Champagne houses in France come in all sizes, and we love them all! After exploring a smaller producer and a larger house, we continued the Goldilocks theme and tried a champagne house right in the middle: G H Martel and Company.
Champagne Martel is literally just down the street from Taittinger. After touring the extensive caves of Taittinger, we were ready for a more expansive tasting that did not include a cave tour. Based on our research, Martel was perfect for our next stop. Passing through the entrance archway, we discovered a picturesque interior courtyard paved with cobblestones. A bit of roaming around taught us that we were the only visitors to the property! Moments later we were greeted by wine guide Emmanuel, who showed us the tasting room and oriented us to the champagne house.
We learned that House Martel started in 1869 as a farm, founded by the Tabourin family. Over time, the focus shifted from farm to beer to champagne. Today, G H Martel produces about 3 million bottles of champagne per year under the direction of cellar-master and oenologist Christophe Rapeneau .
Emmanuel started us with their Blanc de Blancs. This 100% Chardonnay bubbler started the tasting with light pear, citrus and green apple notes, with very light slate and yeast undertones. Nice complexity in a great food-pairing champagne. We next tasted the Blanc de Noirs, a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Meunier. Evoking a “Give me the bottle” from Judi, we all loved the punchy Meunier fruit up front and the bit of smoke on the mid palate.
Our next taste was the Rosé Brut, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 15% Meunier, and 15% Bouzy Red (still Pinot Noir wine from Bouzy). A fun blush champagne, we appreciated the layers of strawberry and apple on a bed of grass. We did a comparison tasting with their Rosé Brut Victoire. This blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 10% Bouzy Red. This was a delicate, with raspberry and kumquat on the mid palate and the perfect amount of acid on the finish.
We next tasted a favorite of all of us: their Premier Cru Brut. This 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir blend showed blueberry aromas and a splash of bright fruit up front, with some red apple and toast notes toward the end. This jumped to the top of our “buy for later” list. Our final taste was the 2007 Brut Victoire, a 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend that was aged on oak. We enjoyed the creamy mouth feel aided by the host of tiny bubbles in every sip, playing on the flavors of vanilla and date.
With happy palates and an armload of champagne bottles, we thanked Emmanuel and set off into the streets of Reims. There was so much more to explore!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?
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