My Column

    MY TOP 10 WINES OF THE 2016

    1.Bollinger Vintage 1914  100p

    2. Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2002  99p

    3. Armand Rousseau Chambertin 1993 98p 

    4. Haut-Brion 1982 98p

    5. Louis Roederer Cristal 2002  98p

    6. Dom Pérignon P2 1995 98p

    7. Bollinger Vintage 1937 97p

    8. Pommery Les Clos Pompadour NV (2003) magnum   97p

    9. Dom Pérignon P2 Rosé 1995  97p

    10. Latour 1959 96p

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    My Yesterday

    Charles Heidsieck – For those who know

    ”Excuse me, what was that?”, is a frequent question I hear, when I list my top 5 champagne houses and mention Charles Heidsieck. It does not seize to amaze me how this house of impeccable quality, belonging to the important Rémy-Cointreau group, remains so scarcely known. Its wines gather trophies in wine competitions and are applauded by experts. Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve even won the FINE Champagne Magazine’s Best Non-Vintage in 2011. Instead of attracting the attention of the general wine public, it has remained as a hidden treasure of those who know. However, I have a feeling Charles Heidsieck is finally on the verge of a real breakthrough.


    One must admire the long-term vision and commitment of Rémy-Cointreau, or Rémy Martin at the time, when they acquired the champagne house of Charles Heidsieck from Henriot family in 1985. Few years prior to the purchase, the cellar master of Henriot, Daniel Thibault, had started to gain reputation as a winemaking and blending genius. At the time of the acquisition Rémy Martin saw an opportunity knocking and kidnapped Thibault from Henriot.

                The change of houses was a dream come true for Thibault, too, as Rémy Martin showed him green light and guaranteed him the resources for building what aimed to be the best non-vintage cuvée on the market. The capital tied to the process was massive. Thibault started collecting an enormous stock of reserve wines. When most houses’ reserve wines account for 20 percent of the non-vintage cuvées, the Charles Heidsieck ideal style required 40 percent. The wines held back for future blends were also to be much older than the usual 1-2 years, averaging 4-5 years. The oldest wines that go in the blend may be as mature as 12 years old.

    It is these reserve wines that allow Charles Heidsieck to graft their non-vintage cuvée into a rich, seductively toasty, honeyed wine of great depth. Its toasty nature fools many to think there is oak involved in the manufacture. But  the wines see only stainless steel and are kept extended times in the vessels on the lees, which brings the richness of flavour and texture to them.


    Ahead of their time

    Daniel Thibault’s visionary and perfectionist nature brought about another innovation, the “Mis en Cave” concept. Against common practise, Thibault considered showing the age of the non-vintage wine on the label essential, as both time on the lees and post-disgorgement evolution are important indications of the wine’s style and maturity to the consumer. In 1997, Charles Heidsieck re-launched its non-vintage as Brut Réserve Mis en Cave with the bottling year indicated on the label. For instance the Mis en Cave 1992, was crafted of 1991 fruit plus reserve wines, and bottled in 1992.            

    Despite the fantastic intentions, the concept was found confusing by both consumers and trade.  Charles Heidsieck pushed ahead with the concept for a number of years but finally gave in and settled to mentioning the cellaring and disgorgement times on the back label. In retrospect, they were ahead of their time.


    Charlie steps aside

    Daniel Thibault certainly left his mark in Charles Heidsieck history. For a reason not quite clear to me, under his guidance the house seized production of the previous prestige cuvée Champagne Charlie, the last vintage being 1985. As replacement, Thibault crafted Blanc des Millénaires blanc de blancs starting with the 1983 vintage. Despite my admiration for this creamy, toasty, velvety wine, I still think Champagne Charlie was a great wine with a great name and pedigree. Maybe it will be revived one day?


    Completed puzzle

    Today, all the pieces in the Charles Heidsieck puzzle are finally finding their place. Rémy Cointreau acquired the house of Piper Heidsieck in 1990, and since then a merging of the two houses has taken place. The company is now P&C Heidsieck, with all vinification and cellaring taking place under the same roof by the same qualified hands.

                And quite a winery it is. The companies left the crowded ancient cellars in the heart of Reims and moved to more spacious surroundings on the outskirts of the town in 2008. The new ultramodern design winery has all the latest winemaking equipment as well as fantastic touristic facilities.

    However, nurturing two brands in one winery evidently poses some problems. At P&C Heidsieck differentiation is managed by separating the house styles and brand images. The flashy-red marketing driven brand Piper’s champagne is fresh, vibrant and easy to drink. The wines for the more restrained and classic Charles are rich and evolved, very much a crafted for the gastronomy.

