Wednesday, December 26, 2007

By the Glass - Just After X-Mas Edition

I'm in San Diego now at the in-law's place. My second round trip west coast flight of the week. This time I spiced up the 6 hour flight by bringing my 11 month old. She was wonderful, actually. So here are a few tidbits to share:

As McDuff (no, the blogger, not the crime fighting dog) and a few others suggested, I stopped into Moore Brothers the other day when I was in the area. I told them about trying the NV Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs, and that it tasted like sweat. No, I had no receipt. No, I didn't leave me name with them, as they requested, when I bought the bottle. No, they have absolutely no record of me or my purchase. They immediately suggested that I take another bottle, and asked that I let them know how I like it. How's that for service? I felt really good about it - it made me want to do more shopping at Moore Brothers. And I'm also excited to taste this Champagne again.

Speaking of Champagne, I tasted a few interesting wines this holiday season. I've never tasted Bollinger wines before until recently. This is a very big house, owned by an enormous conglomerate that also owns other huge Champs houses, like Moet, I believe. The entry level wine, called Special Cuvee Brut, runs about $45 or so. La Grande Annee and the other higher end wines, including the precious and incredibly expensive Vieille Vignes Francaises, a Blanc de Noirs (made entirely of red grapes, in this case Pinot Noir), are a bit out of my reach.

I heard that this is a big house wine that I might enjoy. Even so, I was not about to use my 45 Champagne dollars on this wine, as long s I can buy grower wines from Geoffroy and others. So I was delighted to find the Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut being poured by the glass at some holiday party BrooklynLady took me to. It was indeed very nice wine, delicious in fact. But without the definition and focus that I have come to expect from my favorite Champagnes. See, that's the problem with the big houses - you have to pay up and try their expensive botles to (maybe) equal the quality of the entry level Brut from, let's say, Gimonnet or Geoffroy or some other grower. That's my .02 cents.

And I tried the NV Gimonnet 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs again recently and it is sooo good. Incredibly focused. The citrus, brioche, and floral aromas and flavors are so well defined, and the nuttiness that comes after a half hour open is delicious. Now THAT is an entry level Champs, folks, and you'll spend about $42.

I had an amazing wine on X-mas eve by a grower/producer I'd never before tasted. the 1996 Fleury Brut was an amazing wine. Deep and piercing aromas of nuts and quinine-like minerality, along with some bread and some flowers. I love the smell of old wine in Champagne, so complex and enticing. The palate was finely chisled and echoed the nose perfectly, and left a lingering orange oil sweet/bitter feeling on the tongue. I would drink this every week if I could. It cost about $60 here in San Diego, and I suspect it's less on the east coast. And you know what else - Fleury was supposedly the first grower in Champagne to convert the vineyards to biodynamic practices.

Two holiday Burgundies worth mentioning. The 2000 Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers was a disappointing mess of a wine. If tasted blind I might have thought it to be a lesser California Pinot, as there was alcohol heat and dark roast fruit on the nose, and the palate was pretty one dimensional too - just roasted darkness. Why would this be, oh Robert Groffier, why? You are supposed to be so special. And this probably cost at least $65 too.

The 2002 Colin-Deleger Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers was much better. Its nutty and floral aromas and flavors went very well with the X-Mas day ham we enjoyed. Not sure that it was so much better than, say the 2005 Macon-Charnay Vieille Vignes by Manciat, and that is literally one quarter of the price, but whatever...

Happy holidays to you all-


David McDuff said...

Yup, I've been hearing that one -- Crime Dog -- ever since I was a wee lad....

Glad to hear they took care of you at MBNY, Neil. Here's hoping you find the replacement bottle tastier than sweat. I drank the Diebolt from magnum on Xmas Eve. It was a recently arrived batch, sporting a re-designed label, and showed all of the lemony brightness and fresh, creamy texture that their basic BdB tends to show when young.

Brooklynguy said...

hi david - nice choice for xmas eve. i'm sure it was but one of many. how about this for a new catchphrase for your blog:

"mcduff...taking a bite out of wine."

RougeAndBlanc said...

1st: thanks for pointing out the service level @ Moores Brothers.
2nd: Isn't that 2000/2001 in Burgundy are considered generally off years and the wines are best to avoid?
3rd: I took Manciat to Yama ($10 corkage) and paired it with sashimi it was just wonderful.

Wish you and your family a Happy New Year.

peter said...

Gimonnet rocks. I also really like Billiot and Egly-Ouriet. The Colin-Deleger is very good (I have a couple of 96s left) but I find that the "this cost 4 times as much so it should be 4 times better" calculus just makes me depressed, especially with Burgundy.

Happy new year!

David McDuff said...

"mcduff...taking a bite out of wine."

Hmmm, I kind of like it. "McDuff the Wine Dog..." Sometimes I think the tone of my blog is too serious for its own good. Thanks for the chuckle, Neil.

Brooklynguy said...

hey andrew - happy new year to you too. what a nice match, the manciat VV with sashimi. that is something i must try. and at $10 corkage...nice! is that at all 3 of their places, or just at a certain one of them? as for 00 and 01 burgundies, yes those are not considered to be very good years. but there are great wines to be found from those vintages, they are probably drinking well right now, and they represent good value if you can find them, as they are eclipsed by 02 and of course 05. i wouldn't write off the whole vintage - look for producers you like and go for it.

hey peter - ditto me on the billiot tip. not sure where i stand on egly yet. it takes me a while with bruisers like that. your depression is my depression, and that's why i've become MUCH more selective, and strayed south to the maconnais lately too.

not too serious david, i think it's perfect content-wise. you wanna have an irreverent slogan? that might be i the one. happy new years to you-

RougeAndBlanc said...

I went to Yama in Soho. Not sure if other locations allows BYO. I think the original Yama @ Irving Place is the best one but I went to Yama Soho because my wife can communicate with the waiters in Chinese. Hope this helps.

Joe Manekin said...

'96 Fleury is phenomenal, and I would say still very young, tight wine. But outrageously good. Not '96 Krug or '96 Salon good, but really good. And yes, Fleryt was the first Champagne grower to go bio - in '89 I believe.

Bolli is not owned by LVMH, which owns Moet, Cliquot, Krug, Ruinart. In the realm of the grand marque champagnes, it is a medium sized one, but always very good. I'd rather drink it than some of the smaller house stuff (depending, of course, on the small house). NV Gimonet gets my vote over Bolli....

Brooklynguy said...

hey old world old skool - i loved the Fluery. i'm not sure it's fair to compare it to Salon. apples and oranges, i think. thanks for the correction on Bolli and LVMH. I still think it just wasn't anywhere near as interesting as most of the grower wines, but that's my taste. thanks again-