Outside of France, Baron Albert is a little-known Champagne house. However, it’s a celebrated and accessible brand within her borders. Operating in the small town Charly-sur-Marne, it sits at the western border of Champagne territory. At only 50 miles (85 km) from Paris, Baron Albert is the literal gateway to Champagne.
In Bespoke Unit’s first Champagne review, you will discover Baron Albert’s standard barer cuvée, L’Universelle. You will learn about its appearance, quality and tasted notes. Furthermore, the evaluation will explore its presentation and value for money.
To learn more about Champagne you can visit our comprehensive Guide To Champagne.
An Introduction To Baron Albert
Like many Champagne houses, Baron Albert is a multi-generational operation that has been handed down from parent to offspring. It was first founded by Albert Baron and his wife Béatrice in 1947.
It was passed down to their sons Gilbert, Gervais and Claude who developed the house into a large-scale business. Some time later, it went on to own 55 hectares (136 acres) of vineyards. Overall, their land composed of 65% pinot meunier, 30% chardonnay and 5% pinot noir. However, they broke away from the so-called masculine tradition and entrusted the house to Claude’s daughters Claire, Lise and Aline.
The three heiresses follow in the footsteps of influential women in Champagne such as Veuve Clicqout and Lily Bollinger. In light of this, each sister has added their innovative touch in modernising the brand.
Furthermore, the Baron sisters complement one another’s skills with their individual specialities and personalities. Firstly, whilst Claire earned a master’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages in Business and Trade, Lise is a qualified biologist. Meanwhile, Aline has a master’s degree in microbiology. Finally, both Lisa and Aline are qualified œnologues with diplomas from Reims, the symbolic capital of Champagne.
Baron Albert Today
In recent years, the three sisters overhauled the Baron Albert range. New cuvées were revealed as well as modern label designs. Moreover, each range and cuvée is named in the French feminine gender. This unique and innovative touch reflects the sisters’ identity and sets the brand apart. For instance, in this review we shall be evaluating the L’Universelle of the Ambassadrice range.
Finally, it’s important to add that Baron Albert is an ecologically responsible Champagne House. In addition to the Champagne’s Viticulture Durable badge for sustainable wine-growing, Baron Albert have earned the “Haute Valuer Environnementale”. The latter represents the highest environmental certification possible for an agricultural operation.
Overview Of Baron Albert L’Universelle
- House: Baron Albert
- Cuvée: L’Universelle
- Location: Charly-sur-Marne [village] Vallée de la Marne [sub-region]
- Grape Classification: Cru
- Vintage: No
- Blending Style: Tradition
- Grapes Used: 70% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay
- Sugar Content: Brut
- Producer Identifier: NM-108-001
- [Learn More About Identifying Champagne From The Label]
Firstly, Baron Albert’s entry wine is from the Ambassadrice range suggesting that it is representative of the house. Similarly, it was named L’Universelle to signify that the sisters unified to create this special cuvée.
Overall, it features a blend of local pinot meunier and chardonnay. Both are assembled from 2013 base and 2012 reserve vintages from seven of their separate local crus. As a classic tradition, it has likely spent between 3 to 4 years maturing.
With this in mind, the pinot meunier should provide early maturity for a rounded fruity flavour. In contrast, the flavours are likely capped off by refreshing and fruity notes that emerge from the Chardonnay.
Baron Albert L’Universelle’s Robe
- Hue: Straw
- Transparency: Clear
- Bubbles: Lively & Refined
First impressions of Baron Albert’s L’Universelle consist of a fresh and lively Champagne. The robe is a bright, straw hue denoting youth, which has nevertheless matured. Likewise, the wine is quite clear but not transparent, which indicates something light and refined.
Accordingly, it leaves a trail of lively bubbles, which are still small and refined. On the surface, they leave a tight spread of effervescence, which are present and enticing.
Baron Albert L’Universelle’s Nose
Detected Nose Notes:
- Initial: Citrus, Apricots, Elderflower
- Persisted: Apple, Pineapple, Toast
Prior to tasting, the initial aromas consist of very fruity notes that range from citrus to apricots. Subsequently, cool and breezy elderflower notes flower to the surface. When persisting for deeper notes, you may detect hints of green apples and pineapples.