    When I visited the cellar at blending time, I was given an interesting tasting exercise. I sampled a dozen still wines from all three grape varieties and altering villages. My task was to decide whether the base wine should go to Charles of Piper depending on the style. The aspired styles for both houses became crystal-clear to me when I was picking structured wines for extended aging for Charles and lively fruit-forward samples for Piper.

                The winemaking hands at P&C Heidsieck belong today to Régis Camus, who took over in 2002, when Daniel Thibault passed away unexpectedly. Fortunately, Camus had worked together with Thibault for years. Consequently, the change has not brought about drops in quality or alterations in style. Even though replacing someone as legendary as Thibault is not easy, Camus has shown his capabilities as a great blender especially via the steadily rising quality of Piper Heidsieck and the numerous trophies earned by Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve and Brut Rosé.

                The secret is out. If you have not yet encountered Charles Heidsieck, now is the time to get to know Charlie!


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    My Tomorrow

    Grand Champagne Helsinki is here again! Bubbles fill the Old Student House on this April weekend bringing together champagne lovers, gourmands and top names in the industry. The three-day event features experts sharing their know-how and champagnes. This year our Star Guests include the prestigious Krug champagne house’s Olivier Krug and Clovis Taittinger of his familial Champagne Taittinger. The region’s cellar masters are represented by great names such as Charles Heidsieck’s Cyril Brun and Lanson’s Hervé Dantan. Iconic small domaines are represented by Emmanuel Lassaigne’s Jacques Lassaigne.  Philippe Jamesse, head sommelier of Reims’ praised Les Crayères restaurant and creator of the Lehmann Grand Champagne glass, joins us for the three day champagne festivities.

    The Old Student House provides a relaxed atmosphere where you can taste well-known classics and classy rarities. Delicacies and snacks from oysters to caviar are available to enhance your experience.


    Old Student House – ”Vanha Ylioppilastalo”

    Mannerheimintie 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

    Entry tickets

    Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd: One-day festival ticket 20 €.

    The entrance fee includes Lehmann Glass Opale 21 champagne glass.

    Thursday 21st VIP Day: festival ticket 50 €.

    This year we are introducing a VIP Day, when all the champagnes are enjoyed in Lehmann’s gorgeous mouth-blown Grand Champagne glass. This will also be your souvenir to take home from Grand Champagne Helsinki. The day also includes special program in the event hall.

    Gather a group of friends and spend a day savouring champagne!

    Secure your place and purchase your entry tickets in advance from Ceesta Shop’s online store at a reduced price. Entry tickets will also be sold at the venue based on availablility.

    Tasting tickets for sampling champagnes costing €2 each can be purchased at the venue. The price of the tasting samples range from one ticket to six or more depending on the price category of the champagne. A separate fee applies for the Master Classes. Age restriction: 18 years+

    Welcome! Learn more and buy your tickets and Master Classes via www.grandchampagnehelsinki.fi

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    Essi Avellan is Finland’s first Master of Wine. Recognized as a champagne and sparkling wine specialist, Avellan is the author of several wine books, including Matka Champagneen and Parhaat samppanjat. She has also recently revised and extended the 3rd edition of Tom Stevenson’s award-winning Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. For her MW studies she wrote her dissertation on single-vineyard Champagnes and won both the Lily Bollinger Medal for best taster and the Tim Derouet Memorial Award for best overall student.


    Essi also holds a Master of Science degree in Business Administration. Essi is a reputed wine judge; in addition to FINE Magazines and The World of Fine Wine tasting panels she had acted as the chair of Decanter World Wine Awards’ Champagne panel and is a jury member at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.  She has been awarded the titles Dame-Officier of Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne and Commandeur of Commanderie de Bordeaux.


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    Digital Me

    Explore Essence of Champagne with Essi Avellan MW. Renowned champagne specialist and Master of Wine, Essi Avellan’s personal champagne site at www.essiavellan.com offers you a brand new source of unbiased champagne opinions. Discover Essi’s vast library of recent tasting notes, Essi’s blog, essential champagne information, latest news, as well as the results of the champagne awards to which her palate has contributed.

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  35 Wines  from  25 Producers 

The Best 100 Champagnes 2017 -tasting, Day 3 - Blanc de Noirs Champagnes.

13d 17h ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  34 Wines  from  31 Producers 

The 100 Best Champagnes 2017 - tasting day II - 40 Blanc de Blancs!

1m 16h ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  37 Wines  from  32 Producers 

Champagne Magazine's The 100 Best Champagnes 2017 - tasting started with Rosé Champages.

