Vintages from this highly respected Champagne House are now available in the UK. Peter Morrell reports
Founded in Ville-sur-Arce in 1956 by five pioneers, the Chassenay d’Arce House now counts some 130 families and three generations of winemakers producing Champagne. The original operations continue with the same spirit of cooperation, solidarity, and knowledge sharing.
The Chassenay d’Arce wine region covers 315 hectares and 12 villages in the heart of the Côte des Bar, along the Arce River. The region is shaped by a unique landscape alternating between vineyards and forests, it is also characterized by a diverse variety of grapes and by the integrated cultivation that is practised.
The spirit of the Chassenay d’Arce House is a combination of a family spirit, the spirit of the terroir and the high standards shared by the winemakers to ensure that only champagnes of the greatest quality are produced
The Côte des Bar
Chassenay d’Arce champagnes are an expression of the specific terroir of the Côte des Bar and its Kimmeridgian soil that was once covered by the sea. As the seasons pass, the vine trunks grow, the clusters take on colour and the vintages are developed.
The Arce Valley is located at the southern end of Champagne, close to Burgundy. The mild climate, the grapevines’ exposure, and the types of soils (here, the roots of the vine stock dig into the stony marl) allow the fruit to be harvested at full maturity towards the end of summer.
The dominant varieties in this region are Pinot Noir. Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc. This diversity allows wines to be produced with a wide array of personalities.
I have recently tasted two of the champagnes produced by Chassenay d’Arce and they were both excellent. The first was the Pinot Blanc 2012 Extra Brut. This was an extremely interesting champagne as is made purely with the Pinot Blanc grape.
This champagne has been left to mature on the lees for six years allowing it to develop a unique character. On opening it pours a light golden colour and exceptionally fine bubbles produce a good mousse at the top of the glass. The nose has complex aromas of citrus, green apples, and flowers with hints of toast. As it moves on to the palate these aromas persist and are joined by honey and a chalky minerality. The flavours of brioche coming to the fore are a testament to the lengthy contact with the lees. There is a satisfying amount to body and the well-balanced acidity leaves a bright and uplifting finish.
This champagne can be drunk as a pre-dinner aperitif and is the ideal companion to fish and seafood.
2008 was a marvellous year for champagne, so I was excited to taste the second champagne. the Vintage Brut 2008. This is made with a more traditional blend of grapes – 58,2 % pinot noir, 34,2 % chardonnay, 4,8 % pinot meunier and the addition of 2,8 % pinot blanc. The champagne has been left to mature on the lees for 10 years. On opening this poured pale golden and again produced fine, fast moving bubbles to form a good mousse. In the bouquet there were aromas of green fruit and flowers. In the mouth the freshness of these aromas remained, and flavours of honey and gooseberry emerged with a combination of nuttiness and toasted brioche. There was good acidity making it lively in the mouth and the finish was fresh, fruity and persistent.
Ideal on its own and when pairing with food consider a goat’s cheese salad or a delicate crab quiche.
These were two outstanding bottles of champagne, and their quality is a good example of the skill of the Chassenay d’Arce producers, I can thoroughly recommend them. They are very versatile and can be enjoyed in many different settings, from a reception to a special occasion dinner.
To find out more about Chassenay d’Arce Champagne visit their website https://chassenay.com/en/
Chassenay d’Arce Champagne are now available in the UK from First Class Products – https://firstclassproducts.co.uk/wines/type/champagne/