Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Night Bubbles

2000 Movia Puro Rosé, $50 on the east coast, $42 out west, Domaine Select Wine Estates. Early in July of this year while reading Jeremy Parzen's always intelligent and pleasurable blog, I saw a photo of his pal Jon opening a bottle of Movia Puro upside down in a bowl of water. I asked why this is necessary and Jeremy posted this informative response, including a neat video showing a successful disgorgement.

Knowing that I kind of like Champagne, Jeremy felt that I would be a more complete human being if I were to disgorge and taste Movia sparkling wine for myself. He waved his magic wand and arranged for me to receive a sample, which I very much appreciated. I put the wine in the racks and tried to be patient for a few weeks so they could recover from their journey.

Jack and Joanne at Fork & Bottle, Jeremy Parzen, and Italian Wine Merchants (particularly their helpful page on how to disgorge the bottle) on their websites offer lots of information about Movia, so I will only tell you what I know about this specific wine. The 2000 vintage is 70% Chardonnay, 20% Ribolla, and 10% Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero in Italian, Modri Pinot in Slovenian). The 1999 vintage was all Pinot Noir, according to the Movia website, so I guess the wine maker is not wedded to a particular formula. Like most Movia juice, this is aged in barrique, in this case for 4 years. It then spends almost 3 years more aging in bottle before release. Obviously there is no dosage, as we consumers must disgorge the bottles ourselves. I might be wrong here, but I think there is almost no residual sugar in this wine, maybe a couple of grams per liter. This is amazing, considering how rich and ripe the wine feels. Must be all that time on the lees.

When I could wait no longer (3 weeks, more or less) I turned a bottle upside down one night and put it in the fridge. I wedged it between the side of the fridge and a jug of water, hoping it would remain still so the sediment could gather neatly in the neck. The next evening I knocked the bottle over while trying to take it out of the fridge. Oiy! So again I wedged it in there and swore that I would be more careful the next day.

I managed to extract the bottle very smoothly the next night, but then realized that I had to remove the foil wrapper and the cage before opening. How do you do that while holding the bottle upside down using only one hand? Cannot be done without some bottle shaking. I did my best, and then submerged the neck in a bowl of water and eased out the cork. An explosion of foam and jettisoned sediment, I turned the bottle upright, and I have no idea how much wine I lost because the bottle is strategically opaque. Not an entirely successful disgorgement, as the wine was a bit cloudy.

But the nose...a thing of beauty! So clean and fresh, and such incredibly rich and ripe fruit. The exuberance of eating a just-picked peach in August, the juices running down to your elbow. There is a hint of cinnamon in there somewhere, too. Nothing mineral or earthy going on here - all fruit all the time, but it is utterly beautiful fruit, and somehow with only fruit there is depth and complexity on the nose.

The palate did not follow through on the nose's wild promises. It felt rather thin, considering the broad richness of the nose, and the fruit was cidery, somewhat hollow. Maybe I messed up the bottle with my clumsy handling, or maybe, as is common with biodynamic and naturally made wines, maybe this bottle is not as good as most - lots of variation.

Luckily for me, Jeremy's generous sample gods sent more than 1 bottle. I waited a month and tried again. This time I placed the upside down bottle in a flower vase filled with water to keep it stable in the fridge. And I trained on the stationary bike for 3 weeks in order to achieve the vise-like knee grip necessary to remove the foil and cage without shaking the bottle too much. Disgorgement successful this time, I'm proud to say. Perfectly clear peach and onion skin colored wine.

The nose was again stunning. This nose is moving in a visceral way - is this what it smells like to stand in a fruit orchard on the border between Collio and Brda? And this time I liked the flavors much more. A spring water cleanness supports lovely ripe fruit and there is a spicy depth to the wine. The fruit perfume lingers in the nostrils after swallowing. I could imagine this pairing well with duck breast and confit, with light creamy cheeses and fresh fruit, or even with fresh scallops and shrimp - their sweet clean characters might compliment each other. I'm saving the last bottle for the winter when I'll be desperate for the scent of summer fruit. It will make a perfect Valentine's day wine, I'm thinking.


Do Bianchi said...

Brooklynguy, great post and thanks for the shout out. Ales is a good friend and he was happy to share the bottles with you. (He and I hung out the other night in San Francisco at the Wine and Spirits top 100 tasting.)

Ales adds zero sulfite to his wine and the Puro in particular seems to need a lot of rest after traveling. I've had the same experience. Glad you enjoyed the wine and the experience!

Director, Lab Outreach said...

You've convinced me to let the Puro and the Puro Rose in the Lab cellar rest a bit longer. But not much because you've also gotten me excited to try these. But I definitely need work on my vice/knee grip. Maybe I'll start training on the extra large hamster wheel we have here at the Lab.

J David

Peter Liem said...

I agree that this is a lovely wine (most of the time). But perhaps being pseudo-Champenois, the whole underwater thing freaks me out. (Even when I watch Ales do it himself.) Couldn't it just be disgorged normally, à la volée? But I guess that if you're serving it at Valentine's, it prevents you from taking your sweetie's eye out with the cork or something.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I think (or perhaps Ales told me a long while back?) that the idea of bottling it with the lees is to preserve the freshness, along with making it as natural, untouched wine as possible.

I thought the 2000 Movia Puro Rosé showed its best ever (up a level/notch) at the W&S Top 100 tasting. I still think with more time it will become even more interesting and expressive.

Neil, Ales had a new device there for opening the bottle; a 12"(?) long champagne cork holder. You insert the cork of the bottle (upside down) into it. You then put it in the bucket of water and slowly turn the bottle to uncork this wine. It definitely makes it less awkward to open the bottle.

One other note is that Ales mentioned he is amazed/shocked at the number of winemakers from Champagne who are interested in what he's doing with Puro - he's had a lot of visitors at the winery.

Btw, even more impressive, to me, was the 2005 Movia Lunar at this tasting. Poured out of the Lunar decanter (yeah, of course I have one), it showed a richness and complexity that I had hoped for compared to previous tastings. Ales was quite excited about this new evolved state and thinks its now going to be a classic Movia family wine (or something like that!). Two people at the tasting commented to me that they would be happy to drink a whole bottle of this themselves.

Brooklynguy said...

thanks again JP, really appreciate it.

JD - see jack's comment below - i guess they really do need to relax awhile after shipping.

peter - that's precisely what i was thinking regarding valentines day. i've injured too many now ex-girlfriends with champagne corks, and now that will never happen again.

jack - sorry about butchering your site's name. corrected now. it is hard for me to visualize the changes and improvements that puro will go through with cellaring. what happens to it? and what exactly is lunar? i couldn't really tell from the website, mostly because i cannot read slovenian.

Peter Liem said...


It isn't that I question bottling it with the lees. That part's cool. I would love to buy certain champagnes that way, only it's illegal here. I was talking about the underwater disgorgement part. Here in Champagne, if you want to drink a bottle that's still on its lees, you do this, which is what I would instinctively be inclined to do with a Movia bottle.