Gratien Brut, NV. Ets Gratien, Meyer, Seydoux & Cie| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | December 1984

Gratien Brut is a Saumur mousseux. What does that mean?

Mousseux= French word for spark­ling wine, usually used to desig­nate these wines from regions other than the famous Champagne region. Wines from the latter region are the only ones that can bear the name “Champagne” in France.

Saumur= a town on the Loire river, in France, between Tours and Angers. The Saumur appellation may only be used on wines that are produced in the designated region.

Gratien= brand name for this sparkling wine produced by the firm of Gratien & Meyer.

Brut= designation of the dryness level of a sparkling wine. Usually indicates the most dry grade made.

After Champagne, the Saumur winemakers are the best sparkling wine producers in France. They have learnt the craft well. In fact, in the case of the Gratien & Meyer firm, their founder Alfred Gratien also established a Champagne house in Epernay (the heart of the Champagne region) around 1864. This was after he had started making sparkling wine in Saumur. Thus with the clout of the prestig­ious connection of Epernay, and with the sharing of the “Methode Champenoise” techniques, the firm continues the operation today.

The Gratien version of Saumur mousseux is made from 7096 Chenin Blanc grapes and 3096 Cabernet Franc grapes. The Chenin gives style and finesse and the Cabernet gives body and depth. Curiously, the blending of red and white grapes follows the same tendency of blending Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for the making of Champagne. The difference bet­ween Champagne and Saumur mousseux is thus in the grapes. For all intents and purposes the processes are nearly identical, and it is known that the soil of Saumur resembles very closely that of

Champagne. Both are calcareous. Gratien & Meyer own some of the best terrain of Saumur.

What is the traditional “Methode Champenoise”? It refers to “the method of making sparkling wine used in the Champagne region of France”. It is attributed to the revered monk Dom Pierre Perignon (1638-1715). Simplified, it involves making a still wine first from various blends of grapes. Live yeast and grape sugar are added in measured doses, to each bottle. A secondary fermentation occurs which produces the natural effer­vescence. This is trapped in the wine, because it is bottled and capped. By a process of disgorge­ment, the yeast is removed, and the sparkling wine is recorked for final packaging. A nutty yeast flavor to the wine is achieved, as well as the festive bubbles.

This cuvee of Gratien Brut is golden yellow in color. It has a nutty, yeasty aroma, clear and direct. (In fact when we had the sparkling wine semi-finals and finals, the Gratien Brut was nicknamed “the bold one!”). There is a hint of austere fruit that comes through in the aroma, but not dominant. The taste is flavorful, with good intensity and depth. Not very apparent as a Chenin. The Cabernet Franc seems to mask it. Fine bubbles, and plenty of them. It is dry, with medium body. A hint of peach flavor comes through in the middle. The finish is lasting, and it shows some Cabernet Franc as the flavor fades in your mouth. Serve well chilled, before or after a meal with cream cheese canapes (no herbs), caviar, or alone (and savor!)

Happy New Year!

Cellaring Notes: Drink now.

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