Champagne to seek out: Barons de Rothschild

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild of the Rothschild family recently came to Boston to introduce the city to his family’s newest venture – Champagne. L’Espalier, one of Boston’s most fabulous restaurants, hosted the coming out luncheon.

Philippe was a warm host for this wonderful lunch. Chatting with a member of the esteemed Rothschild family gave insight into the decision making process undertaken to produce the new line of Champagnes. Given their long history, they have patience and are positioning for the long term. “One year more, one year less will not matter in the history,” said Philippe.

The family searched the Champagne region, looking for a vineyard to buy but have not yet found one that fit their needs. So they decided to contract with family growers in La Côte des Blancs south of Epernay. They meet with the growers over the relatively quiet winter to develop deep relationships for the long term. Their winemaker search yielded them Jean-Philippe Moulin, formerly of Ruinart. Philippe’s mother designed the logo which is reminiscent of what you might find at sitting next to your strawberries and cream at Wimbledon.

The dosage levels have been purposely kept low but not so low as to be severe. Reserve wine makes 40% of the blends, contributing to the high quality. The three nonvintage Champagnes are Chardonnay focused and between 11.5-12.5% ABV.

I preferred the brut (60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir blend retailing for $100) and the rosé (85% Chardonnay/15% Pinot Noir, $125). The brut was light and lively, with a hazelnut and flowery taste. The rosé had strawberries and raspberries with a very long finish. I thought the blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay, $125) needed some more time as it’s a bit tight.

These Champagnes are not meant to be a bargain – they are meant to sit with other luxury Champagnes and I think they hold up quite nicely and would not hesitate to purchase one for a special occasion or gift.

The most important concept is family; fittingly the only Champagne allowed at any of the Rothschild family companies is Barons de Rothschild.  As Philippe says, “Champagne is something to enjoy.” Agreed!

Thanks to Pasternak Wines for inviting me to this wonderful lunch!

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