Discovering ‘Champagne’ with Georges Remy
Despite being one of the oldest employees at Sip, I’m a relative newcomer to the Champagne world. In little over a year though, I’ve been fortunate enough to sample more than 100 cuvées, largely from the Sip collection, but also from many of the Grande Marques – either at tasting events or from Peter’s personal stash. The benefit of sampling so many Champagnes in such a short period of time is that you can quickly recall what you like and what you don’t but, conversely, many less distinctive glasses get lost in the vast sea of samples. It takes something really special to prove memorable in a tasting of 20+ exceptional Champagnes. There is, however, one producer who I will never forget and never fails to stand out in a line up.
Georges Remy is based in the renowned Grand Cru village of Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims, but also holds plots in the nearby villages of Tauxieres, Louvois and Ambonnay. He works with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay creating a range of organic wines (certified as such from 2018 onwards) either from single plots or as blends of the two varietals. Of course, there are plenty of other winemakers who work in similar areas with the same varietals, so what is it that makes his Champagne so distinctive?
Speaking with Peter – who is even more effusive than usual (if that can be believed!) – it comes down to a number of factors. Firstly, unlike the majority of the vignerons we work with, Georges studied winemaking in Bordeaux and actually started out making red wine in the Champagne appellation (or ‘Coteaux Champenois’ as it’s officially known) before moving on to Champagne. Don’t ask us how, but he’s somehow managed to carry this rich, vinous style into his Champagnes.
Secondly, like many of the new breed of winemakers we work with, Georges is not afraid to step away from what is traditionally considered to be ‘Champagne’ and create a style that is far bigger and bolder. He achieves this by harvesting his grapes late, at peak ripeness, and subsequently vinifies the juice in new and young oak bringing the classic oak flavours of vanilla, brioche and toast to the fruity cocktail. He then further ages all but one of his wines on cork, which enhances the profile through micro-oxidation.
In the wrong hands, the result could be a car crash of competing flavours and hugely overpowering oak but, somehow, through some magic, the wines are majestic; rich, textured, engaging and demanding of food.
As Peter goes on to say, these are not Champagnes for celebration, they are ‘wines with bubbles’ that deserve serious reflection and contemplation. He will also advise you to open them, decant them and return to them. In the case of Georges’ wines, they actually improve over the course of a few days and, according to Peter, will even last up to a week after opening (if stored with a stopper)!
We’re lucky enough to have a small allocation of a selection of his wines but, with a total annual production of just 7-8,000 bottles (and less than a thousand for the likes of Les Muits), they don’t hang around for long.
Pick up a bottle while you can, or try the full range with our Georges Remy Exploration Case. I’m so confident you’ll like them I’d be willing to offer a money back guarantee… if only Peter and Daniel would let me.