The brand (and its sibling; Chassenay D’Arce) are both imported by James Busby Fine Wines for the Coles group of liquor stores (First Choice, Vintage Cellars and Liquorland).
But don’t let the big retailer link spook you. I have found both Coles and Woolworths have been somewhat inspired and creative in finding some interesting cooperative and recoltant offerings to fill their lower price ranges – although at $55 per bottle for the Baron, this is not all that much cheaper than a Moët or a Mumm, and pricier than a Lanson or Piper.
Before you run off to buy a cheaper, well known brand, consider that some small scale co-operatives and recoltants operate with the passion that may be absent in some of the larger houses with mass-production methodologies, and the final quality you get out of the bottle may justify the asking price (or in rare cases; exceed it).
It is much easier to justify buying something like Baron de Villeboerg when it is on sale. Indeed at an occasional sale price of $27 per bottle it presents an absolute bargain – and these are opportunities to look out for.
Back to Chassenay (CVCA) itself; the cooperative was formed back in 1956, and takes pride in representing the Arce Valley’s produce. It is formed from some 130 families, with 325 hectare’s of vineyards at its disposal. A the heart of the cooperative is the “Maison de Vignerons” in Ville sur Arce – built from bricks and stones sourced from the local area.
The cooperative also uses its vast resources to create some interesting vintages during great seasons; such as the “Confidences” range (2008) and very long held 1995 Vintage, released in 2005. Given the quality of their base wines like this 2016 IWSC medal winning Baron de Villeboerg sampled here (which the link states was entered as a Blanc de Noirs – Pinot Meunier & Pinot Noir only), I would imagine they would be something spectacular.
From: Ville sur Arce, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$55 a bottle available from Vintage Cellars
Blend Ratio (%): Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier (Unknown) with N/A g/l dosage.
Sipped: June 2017
In the Glass:
Look: Soft golden hue of good clarity, with fine, plentiful bubbles.
Smell: Sweet and soft lemony aroma with a faint nose of yeasts and wet dough that indicate its aging.
Taste: The Baron arrives with an introduction of moderate intensity. The flavours are sweet; with dialled back lemon and soft grapefruit – and it is not too sour. Fresh strawberry caps also come through.
It manages to be dry and pleasant, and also fresh feeling and well balanced.
A bit of the bready and yeasty flavours of fermentation do come through as the flavour fades off – but its not intense enough to really detract all that much.
Party Potential: At a regular price, the Baron makes only a fair party quaffer. It’s a better drop than the Big 2 brands it fights in the price bracket – but there are lots of other offerings that give you a bit more for a bit less. But if the stars align and the sale prices come on while you’re looking to procure – then it would easily serve a value minded host very well. As a BYO this is a good bottle to share with those who also have a bit of wine curiosity.
As a Gift: As an obscure champagne brand with a feel of generic – this is best served as a gift to wine buffs only.
At Home: At the sale price – I’d drink it at home frequently without a valid excuse! At full price… not so much.
Score & Verdict:
While their name insinuates Royal Blood, they are actually raised by the village. An eclectic character – mostly charming – who tries a little too hard to mix in with high society. Avoid the pomp and engage them in the norm – that’s when they’re at their best!
At $55 I feel it is only reasonable value for the quality – but certainly watch for it to go on sale – because at $27 a bottle it is great value.
How did I drink it?
Relaxed dinner date with close friends.
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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