Monday, July 7, 2014

Champagne Nomine-Renard Trade Tasting

Ms Cecilia Nomine of Champagne Nomine Renard was in town a week ago to showcase her Estate’s ‘grower’ champagnes. Enoteca (the local representative and distributor) took the opportunity to organize a trade tasting for local F&B folks.

Jason Koh (of Enoteca) & Cecilia Nomine (of Champagne Nomine-Renard)

Champagne Nomine-Renard

“First and foremost we are Winegrowers. Each generation has passed on to the next the same passion for our vineyard”, so states a brochure on this winery. Champagne Nomine-Renard was founded by Andre and Germaine Nomine. In 1971 they released their first champagne under this estate’s label. They were however not new to this region. Earlier generations have owned the land and have been making a living as grape growers. Presently their son Claude Nomine and grandson Simon Nomine manage this estate. Being an independent grower and producer allows them the luxury to control quality from grape growing to champagne production.


This estate owns 20 hectares of vineyard land. It may not appear ‘large’; but this is the Champagne region. Cecilia explains that 58% of growers have less than 1 hectare of vineyard land; they tend to sell their grapes to big Champagne Houses and co-operatives rather than make any champagne of their own. Only 12% of growers have over 5 hectares of vineyard land. Plots get split into smaller parcels with each successive generation dividing the land among a few children.

Nomine-Renard’s vineyard is not a single land parcel; it is spread over 36 plots within 6 villages (these villages are located among 3 distinctive regions):

Coteaux du Petit Morin Region
Village Etoges: mainly Chardonnay and a little Pinot Noir grown here.
Village Villevenard: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Cote de Sezanne Region
Village Broyes: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Village Allemant: only Chardonnay.

Vallee de la Marne Region
Village Charly sur Marne: only Pinot Noir
Village Passy-Grigny: only Pinot Meunier

Operating at a latitude of 49 degrees North can pose a challenge to most grape growers. Frost can wreck good harvest (and have done so in previous years). Powdery mildew, downy mildew, grey rot and insects present their own challenges to vine health as well. The use of sulphur, copper or any other product to ensure vine health is undertaken with great care. Cecilia explains that a fine balance has to be struck between the desire to produce healthy grapes and the need to preserve the health of the land (and the quality of soils). Sustainable agricultural practices are adopted within the vineyard to ensure the land is kept healthy.


Each grape variety and grapes from each of the 36 plots are pressed and vinified separately. This offers a range of ‘terroir specific’ base wines as blending components for the cellar master to work with. Stainless steel containers are used to preserve the wine’s freshness and fruit flavours. Upon second fermentation the bottles are aged for 3 years, a period longer than required under current champagne rules. The bottles are laid to rest in a cellar located 9 metres underground. This ensures a constant, cool temperature and a 75% humidity level; both ideal for wine development and aging.

Once dosage is added, the bottles rest for another 6 months (for the components to integrate) before release to the market. Each champagne producer strives for a house style which he hopes to recreate in future productions. When queried, Cecilia answered that Nomine-Renard strives to show ‘freshness, elegance and minerality’ in their champagnes. Presently 10,000 cases of champagne are produced annually.


During the recent tasting we had the opportunity to taste 4 of this Estate’s champagnes.

Brut Nominee. Chardonnay 40%, Pinot Noir 30%, Pinot Meunier 30%.
(pale yellow-gold; pear and apple aromas; crisp, fresh body showing minerals, good acidity in palate)

Brut Rose. Chardonnay 50%, Pinot Meunier 50%.
(light pink; red berry aroma; delicate, crisp, fresh body with lively berry flavours, pleasant finish)

Brut Reserve. Chardonnay 100%.
(pale yellow; minerals and toasty hints showing in aroma; good structure and minerality in body)

Special Club 2008. Chardonnay 80%, Pinot Noir 20%.
(yellow; fine bubbles, acidity offering good structure to body, complex and elegant, minerality showing in palate)

The ‘Club 2008’ is a special wine. To date, this cuvee has been produced for 6 vintages only. In order to produce this Special Club wine, this estate has to be a member of the ‘Tressors de Champagne’ Club. It’s a club formed in 1971 by a group of grower champagne producers striving to promote quality in champagnes they produce. Membership is by invitation and one gets admitted only if a grower champagne producer shares a similar ideal for quality viticultural and vinification practices as required of Club members. To date, there are 28 members (and Nomine-Renard is one of the founding member of this club). A Special Club cuvee is only permitted to be produced by a member after certain quality criterias are fulfilled. The 'Club'champagne comes in a bottle specially designed for Club members.

This Estate also produces a demi-sec. It was not presented during the tasting; but is nonetheless available in Singapore.

Export Market

This estate's 3 largest export markets are Luxemburg, Norway and Japan. In South East Asia, these champagnes can be found in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Local Distributor Contact

Enoteca Co. Ltd (Jason Koh); Tel: 63371263

Local Retail Outlet

Enoteca Wine Shop, #B2-02, Takashimaya Departmental Store; Tel: 68363068

Pictures of the Trade Tasting

To view pictures of the trade tasting, follow this link:
Champagne Nomine-Renard Trade Tasting Photo Album

Identifying a grower champagne

Champagnes from big 'Champagne Houses' like Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon, Krug, Gosset and GH Mumm have been around in Singapore for quite a while and wine consumers are familiar with these labels. But how can a wine consumer identify a bottle of grower champagne when at a wine retail outlet?

One way is to look for a fine print (a 2-lettered initial) appearing on the front label of a champagne bottle. It shows who the producer of the champagne is:
'RM': champagne produced by a grower using grapes he grow (a grower champagne).
'NM': champagne produced by a Champagne House which purchases grapes from growers.
Others initial one may come across are 'CM', 'RC', 'MA' and 'SR'. You can get more information of these initials at 'Types of Champagne Producers'.

For those curious and keen on numbers, I was able to obtain the following information from Cecilia on the current number of producers:
Number of RM (grower champagne producers) = 1,951
Number of NM (big Champagne House producers) = 392
Number of cooperatives = 40

The total champagne production for year 2013 = 25 million cases
Production (in %) by Big Houses = 78%
Production by rest = 22%

Local restaurants carrying grower champagnes

If you are looking for local eateries carrying grower champagnes, you may wish to visit the following:
Restaurant Andre at 41 Bukit Pasoh Road.
Pollen (Gardens by the Bay) at 18 Marina Gardens Drive.

... morgun pathi

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