Classy Bubbles Vol. 2

Posted on December 27, 2022 by Boris
Updated on December 28, 2022
Photo by Elvira Kantiieva

Last year we had two tasting events dedicated to sparking wines. And unfortunately, both are among the worst three events of the year. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but Beaujolais is not part of this triad. So having this context, you can imagine why I was hesitant to throw another sparkling party. Yet, it’s the last tasting of the year, and it’s all festive. So why not?

The choice was tough, even more than usual. First of all, I wanted to bring mostly new bottles, even for the most experienced participants. Secondly, I wanted to build a story and a few study cases while still having only good stuff (with one notable exception). So after tasting lots of different wines and consulting with various people, the final line up took the following shape.

  1. Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs Extra Bruto Unfiltered NV
  2. Weingut Bründlmayer Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Reserve NV
  3. Benoît Lahaye Millesime 2017
  4. Bérêche & Fils Brut Réserve L19.07/2022 NV
  5. Félicien Brou Vouvray Brut NV
  6. Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Collection Bouzy 2000
  7. De Sousa Cuvée des Caudalies Rosé NV
  8. Cà del Vént Anima Brut Rosé Pas Operé VSQ 2014

Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs Extra Bruto Unfiltered NV

  • producer: Filipa Pato
  • name: 3B Blanc de Blancs Extra Bruto Unfiltered
  • vintage: NV
  • degorgee: ???
  • sur lie: 9 months
  • grapes: Touriga Nacional aka Bical (70%), Maria Gomes (23%), Cerceal (7%)
  • appellation: Vinho (Portugal)
  • location: Bairrada, Portugal
  • alcohol: 11
  • sugar: N/A
  • price: 651 UAH

Filipa Pato is a winegrower and winemaker from Bairrada, Portugal. She focuses on local grapes only (Baga, Bical, Arinto, Cercial and Maria Gomes) and produces wines with minimal intervention. No make-up, as she says.

Map from Filipa Pato website

3B Blanc de Blancs is a blend of 3 white grapes (hence, the name 3B): Bical (70%), Maria Gomes (23%), and Cercial (7%). Filipa Pato sources them from Óis do Bairro, where roughly 30 years old vines grow on chalky clay midslopes from the Jurassic Inferior. The grapes are hand harvested and gently pressed. After fermentation in a tank with indigenous yeasts, the wine is sent for the second fermentation in bottles and spends nine months sur lie.

Weingut Bründlmayer Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Reserve NV

Weingut Bründlmayer doesn’t require any introduction. After all, we already have experience with this famous winemaker. This time we have a bottle of Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Reserve made of 100% Chardonnay harvested from various vineyard sites, mainly those on southeast slopes with calcareous soils.

As I said before, Filipa Pato 3B was fermented in stainless steel tanks. I could not find information about malolactic fermentation (I suspect it didn’t happen), but according to technical sheets1, there was no oak. On the contrary, Blanc de Blancs by Bründlmayer was fermented in stainless steel tanks, where malolactic fermentation took place; and then it was racked into used Austrian oak barrels (2-3 years old, some 300 litres, some 2500 litres). In the following year, the base wine was filled into bottles, where the second fermentation occurred. This particular bottle spent at least 36 months on lees and was manually riddled and disgorged on 2nd February 2022.

Benoît Lahaye Millesime 2017

  • producer: Benoît Lahaye
  • name: Millesime
  • vintage: 2017
  • degorgee: September 2022
  • sur lie: 60 months
  • grapes: Pinot Noir (80%), Chardonnay (20%)
  • appellation: Champagne AOC
  • location: Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France
  • parcel: Le Mont de Tauxiéres
  • terroir: Bouzy Grand Cru
  • alcohol: 12
  • sugar: 3
  • price: 2595 UAH

Only the most daring and fastidious growers practise a certified biodynamic regime in a climate as erratic as Champagne’s.

— (Stelzer, n.d., p. 115)

Benoît Lahaye was an advocate of natural winemaking from the very beginning. After taking his family’s estate in 1993, he ceased the usage of systemic herbicides and moved to organic farming in 1996. His passion led Benoît Lahaye to acquire the full organic certification in 2007 and biodynamic in 2010. They say he didn’t stop here and even introduced his Burgundy horse to work the vines. He produces 50 thousand bottles annually from 4.8-hectare estate.

