It is mid-October and we are spending a mid-week in northern France with the family. To be more specific, we’re staying in the the Davey Crockett Lodge about 10 minutes drive away from Disneyland Paris. The playful set-up of the ‘log cabins’ dotted around the woodlands take you away from the hustle and bustle of the parks itself and is a great alternative for families who want to go self-catering. Having a car with you is an absolute necessity, but taking the car is no punishment when you realise the other ‘big attraction’ on the doorstep; the city of Reims, heart of the Champagne region.
A few of us adults took an afternoon out of the frantic pace that is Disneyland and lavished in an altogether more sedate pace of talking and tasting ‘Champagne’.
The set for the afternoon was the medium-sized house of Henriot and our lovely host, Béatrice made us feel instantly welcome. She talked through the intricacies of the house and its history (unsurprisingly this involves a widow, a given in Champagne it seems) and she introduced us to three of the Champagnes. First up was the Henriot Rosé Brut, an unbelievably soft and elegant wine. The dosage is a bit higher than with the whites at around 10 grams per litre but it accentuates the strawberry fruitiness and balsamic notes.
Next up was the Henriot Brut Souverain. This is an almost 50/50 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Henriot tends to use very little or no Pinot Meunier, preferring the more slowly maturing Pinot Noir instead. The wine is fresh and lemony, yet creamy, very mineral, making it pure and clean. But it has richness all the same.
The final wine in the trio was the Henriot Blanc de Blancs. As the name indicates this is 100% Chardonnay. The four years of maturation give it a rich complex nose that’s at once floral and honeyed. Toasted brioche with honey is what sprang to mind for me. The palate is lively and is showing a sweet fruitiness reminiscent of quince jelly. This has to be one of my favourite Blanc de Blancs wines. Before serving us the Blanc de Blancs Béatrice decanted the bottle into a chilled, smooth decanter, a first for me. It may have been pure suggestion but the Champagne seemed very happy.
Béatrice then suggested we go down into the cellars for a tour and had a treat in store once we were down there. A bottle of the Henriot ’98 vintage was waiting for us there and this is where taking the car became punishment for me, the driver, as I had to severely limit myself, while the others enjoyed the experience. Well, someone has to.