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


    My Today

    All of the tasting notes of the wine critic mentioned above in tastingbook, comes from press releases from wine importers and vineyards, or directly from the critic and can also be found on the critic’s own website, which can be easily accessed by clicking on the link above.


    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!



    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



    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.


    Read More

    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.


Wine Moments

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

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  27 Wines  from  6 Producers 

Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1990 / Big, ripe expression with gingerbread, roasted hazelnuts, straw, green apple and sea notes, complemented by gunpowdery complexity. Broad, almost oily textured yet fresh palate, with the softest mousse. Mature but healthy and fruity. Disgorged 2007.

7d 16h ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  21 Wines  from  10 Producers 

Salon 2012 / “A rollercoaster year in the vineyards with hopes for a quality crop only rising at harvest time. Salon initially wasn't promising a vintage, but changed its mind having come up with something instantly rewarding. Bright, sweetly fruity nose on the sweet green fruit side: lime, pear drops, licorice, jasmine and fragrant orange blossom tones. A flick of vanilla complements the whole. The palate has a silky flow of volume yet a firm backbone of brisk acidity enhancing the notion of explosive fruitiness. The chalky mineral bite comes forward on the long, intense and dry finish. This wine hasn’t moved a lot in the past year, promising longevity. Disgorged 3/21; dosage 5g/l”

4m 9d ago

 Salon  has news

France offered a bottle of Champagne Salon 1948 to King Charles III, during his first official visit  more ...

4m 22d ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  7 Producers 

Bollinger La Grande Année 2014 / “An intriguing combination of a sunny year’s forward fruitiness and late September harvest’s freshness. These characters get further amplified by the high percentage of Chardonnay and important share of cooler profile Verzenay Pinot Noir in the blend. On the nose ripe peach, candied apple and vanilla blend in beautifully with delicate floral and lemony notes as well as mineral iodine whiffs. The gentle oaky note stylishly stays in the background. There is supple volume on the lacey-textured palate, but this wine plays much less on concentration and weight than what we are used to with La Grande Année. Instead its finest feature is the salivating acidity and sensation of minerality that carries the wine until the long, palate-cleansing finish. Already open and pleasurable on the nose, but the palate stands firm with mineral restraint promising longevity. Perfectly dosed at 8g/l. Note for a bottle disgorged in April 2021.”

1y 5m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  11 Wines  from  3 Producers 

Lanson Vintage Collection 1979/ Glorious, remarkably fruity nose with Coteaux du Layon reminicent botrytised tones of dried apricots, honey, orange marmalade and wool. Really sweetly fruity on both nosr and palate. Superb viscosity and generosity on the concentrated palate, stylishly lined with perky acidity. Seems ageless 93p


1y 6m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  4 Producers 

Bollinger R.D. 1976 /“Every one of my encounters with this wine has been a slight disappointment, but then again expectations fly really high for the vintage. The earlier disgorgements have had a really sweet appearing nose with candied fruit and patisserie notes. Mouth-filling, super ripe, chunky palate short of energy. It feels like its best days are already gone. From a very recent 2012 disgorged bottle if was still fully vibrant, with a peculiar combination of aged and youthful characters. Probably still recovering from the shock of such late disgorgement.”

1y 9m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  56 Wines  from  37 Producers 

The Champagne Magazine's "The 100-Best Champagnes 2022" tasting - Day 2.

2y 7m ago

Dom Pérignon 2012, Moët & Chandon
Cristal 2013, Louis Roederer
Pannier Sélection Brut NV (10's), Pannier
Pol Roger vintage 2013, Pol Roger
Cuvee Royal Brut NV (10's), Joseph Perrier
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Charles Heidsieck
Belle Epoque Rosé 2014, Perrier-Jouët
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Perrier-Jouët
Brut Prestige Rosé NV (10's), Taittinger
Prelude NV (10's), Taittinger
Vintage 2015, Taittinger
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Taittinger
RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2014, G.H. Mumm
Le Millésimé 2013, G.H. Mumm
RSRV Blanc de Noirs NV (10's), G.H. Mumm
Essentiel Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (10's), Piper-Heidsieck
Vintage 2014, Piper-Heidsieck
Rare 2006, Piper-Heidsieck
Cuvée Hemera 2006, Champagne Henriot
Cattier Brut Premier Cru NV (10's), Cattier
Brut Rosé NV (10's), Cattier
Grande Cuvée Brut NV (10's), Comtes de Dampierre
Brut Rosé NV (10's), Deutz
Amour de Deutz 2011, Deutz
Rosé Prestige NV (10's), Duval-Leroy
Black Label NV (10's), Lanson
Blanc de Blancs 2008, AR Lenoble
Grande Rosé NV (10's), Montaudon
Palmes D’Or 2008, Nicolas Feuillatte
Grande Sendrée Rosé 2010, Drappier
Vintage Brut 2012, Barons de Rothschild
Barons de Rothschild Brut NV (10's), Barons de Rothschild
Brut Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc NV (10's), Chapuy
Cuvée des Archives Millésime Brut 2014, Collard-Picard
Cuvée des Merveilles Rosé de Saignée NV (10's), Collard-Picard
Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut Réserve NV (10's), De Sousa & Fils
Cuvée des Caudalies Rosé NV (10's), De Sousa & Fils
Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésime 2014, Franck Bonville
Brut Mosaïque NV (10's), Jacquart
Brut Mosaïque NV (10's), Jacquart
Extra Réserve NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Rosé Réserve NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Blanc de Noirs NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Rosé Grand Cru NV (10's), Nicolas Maillart
Les Chaillots Gillis Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2014, Nicolas Maillart
Cuvée Théophile Grand Cru Rosé Extra Brut 2009, Gonet-Médeville
Blanc de Blancs Les Coulmets 2014, Guy Charlemagne
Special Club 2007, Henri Goutorbe
Rosé de Saignée NV (10's), Philippe Gamet
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Champagne de Castelnau
Les Échansons 2012, Champagne Mailly Grand Cru
Rosé NV (10's), Carbon
100% Meunier Brut NV (10's), Champagne Salmon
Brut Nature Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Champagne Lombard