Now you may ask: what is the fuss around farming in the Champagne region? The answer is simple - climate and its change. As many farmers would tell you (citation needed), the problem with climate change is not specifically the growth of the average temperature but rather the unpredictability of the weather and its amplitude of extremes. For example, the 2016 season brought catastrophic frost, hail and rain (Stelzer, n.d., p. 56). It inflicted the most widespread devastation in the region’s history. Only to be outdone by the toughest season in living memory the very next year (Stelzer, n.d., p. 28), decimated by the worst rot Champagne has ever seen. By the way, this is the exact year we are tasting today. All these catastrophes not only destroy the vineyards but also affect the style.

Without going too much into unnecessary details (you better read some linked sources if you are really curious), the winemakers and farmers of the Champagne found several solutions that affect vine-growing and vinification. One of them is the march to sustainable vineyards. And that means moving to organic farming (at the very least) and decreasing yields. For many people, the wake-up call came in 2017. Luckily, Benoît Lahaye was already there. That’s why we have his wine today.

Grand Cru Millesime comes from Le Mont de Tauxiéres parcel in the Bouzy Grand Cru (Montagne de Reims). It’s a blend of Pinot Noir (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) that spent 60 months sur lie. It was disgorged just recently, in September 2022. Many would argue that we are opening it too soon…

Bérêche & Fils Brut Réserve L19.07/2022 NV

  • producer: Bérêche & Fils
  • name: Brut Réserve L19.07/2022
  • vintage: NV
  • degorgee: 19 July 2022
  • sur lie: 24 to 36 months
  • grapes: Pinot Meunier (35%), Chardonnay (35%), Pinot Noir (30%)
  • appellation: Champagne AOC
  • location: Champagne, France
  • terroir: Ludes (35%), Ormes (30%), Mareuil-le-port (25%), Trépail (10%)
  • alcohol: 12.5
  • sugar: 6
  • price: 1906 UAH

We work in an organic way, but if there is too much rain in July and disease breaks out, we use a systemic chemical and then continue with our organic approach.

— (Stelzer, n.d., p. 117)

Vineyards map from Bérêche site

And now, the time has come to talk about one of my favourite NV Champagne wines available on the Ukrainian market. Initially, I wanted to bring Côte Grand Cru 2016, but after tasting both of them and looking at our line-up, I realised that a change is needed. Besides, this is one of the few opportunities to try it as it’s not freely available anymore.

Bérêche & Fils is a family-owned Champagne house since 1847 run by Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche. In 2019 they owned 9.5 hectares of mature vines averaging 38 years of age. And they produce only 85 thousand bottles yearly, which is considered a modest amount. Lower yields (60-65hL/hectare - less than two-thirds of the regional average) are one of their protection from challenges imposed by climate change.

Brut Réserve is a blend of Chardonnay (35%), Pinot Meunier (35%), and Pinot noir (30%), with 35% reserve wines each year. Bérêche brothers source grapes for this wine from Ludes (35%), Ormes (30%), Mareuil-le-port (25%), and Trépail (10%). They slowly ferment grapes in barrels and small vats. The wine spends on lees 24 to 36 months.

Félicien Brou Vouvray Brut NV

  • producer: Félicien Brou
  • name: Vouvray Brut
  • vintage: NV
  • degorgee: ???
  • sur lie: 9 to 12 months
  • grapes: Chenin Blanc
  • appellation: Vouvray AOC
  • location: Loire, France
  • alcohol: 12
  • sugar: N/A
  • price: 339 UAH

Someone needs to bring drums as Félicien Brou enters the scene. Who, you ask? Some of you might remember my constant temptation to take cheap and simple wines for ‘grand’ wine-tasting events. You also might remember that I love to taste all ‘no-name’ sparkling wines from the small booze shops near my house. This is how I learned about this wine. And in my opinion, it’s definitely better than some basic Taittinger wines.

Unfortunately, I know little about Félicien Brou and this particular wine. The information on the internet is scarce. In any case, Félicien Brou is a wine brand (part of Les Grands Chais de France) from the Loire, just upstream of the city of Tours. Made in traditional style (e.g. with ageing on lees, riddling and disgorgement) from Chenin Blanc grapes. That’s it.

Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Collection Bouzy 2000

  • producer: Maurice Vesselle
  • name: Grand Cru Collection Bouzy
  • vintage: 2000
  • degorgee: ???
  • sur lie: ~60 months
  • grapes: Pinot Noir (85%), Chardonnay (15%)
  • appellation: Champagne AOC
  • location: Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France
  • terroir: Bouzy Grand Cru
  • alcohol: 12
  • sugar: 5
  • price: 3673 UAH

Maurice Vesselle is a family-owned Champagne house founded in 1955. Today it is managed by his sons - Didier and Thierry Vesselle. They cultivate 7.5 hectares in Bouzy and Tours sur Marne, two villages famous for Pinot Noir. They both are Grand Crus of Montagne de Reims.

Aside from being a Grand Cru Champagne producer, Maurice Vesselle’s house is an interesting choice because they have a wide collection of vintage wines from 1976 to 2007. And because they block malolactic fermentation in order to retain freshness and finesse in their wines.

Today we have a 22 years old vintage Champagne without malolactic fermentation and without oak usage, it spent at least 5 years2 on lees and then much longer in the bottle. Not something you taste every day, right?

De Sousa Cuvée des Caudalies Grand Cru Rosé NV

  • producer: De Sousa
  • name: Cuvée des Caudalies Grand Cru Rosé (d2021)
  • vintage: NV
  • degorgee: 26 November 2021
  • sur lie: 52 months
  • grapes: Chardonnay (90%), Pinot Noir (10%)
  • appellation: Champagne AOC
  • location: Champagne, France
  • terroir: Avize Grand Cru and Aÿ Grand Cru
  • alcohol: 12.5
  • sugar: 5
  • price: 3906 UAH

De Sousa is a family-owned winery in Avize, just in the centre of Côte des Blancs. They own 10 hectares in total, with some plots located in Aÿ and Ambonnay (for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Annually they produce 110 thousand bottles.

Cuvée des Caudalie is a blend of 60 years old Chardonnay from Avize and Pinot Noir from Aÿ. Chardonnay is vinified in small barrels with no chaptalisation. Then it is blended as a solera of reserve wines that spans over 18 harvests. Pinot Noir matures in oak casks for one year. 100% vinified in small oak barrels. No reserves.

Cà del Vént Anima Brut Rosé Pas Operé VSQ 2014

I am stealing this section from Sin Titulo. Stealing in a shameless manner.

Cà del Vént has a humble story that officially started in 1994. With no equipment, just in the garage, they handcrafted 5 barrels of Clavis, red wine from autochthonous varieties. It was made just for personal consumption. As they admitted, likely due more to luck than actual ability, their first wine, Clavis 1996, turned out to be incredible.

Only in 2001 did they buy a small pneumatic press to vinify the first 2000 bottles of Franciacorta. Yet they didn’t like the result as the wine lacked elegance and the oak flavours were too obvious and heavy.

After gaining experience, the property reaches 6.5 hectares merging some neighbouring vineyards. And so they move from an amateur to a small winery.

As you might know, to be allowed to write any designation like Franciacorta DOCG, you have to pass an evaluation by the tasting commission. In 2015 Cà del Vént was rejected because its wines did not suit the appellation standards. Formally commission said that these wines are too rich and complex. Since then Cà del Vént is not bound by any restrictions other than its own. High standards, and a strong identity made by the soil and the season.

The base wine for this rosé spent 7 months in French oak 225 litres Taransaud barriques. The second fermentation started with the addition of grape sugar. Overall, it spent 45 months on lees. After the disgorgement, sparkling VSQ is filled ONLY with wine from other bottles belonging to the same lot, without adding sugar or any liqueur d’expedition. This is what Cà del Vént means by Pas Operé (unprocessed). Not to confuse with Pas dosé - no added sugar.

As far as I understand, the label depicts cracks on the granite block. They occur by the procedures used to quarry the stone.


