of the basic styles of champagne will help you understand why this is such a special type of wine, make sense of the complexity of its production and styles, and appreciate why it shouldn’t just be served for special occasions.
  
Session 2: “Cotes des Blancs”, March 15, 6:30 pm, $45
Small but mighty.  Tonight we dive into a relatively compact sub-region within the Champagne appellation, one whose strength and importance is driven almost exclusively by Chardonnay.  The chalk is close to the surface yet goes very deep, and the wines derive a distinct power from this soil.  Even within this, there are differences in the expression of the grape from village to village.  We’ll explore a range of styles, to help you understand the region as well as the different tastes that Chardonnay gives us.  

Session 3: “Montagne de Reims”, May 19, 6:30 pm, $45
Not only will this Montagne redefine what one thinks of as a “mountain”, it will expand your understanding of Pinot Noir, which finds unique, superb expressions here in the heart of Champagne.  Though chalk underlies it all, as in the rest of Champagne, the vineyards face all directions of the compass and the wines accordingly offer varied examples of what is possible within the region.  It isn’t all Pinot Noir, though, and the Chardonnay here provides its own unique flavors.  Your thirst for knowledge will definitely be quenched after you climb the Montagne with us.

Session 4:  “Vallee de la Marne”, June 23, 6:30 pm, $45
An unassuming yet crucial part of Champagne, this is where the unheralded Pinot Meunier flourishes.  The varied landscape and soil types provide a very broad array of flavors and styles.  Though largely removed from the Grand Cru villages of the Cotes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims, the wines are nonetheless delicious and well-made.  It isn’t all Pinot Meunier, however - Chardonnay and Pinot Noir certainly appear, though show different sides in this region.  You’ve been drinking wine comprised in part from this region most any time you’ve opened a bottle from a larger producer.  This tasting will let you separate these wines out and appreciate the role they play in the classic blends of champagne.

Session 5: “The Aube Revolution”, July 14, 6:30 pm, $45
Though it is definitely not the case anymore, the southern reaches of the Champagne region were neglected for a long time.  There were very destructive riots in the early 1900s, staged by the growers from this region, in order to be made part of the official appellation.  This rebellious, independent spirit can still be found in the winemaking today.  Not as bound by the traditions of the rest of the region (yet still within the parameters of champagne production), and benefitting from soil that has more in common with Burgundy (immediately to the south), the winemakers here are exploring terroir and providing us with great new ways to experience what it is possible to produce within the larger appellation.  Pinot Noir does particularly well in these parts and these producers are giving us new ways of looking at its role in champagne.  And, as this tasting falls on Bastille Day, you might even get to see a little sabrage - “off with its head”, indeed.  

Each single class is limited to 20 people and will be accompanied by various cheeses and snacks, cost is $45/class.  You can guarantee your spot for all 5 classes and receive a 10% discount by prepaying, cost is $202 and you can do so here or register for the individual sessions:

Advance Payment Champagne Education Series, $202