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  8 Wines  from  2 Producers 

Every Dom Pérignon vintage is built to eventually become a Plénitude 2 and Plénitude 3 and so is the P2 2003! It was such a challenging and unprecedentedly hot year. Yet there is nothing heavy in Dom Pérignon of the year. The nose is stunningly toasty with sweet, vanilla laden fruit, hay, juniper, cookie dough and cream. On the palate it is exuberant, round and textured with a notion of firming phenolics of a hot year on the back palate. The time on lees seems to have created some extra roundness and delicious sweetness to the fruit. Finely bubbling energetic palate finishing on a pure mineral freshness.”

2y 8m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  14 Wines  from  4 Producers 

Roederer Cristal Rosé 2012 / “Already upon launch this rosé shows rare harmony and seamlessness. It is opulently fruity and exuberantly Pinot-packed yet at the same time seductively silky-textured. The voluminous palate is perfectly integrated to the wine’s superb freshness that carries it to a great length. Structured whilst soft and comes with Cristal Rosé’s hallmark elegance and radiance. Highly enjoyable already but with great long-term ageing capacity. A perfect reflection of the vintage’s best qualities.”

2y 11m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  50 Wines  from  33 Producers 

Champagne Magazine's 100 Best Champagnes 2021 -tasting day II.

3y 6m ago

Dom Pérignon 2010, Moët & Chandon
Grand Vintage 2012, Moët & Chandon
Vintage Rosé 2014, Louis Roederer
Brut Millésimé 2012, Charles Heidsieck
Blanc des Millénaires 2006, Charles Heidsieck
Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Rosé 2007, Billecart-Salmon
Grand Brut NV (10's), Perrier-Jouët
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Taittinger
Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2007, Taittinger
RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2014, G.H. Mumm
Cuvée R. Lalou 2006, G.H. Mumm
Le Millésimé 2013, G.H. Mumm
Essentiel Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (10's), Piper-Heidsieck
Rare Rose 2008, Piper-Heidsieck
Rosé Première cuvée NV (10's), Bruno Paillard
Brut Nature NV (10's), Cattier
Millésime 2013, Cattier
Brut Rosé NV (10's), Cattier
Ambassadeurs Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Comtes de Dampierre
Brut Millésimé 2007, Alfred Gratien
Green Label Organic Brut NV (10's), Lanson
Le Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Lanson
Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV (10's), Laurent-Perrier
Cuvée Louise 2004, Pommery
Grand Cru 2008, Pommery
Millésimé Grand Cru 2012, Soutiran
Vintage 2012, Thiénot
TerroirEscence Extra Brut NV (10's), Penet-Chardonnet
Grand Couronnement 2006, J. de Telmont
Blanc de blancs vintage 2012, J. de Telmont
Grand Rosé NV (10's), J. de Telmont
Brut Réserve NV (10's), R. Pouillon & fils
Rosé Mosaique NV (10's), Jacquart
Blanc de Blancs vintage 2013, Jacquart
Emotion 2012, Vilmart & Cie
Grand Cellier NV (10's), Vilmart & Cie
Brut NV (10's), A.Robert
Brut Cuvée 1722 NV (10's), A.Robert
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Jolivettes Grand Cru 2016, Nicolas Maillart
Millésimé 2008, Jacques Selosse
Special Club 2014, Forget-Chemin
Cuvée Caractères NV (10's), Philippe Gamet
Rosé de Saignée NV (10's), Philippe Gamet
Brut Rosé NV (10's), Champagne de Castelnau
Harmonie de Blancs 2015, Alexandre Bonnet
Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (10's), Champagne Lallier
L'Intemporelle 2012, Champagne Mailly Grand Cru
Exception Blanche 2012, Champagne Mailly Grand Cru
Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut NV (10's), Champagne Lombard

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  13 Wines  from  5 Producers 

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008 / 97 points / Remarkable purity and finesse on this racey and mineral Comtes packed with energy and tension. Elegant restraint on the smoky-toasty, coolly fruity nose with lemon and flower potpourri. Linear and long, beautifully mouthwatering. Still young but enormously enjoyable.

3y 9m ago

Essi Avellan MW / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Finland)  had a tasting of  7 Wines  from  5 Producers 

Cristal 2008 / 100 points / Tight, hugely promising nose still with restraint. There is immaculat purity and radiance to the chalk and toast nuanced nose full of cool, crisp fruit and baking spices complexity. A lovely feather light feeling yet fruit packed palate of fabulous electric vivacity. The finish is so long and mineral with a chalky bite promising great longevity. A wine that puts a big smile on my face.

4y 10m ago

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