Demi-Sec Champagne?

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Jim Stewart
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Demi-Sec Champagne?

#1 Post by Jim Stewart »

I know nothing about this particular category of Champagne. I have experienced and enjoyed what I will label a "demi-sec" style in still white wines (Chenin Blanc, Riesling) and would be interested in hearing opinions and recommendations on this style of Champagne. Thanks.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#2 Post by brigcampbell »

Never had the Taittinger demi sec which clocks in at 33g/l. I'm sure it'll be a quality DS.

If you want to work your way up the sugar ladder Taittinger also has Nocturne at 17 g/l. This, shocking to me, is surprisingly good and not cloy. I drank this with FMIII who prefers negative dosage and even he enjoyed it.
  • NV Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Sec - France, Champagne (6/13/2016)
    Didn't quite show as well as the last bottle. The residual sugar was more forward, maybe based on the serving temperature. This was cellar temp, basically. I'm not complaining as I enjoyed it but didn't move me.
  • NV Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Rosé Sec - France, Champagne (5/8/2016)
    Bubblefest - Taittinger Horizontal: Can't judge a book by the cover and at 17.5g/l who knew? Good stuff. The red fruit shows in this rosé, ripe strawberry and creamy mouthfeel. The bubbles are almost nonexistent, odd. I enjoyed this wine but it's at the edge of ripe scale for bubbles in my world. Another big crowd pleaser, I'd have no problem serving this on a hot day with a big chill.
  • NV Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Sec - France, Champagne (5/8/2016)
    Bubblefest - Taittinger Horizontal: SEC bubbly? Yeah, I'm probably not going to like it. Yikes, 17.5 g/l dosage on the back label, I know I'm going hate it. Wrong wrong wrong. Really very nice. Sure there's a "sweet fruit" component but the wine doesn't taste sweet. Full, rounded out mouthfeel with acid balance. Everyone enjoyed this one.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#3 Post by Dennis Atick »

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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#4 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

+1 on Margaine!
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#5 Post by Brad Baker »

Margaine is very good and an easy go to. For sweeter than Brut, I also like Selosse's Exquise, Clicquot's Vintage Rich, and Taittinger's Nocturne blanc and Rose. You can always go super sweet with Doyard's Libertine. For more of a bargain, Mumm Napa's Cuvee M is well worth the price of admission.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#6 Post by Jim Stewart »

Thanks for the range of recs, including the surprise mention of the Mumm Napa Cuvee M at < $20. For those who like the "style", when would you serve a demi-sec Champagne ?
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#7 Post by Yao C »

I was surprised by how good Exquise was when I had it. Nocturne I'm less of a fan, and I generally love the house style. Will have to give Margaine a shot

IMO demi sec goes with everything Champagne goes with (yes even oysters and such). The few times we've picked it have been when we've dined with friends who have a sweet tooth
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#8 Post by Kirk.Grant »

Jim Stewart wrote: February 21st, 2021, 3:02 pm Thanks for the range of recs, including the surprise mention of the Mumm Napa Cuvee M at < $20. For those who like the "style", when would you serve a demi-sec Champagne ?
Jim,

I really enjoyed the 2008 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Extra Brut and we drank most of our bottles with sushi, lobster, & even charcuterie plates we make.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#9 Post by Michael S. Monie »

Can someone explain why sec means sweet with Champagne and dry with still wines?
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#10 Post by Brad Baker »

Michael S. Monie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:02 pm Can someone explain why sec means sweet with Champagne and dry with still wines?
Sec still means dry with Champagne. Brut means Bone Dry. It is all relative to past times when most Champagnes were Doux with 50+ g/L of residual sugar.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#11 Post by Michael S. Monie »

So, from dry to sweet it's: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, and Demi-Sec?
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#12 Post by Rodrigo B »

Michael S. Monie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:14 pm So, from dry to sweet it's: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, and Demi-Sec?
Correct. There is one more level of sweetness after Demi-Sec: Doux, which is anything with >50g/L of RS
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#13 Post by AndrewH »

Michael S. Monie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:14 pm So, from dry to sweet it's: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, and Demi-Sec?
The slightly odd naming results from Champagne originally being very sweet, with a movement towards dryness over time - half-dry, dry, extra dry, and then brut etc.

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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#14 Post by brigcampbell »

And to make it even more fun the ripeness of the fruit influences the perception of sweetness. So a bone dry extra brut might taste like it as 6g/l if it's picked ripe.

The growers will commonly do this with very low/zero dosage but pick much riper than the big houses. Makes it entertaining when tasting blind, is that sweetness actually sugar or fruit...

It'd be interesting to taste a demi-sec that has lots of acid.

