Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Night Bubbles

NV Françoise Bedel Champagne Brut Entre Ciel et Terre, $54, Jon-David Headrick Selections. It seems like forever since I last drank this wine, but it turns out it was just last April. And I'm recycling the photograph.

When Peter Liem came through New York and stopped by for dinner, I decided that it was time to check in on this wine. It's not easy to open Champagne for someone like Peter - he drinks Champagne all the time, more often than not the very finest wines. Hard to serve something that can compete, but Françoise Bedel's Entre Ciel et Terre is off the beaten track, anyway. Literally. The estate and vineyards are technically located in the Vallée de Marne, but Crouttes-sur-Marne is closer to Paris than it is to Aÿ, for example. From Paris to Bedel's estate by car is only about 45 minutes. Remember, Champagne is by far the largest single appellation in all of France. We're talking about a wine region the size of Massachusetts. I made that up, but it sounds right. Work with me, people.

Françoise Bedel was one of the first (modern growers, that is) to farm biodynamically in Champagne. This wine is mostly black grapes, but there is about 10% Chardonnay in the blend. The wine is then aged for a long time on its lees and takes on a particular richness. Sometimes this style of wine making can sacrifice freshness, Peter says, but it really depends on the wine maker and then on the individual bottle. Probably also on the vintage of the base wine. In America we cannot discern the vintage or the disgorgement date of Entre Ciel et Terre, as the back label does not disclose this information the way it does in France.

This bottle, most likely based on the 1999 vintage, was a beautiful bottle, "a particularly great bottle," Peter said. And that's just the way I do things - I try to keep only particularly outstanding bottles on hand. The nose is just beautiful with a pronounced sherry character, saline, oxidized, and very rich, but also with great freshness and vibrancy, especially with 15 minutes of air. The perfume achieves a lovely delicacy, which is no small feat considering the richness of the wine. There are precise flavors of leesy brioche, raw almonds, creamy citrus, and a lively salty mineral finish. This is absolutely delicious wine, one of my favorites.


Peter Liem said...

"And that's just the way I do things - I try to keep only particularly outstanding bottles on hand."

Indeed. That's been my experience hanging out with you, anyway. This was certainly a superb bottle, and a great pleasure to drink with you.

Ned said...

Based on what I read here:

and a previous posting of yours, I managed to find some of this recently, and at a reasonable price ($44)
I'm looking forward to trying it.

Brooklynguy said...

ah, it was our pleasure Peter, one that we hope to repeat.

hi ned - glad you found this site useful. now, if you'll kindly divulge the location of that shop where Entre Ciel et Terre costs a mere $44...come back and see us sometime.

Ned said...

Gee, I would not have guessed that was an exceptional
price, I'm in CA. and the wine does not make it to here AFAIK. I was feeling more like I had stumbled across the price that savvy buyers were paying back east.
I found it at Marketview Liquors in Rochester NY courtesy Winesearcher Pro. I got the last three bottles
according to the salesperson. This was mid december.
While I certainly can't complain about availability of European wine in the Bay Area, sometimes very unique
items like this are only on the east coast. I'd be happy to join you for some tasting if I make it there, and if you find yourself out here, by all means let me know.