Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Night Bubbles

NV Champagne Raymond Boulard Cuvée Petraea XCVII - MMII, $38, Imported by Selected Estates of Europe. Yes, more Raymond Boulard. And why not? The last bottle was so great, the prices are so reasonable, and I actually know where to find the wines - they seem to be quite rare in the States, but Astor Wines has them.

Petraea, the name for one type of oak used in wine making, is a wine made using the Solera system. Solera refers to the practice of reserving wine and blending in young wine with each new vintage, over time creating a blend of many vintages. Solera wines can achieve a mature and complex character that might not be found in the same producer's younger wines. And if you happen to like a particular solera wine, you can feel confident buying it over and over again, as the blending of so many vintages effectively ensures consistency in the wine.

The Champagne I drank includes wines from 1997-2002, as indicated by the Roman numerals on the label. The website also claims that there are 50 year old wines in this cuvée, something I don't understand, if the solera started in 1997. There is no disgorgement date on the bottle, so I can't tell you anything about that. This wine is mostly red grapes - 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier, and then 20% Chardonnay.

I loved this wine - this is one of the prettiest noses I've experienced so far in Champagne. There are chalk and biscuits upon opening, and with a little time, there is an incredibly clear aroma of white flowers, like an elegant lady's perfume. Really compelling, and quite heady. I won't lie to you - the nose had me feeling rather amorous. When's the last time a wine did that to you?

The palate is quiet and very graceful, with good acidity and great length. As with the last Boulard wine I drank, this is not a fruit driven wine, but a complex and very mineral wine - there is a floral and mineral fragrance in the mouth long after swallowing.

This wine is well worth seeking out, in my opinion. There are no special effects, this is not a summer blockbuster. It is more thoughtful than that, it requires and rewards your attention. And please allow me to remind you that it is currently available for $38 at Astor Wines in Manhattan - an incredibly reasonable price for Champagne of this caliber. I will most certainly be buying more.


Peter Liem said...

I think that on his website he's just using 50 years as an example. As in: for example, a solera started 50 years ago will include 50 year wines. It's ambiguous, especially in the English translation, but on the French portion that's the impression I got.

That's an amazing price for that wine!

Brooklynguy said...

hey peter - i figured it might be a lost in translation kind of thing. by the way - is a solera wine a candidate for cellaring, or is the aging kind of built into the bottle, and is it better to just drink it upon release?

and price...i discovered today that Astor apparently put the wine on sale. it's now $32/bottle. absurd.

Peter Liem said...

Solera wines can age like any other champagnes. It depends on the particular wine, of course. With Boulard's, it's delicious as is, but I don't see why it couldn't develop more complexity and character with a few more years in the bottle.

Jesse said...

Sounds like a good find, personally, I can spend hours in Astor's Champagne section. It's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's a typo and the meaning is 50 year old vines?

Brooklynguy said...

thanks peter - i may not have the gumption to save my bottle. it certainly is delicious now.

astor is oddly so great for champs, i agree. large well chosen selection.

alastair - i think they were just saying "for example," as peter explained above. the english translation may have a few quirks.

Anonymous said...

many thanks for your comments.

(There are more comments about our cuvées in foreign countries than in France... That's great.
'' on est meilleur prophète à l'étranger que dans son propre pays ''
- french expression ...).

The 50 years are an example ...
to explain the way of this perpetual reserve to the basic consumer having no knowledge about wine ... and solera.

Of course,
it's a perpetual blend (+ 25% every year of the new harvest) from the 1997 (XCVII / as 97 - not enough space on the label for writing MCMXCVII - 1997 - Please sorry) to 2002 MMII.

It's still too early to drink this *vintage MMII*,
it's still a lively teenage wine (adolescent).

The Petraea MM tasted in april, start to be well mature.

As a great white wine (Burgundy / montrachet - meursault - chablis, Alsace / riesling, and great chenin as Savennières, ... I do not like Sauvigneon ... so, I have no great example ... :o)
a great Champagne, made with great quality grapes - terroirs -, must mature few, some, several years before drinking.
and particularly Boulard cuvées and vintages,
which are always teenagers...
with lively body.

Again Many Thanks for your comments.

Bien amicalement,

- who is happy,
we have sunny weather since 10 days.
Hope this weather will stop the expansion of the mildew and oïdium diseases.

Brooklynguy said...

hello again Francis Boulard, and so nice to see you here. interesting to read your thoughts on this wine, that it is actually too early to drink it. i cannot tell if it is a language thing or if maybe you find your champagnes amorous the same way I did. thanks again for your comments, and i look forward to drinking more of your wine.