Champagne Feuillatte: big numbers, quality bottles

The story of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne does not need to be retold here.  It is a text book case of excellent marketing (the Feuillatte name) allied to a huge union of cooperatives who are are the number 1 producer by volume of Champagne both in France and the UK.  Under expert guidance they produce a large volume of inexpensive but good Champagne (a really difficult combination) and a range of higher quality bottles.  If Champagne is the wine of celebration without equal, Feuillatte has been helping countless UK supermarket customers, among many others, to pop the cork and feel better about life. 

_MG_0049One secret of Feuillatte’s success is clear enough.   Jean-Pierre Vincent has completed his 35 years as chief wine maker which tells its own story. Continuity is being preserved with David Henault (left in the picture on the left), who having served an 11 year apprenticeship, is now taking up the challenge.

Here are the highlights of a small part of their extensive range: 

Brut Réserve – of course the premium wines are the most interesting but here is part of the standard range: fine bubbles, structured and fine on the palate, lemon fruit, interesting saline  note, quite dry (9.8g residual sugar), a noticeable step up from the basic Brut. 

Brut Rosé – very attractive simple raspberry and strawberry fruit on the nose, good savoury palate, mouth filling (60% Pinot Noir), and a good length.  Quite a deep colour on account of 18% of the grapes of Pinot Noir and Meunier being made as red wine and then blended. 

Cuvée 225 Vintage (2004) – made from 25 Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards and given its name, 225, clearly has been in a barrel.  50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay: superbly rich nose with excellent subtle yeast and mushroom notes knit together with the fruit, rich palate, well integrated (four years and more in the bottle) and very long. With the Brut range you are talking millions of bottles, with this 10-20,000.  Very good value at £40. 

Cuvée 225 Rosé Vintage (2004) – still nearly half Chardonnay but then 55% Pinot Noir of which 18% is made as red wine and blended.  A striking mid-salmon pink, due to this blend, hazelnuts and red fruit on the nose and palate, luxurious on the palate, some pleasant tannins for a tingling finish, would be good with a range of foods including some meat dishes. 

PS Many thanks to the photographer Nigel James for sending me these photos – on the grounds that I was being most serious about the tasting.  This is why it is always important to be holding the camera, not subject to it! 

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