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The Etienne Doue Brut Champagne is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from a Grower/Producer (look for an RM somewhere on the label) sourced from estate vineyards near the town of Montgueux in the Aube section of Champagne in France.
Étienne Doué is the father-daughter team of Étienne and Virginie. A Grower/Producer in Champagne is someone outside of the large established Champagne Houses, such as Dom Perignon or Moet Chandon to name a couple of the more famous Houses.
A Grower/Producer may sell some of his grapes to the big guys but hold enough back to produce their own Bubbly. Etienne Doue goes a step further and is also Vigernon Independent which indicates they only grow, produce and sell their own wines. This is a small production, boutique Champagne.
So you ask, why is Cheapwinefinder writing and talking (check out the companion podcast) about boutique Champagne? Well, because Grower/Producer and Vigernon Independent Champagne are often less expensive when compared to Bubbly from the big-name producers.
I found these Bubbles for $31 and this is before Champagne goes on sale around the December Holidays. It may not exactly be cheap, but it is definitely a bargain. The big Champagne Houses do a masterful job of marketing. Their Bubbly is synonymous with luxury and prestige.
These small Champagne producers can not compete with name recognition, but they can offer excellent, small-batch Bubbly at prices that beat the mass-produced Bubbly. It is not uncommon for the “entry-level” Champagne offerings from the famous brands to have yearly production runs of 1,000,000 bottles and use 100 or more vineyards.
I am not complaining about those mass-produced bubblies, I would gladly drink any one of them. But the Etienne Doue Brut Champagne a level is exclusivity at a fair price that the big brands can not touch. If you are a cheap wine finder who loves Bubbly then look for the RM on the label for Grower/Producer.
The Etienne Doue Brut Champagne (the actual name is Cuvée Selection, they also have a Reserve Selection) uses fairly straight-forward production methods. The first fermentation occurs in stainless steel vats as does the first aging period. Both the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir underwent Malolactic Fermentation.
After first fermentation and aging the wine was lightly filtered, but not fined. That is a process where leftover yeast and grape residue are removed from the wine. Anytime you remove anything from the wine you also remove some flavor, producers try to remove just enough.
The second fermentation, this is where the bubbles are formed occurs in each and every bottle. Wine from the 1st fermentation is bottled, then a measured amount of yeast and sugar is added. The wine is left for at least 18 months. The dead yeast is then removed, the bottle is topped off and the wine is brought up to the desired sweetness level. In this case, it is a Brut wine, meaning not sweet. The alcohol content is a balanced 12%.
Etienne Doue Brut Champagne Tasting Notes
The color is a mix of platinum and gold and the bubbles are plentiful and energetic. First a word of caution, Champagne is known for having the most pressure inside the bottle (measured in atmospheres), that is how you can open a bottle with a saber. Give the glass near the neck a good whack at the bottle top will explode. You need to be careful opening most Sparkling wine, but be especially careful with Champagne, the cork blew off on its own while I was disposing of the wire cage. Do not put your face over the bottle or open under an expensive chandelier.
The is yeasty with apple, Meyer lemon, a whiff of honey, peach, citrus, and flowers. This is a wonderfully balanced Champagne, the fruit flavors, the citrus, and the acidity dance on your tongue. This is a delicious Bubbly.
It starts with a mix of tart apple and dried apricot, then lemon with a touch of grapefruit. The mid-palate adds a little bakery bread, some of that salty, nutty “on lees” thing, and coconut cream (not sweetened) and nectarine.
The list of flavors is not all that unique or complex, but they sure do work well together. If you are not sure just what acidity brings to wine try some of the Etienne Doue Brut Champagne and you will “get it”.
- Champagne is my very favorite category of wine, which may be a weird choice for someone that writes CheapWineFinder. Luckily I also love Prosecco, Cava, and almost every other Sparkling wine. But there is nothing like an excellent Champagne.
- The Etienne Doue Brut Champagne may not have the name recognition of Cristal or Taittinger, but it is nowhere near as expensive. And I doubt that those wines can give you a more pleasurable drinking experience.
- Remember when looking for value in Champagne, do your research and look towards the Grower/Producer (RM) Bubbly.