Artisan Hosted Winemaker Philippe Secondé from Champagne Barnaut

Champagne Edmond Barnaut Featured
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On June 24 our friends at Artisan Wine Depot hosted winemaker Philippe Secondé from Champagne Barnaut (founded 1874).

M. Philippe Secondé and Tony

M. Philippe Secondé and Tony

M. Secondé brought three champagnes with him, each from Barnaut’s vineyards in Bouzy, France. More on the winemaker and the vineyards after we look at the wines.

The Champagnes

These are the real deal. You may or may not like any or all of them, but they are 100 percent authentic Champagne, reflecting the terroir and the skill of M. Secondé. And, at Artisan’s prices (quoted here), each qualifies as a real bargain.

Grande Reserve NV Brut Champagne Grand Cru

The Grande Reserve NV Brut Champagne Grand Cru ($40) opens with the traditional yeast nose (specifically sourdough yeast) and a hint of anise followed by more chewy yeast on the palate with an explosion of bubbles. Flavors develop into red currants and honey. The finish is long with a hint of toasted nuts. The wine is a blend of about two-thirds pinot noir and one-third chardonnay.

Blanc de Noirs NV Brut Champagne Grand CruNext up was our personal favorite, the Blanc de Noirs NV Brut Champagne Grand Cru ($40). We usually don’t like 100 percent pinot noir champagnes because they offer too much “blanc” and not enough “noir.” But this was an exception. M. Secondé has managed to keep the pinot character while making an excellent champagne. Aromas of white peach and bosc pear with a hint of citrus and minerality are followed by a hint of ginger and more pears on the palate. A chewy finish with mineral and more peaches rounds out an excellent experience.

Authentique Grand Cru NV Brut Rose ChampagneThe final wine was the Authentique Grand Cru NV Brut Rose Champagne. This is complex, interesting stuff, not quite as fizzy as the previous two, but quite acceptable. Cranberry and tangerine aromas are complemented with hints of roses and smoke. The palate is chewy, but too bitter for our taste with hints of orange zest and more cranberries. The best description we can come up with for the finish is, “Too rosé-ish.”

Meet Philippe Secondé

M. Secondé has been the owner, manager, and winemaker at Champagne Barnaut since 1985. In 1999 he took a second job as vice-president (Région Viticole) of Acolyance, a consulting agency for all aspects of making and selling Champagne. (Acolyance also consults in other agricultural areas, but those are probably not in M. Secondé’s area of expertise.)

The wine making is not easy: hand picking the grapes, the manual sorting bunch by bunch, cold maceration, followed by a perfectly timed fermentation. These steps are the beginnings of a rigorous process which will produce a thousand bottles in years that allow it.

But his main job is making great wine. Here’s a translated version[1] of the job description from the Champagne Barnaut website →

He also has an impressive educational background with baccalaureate and graduate degrees in viticulture and oenology from Lycée Viticole de Beaune. His post-graduate work was at Faculté d’Oenologie de Dijon – Institut Jules Guyot and Centre de Formation Professionnelle Beaune.

Champagne Barnaut

The company is located in the town of Bouzy, 16-3/4 miles south of Reims and 12 miles east of Épernay.

Reims to Bouzy

Reims to Bouzy (click for larger image)

Here’s what 1 Rue Gambetta looks like:[2]

Champagne Edmond Barnaut

Champagne Edmond Barnaut (click for larger image)

This is everyone’s idea of what a French winery should be. Owner operated, estate grown grapes, and a winemaker who is really good at making Champagne.

[1] Initial translation by Google Translate. Additional editing by Tony Lima.

[2] Google street view, image from 2014.

About the author

Tony Lima has been a California wine fan since arriving in California from the east coast in 1974. He's lived the growth and expansion of the industry first hand. He's seen the fickle California Wine consumer fads pop up and burst... the craze for Zinfandel, then oaky Chardonnay, then Merlot, now Pinot Noir. His day job was Professor of Economics at California State University located in Hayward. (He retired in 2016.) His undergrad degree in chemical engineering (MIT) and his MBA ( Harvard) and Ph.D. Economics (Stanford) are the root of his interest in the Business of Wine. He is a card-carrying member of the AAWE - American Association of Wine Economists.

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