Michel Mailliard Cuvee Gregory Champagne
Michel Mailliard – a legendary Champagne maker from a legendary place. Not just Champagne, but from Vertus. While being a fourth-generation vigneron and Champagne maker in Vertus, Michel’s own personal Champagne, this one on offer today, is almost entirely unknown. This is because years ago, Michel saw a growing trend in the region of Champagne that he wanted to encourage, the trend of small farmers producing their own Champagne and bringing it to market – farmer fizz, or Small Grower Champagne.
Michel was a visionary and innovator, and an amazing friend. What he did was set up a custom crush facility. In other words, he let other farmers come and use his winery to crush, vinify, age, bottle, and then bottle-age at his winery. As you can imagine, Champagne production is expensive and at least three years to move from grapes to finished bottle. For most of his neighbors making their own Champagne was an impossible dream, until Michel came along. Michel opened the gates to all around him, helping revolutionize the quality of Champagne, and the diversity we are enjoying to this day.
But as you can imagine, that came at a cost, and the cost was his own house. Champagne Mailiard was always produced – and even more significantly, always treasured – but sometimes just to the very few in Vertus because production was so small. This offer marks Champagne Mailliard’s debut in Wisconsin, if not the entire U.S. And what a significant Champagne it is:
Spending five years on the lees before release, this Champagne nearly explodes with a creamy, rich brioche-ness right off the cork pull. That is backed up by waves of melted milk chocolate (aged Chardonnay in Champagne for some reason always gives me this heavenly scent) and dark notes of cherry from the Pinot Noir in the blend. The palate is crisp, but not blisteringly so: It’s perfectly poised between its fruit and brioche notes from the primary grapes and the wonderful savoriness setting in from bottle age. Incredible as a cocktail, this will up your holiday game to a dazzling new level. Or enjoy it at the table with a white meat devilishly braised in creme fraiche and black truffles.
What a perfect winemaker, and his perfect Champagne, to celebrate Champagne Day. Cheers!