New Years Eve has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that we all have to skimp on our consumption of sparkling wine for the rest of the year. In fact, now that the pressure to pop the cork from bottles of bubbly has passed, this is the perfect time to treat Champagne as a great wine in its own right, not just as a means to mark the moment when the ball drops and Seacrest proclaims the ringing in of 2015.
Over the next few weeks, then, I’ll be discussing some of the best Champagnes and other sparklers I’ve tasted over the past few months. But I cannot think of a better way to kick off the new year—and to inaugurate the re-launch and new look of The Food, Drink & Travel Report—than with one of the single most exciting Champagne discoveries I’ve experienced recently: The exceptional bottlings from Champagne Pascal Doquet, a family-owned estate that farms its own grapes, including some in the most renowned Premiers and Grands Crus in the entire Côte des Blancs—his 1.67 hectares in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, for example, result in wines that are nothing short of breath-taking. Frankly, all of the bottlings I’ve tasted from Doquet are standouts.
I was introduced to the remarkable wines of Pascal and Laure Doquet, which are brought in by the always excellent Robert Kacher Selections, at an intimate press lunch at Piora this past autumn. It was a brilliant choice of venue: Piora, whose food is inspired by both the Italian and Korean culinary traditions, crafted dish after dish that allowed the Champagnes the opportunity to fully express themselves while also demonstrating how versatile great Champagne is with a wide range of foods and styles.
As for the wines themselves, they have been made from grapes with no chemical intervention since 2001, and their shimmering purity reflects that. Pascal himself is a third-generation winemaker, and the whole operation is limited to the Doquet family: In size and philosophy, these wines embody the potential of grower-producer Champagne to win over wine lovers with ease.
My notes on these remarkable Champagnes are below.
Champagne Pascal Doquet Brut Rosé NV: Aromas of red fruit, flowers, and minerals lead to a palate with hints of strawberry, multigrain toast, and minerals. Fresh, with excellent concentration.
Champagne Pascal Doquet “Horizon” Brut Blanc de Blancs NV: Deep, rich aromas of yeast and lemon curd turn to flavors of sesame paste, lemon juice, and a seam of minerality that seems almost flinty. Excellent. Drink now - 2026+.
Champagne Pascal Doquet 1er Cru Arpège Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV: Beautiful burnished gold in color, with aromas of sweet autumn fruits and hints of dried mushroom: Savory and complex. Texturally, this is almost slippery, a rich and mouth-filling wine boasting flavors of ginger, lemongrass, and crunchy apple, especially on the finish. Fantastic acid and minerality here.Enjoy it now or for another two decades.
Champagne Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Brut NV: As amazing as the aromatics are here—a deep well of mashed pear and gunflint—the palate is utterly stunning, a sweet-souled and broad-shouldered offering with white flowers, honey, baked apple, vanilla, and a hint of ginger. Fantastic structure, laser-point bubbles, and tons of aging potential. Drink now or for another two decades.
Champagne Pascal Doquet 1er Cru Le Mont Aimé Brut Blanc de Blancs 2005: Even at nearly 10 years of age, this remarkable vintage Champagne is drinking quite young, its intense concentration and balance between savoriness and fresher notes of mineral, acid, and lime promising a long life ahead. Drink 2017 - 2037+.
Champagne Pascal Doquet 1er Cru Vertus “Coeur de Terroir” 2004: Rich and concentrated, with a seam of minerality highlighting aromas of lemongrass and galangal, as well as flavors of honey, chalk, and more lemongrass. Vividly bright and intense. Remarkable. Drink now or hold onto it for 15 to 20 years.
Champagne Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Oger “Coeur de Terroir” 2004: Smoky and creamy aromas swirl with notes of persimmon, and turn to powerful, sappy flavors of stone fruit, crunchy apple, and honey tuille. Drink 2016 - 2026 and beyond.
Champagne Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Vieilles Vignes Blanc de Blancs 2002: An epic Champagne: This is a massively structured wine boasting aromas of sea shell, iodine, apple fritters, lemon, lime, chalk, persimmon, warm pastry, and fresh ginger. I could smell this for hours. The palate is beautifully structured, with plenty of acid, mineral, gunpowder, flint, and yellow apples, all of it finishing with a gorgeous flash of springtime flowers. Nothing short of stunning. Drink 2019 - 2039+.