Many of the wine people I know share seem to share this generous spirit regarding even the finest and rarest of wines. A party of 15 people? Sure, crack open the magnum of 1995 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano. Stopping by for a quick bite on a random Monday night? Pop open the Selosse.
Some folks, myself included, are not able to afford wines like these very often, and when we do buy the odd great bottle here and there, the idea of opening it can bring just as much dread as excitement. "When is the absolute perfect time to open this bottle? And who is the perfect person to drink this with?" I say this from past experience - it is all too easy to simply never open the bottle.
It's so liberating to be free of this hoarding mentality. Not that there's anything wrong with it - do as you please with your wine and be happy. But I realized that I am much happier opening that bottle and sharing it than I am saving it for a hypothetically more-special-than-now occasion. Especially if I'm with people who love wine. Who else should I drink it with, if not you?
I got lucky a few times this past week, and hung out with people who love to open great bottles. And so I got to drink some incredible wines, several Champagnes among them. In light of my last post on a blind Grand Marque tasting, I thought it would be especially fitting to share a bit about these Champagnes.
(2007) Jérôme Prévost La Closerie Les Béguines Champagne Rosé Extra Brut, $105, Polaner Selections. This is the first vintage (although it technically is not a vintage wine) for Prévost's rosé, and it is a thing of beauty. So vibrant and expressive, such incredibly well defined aromas and flavors, really energetic and vivid. This is all Meunier, and it smells like fresh roasted hazelnuts, marzipan, blood orange, baking spices...the nose is amazing. The texture shows such finesse and grace, and yet there is a wild streak. I'm guessing here, but based on the meager allocation granted to Chambers Street and Crush, I bet that no more than 4 cases of this wine made it to NYC. Perhaps fewer. And yet a super nice and generous guy named Michael Wheeler (formerly a partner at Polaner) brought a bottle to a gathering of about 15 people. It is an astounding wine that I hope to drink again one day. By the way, somebody brought a bottle of the (2006) Jérôme Prévost La Closerie Les Beguines Extra Brut to the same gathering, and somehow I neglected to taste it. Too much insane wine on the table.
NV Selosse Champagne Rosé, about $175, Imported by Rare Wine Company. Joe Salamone, one of the buyers at Crush and an all-around lovely guy, decided to bring this bottle to the very same gathering. That's right - Prévost and Selosse rosé, sitting there on the same table for all to sample. This wine was also quite special, but it took several hours for it to open up and show its true harmony and depth. Oxidative and gingery, this is a delicious and broad wine. On that night I preferred the Prévost wine, but believe me - I would be most happy to experiment with these two wines again.
2004 Marie-Noëlle Ledru Cuvée du Goulté Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, $60, Bonhomie Wine Imports. You may not have heard of Marie-Noëlle Ledru. I hadn't until Peter Liem told me about her. I could paraphrase, but instead I will offer this quote from Peter's profile of the Ledru estate:
Ledru owns five hectares in Ambonnay and one in Bouzy, with a total of 30 different parcels. All of the vineyards are planted with cover crops and tilled, and she uses no herbicides or insecticides, seeking to work her vines as naturally as possible. The same sensibility extends to the cellar, where she makes the wines without filtration, without cold-stabilization and without any sulfur at disgorgement. Fermentation is all in stainless steel and enameled steel tanks, for their neutrality, and the malolactic is allowed for all wines. “I do the malo because for me it’s natural,” she says. The wines are aged for a respectably long time on their lees, averaging about three years for the brut sans année and five years for the vintage wines, and all disgorgement is done by hand, in a fashion not dissimilar to how it might have been done two or three generations ago. Ledru only bottles about half of her production, meaning that there’s very little wine to go around, and the other half is sold to the négoce, most notably to the houses of Pol Roger and Deutz.Not a whole lot of this wine made it to NYC, and some ding-dong brought a bottle to the very same gathering that featured Prévost and Selosse rosés. Oh wait, that ding-dong is me. I would love to give you detailed tasting notes, but we attacked the Prévost and Selosse before drinking this, and that's definitely the wrong order for these wines. Reductive and taught Ledru after oxidative and expansive Prévost and Selosse...not easy to get a real read on the Ledru. It was a delicious wine though, very clean and pure. Someone suggested that it might be a bit high in dosage, but I could neither confirm nor deny. My instincts say deny. Perhaps Peter will read this and chime in...
(2005) Cédric BouchardLes Ursules Brut Blanc de Noirs, $80, Polaner Selections. Some one brought a bottle of this wine to that absurdly Champagne-laden gathering, but I don't know what vintage. I must say, a wine like this shows best when it is the sole focus of attention, its delicacy and understated grace not overshadowed by louder voices. So I opened a bottle later in the week when a new friend came over for dinner, and we loved it. The character of the ripe 2005 vintage expressed itself in a creamy vanilla tinged aroma, but Bouchard's deeply vinous and expressive dark fruits hummed a resonant baseline. This was really singing an hour and a half into our meal, 2 plus hours after we opened it.
I'm telling you, it's the holidays. Just open that bottle. It feels good.