Finally, low and faint undertones of yeasty toast are relatively discernible.
L’Universelle’s nose is undoubtedly youthful and light with abundant fruity notes and a bouquet of citrus freshness. Its tantalising introduction is quite thirst-quenching and the lively bubbles create a healthy buildup of various aromas.
Baron Albert L’Universelle’s Palate
Tasted Palate Notes:
- Opening: Citrus, Apricots, Mango
- Heart: Green Apples, Rhubarb
- Finish: Toast, Straw, Oak
- Overall Flavour Length: Medium
In the same fashion, L’Universelle’s flavours lead with refreshing fruit notes of citrus and apricot. The more mature elderflower notes seem to be absent. Instead, there are discernible hints of mango, which evolve dry green apple notes.
As the green apples mature across the palate, the chardonnay continues to tease by giving rise to overt rhubarb notes. A dry, green fruit accord takes form as the flavour leads to its finishing notes.
Finally, yeasty notes begin to emerge with notes of toast, fresh straw and very faint hints of oak. These eventually subside with a medium finish that leaves the palate slightly dry and hungry for more.
In summary, the opening is excitedly fruit forward with a green, aromatic heart. A multitude of complex notes come together to create an accord of elegant simplicity. The overall experience is a fresh and balanced journey of flavours.
When Should You Drink Baron Albert Champagne?
Being a lighthearted and youthful Champagne, L’Universelle is an ideal casual beverage that can be enjoyed among friends or family. In this light, it’s the quintessential aperitif Champagne with properties that create a fun-loving atmosphere.
Consisting of fruity and citrus overtones, it’s also an ideal refreshing Champagne for parties. Additionally, given its low price tag, you’ll be sure to keep the party flowing with bubbly!
Nevertheless, its simultaneously complex and simple harmony of notes, you can certainly accompany Baron Albert’s blend with various meals. The chardonnay ensures that it would go particularly well with foie gras or seafood such as sushi dishes. Alternatively, it may even be paired with certain sour desserts such as lemon meringue.
Only consisting of pinot meunier and chardonnay, it’s unlikely that L’Universelle will age for very long in your cellar. Therefore, no need to wait for the perfect moment and enjoy it whenever it takes your fancy.
Finally, given that this is a relatively sprightly non-vintage blend, it’s best served at a refreshing 8°C (46.4°F). Nevertheless, you can let it warm to 10°C (50°F) to reveal some of its more subtle character. You can learn more about Champagne serving temperatures directly on our dedicated Champagne temperature guide.
Presentation & Value For Money
Firstly, the Baron sisters deserve applause for their unique and contemporary overhaul of their family label. The combination of geographic forms evokes festive modernity whilst hinting at artistic elegance. Furthermore, the blue and white colours wouldn’t go amiss during a Christmas dinner party or gala.
A unique addition that adds to the sister’s feminine ethos can be found on the wire muselet. Unravelling the foil will reveal the portrait of an elegant lady similar to a cameo or Victorian-era painting. It would certainly be interesting to know whether there is a story behind this face.
Lastly, the pricing offers extraordinary value. Most European online outlets feature 75cl bottles of Baron Albert’s L’Universelle for around 20€ ($24), which is already impressive.
However, closer to the region, you can find it at much less in most stores. For instance, purchasing it directly from the family’s estate in Charly-sur-Marne will only set you back around 14€ ($16.50). In addition, buying in large quantities such as a case will often result in further attractive reductions.
From its enticing range of cuvées to its feminine charm, Baron Albert is a fascinating little-known label. The sisters deserve recognition for their daring approach. Breaking away from the industrial norms, it creates Champagne that is both affordable and of excellent quality.
Whilst it may be more simple than some standard barer cuvées from other houses, it’s hard to penalise it given its price tag. Furthermore, it is bursting with zesty charm that many, more established brands lack.
Blended to immerse you in their feminine universe, the L’Universelle harmoniously represents Baron Albert’s philosophy. This fresh and sprightly entry-level bottle will leave you excited to learn more about what else they have to offer.
"A zesty & lighthearted bottle of joy. The Baron sister's entry-level Champagne is a thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing fruit-forward cuvée on the palate with a simple elegance derived from harmonised, citrus notes."Rating: 4.0 ★★★★