Friday, November 30, 2007

By The Glass - Champagne Edition

Let me begin by saying this: I've tasted some interested and delicious Champs recently, but my favorites so far have not changed. My favorite entry level Champs is still the NV René Geoffroy Expression. And my favorite Blanc de Blancs is still the NV Larmandier-Bernier Premier Cru.

But this is great - I'm tasting more, learning more about my palate, and really enjoying myself. I think BrooklynLady is pretty psyched too, as she enjoys the bubblies. Anyway, here are a few from recent times.
NV Agrapart & Fils Champagne Les 7 Crus Blancs de Blancs, ($37 at Prospect Wines).
A nose of bread and yeast, and a touch of lemon and stainless steel. And after it was open for a while, something floral. The palate is quite light, with brioche, chalk, and bright white flowers. This is delicious wine, a great aperitif. It does not have the sheer elegance
or the focus of some of the other Blancs de Blancs that I've tasted, but I'm certainly not gonna kick it out of bed either.

NV Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs, ($42 at Moore Brothers).
This is apparently very small production. Moore Borthers says "Almost all of Diebolt's small production is sold to three-star restaurants in France." Well, I'm just going to come right out and admit that I don't get it. I was not a fan, and BrooklynLady thought something might have been off with the wine. And you know, after reading Craig Camp's interesting post on corked wine, I'm starting to think that this bottle may have been corked. Or, it might just not be to my tastes, who knows. I don't think I would necessarily know if a wine is corked. I might just think it to be bad wine.

Anyway, my notes: Mushroomy and sort of funky underarm on the nose, some ginger in there too. Bread and citrus hints. Not a deep nose, lighter. Yeasty palate, almost grassy, bone dry. Lots of chalk. No matter how hard we tried, we could not enjoy this wine.

NV Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Brut, (about $55).
I was really impressed with Paillard's Champs at the Martin Scott Importer tasting back in September. This one was even better at home as an aperitif with the BrooklynLady, and then with dinner. This has a really nice nose that reveals orange blossoms after a little airtime. There is also a bit of chalk and sweet brioche. The palate is nicely balanced and elegant, with lovely
floral, citrus, and bready flavors. Really good, and BrooklynLady's favorite of all of these. Luckily I have one more bottle...

NV Camille Saves Brut Carte Blanche, ($40 at Chambers Street Wines).
No mistaking this for Blanc de Blancs, that's for sure. Deep nose of cherry fruit, some ginger cream, apples dipped in honey, some chalk. The palate is smooth and silky, very focused and dripping with red fruit, some bread, and bright acidity. The finish is a dollop of sour cherry juice, lingering and delicious. This is excellent wine. Although it's funny...after all of the B de Bs I'd been drinking, this one almost seemed fat because of the Pinot Noir.

NV Marc Hébrart Brut Reserve 1er Cru, ($38 at Prospect Wines).
A Terry Thiese selection, and I find that I am always on board with his Champs palate. I tasted this with Marcus, aka Doktor Weingolb the other day, and while I won't speak for him, I really liked this wine. It kept improving over several hours, gaining complexity and balance as it went. This is also a Pinot heavy wine, about 65% in this version. And it's obvious on the palate, dripping with red fruit. The nose is lovely with chalky flowers, a little toast, and red fruit. The palate is a great balance of red fruit, herbal undertones (Amy from Prospect Wines said celery - right on), minerals, all quite ripe and full of pleasure. If I were forced to take only one of these Champagnes with me to a tasting or to a desert island it would be this one. Think of this - my father who has almost no experience tasting real Champagne, enjoyed the last of this wine when there were almost no bubbles left in the bottle. And he said "Wow, I can't believe how refreshing this is."

7 comments:

Steve L. said...

"I don't think I would necessarily know if a wine is corked."

Oh yes you would. Maybe you've lucked out and haven't had to deal with a badly corked bottle of wine, but once you have, you'll know. Kind of fungal or moldy. And once you get a corked bottle of a wine you've previously enjoyed you'll get locked in on the telltale aroma. "Hey, this is not right," you'll say, and that contrasting experience really seals the deal as far as recognizing TCA is concerned. At least, that's how it was for me.

Jill said...

I heart Agrapart.

David McDuff said...

Neil,
Steve's comments are on the mark, yet corkiness can be subtle enough as to go undetected by those, as he suggests, that aren't yet tuned into its signs. I can't say that your description of the Diebolt-Vallois screams "corked." However, "underarm" is definitely not a typical descriptor for this normally elegant, delicate bubbly. I don't think you had a sound bottle. Go back to the shop, tell them of your experience and ask for a replacement.
cheers,
David
McDuff's Food & Wine Trail

Brooklynguy said...

once, in a wine store, i tasted a corked bottle of lambrusco. i know this because i tasted the bottle, didn't care for it, and then the manager tasted it, made a face, and said this is corked. she opened a new one which i liked much better, and i tasted them again side by side. then it was obvious. i am not sure whether or not i would think it was corked, unless it was horribly corked, if this happened at home. but i appreciate your comments and suggestions steve and davis, and i will keep thinking about this, and go back to Moore bros for another bottle.

Marcus said...

Ten days later...

Hey great writeups! I'm getting caught up now even though I've been back at home for a week. I really loved that Hebrart and echo your father's statement -- even after a couple of hours this seemed to be getting better and better.

I hope I could do as good a job hosting you for a Montreal visit. (Wine stores state-run and monopolistic, not cozy and charming... sorry!)

Brooklynguy said...

I really hope to come to Montreal in 08. I loved it the first time I was there, but a tour from someone who lives there would be awesome.

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