Pop star Champagne is a region of France dominated by famous brands such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët and Veuve Clicquot. The name Drappier may not be on your radar. The eighth-generation family firm was established in 1808 and has carved out a unique niche. It is smaller than its competitors, with a production of about 1.5 million bottles. It lacks the marketing budget of the large champagne houses, but Drappier wines speak for themselves in style, elegance and quality. The house specialises in pinot noir and its wines are often rich in red fruit and generous in body.
The classic champagne blend is made from three grape varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. What is little known is that seven varieties are permitted under the appellation system. Drappier grows all seven, including blanc vrai (pinot blanc), petit meslier, arbane and fromenteau (pinot gris). These four "forgotten" varieties make up the blend of one of its wines, Quattuor Cuvée.
Most producers strive for lower yields to make high-quality wine. The premise is that lower yielding vines produce more concentrated berries, which add complexity and give ageing potential to the wines. Champagne tends to be an exception, as grape yields are typically high. Drappier, however, says dismissively that it does not care about volume. The vineyards are farmed sustainably, based on organic principles, and only organic composts are used. Minimal sulphur levels are used in the cellar.
Drappier Carte d'Or
Carte d'Or embodies Drappier's house style and is its entry-level wine. On its first release, in 1952, the notes of quince jelly were widely noted. The house decided to make its label orange, to signify the colour of quince.
Made from the classic blend of 80 per cent pinot noir, 15 per cent chardonnay and 5 per cent pinot meunier.
Citrus, mineral, toasty aromas. Quite rich and round, with good fruit intensity and softer acidity. Well balanced and approachable. HK$340
Drappier Brut Nature Rosé
Drappier was the first house to make rosé champagne without the addition of sugar. This is a great food wine and will complement delicate dishes, such as sashimi.
Attractive onion-skinned hue. Summer berries of strawberries and raspberries. Medium body with balanced acidity; bone dry and a long finish. HK$450
Drappier Cuvée Charles de Gaulle
General Charles de Gaulle often stayed at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises a few kilometres from the winery. A fan of Drappier, he would serve the champagne at private receptions. If you have wondered what champagne tasted like 50 years ago, give this wine a try. Champagne used to be a lot richer, with higher levels of sugar. The modern version has lower sugar levels but has retained the richness and concentration. The richness of the wine comes from 80 per cent pinot noir while the 20 per cent of chardonnay gives the champagne elegance and its acidic backbone.
Forward, toasty, nutty, biscuity and oxidative notes. Full bodied, balanced with rich creamy notes and long finish. HK$438
The wines are available through Ponti Trading ponti-tdg.com.