1m 18d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  26 Wines  from  18 Producers 

KRUG CLOS DU MESNIL 1995 / The toasty nose, with a suggestion of oak, is both subtle and layered. The structure is exceptional; the rich fruitiness of the vintage is combined charmingly with the stylish acidity of the Chardonnay. The concentration is perfect and the length of the taste does not leave any room for improvement. The wines of the 1995 vintage can usually be enjoyed at a young age but the rather unattached aroma of oak should be allowed to integrate into the fruitiness of the wine over time.

3m 5d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  12 Producers 

1995 Signature Rosé Jacquesson.  Delicate and pale orange-hued colour. Vinous and attractively spicy nose with red berry aromas and light autolytic influence. The mouthfeel is exterely round and velvety, packed with elegant fruitiness and layers of aromas. The rich body is refreshed by a firm acidic backbone that contius equalyyt long with the wine’s persistent aftertaste. Elegant, harmonius and ripely fruity rosé champagne that is very enjoyable today but will develop harmoniously for another decade.

5m 2d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  9 Wines  from  1 Producers 

The Breuer family has grown wine on the slopes of Rheingau for a hundred years. During that time, they have become one of the most prestigious producers in the area. The Breuers seem to have a hand in everything in the village of Rüdesheim. There is a wine boutique in connection with the vineyard where people can taste their wines free of charge. The family also runs a hotel and wine restaurant, plus a private restaurant in the village. The owner-manager, Heinrich Breuer, rather surprisingly relies on child raising methods in making wine and has an interesting way of comparing wine to human beings when clarifying difficult issues:

―A vine is like a human being, very flexible. Both are complicated individuals with mood swings and basic needs. We use a motley bunch of equipment in fermentation: steel tanks, large wooden vats and oak barrels. We have about 200 tanks and 80 barrels. True, it is expensive to produce in small quantities, but it is a way to retain the personality of each batch. For the same reason we do not regulate the temperature. This gives us more blending choices and versatility. Wines made with temperature regulation is like putting all children into the same school. Soon everybody would behave just like everybody else. And that would be a pity.

6m 25d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  20 Wines  from  5 Producers 

The 1983 vintage was a challenging one at Latour. The flowering period in June was unproblematic and July was very hot, with a temperature 4° C above the seasonal average. But the weather was stormy and humidity remained high causing problems with cryptogamic diseases and black rot. The unpredictable and humid weather continued in August, lowering expectations for the harvest. But in September the  fine weather finally set in for a period of three months: the spread of rot was halted and even regressed. From then on, ripening progressed perfectly. The vintage started on 22 September and continued until 11 October.

            Moderately rich purple colour. Mature nose of cassis, undergrowth and attractive spiciness. Despite the difficult conditions and attractive elegance and harmony was captured in the 1983 vintage. Less concentration that in most Latours but the wine has charm and moderate tannin and refreshing acidity. Touches of oak and spiciness on the long aftertaste. A delicate wine at a perfect age for drinking. Will not benefit much from further maturation but will keep for another decade.

8m 20d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  7 Producers 


1. Bollinger 1914 vintage champagne

2. Cristal Rosé 2002 Mg


9m 6d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a wine moment

“Robert Weil Beerenauslese 1934 / This wine was enjoyed at the Robert Weil winery with Wilhelm Weil himself on a beautiful January Saturday. After a relaxed tour of the estate and a tasting of a selection of the 2004s and 2005s Robert Weil made an excursion into the cellars to search for this lovely rarity. We sipped it with great enjoyment and appreciation.
Deep golden colour and highly viscous texture. Developed raisiny nose filled with floral and petrol notes as well as apricots and marmalade of noble rot. Soft, silky mouthfeel is sweet but not luscious. Fresh steely acidity makes the wine appear very lively and enjoyable. Very attractive and persistent palate. An elegant mature Riesling at a very interesting age, however no hurry what so ever. Opened up and developed positively in the glass.

10m 23d ago

1 People

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  19 Wines  from  13 Producers 

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999 / Medium-deep lemon yellow colour. Complex and smooth nose of tropical fruits, cosmetics, pastry and floral notes. Intense and firm palate. Still slightly closed requiring time. Long and structured.

11m 20d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  19 Wines  from  6 Producers 

Some great Dom Perignon vintages like 1934, 1969, 1971,1975, 1976 etc.

1y 4d ago

Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  15 Wines  from  10 Producers 

"Champagne of the Decade 1990's tasting, part II."

1y 29d ago


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BWW-Best Wine of the World -competition 2017

BWW -Best Wine of the World -competition has started.  We welcome You to join thousands of experts to choose the best wines of the world. You decide the winners by voting! 


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Muga Selección Especial Reserva 2011, Bodegas Muga
Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata Riserva 2004, Paolo Scavino
Domaine de Chevalier 2009, Domaine de Chevalier
Côte-Rôtie La Landonne 2009, E.Guigal
Harlan Estate 2011, Harlan Estate