Nicolas Feuillatte has appeared a few times in this blog, but at a recent event I had the chance to taste through a wide range of offerings from the upstart Champagne house — it got its start in 1976 but is no the #1 Champagne merchant in France and the #3 seller in the world — from its non-vintage offerings to an ultra-rare Palmes d’Or dating back to 1998.
The event was emceed by the house’s chief winemaker, Jean-Pierre Vincent, who talked about everything Champenoise for hours. (Did you know: Rose Champagne is made through two methods: contact with red grape skins or blending of white and red wines?)
Here are some thoughts on Feuillatte’s nine wines poured at the event.
Tasting Report: Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes
NV Nicolas Feuillatte Rose Champagne / A- / A blended Champagne, with 20% red wine. Overall mix is 60% Pinot Noir grapes, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay. Pleasant, with a light nose and lightly sweet body. Fresh cherries and floral notes.
2004 Nicolas Feuillatte Rose Vintage Champagne / B+ / Also a blend, slightly darker in color. A bit of woody character, with more fizz and a bolder, richer body, though the fruitiness is restrained and the finish is mild.
2004 Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee 225 Rose Champagne / B- / An experiment: This Champagne uses wine in the blend that has been aged in wood, dulling the fruit with vegetal, tannic character. The effect is to make a fresh wine taste oxidized.
2000 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Rose Champagne / B+ / The top of the line, a wine made pink from skin contact. Yeasty, with distinct Madeira notes. Raisins and prunes on the finish as it fades.
2003 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Rose Champagne / A / A great improvement, although 2003 is thought to be a lesser year for Champagne. A bit darker, but much fresher in aroma, with huge raspberry character that is tempered by those “old wine”/Madeira notes. Sophisticated, with a great balance.
2004 Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Champagne / A- / On to the whites. This classic, all-Chardonnay sparkler is solid, with fresh apple notes. Tart, with lots of minerals.
2003 Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee 225 Champagne / B / The white version of the funky “aged-in-wood” experiment works a bit better than the Rose, but it still comes across as oxidized and funky.
1998 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Champagne / A / A nose full of yeast fades to reveal a pleasant sweetness that’s holding up well. An earthy backbone balances the fruit on the tongue. A classic. I liked this today much more than the last time I reviewed it.