Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Night Bubbles

Hey y'all, it's good to be back. We spent a great long weekend in Vermont with Deetrane and his beautiful family. Small children pet horses, calves, and goats, adults ate soft-serve swirl, and a great time was had by all. We drank some great wine too, but that's for another post. It's Friday, and time for some bubbles.

Deetrane said something interesting to me when I asked him for his thoughts on the blog. He said that it seems as if I like every bottle of bubbles that I open, that I always come upon something great. How could that be, he wondered. Is Brooklynguy a "loves everything he tastes" kind of guy?

No, not at all. I am actually very discerning, I like to think. I come across loads of wine that I don't like, it's just that you're not reading about many of them. Although I am vocal with my criticisms in person among friends, I am hesitant to write negative things about wine on this blog. I do it, but not too often.

I think it takes some serious confidence in one's expertise as a taster to make negative comments in a highly public arena. I don't always feel that confident and even when I do, the wine that I drank and didn't like is someone's life's work (or year's work anyway). Maybe it was an off bottle. Maybe I was in the wrong mood for it, and you'll like it when you drink it. Maybe it is bad wine, but why clog the wires with negativity?

But Deetrane has a good point, and I've felt this before too. If you never tell me what you don't like, it's hard for me to relate to you when you tell me what you do like.

So, in that spirit, I will attempt to respectfully tell you about a few sparkling wines that I drank in July that I did not like. And you'll just have to take it for what it is - my opinions. Add $2 and you get a ride on the subway.

2006 François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non Dosé, $23, Louis/Dressner Imports. A zero dosage wine by Pinon - who knew? Pinon, Chidaine, and these other Loire producers make all kinds of wines that don't cross the ocean to the States. I was excited to drink this, as I am a big fan of Pinon's wines. I wanted very much to like it, but alas, I did not. It wasn't bad wine, just not entirely successful. I thought it was unbalanced, with sharp acidity and funk dominating. My notes from that night: strong barnyard upon opening, never entirely blew off. Flowers and briny minerals on the nose, changes constantly. Seems very Vouvray on the nose, and then 5 minutes later is a murky mess. And then back again. Incredibly strong acidity, not balanced, tastes like what I imagine vin clair tastes like, strips the enamel off my teeth.

NV Henri Billiot Champagne Brut Réserve, $36, Terry Theise Selections. I bought this a year ago and it now costs about $45. I've had it several times and I like this, the 5/07 disgorgement, less than the others I've had. Not a knock on Billiot - I love the other wines I've had, including the consistently gorgeous Brut Rose (seen at left next to this wine) and the brilliant Cuvée Laetitia, both solera wines. This wine is mostly Pinot Noir and there's no mistaking it - it's dripping with red fruit. Starts out great, there is a rich and broad feeling in the mouth, ample acidity, and a very fresh and clean feeling. But I found that the wine drops off quickly. It loses focus, complexity, and fruit, and is so much less appealing then when first opened that we had a tough time with it, actually.

NV Henriot Champagne Souverain Brut, gift from a good pal, but retails for about $32. This is the first bottle of big house Champs that I've had at home in a long time, and it was not an impressive experience, I must say. The problem was sulfur - it was so strong on the nose after a few minutes open that I could barely sense anything else about the wine. Before the sulfur blanket came down I thought the nose was pleasant, with airy nice green apple and citrus notes. But even before the sulfur attack I found nothing distinctive or interesting on the palate - pretty tame. I understand that I need to taste more from the big houses, the good ones like Gosset, Drappier, and Bollinger. But this wine was disappointing enough to leave me in the "I'll drink those wines when someone pours them for me, I won't buy them myself" camp.


Anonymous said...

"Chidaine, and these other Loire producers make all kinds of wines that don't cross the ocean to the States."

So Chidaine's tasting room (and wine store!), I tasted the other two sparkling wines he makes; all three I think were about the same price, 10 Euros (can't find my notes this second). I didn't find the wines that aren't imported (about 10) to be of lessor quality (than the 10 that are imported), either; I think it's simply a case you can only sell/market so many here.

Michael D. said...

I am intrigued to try Pinon's Zero Dosage...Hopefully I have better luck than you did.Jacky Blot of Domaine La Taille aux Loups makes a delicious Montlouis Petillant,Non Dose as well.It is very well blanced and offers a generous texture on the palate. Worth a try and a stellar buy around $25.00. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I suppose I can't really be insulted that he didn't like the Henriot I gave him, since I asked him the question in the first place, right? That Brooklynguy! He's anything if not honest!

Peter Liem said...

I’ve often noticed the same thing with Henriot’s wines when I taste them in NYC. Here in France they taste great, and the Brut Souverain has a rich, leesy depth and elegant complexity. In the States I often find the sulfur to be obtrusive, and the wines less complex and expressive. It’s frustrating. But to be fair, it's not just Henriot that tastes different to me over there.

Brooklynguy said...

i think you;re right jack - until this type of wine becomes more popular, and I am not hoping for that to happen, only a portion of the portfolio will be exported. makes sense. i'll have to go back one day and tate the full lineup.

hey mike - it's so sad that $25 is a stellar buy in non-champagne sparklers. a few more bucks and you;re in champs territory, you know.

deetrane - its like music or art, you're going to like some that i won;t, and vice versa. it's just personal taste.

peter - i imagine this extra sulfur is added to protect the wine during it's long journey over the ocean. from what i read somewhere (your blog?), champagne tastes best in the cellar where is was made. kind of like a car - loses value the second it's driven from the lot.

Anonymous said...

Hi - could you guys please qualify your use of the term 'sulfur'? In relation to wine, it can be interpreted in two very different ways - sulfur dioxide is the antioxidant/preservative that smells pungent, like struck matches; and hydrogen sulfide is the rotten-egg smell that usually comes from an unclean fermentation but can also come from extended contact with yeast during sur-lies aging. There's a lot of confusion out there and it would be good to clear it up. Thanks! Love your blogs.