The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Taking Champagne Further Into the New Year

Posted on | January 18, 2010 | Written by Christy Canterbury | 2 Comments

While I took ample advantage of the various bubble blow-outs at year’s end, I’ve also not been hesitant to pop corks into the new year.  I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few of the more delicious bottles I’ve enjoyed.  As you will see, I’ve been on a bit of a grower kick.

André Clouet Silver Grande Réserve Brut Nature NV:  lean, mineral and mouthwatering, this no-dosage, 100% Pinot Noir demands food.  It’s a serious Champagne that should not be a beginner apéritif wine.  Sadly, while I tried to explain that point to my hosts, my explanation was lost on them, even though they are complete wine geeks. One thing to remember about Champagne is this: just because there are bubbles doesn’t mean it comes first!  I’ve seen many a complex and full-bodied Grüner Veltliners consumed the same way—even by a table of aficionados.  The flute-shaped bottle likely directs those apéritif decisions, but it is an egregious error!

André Clouet Grande Réserve Brut NV: Clouet is in Bouzy where Pinot Noir rules and this wine contains its fair share.  I discovered these wines when buying for Spice Market New York and have found every bottle since to be delicious.  This bubbly is the more suitable wine simply to open and imbibe.

Georges Gardet Cuvée Saint Flavy NV:  containing the trio of classic Champagne grapes (10% Pinot Meunier, 45% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay), this family domaine sources 20% of its juice from its own vineyards.  Whiffs of toastiness appear from 20% reserve wines used and 24-month sûr lee aging, but the freshness of the fruit typical in most grower wines dominates.

José Michel Pinot Meunier Brut NV: this Champagne hails from a grower producing 180,000 bottles annually.  Pinot Meunier accounts for 45% of their vine holdings, and this wine is a tribute to this variety, which is not often seen on its own.  Pinot Meunier provides a nice plumpness on the mid-palate as well as liveliness in the raspberry and rose aromas. Yummy!

Clos Cazal Blanc de Blancs 1995:  (Disclaimer:  this was a gift I pulled out of my cellar; I’ve not seen this wine in the US.)  The first vintage of a very limited production wine from a rare walled vineyard, this wine is definitely mature. While it can hold, I think it’s drinking just fine right now.  I’m keen to see how successive vintages are performing.

I hope that you find my continued foray into Champagnes inspiring and that you keep the corks a-poppin’ into 2010. And if you have, I’m curious, what bubblies have you been enjoying (or not)?


2 Responses to “Taking Champagne Further Into the New Year”

  1. Kerry-Jo
    January 18th, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    I recently had an interesting experience concerning, “champagne.” Every Tuesday my roommate and I take advantage of Flea Market Cafe’s unlimited mussel night down in the East Village. I decided I wanted a glass of sparkling and to my surprise found a “champagne” as a sparkling by the glass. Their list is very limited and dare I say, lacking. So I took my chances and ordered a glass.

    Well, it definitely wasn’t champagne. More like Welch’s white grape juice with carbonation. I was just wondering if using the word “champagne” on a wine list is illegal? I know how strict the rules are when it comes to champagne, but not sure how it reflects when it comes to small establishments using the word frivolously.

  2. Christy Canterbury
    January 18th, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    There’s really no policing establishments’ use of the word “Champagne.” The price of the sparkling wine is often a good indication of whether or not a by the glass offer is the real deal. (Champagne is pricey.) Also, the general attention to detail on the format of the wines by the glass list (are vintages and names of producers included? is the spelling correct?) as well as the quality of the wines on offer can infer how serious the list is. When in doubt, ask to see the bottle before the bubbles are poured!

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