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The Champagnery’s Guide to Champagne

Tony Majors, Brad Stengel, Charlotte Stengel and Eric Wentworth.

 

By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Kathryn Harrington

 

Everyone loves a delicious glass of champagne, but do you ever find yourself having the same champagne over and over again? It’s easy to stick with your favorites and not branch out, especially if you’re not sure what to try next. Luckily for you, the owners of The Champagnery, Charlotte and Brad Stengel and Eric Wentworth, and the Sommelier and Beverage Director Tony Majors gave us some insight into what champagne we should try next. “The ‘fruit of the vine’ has been with us for thousands of years. Personally, the symbol of wine runs deep throughout my own life and faith journey as a Christ-follower,” said Charlotte Stengel. “Wine has been used as people gather, signifying life and celebration. It is always my hope that joy and light are brought into people’s lives as they gather and celebrate each and every day at The Champagnery. Champagne does not need to be reserved for special occasions. If we have learned anything this year, it has been to be grateful and celebrate every day of life.”

First up, is Ruinart Rosé. This is Brad Stengel’s favorite, “due to its wonderful balanced and fruity flavors, memories of great experiences with this particular champagne and the history behind the Ruinart name as the first established Champagne House in Champagne, France. I believe that fond memories of good times had while drinking past bottles and an understanding of the history behind the making of the particular wine can all play a part in your enjoyment of the glass itself,” said Stengel. Ruinart Rosé is made of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay that creates an outstanding balance with a nose of red fruit, according to Stengel. “Rosé is definitely my favorite, but far from exclusive on my list. I tend to favor champagnes with Pinot Noir for their balance and red fruit hints, and I lean toward bottles with less dosage and on the drier side,” explained Stengel. He believes champagne pairs well with anything, but he likes to pair Ruinart Rosé with sushi, main courses and sweet desserts. This champagne can be found at The Champagnery for $140 per bottle, $36 a glass, or the discounted bottle-to-go price of $91.

Next up is Charlotte Stengel’s favorite: Billecart-Salmon Brut Nature. “I love dry champagnes with a strong Pinot presence, and I search for sparkling wines with no dosage,” said Stengel. Her best advice for selecting a champagne is:

– Keep an open mind.
 Do not be afraid to try something new.
– Research the backstory of the champagne or sparkling wine.
– Remember that every fan of champagne experiences his or her first glass of great champagne somewhere. We hope it is at The Champagnery, but regardless of where it is, enjoy the glass and trust that your appreciation and experience of the wine connects you to the artisans and experts who grew the vines, selected the grapes and created that particular bottle to be enjoyed by you and your loved ones.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Nature is created in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, France, by a single family-owned and operated champagne house. It’s been in the family since 1818, and they’re on their seventh generation of the Billecart family running the house, according to Stengel. “The Champagnery is also a family-owned and operated business, and as we approach our third year since opening our establishment, I have profound respect and appreciation for Billecart-Salmon’s successful 200+-year-old, seven-generation family-owned business,” Stengel explained. “Billecart-Salmon Brut Nature (non-dosage, fewer than three grams of sugar per liter) balances the three typical grape varieties found in Champagne – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay – into an elegant, bright and pure champagne.” It has little residual sugar, which is what the “Brut Nature” or “zero dosage” means in the name. Stengel describes it as, “with dried fruit and a floral aroma, a zesty lemony finish and brioche biscuity tasting notes. I think it pairs best with fish, grilled seafood and sashimi.” Billecart-Salmon Brut Nature can be purchased at The Champagnery for $121 a bottle or the discounted bottle-to-go price of $79. 

Wentworth prefers the Contratto Millesimato Pas Dosé. “I chose Contratto because I love absolutely everything they do. They are a great example of how some of the finest quality sparkling wines can actually be found outside of Champagne, France. So, while their wines are technically not champagne, they are made in the same classic method and can go toe-to-toe with some of the best champagnes out there. I especially love that all of the wines they make are no dosage, which is my favorite style,” explained Wentworth. This sparkling wine has hints of lemon, apple and brioche and pairs well with seafood. Similar to the preferences of Charlotte Stengel, Wentworth also prefers champagnes with zero sugar and favors really dry champagne. You can purchase a bottle of Contratto Millesimato Pas Dosé at The Champagnery for $76, a glass for $20 or the bottle-to-go discount price of $49. For the price point, Wentworth believes this sparkling wine is “exquisite.”

Finally, Majors loves the Chartogne-Taillet Les Allieés Extra Brut. Many champagne houses purchase their grapes from other sellers and then make the champagne in house; however, Chartogne-Taillet Les Allieés Extra Brut is created by the same people that grow the grapes. “I chose this wine as my favorite because, to me, it represents what ‘grower champagne,’ a champagne made by the same people that grow the grapes, is all about. It’s making wine that speaks to its sense of place,” explained Majors. Alexandre Chartogne creates this champagne at his family’s vineyards in Merfy, France, a town in Northern Champagne. This champagne pairs best with trout almondine, seafood scampi and halibut piccata, according to Majors. “While many large producers make hundreds of thousands of bottles per year using various degrees of mechanization, to me, smaller, boutique wineries often produce more thoughtful, hand-crafted wines,” Majors said. “And by choosing to drink wines made by smaller, more artisan producers, you can help these producers make a name for themselves, which can help them and their communities prosper for generations to come.” A bottle of Chartogne-Taillet Les Allieés Extra Brut can be purchased at The Champagnery for $160 or the bottle to-go discount price of $104. 

Luckily for us, they included a bonus champagne that is loved dearly by all four of them, Champagne Collet NV Brut. They particularly wanted to include this champagne because Champagne, France wouldn’t hold the importance that it does today without its creation. “Maison Collet, located in Äy, France has been creating distinctive champagnes since 1921. Äy, France, a village involved in the ‘Champagne riots of 1911,’ was the location in which 6,000 winegrowers from the Champagne region banded together to demand that the grapes used in the creation of champagne must authentically be grown in the vineyards of Champagne, France,” explained Charlotte Stengel. “The violent riots caused the deployment of 4,000 French troops to this region. This social movement resulted in the creation of the ‘Champagne AOC’ in 1936, which established the international rule stating that only wine produced with grapes grown in Champagne, France may be called ‘Champagne.’ Sparkling wines made from grapes grown outside of Champagne, France must be referred to as ‘sparkling wine.’” When researching champagnes, the Stengels were informed that news of The Champagnery’s opening in Louisville had spread all the way to Champagne, France. “Upon arrival to the House of Collet, the director of Maison Collet exclaimed that he could not wait to meet the crazy people who opened a Champagne House in Bourbon Country!” Charlotte Stengel explained. A bottle of Champagne Collet NV Brut can be purchased for $80, a glass for $21 or the bottle-to-go price of $52. 

The Champagnery offers over 250 different champagnes and sparkling wines making it easy to find something sure to please. So next time you’re in the mood to explore the world of champagne, head to The Champagnery to expand your champagne horizons and toast to the joy of the everyday.

The Champagnery
1764 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
the-champagnery.com
502.896.8050