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Four Great Houses Arrive in Time for Christmas

2 December 2004

Champagne: Four Great Houses Arrive in Time for Christmas

Champagne Ruinart, Vilmart, Alfred Gratien and Serge Mathieu are now available in New Zealand.

The oldest Champagne house, a very traditional high quality producer, one of its most exciting and in demand marques plus the best producer in the Aube and are now available in New Zealand. Champagne Ruinart, Alfred Gratien, Vilmart and Serge Mathieu represent a very exciting addition of high quality champagne to New Zealand. Says Murray Farnsworth of SPI Wine ltd, the exclusive New Zealand agent.

“I wanted to build a portfolio of Champagnes that I would be proud to represent, and that are acknowledged as among the best of their style”. SPI Wine imports only Champagne, “I wish to educate consumers further with a product that gives me so much pleasure and share my enthusiasm with others”. “Champagne should be drunk at anytime not just celebrations and special events – to drink Champagne is to celebrate life” so much so he says “I like to say I drink only beer or Champagne – beer for BBQ’s and Champagne for everything else”

Quality of storage and aging of Champagne is very important. Mr. Farnsworth agreed completely with a notice in the New Zealand Herald from Champagne Pol Roger last Christmas that substandard champagne was being brought in to the country. He says “This happens all too often. Before I began to import champagne myself I would often buy cases of Champagne at Christmas as the prices were so low. Invariably the Champagne was past its best and had been poorly stored or freighted”.

Jeff Poole of the Fine Wine Delivery Company is very much against parallel importing of Champagne and has a policy of never stocking parallel imports, Mr Farnsworth agrees completely on this issue “parallel imported Champagne is the worst possible introduction to Champagne for many consumers – it is cheap for a reason. However once they experience to majesty of Champagne sourced directly from the cellars of Champagne which is stored well they will really appreciate why Champagne is such a great wine”

He is very proud that following his personal visits the Champagne houses in France he was given the opportunity to represent the Champagnes houses in New Zealand.

Champagne Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house being founded in 1729. Their champagne is all at the top of the quality range. The Non vintage retails for around the same as Bollinger whist the Dom Ruinart sits with great prestige champagnes like Krug, Cristal, Salon and Dom Perignon.

Champagne Alfred Gratien founded in 1864 has retained the traditions of Champagne, still using oak casks with all wine and corks rather then caps on vintage wine before disgorgement. The same family of cellar masters, now entering their fifth generation make the wines. Malaolic fermentation is stopped; this gives longevity and allows further development with additional aging. The Paradise Rose at a recent tasting was described by one restaurateur in a single word – Sexy!

Champagne Vilmart is the Champagne that the world currently cannot get enough of. With only 100,000 bottles per year Mr Farnsworth was extremely fortunate to receive an allocation. “Everyone wants Vilmart, especially the Americans, Laurent Champs the owner/winemaker is a genuine and very nice person who makes some of the best champagne at present. I do not think the Vilmart will last long once connoisseurs know it is available.” The Coeur de Cuvee is a superb Champagne which will cellar for a decade with ease.

Champagne Serge Mathieu own 11ha in Avirey Lingy situated in the Aube region some 160km south of Reims. Sitting with the owners and tasting their Champagne was reminiscent of wine tasting in New Zealand. You get the feeling of the boundless enthusiasm, the dedication to constant improvement and pleasure they have on seeing their wine being enjoyed. Serge Mathieu are very exacting in their wine making and have been lauded by many writers as among the best champagne makers in the Aube.


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