This is the third of a series of articles and videos where we explore together the fascinating world of fine sparkling wines.
First, we looked at the different grapes that are used to make fine Crémants de Bourgogne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir leading of course and to how each of them impacts on the expression of the wines. Then we looked at how different vintages with their own climatic conditions can result in varied qualities and personalities in the wines.
Today we look at what’s probably the most exciting part: The Terroir.
Because that’s the ultimate expression of a place.
Below you will find the tasting notes and reviews of 4 different sparklings from Burgundy, from a very reputable producer called Louis Bouillot, with wines made either from 100% Chardonnay or 100% Pinot Noir.
Some of those are made from Chablis-like terroir, with Chardonnay obviously, another with Pinot Noir grapes from Gevrey-Chambertin. Let’s go and dig in…
Discover the Terroirs of Crémants de Bourgogne in Video
A word about Burgundy Sparkling Wines & Louis Bouillot
For a little bit of the context, Louis Bouillot is based in Nuits-Saint-Georges, so in the heart of the prestigious terroirs of Burgundy, so we’re near Beaune and near Vosne-Romanée.
It is not very well known outside of France, but Burgundy not only makes great still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, but Bourgogne also produces very fine sparkling wines using those same grape varieties and using the méthode Traditionnelle , the same traditional method of fermenting the wines in the bottle and ageing on lees as in Champagne.
Because those wines are made from prestigious terroirs in Burgundy, and because you don’t pay for the name Champagne on the label, well you get incredible value out of these French sparkling wines that are called Crémants de Bourgogne, or Burgundy Crémants.
The Different Expressions of Terroir in Chardonnay Burgundy Sparkling Wines
In the Les Grands Terroirs Collection, Louis Bouillot makes two different cuvees made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. No blending of grapes, no Pinot Noir with Chardonnay together. We are here with two Blancs de Blancs, the term used to designate sparkling wines made only from white grapes.
What’s also remarkable in this tasting, is that all of these wines are Extra-Brut. They contain virtually no or very little added sugar at dosage. We get here the pure expression of the wines with no artifact from any sugar addition. The best possible way to truly taste the terroir in sparkling wines.
These two have slightly different terroirs, one with a terroir more like Chablis, the other with limestone clay soils.
2010 Louis Bouillot ‘Les Trois Saints’ Blanc de Blancs Crémant de Bourgogne Extra-Brut
Winery Notes: This cuvée brings together three appellations in which the varietal notes vie to interpret their respective terroir, blending their personality into an elegant whole. Its name is inspired by the three “saint” villages on the Côte de Beaune and the Mâconnais where the grapes are grown: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain, and Saint-Vérand. It is a Crémant de Bourgogne with aromatic complexity for refined drinking.
Score: 93/100 Points
Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
This wine is called the three “saint” because is blends the characteristics of grapes sourced from 3 ‘Saint’ villages on the Côte de Beaune and the Mâconnais: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain, and Saint-Vérand. The terroirs are slightly different in each village, but overall, they are all very rich in limestone with some clay, so I am expecting some precision to the Chardonnay expression from the limestone, but some opulence too from the Clay.
With a bright and shiny, yet rather intense lemon-yellow color, Les Trois Saints shines with a rather explosive briochy nose. The aromatic profile is highlighted by a pungent, fresh and exuberant peach character, white peach. Floral elements of elderflower.
The texture and taste is reminiscent of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. The acidity drives the tasting with a remarkable vibrancy from fresh apricot and peach flavors. The background adds richness and roundness, with generous tones of vanilla and toasted hazelnut. Delicate and smooth phenolics provide a silky, a pleasing sensation reminding of clay.
An exciting two-faceted blanc de Blancs. The precision and tension from a solid and precise acidity, combined with the opulence and the generosity of an ample body, delicate leesy and oaky traits with ripe and opulent fruitiness. Balanced, concentrated and powerful.
Learn more about Louis Bouillot ‘Les Trois Saints’ on louis-bouillot.com
2008 Louis Bouillot Vallée du Serein Blanc de Blancs Crémant de Bourgogne Extra-Brut
Winery Notes: La Vallée du Serein 2008 is an extra-brut blanc de blancs, expressing the personality of the Chablis region in a sparkling version. This crisp, mineral and powerful Chardonnay has produced an exceptional Crémant de Bourgogne, with a balanced, fresh attack and a long finish, giving a lovely harmony to a wine that will improve with age.
Score: 95/100 Points
Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
The Vallee du Serein is also a 100% Chardonnay, but this time from grapes that express the personality of the Chablis region in a sparkling version according to the producer. So, let’s see what that actually means.
Slightly more intense in color than Les Trois Saints, the Vallée du Serein Chardonnay surprises and impresses by the freshness of its apricot aromas surrounded by floral tones. It’s restrained, precise and delicate to smell at.
With a deep flavor profile, the wine boasts extremely subtle and balanced texture driven by a mineral acidity. The precision and the complexity are immense. Every single note is played with finesse and subtlety here, freshly-squeezed lemon, touches of apricot and white peach. Stunning harmony to the mouthfeel with extremely fine bubbles. A complete and utterly satisfying sparkling wine.
The austerity of the limestone terroir has been magnified and tamed to near perfection, allowing the wine to shine with its mineral acidity, yet revealing a smooth textural mouthfeel combining subtle floral and fruity flavors.
