I do try to do Champagne Friday on Friday but sometimes stuff gets in the way. This last Friday brought an inadequate bottle of bubbly (of which I will speak no evil) so I decided to use my note on a wine I tasted (well, drank) Thursday evening with Rupert Symington and some friends (aka “The Gang of Pour”) after our Vintage Port tasting. Yes, we were drinking Champagne AFTER a Port tasting. Shocking … but also quite refreshing. Come to think of it, by the time I finished sipping it – it may have been Friday. The wine was Jean Laurent Blanc de Noirs imported by Hand Picked Selections. Here is a bit about Jean Laurent (distilled from the excellent HPS website - www.handpickedselections.com – where you will find more on my friend Dan Kravitz and his excellent Hand Picked Selections), my note on the latest release of this perennial favorite, and a Dorothy Parker quote.
For more than 1,000 years Jean Laurent’s family has been growing grapes near Celles-sur-Ource in the Aube, an outlying Champagne district south of Marne that shares the same chalky soils as the heart of Champagne and Chablis. Jean farms 39 acres, split between Pinot Noir (30 acres) and Chardonnay (9 acres), with no Pinot Meunier. The Aube is Pinot Noir country and Jean Laurents bread and butter is this Blanc de Noir, typically blended from three vintages, and aged a minimum of 3 years on the yeast. As an RM (Recoltant Manipulant or Champagne estate bottler), Laurent makes Champagnes exclusively from his own vineyards. While an RM Champagne is not guaranteed to be high quality, it is your best chance for site specificity and actual terroir in Champagne. Jean Laurent offers all of that and high quality and all at a reasonable price.
JEAN LAURENT Blanc de Noirs Brut, Champagne, NV
Tech Note: 12% alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir blended from three vintages with an additional three years on the yeasts (en tirage) after the bottle fermentation. Sensory: Medium pale gold in color and fully sparkling. This is a more developed cuvee than the last I had but it is still fresh, juicy, flavorful, ripe, and fruit-and-yeast oriented with notes of yeast and chalky mineral. The fruit leans to red fruit (more strawberry than other) with some lemon drop citrus. It is long, focused, rich, and lively in the mouth with good weight and a nice mousse. Bear Note: Solid and delicious with a fine rich feel. Finishes clean and dry. Fine food fizz. (I can’t resist alliteration.) BS: 92+. ($45.00)
FINALLY, I leave you with a Champagne quote from my favorite quip-mistress, Dorthy Parker:
Three be the things I shall never attain: envy, content and sufficient Champagne.
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IT HAS BEEN a busy week. I had 25 Bordeaux winery reps (owners, directors, winemakers, etc.) in town for a 2009 cru classé tasting (more on which later) and all the attendant busy-ness that goes with that as well as a lot of other STUFF. So this is the very first chance I have had to post since last Champagne Friday. I was due, even over-due, for some Champagne but, as last week, had no late Friday appointment so I have had to soldier on alone. Now, you know I love Champagne but you may not know of my particular fondness for that toasty-biscuity note that come from Pinot Meunier. I don’t want it all the time but when I want it, nothing else will do. It is the Champagne equivalent of comfort food. So many people think of Pinot Meunier as an inferior grape but I think of it as a sort of guilty pleasure. And of course it is essential for lower-priced Champagnes intended to be drunk young. But I digress. This Friday’s Champagne is J.P. MARNIQUET Brut Tradition. Located in the Vallee de la Marne, J.P. Marniquet is a grower and estate bottler of Champagne I have been working with over the last four years. Spec’s carries three of the cuvées but the basic (and least expensive) cuvée – Brut Tradition – is a personal favorite for that particular Pinot Meunier-biscuit note. It was just what I needed.
J.P. MARNIQUET Brut Tradition, Champagne, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of a shocking 50% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Noir from an RM (recoltant manipulant) producer. Sensory Note: Straw in color, fully sparkling. Dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity. Toasty-yeasty-biscuity with lively lemony citrus and some red fruit with limestone mineral and a hint of spice. Really very long finish. Bear Note: Delicious, focused, fresh, alive-in-the-mouth. Really hit the spot. Yum. BS: 92.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this is not one of Miss Carol’s favorites (but she will drink it in a pinch).
To paraphrase from “I love Paris”:
I love Champagne in the summer.
I love Champagne in the fall.
I love Champagne in the spring and winter.
But I love Champagne Friday best of all!
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Posted in Champagne Friday, tagged Brut NV, bubbles, Bubbly, Champagne, Champagne Friday, farmer fizz, French Wine, Godme, montagne de reims, sparkling wine on January 6, 2012 |
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This Friday finds me sipping GODME Brut Reserve 1er Cru with David “Big Bottle Dave” Gundelach of Favorite Brands. Godme Pere et Fils is a small Recoltant Manipulant (estate bottler of Champagne) or “RM” located in the cru of Verzenay in Champagne’s Montagne de Reims. RM producer’s grow their own grapes and complete the whole winemaking and champenizationincluding bottling and disgorgement on their own premises. Godme owns vineyards in the grand cru villages of Verzenay, Verzy, and Beaumont sur Vesle and in the premier cru villages of Villers-Marmery and Villedommange.
GODME Pere et Fils Brut Reserve 1er Cru, Champagne, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 55% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir, and 35% Pinot Meunier blended with 50% reserve wines already aged at least three years to make the cuvée. The cuvée is kept en tirage (on the lees) for 3 years. Sensory Note: Yellow in color, bright, clear, and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity. Very toasty and rich with lots of yeast character. Dark fruit and citrus in a fine balance with earth and mineral notes. Bear Note: Refreshing but has enough weight and richness to satisfy and to go well with richer foods (Salmon, caviar, oysters,etc.) Quite delicious. If only there were some salmon, caviar, or oysters about. BS: 93. ($38.00)
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No meetings this Friday so I’m posting a favorite from the last couple of weeks. Lanceleot Royer is a grower/estate bottler in the village of Cramant in the Cote de Blancs of Champagne. Cramant is a Grand Cru village so this is a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Champagne.
LANCELOT ROYER Cuvee des Chevaliers Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Champagne, NV
Tech: 12% Alcohol. 100% Chardonnay all from Grand Cru vineyards in Cramant in the Cote de Blancs. Sensory: Straw in color, bright and clear and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Fresh but ripe mixed citrus with a hint of tree fruit accented with chalky children’s vitamins mineral terroir; long clean, fresh finish. This is a toasty, yeasty, focused, rich Champagne offering citrus and spice. Classic Chardonnay bubbles. Long and alive in the mouth. Delicious. Excellent. BS: 94+. ($48.00 per 750ml)
For more on Champagne, check out BNV (Brut Non-Vintage) on the articles page.
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