  1. Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs Extra Bruto Unfiltered NV
  2. Weingut Bründlmayer Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Reserve NV
  3. Benoît Lahaye Millesime 2017
  4. Bérêche & Fils Brut Réserve L19.07/2022 NV
  5. Félicien Brou Vouvray Brut NV
  6. Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Collection Bouzy 2000
  7. De Sousa Cuvée des Caudalies Rosé NV
  8. Cà del Vént Anima Brut Rosé Pas Operé VSQ 2014
Wine #1 Wine #2 Wine #3 Wine #4 Wine #5 Wine #6 Wine #7 Wine #8
Tania S 4.50 4.00 4.60 4.30 4.10 3.80 4.10 4.00
Dmytro S 4.00 3.90 4.20 3.90 4.30 4.20 4.00 4.00
Andrii S 3.80 3.60 4.10 4.20 4.40 3.80 4.20 4.30
Viktoriya Zh 3.50 3.80 4.20 4.00 3.80 4.40 3.90 4.20
Ivietta K 3.80 3.70 3.30 4.20 3.90 4.00 4.10 3.90
Dmytro D 3.50 3.90 3.80 4.00 3.80 4.00 3.80 4.20
Daria B 3.50 3.70 4.20 3.80 3.80 4.00 4.20 3.80
Elvira K 3.70 3.90 4.30 4.10 4.00 4.10 4.00 4.20
Oleksandr Y 3.80 3.90 4.20 3.80 3.90 3.80 4.00 4.10
Inna S 3.80 3.40 3.60 4.30 4.40 3.70 4.70 4.40
Oleksandra B - - - - - - - -
Boris B 3.70 3.90 4.40 4.20 3.80 4.40 4.40 4.10
amean sdev favourite outcast price QPR
Wine #1 3.78 0.0742 0.00 5.00 651.00 2.6684
Wine #2 3.79 0.0281 0.00 5.00 1627.00 1.0819
Wine #3 4.08 0.1269 4.00 1.00 2595.00 1.0469
Wine #4 4.07 0.0311 1.00 0.00 1906.00 1.4058
Wine #5 4.02 0.0542 0.00 0.00 339.00 7.2765
Wine #6 4.02 0.0524 2.00 1.00 3673.00 0.6716
Wine #7 4.13 0.0565 3.00 0.00 3906.00 0.7456
Wine #8 4.11 0.0281 2.00 0.00 1690.00 1.6759

How to read this table:

  • amean is arithmetic mean (and not ‘amen’), calculated as sum of all scores divided by count of scores for particular wine. It is more useful than total, because on some events some wines are not tasted by all participants.
  • sdev is standard deviation. The bigger this value the more controversial the wine is, meaning that people have different opinions on this one.
  • favourite is amount of people who marked this wine as favourite of the event.
  • outcast is amount of people who marked this wine as outcast of the event.
  • price is wine price in UAH.
  • QPR is quality price ratio, calculated in as 100 * factorial(rms)/price. The reason behind this totally unprofessional formula is simple. At some point you have to pay more and more to get a little fraction of satisfaction. Factorial used in this formula rewards scores close to the upper bound 120 times more than scores close to the lower bound.


According to the results, it worked. After all, this event has marked second place this year (more on that in a few days). If you are curious, here are some changes I would make.

First, I would not take Filipa Pato. Initially, I put it on the list for being a curious blend from Portugal (something new), but after tasting it, I decided to replace it with Pregadéu, a so much better wine with a better price. But after seeing that almost everyone tasted Pregadéu, I decided to return to Filipa Pato. At least to give something new. And I knew some of you wanted to taste it.

Secondly, I would swap the order of some wines. Benoît Lahaye Millesime 2017 turned out to be much more intense than Bérêche & Fils Brut Réserve. Ideally, it should go after Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Collection Bouzy 2000. It could even be the last wine of the evening as rosé wines were more delicate. Besides, Anima brut is not the loudest finish of the evening, despite being so emotionally important.

Well, that’s a rant and an attempt to learn from my own experience. Don’t get me wrong. The event was a blast! Great people combined with great wines in the gorgeous One Tea Tree - that is an antique formula for a pleasant and warm evening.

Thanks to all of you. All participants and people who helped with the organisation. See you next year!

P.S. Some technical information is available in the Classy Bubbles: Taste the Yeast post.



  2. I could not find exact information, this is the information the importer provided me with.↩︎