Now for something a bit less main stream. The first time I tasted a Oliver Horiot Champagne was this fall at one of my favorite restaurants Kitchen Table (London). It was after a long, unclear babble of a description of what we liked that the Sommelier suggested to try “5 sens”, Oliver Horiots Ancient variety champagne. Ancient variety means that the Champagne is made with an “old” mix of grapes, that was more common a few hundred years ago than it is nowadays. In the case of 5 Sens this includes the use of Pinot Blanc and Arbanne together with today’s common mix of grapes Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It was wonderful, tasteful, minerally, I remember my mouth watering when drinking it. But this is not a review of the 5 Sens, wish it was, but that one is not easy to find with only around 8000 bottles produced a year. This is a review of Horiots other Champagne “seve”, which to my delight, was in box no 5 of the Wine calendar.
Seve is a Blanc de Noirs, so 100% Pinot Noir, and boy was that apparent from the color. A light ruby colored champagne with even a bit of a brownish tone. Look-wise it was mainly the bubbles that distinguished the champagne from a red wine, however it had a fresh look to it, so not as thick as a Lambrusco. This goes perfectly in line with what other writers say about Horiot, that he is more interested in making still wines than he is at making champagnes. But I am really pleased that he has decided to make bubbly, as his wines are always very different from what I expect from Champagne, in a positive way I mean.
At first sniff, you get a very dry scent of wood and rose. When taking the first sips I am a bit disappointed. I was expecting this flavorful, mouthwatering and minerally experience as with the 5 Sens. The Seve has much more “red wine” notes of ripe red berries to it than I would expect of a champagne (I am really not a fan of Lambrusco). It was not bad, not at all, but definitely not as great as I expected. So we put the bottle back in the fridge after one glass and moved on to some red wine that evening. Hmm, but the next day, as we opened the bottle again for a pre-dinner aperitif (I might be a bit of a wine-snob, but I will not throw away good alcohol) the taste had developed. The airing had made it much more flavorful and round with notes of marzipan, vanilla and hints of almond. I always foolishly expect the first sips of a wine to be the best, but this one just required a bit of patience to get to its full potential. I have run into this experience with some older champagnes before, and some of them are definitely worth airing for a while even with the expense of losing some bubbles. Seve is also a vintage champagne (this is advertised only in the back label), in this case 2007, so I could imagine that there is some development from year to year. So perhaps I need to get an annual subscription.
As with the 5 Sens, the Seve is nothing main stream, it is a wonderful rebel to the have in the mix. I just wish stocking up on Horiot’s would be a bit easier. After prying about how M had come across this wine, I heard that getting it through the Monopoly’s private import was not a walk in the park. The service, that is supposed to partly justify not having a free market here in Sweden, took over 3 months and a lot of pushing (calls to the Monopoly) from M to deliver. So if you come across a Horiot and feel adventurous, do not hesitate one minute, buy it! The price for a bottle is around 400 SEK through the monopoly private import; or for those of you in London the Sampler often have this or some other champagne from Horiot on the shelf. A Horiot Champagne will not rob you blind and is definitely worth the extra effort to find. All in all, I give the Seve 4 stars.