Learn more about Louis Bouillot Vallée du Serein on louis-bouillot.com
The Different Expressions of Terroir in Pinot Noir Burgundy Sparkling Wines
In its Les Grands Terroirs Collection, Louis Bouillot also offers two Blancs de Noirs sparkling wines made from 100% Pinot Noir.
What’s extraordinary, is that these wines are made from Pinot Noirs grown from the heart of the Cote d’Or, essentially the area that makes such prestigious Pinot Noirs. Often Crémants are made using grapes from around the best villages in Burgundy, but these two come from the real heart of it.
They’re really somewhat of the sparkling version of the great terroirs of burgundy Pinot Noir.
2012 Louis Bouillot Dessus les Vermots Blanc de Noirs Crémant de Bourgogne Extra-Brut
Winery Notes: Dessus Les Vermots comes from an illustrious village appellation, and is the ultimate expression of a Burgundy climats, bringing out the very essence of the fruit from a single plot in a sparkling wine. This precious wine is magnified through a rigorous ageing process as befitting its origins. A Crémant of great distinction, ideal with traditional dishes, its complex aromatic palette, the result of the winemaker’s expertise, showcases the greatness of a single varietal – Pinot Noir – from a single terroir.
Score: 94/100 Points
Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
The Pinot Noir has given this wine delicate pink hues to its shiny lemon-yellow color, giving it a slightly ‘gris’ aspect.
The aromatic profile is dominated by citrus characters, one the grapefruit and acidic orange more than on the lime and lemon. Touches of buttery brioche and sweet spicy cinnamon come through to the nose as well with remarkable restraint and elegance.
When tasting Dessus Les Vermots, you will be surprised and perhaps enchanted at the remarkably fresh raspberry flavors that you may not expect from a white sparkling wine. Yet they are certainly there and dominant. Yet, the finesse of the raspberry, allied to subtle notes of peppermint and lemon, make for a refined tasting sensation. Superb balance between a biting and refreshing, inviting acidity and a good-enough oily texture, smooth and soft bubbles.
An enchanting tasting experience lies in this sparkling Pinot Noir. The vibrancy and grapefruit exuberance of Pinot Noir married to the zinginess of an acidity and minty raspberry coulis, yet all delivered with sophistication and restraint.
Learn more about Louis Bouillot Dessus les Vermots on louis-bouillot.com
2008 Louis Bouillot ‘Grands Rayes-Blanc’ Blanc de Noirs Crémant de Bourgogne Extra-Brut
Winery Notes: This Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noirs is a gastronomic wine. Made exclusively from Pinot Noir grown on a plot located in Gevrey-Chambertin, this cuvée is powerful and sustained with delicate bubbles, a creamy mouthful that is all about harmony. 2008 was a cool year resulting in late harvesting, which produced taut, mineral wines. This is no exception, with its citrussy aromatic crispness.
Score: 96/100 Points
Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
With an intense yellow color underlined by hues of gold, the Grands Rayes-Blanc shines to the nose with pungent aromas of oaky and spicy brioche. The typical traits of Pinot Noir are clear, smelling almost like a mature red Pinot with scents of forest floor and fern.
The palate strikes strongly with a bone-dry acidity and a sweet/savory feel, plenty of mushroom-like umami flavors, explosive truffle and forest flour characters, while notes of pithy apricot, orange blossoms, mango and pineapple provide the fruity and satisfying sweetness. The whole is perfectly balanced on the slightly austere and sour feel, yet the generosity and the obvious ripeness of the fruit, the smooth texture and overall balance make for a complete and profound tasting experience.
A wine for high-end gastronomy, adding more and more delicate facets to elegant layers at every sip and sniff. It is remarkable to find traits from an aged Pinot in a sparkling wine, and be able to experience the earthy austerity we love in Pinot blended here with the playful personality of tropical, stonefruit and citrus flavors. All combined in such a positively surprising and fascinating Blanc de Noirs….
Learn more about Louis Bouillot Grands Rayes-Blanc’ on louis-bouillot.com
Louis Bouillots Les Grands Terroirs Collection – Final Thoughts
It is actually quite phenomenal that a sparkling wine producer such as Louis Bouillot, located in Burgundy, goes to the length of making individual cuvées wines (by the way, if you’re wondering what is a cuvée, here’s is a video about exactly that), but yes, I find it quite outstanding that a winery like Louis Bouillot actually makes so many different cuvées to express what their different types of fruit are like.
If you’ve followed along this series of 3 episodes exploring their wines, you know we’ve taste wines made from different grapes to find out the influence of each of them on the wines. We tasted different vintages to appreciate more about the variation they bring.
Finally, today we went full circle with the wines expressing different terroirs. If you haven’t watched the other videos, well considering having a look at them as I think there’s quite a bit to learn through the whole series.
Watch Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the Louis Bouillot Series
I have been amazed at the quality of the wines made by Louis Bouillot. Today, even though I was expecting the quality of these wines, being able to navigate through these terroirs has still been a surprisingly interesting experience.
One knows and somewhat expects perhaps to be able to taste high-end terroir-driven cuvees from Champagne, but from a Crémant producer, it’s been a revelation.
Although when you think about it, it only makes sense. There’s a very long and precise winemaking tradition in Burgundy as well, including for making sparkling wine, especially from a producer that has made of it its speciality, crafting as good and precise a range of sparkling wine as possible.