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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#15 Post by Michael S. Monie »

Brad Baker wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:10 pm
Michael S. Monie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:02 pm Can someone explain why sec means sweet with Champagne and dry with still wines?
Sec still means dry with Champagne. Brut means Bone Dry. It is all relative to past times when most Champagnes were Doux with 50+ g/L of residual sugar.
I guess my point is that if one didn't know better, one might think that a still wine labeled sec (Chenin Blanc for example) would have 17-32 g/l of residual sugar, like Champagne.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#16 Post by AndrewH »

Michael S. Monie wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 11:46 am
Brad Baker wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:10 pm
Michael S. Monie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 8:02 pm Can someone explain why sec means sweet with Champagne and dry with still wines?
Sec still means dry with Champagne. Brut means Bone Dry. It is all relative to past times when most Champagnes were Doux with 50+ g/L of residual sugar.
I guess my point is that if one didn't know better, one might think that a still wine labeled sec (Chenin Blanc for example) would have 17-32 g/l of residual sugar, like Champagne.
I would count on the Germans, not the French, to have such a consistent system. Though the words would probably be a lot longer.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#17 Post by Jim Stewart »

Here is an interesting note from the Billecart-Salmon Website regarding their Demi-Sec Champagne:
CHAMPAGNE DEMI-SEC
Sweetness and Sensuality
The blend of Demi-Sec is identical of the Brut Reserve however, the dosage is greater.
The Demi-Sec has an identical blend to the Brut Réserve. It maintains the same finesse and elegance as this cuvée but with a greater dosage.


I am a fan of the Brut Reserve. Might be an interesting taste-off comparing these two and see what the higher dosage brings to the mix!?
Age merely shows what children we remain.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#18 Post by Brad Baker »

brigcampbell wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 10:08 am And to make it even more fun the ripeness of the fruit influences the perception of sweetness. So a bone dry extra brut might taste like it as 6g/l if it's picked ripe.

The growers will commonly do this with very low/zero dosage but pick much riper than the big houses. Makes it entertaining when tasting blind, is that sweetness actually sugar or fruit...

It'd be interesting to taste a demi-sec that has lots of acid.
To your point about ripeness in Extra Brut (or Brut Nature), as a whole, the larger producers actually do a better job of giving you a technically correct, very dry, no/little residual sugar wine. It isn't as tasty as those who harvest ripe or let a few grams of sugar survive, but I give credit to the perfect chemistry even if it can be boring.

The classic, stereotypical Demi-Sec was made from a mix of un-ripe grapes (with seering acidity) and lots of taille (very fruity, no acidity, no real character, sometimes rancid tasting). The premise was to throw in a bunch of sugar and you might wind up with something drinkable....

With a Sec, you can still get great acidity. Selosse is a perfect example and I think Taittinger's Nocturne too. As a Demi-Sec, Margaine manages to show good acidity and so does Clicquot with the Vintage Rich.

Another aspect to consider with Sec/Demi-Sec Champagnes are those that are released with more age than normal (both pre and/or post disgorgement). Vazart Coquart's Special Gourmet (formerly Special Foie Gras) is a great example of how age and the higher dosage create a rich, pastry, doughy, toasty wine that is very different from a younger sweet Champagne. Pommery's Dry Elixir used to be another great example as it was held back post-disgorgement for 5-7 years prior to release and the result was a rich, bready, honey filled wine that stood out from the back (unfortunately, it is no longer is made this way). Aged Extra-Sec, Sec, and Demi-Sec can be a real treat and they last for a very, very long time. When made with good material, they can be eye-opening.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#19 Post by Troy Stark »

Another vote for Margaine's. It's delicious.
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#20 Post by Jim Stewart »

Jim Stewart wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:04 pm Here is an interesting note from the Billecart-Salmon Website regarding their Demi-Sec Champagne:
CHAMPAGNE DEMI-SEC
Sweetness and Sensuality
The blend of Demi-Sec is identical of the Brut Reserve however, the dosage is greater.
The Demi-Sec has an identical blend to the Brut Réserve. It maintains the same finesse and elegance as this cuvée but with a greater dosage.


I am a fan of the Brut Reserve. Might be an interesting taste-off comparing these two and see what the higher dosage brings to the mix!?
FYI, I sent an email to Louis Roederer asking if the situation is the same with their NV Brut Premier and their demi-sec NV Carte Blanche- i.e. same blend of wine but higher dosage for the demi-sec - and they responded in the affirmative:
"The difference between our Louis Roederer Brut Premier and Carte Blanche is indeed the level of “dosage”, which can be depending on the year from around 9 g/l and 38 g/l respectively"
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Re: Demi-Sec Champagne?

#21 Post by Troy Stark »

That reminds me, the Roederer Estate demi-sec out of CA is also fantastic for a pittance. It's the exact same as the Roederer Estate Brut, but with the higher dosage.
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