Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Night Bubbles

NV Fleury Champagne Carte Rouge Brut, $40, Winebow Imports. Jean-Pierre Fleury is a pioneer of sorts. He is credited as the first grower in Champagne to convert his entire estate to biodynamics. This is back in the early '90s when crack was wack and it was extra wide laces for your Jordans. Deciding to go biodynamic is fashionable now. It couldn't have been easy back then.

The Fleury estate is located in the village of Courteron in the Côte des Bar, a region of Champagne where Pinot Noir is particularly successful. And indeed Pinot makes up about 90% of what Fleury's grows, the rest is Chardonnay. In addition to the basic brut, the lineup includes a vintage wine, a rosé that is supposed to be wonderful, and that I have never tasted, and the tête de cuvée, the Cuvée Robert Fleury.

These wines are produced in small quantities and can be difficult to find here in the States. I've never even seen a bottle of Cuvée Robert Fleury, for example. And I haven't seen the rosé either in at least a year. I haven't seen a bottle of the vintage wine since I came across a 1996 on the shelves in San Diego last December. And come to think of it, I had to go to one specific store in an out of the way neighborhood in Manhattan (for me) to find even this, the basic brut.

With distribution blanketing New York like that, it's easy to understand why Perrier-Jouet sued Fleury a few years back over the similarity of the two houses'
rosé labels. The previous sentence contains 90% sarcasm and 10% snarkiness.

It really is a shame, though, that Fleury's wines are hard to find, because what I've tasted is truly delicious and unique. The NV Brut (no disgorgement data provided) opens with an elegant nose of red fruit and lots of chalk, very restrained, but pulsing with energy. And with a little air, interesting notes of malted milk powder emerge, even some cocoa powder. Although quite savory, the red fruit and chalky minerals are bright and overall the nose is very lively. This is a surprising aromatic profile that I've not before experienced in a Champagne.

The palate is absolutely fresh and pure, with richness, depth, and finesse. There are nicely focused flavors of red fruits and yeasty bread with a deeply chalky mineral finish. My favorite thing about this wine is that it feels incredibly transparent. The clarity and purity are so striking that real or imagined, I sensed the earth of Courteron in my mouth. This is a wonderful Champagne that I urge you to drink, if you come across it.


Anonymous said...

Great post as always, Brooklynguy.

What store in San Diego?

Joe Manekin said...

The 2000 Cuvee Robert Fleury is a fun wine. 1/3 each Pinot Blanc, Chard and PN - all barrel fermented. Rich and textural but crisp and vibrant at the same time. The rose...not my favorite. Everyone loves it except me, I guess. It always seems a bit too tutti fruity and I guess I prefer my pink champagne to show a bit more delicacy and nuance. Carte rouge I love - glad you found some (with more than a little effort).

Vinotas said...

Fleury's wines are awesome, and as opposed to Joe above I love the Rose. I tasted it for the first time recently and found it really lovely.

Hmmm... might be time for a Rose Champagne tonight...

Brooklynguy said...

hey jeremy - i know where it is, but i may get the name wrong. i want to say it's called meritage, on the road from rancho to encinitas. in a mall.

hey old skool - i didn't know Fleury uses Pinot Blanc. and so much of it? 33% of their top wine? do they grow it or buy it? their website says that their vineyards are 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. maybe the site needs to b update.

hey Michel - where did you find the rose? another Jersey find? if you found it in NYC, lemme know where.

Director, Lab Outreach said...

Dobianchi, (not to rub it in for the East Coast readers of BGLW) but I'm pretty sure K&L Wines brings Fleury into California, so they're reasonably priced there. And they have the full catalog, including the pretty amazing and weirdly raisin-y Brut Vintage 1996. Of course, it means you have to road trip up to LA. But they'll ship too. Hi-Times in Costa Mesa and Wine Pavilion in Lake Forest stock Fleury, but I've never see the Carte Rouge at either shop.

And speaking of things you can't get in NY... Neil, I grabbed a bottle of the Goisots' Cremant de Bourgogne for you. I'll send it when the weather cools. It's a baby shower gift for you from the Lab.

cheers, J David

Marcus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus said...

After reading your last post for WBW, reasons winos flock to your blog were clear: the writing. But when did you get so handy with a camera? Those are some real nice captures.

EastcoastDublin said...

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Brooklynguy said...

i saw on the fleury website that K&L impors for the west coast. i'm jealous that you can buy rose there and cuvee robert too. i'm still really confused about the pinot blanc though. here's to hoping that peter liem reads through these comments...

hey marcus!! good to see you around here. i thought you abandoned us and forsook blogging and commenting. thanks for the kind words. and by the way, i also think that demi-sec chenin at a meals end is awesome. i have a bottle of the 04 l'effraie that's waiting for the right moment.