Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Night Bubbles

It's easy to think that a non-vintage Champagne is going to taste just as you remember it. Especially if you spent your formative wine years drinking big-house wines like Perrier-Jouët and Veuve Cliquot. Those wines are built to taste the same year after year. Not the case with grower Champagne. As vintage quality and perhaps wine making practices vary, so does the wine.

I tasted Jean Lallement's Champagne for the first time in January of 2007 and I loved it. So I grabbed two bottles, one of which BrooklynLady and I greatly enjoyed at home sometime that February. I got another bottle a few months later when I saw it at a good price, but this last bottle was part of a more recent shipment - same label, but a new combination of grapes. Lallement sadly does not include the disgorgement date on the back label, and I didn't bother marking which wine was which. So when I opened one of them in May, and when we were disappointed with the wine, I figured it was the bottle from the new shipment.

Hard to know for sure, as it could have been bottle variation among the older wines that speaks for the lesser second bottle, and bottle age on the new shipment that accounts for the great wine on Friday. Why don't they just include the disgorgement dates, for crying out loud? Especially on these grower bottles - they're not going to be so old and stale in these small quantities. Anyway, we opened our last bottle on Friday night and we were really excited about the wine. Definitely the best of the three bottles, and so good that I have to take another shot at the current shipment and see what's what.

NV Jean Lallement Brut Grand Cru, $36 (new price is about $42) Terry Theise/Skurnik Imports. This Champagne is about 80% Pinot Noir, and 20% Chardonnay. The nose is so clean and fresh, with apple skins, sweet ginger cake, flowers, and chalky minerals. And it got better and better, really beautiful after an hour. The texture is silky smooth, very fine, with focused red fruits pushing all the way through to the finish, which is very persistent and leaves nuanced mouth aromas of orange peel, ginger, herbs, and bread. Great acidity and very pleasant underlying minerality. Just beautiful wine. I wish I knew whether or not I should buy this again, or wait for the next release. But I guess that's part of the fun with grower Champagne - things don't stay the same.


Anonymous said...

Maybe if you could get a look at the case a bottle comes out of you might see some indication of a packing date, and thereby have some idea of the "vintage." I've tried that. Not always successfully.

Brooklynguy said...

hey steve - that's a great idea. or at least i'll ask the store folks the next time i buy.

Deetrane said...

I don't think I've ever actually had sweet ginger cake... I'd certainly love to try it, though.