Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Night Bubbles

NV Pierre Brigandat Champagne Brut, $30, Bonhomie Wine Imports. I've been meaning to try this wine since November when it showed up at every retail shop that I frequent. It's cheaper than most grower Champagne, and it's from the Pinot Noir land of the Aube. That's the southern island of the Champagne region whose wines are, in my opinion, much better than the region gets credit for. I'm talking about Cedric Bouchard, Fleury, Lassaigne, and others.

How could a wine like this, a naturally made grower Champagne, a little wine that most people haven't heard of, how could this show up in so many fine NYC wine shops? Firstly, it honestly is a delicious wine. Secondly, compared to the low-mid $40's that most quality non-vintage grower Champs will run you, this is a bargain. Most places charge $35, but Chambers Street charges only $30, by the way.
Although it doesn't say so on the label, this is a Blanc de Noirs. Brigandat vinifies entirely in tank, so even though the Pinot fruit is ripe and boisterous, this is a nervy and racy wine that shows just as much mineral and soil character as it does fruit. This bottling is based on the 2005 vintage and it is a ripe wine, although I wouldn't call it especially rich. The nose shows spicy red fruit and a buzzing metallic celery note. Ripe fruit on the palate with earthy undertones, and plenty of acidity. The finish is gentle with spiced orange peel and chalky metallic minerals, and it is very refreshing. This is just a charming wine and again, a great value. And we need value in these times, as you well know. I think they were able to achieve this price because Bonhomie successfully petitioned Congress for a bailout. Get it while you can.


Charlie Woods said...

Thanks for your commments. I enjoyed the tasting notes thoroughly! Especially, "buzzing metallic celery note"... when I read that this morning I just had to open up a bottle to check it out and though I'd never experienced that before it's true!Pretty cool. Whew!...where has this day gone?...Anyway...

I have been working with Bertrand Brigandat for many years now, first with Vineyard Expressions, later with David Bowler Wine and now I am happy to be continuing with him in my new venture which I call Bonhomie Wine Imports. His is one of 4 small independent grower champagne houses which BWI imports currently.

As for the congressional bailout...Brigandat has never really been sold outside of the New York/New Jersey markets and has always been sold as a direct import here so the price is kept quite low in that respect. It has never been picked up on by the mainstream press (no Spectator score!)and I can only attribute the strong buzz it seems to have created in the blogosphere to the quality of the wine and to the quality of the excellent cavists that we are lucky to find around town, especially my esteemed colleague Mr. Michael Amendola of the excellent new store in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn: Windsor Wine Shop. He's a real gem that guy. He is. If you're in the area, stop by and see him.

Brigandat is really a one man show and Bertrand sells much of the grape production from his 7.5 HT to negociants. He continues to do this even though demand for his own NV Brut has overtaken supply so that he can be sure to keep a handle on quality but has continued to keep the price of his NV Brut at a value level. Go figure. Each vintage the wine seems to be more well knit and more exciting than the previous one thus quality relative to price is on a steep upward trend as I have seen the wines improve dramatically over the years while the price relative to others in it's class has actually gotten cheaper. This is part of the reason that the wines dip in and out of the market and are sometimes not available.

A little later this year I plan to begin working with the Rose. It's quite delicious.

Thanks again for your writing. Call me a curmudgeon but for me, there aren't so many blogs worth reading, yours is one that is.


Brooklynguy said...

Hi Charlie - thanks for stopping by and for your informative comments. I look forward to trying more of your wines - I saw another Champs somewhere, maybe Astor, so one day...

Thanks again, and lots of success to you with Bonhomie.