Champagne Friday: VCP Brut Rosé, NV

Here it is Friday evening and I have fallen down on the job. Time to pick up the slack and get a Champagne Friday posted. Luckily, I have just tasted – or rather drunk – a bit of Clicquot Rosé which was the cream of a nice tasting of Rosé bubbly I did today for an upcoming article on pink fizz (coming next week in time for Valentine’s day). Special thanks to Robert Gilroy (perhaps Houston’s most eligible bachelor) and the ladies in the office who helped me dispose of the evidence.

VCPPinkVEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN Brut Rosé, Champagne, NV ($55.39)
A 12% alcohol blend of mostly Pinot Noir with some Pinot Meunier and a bit more Chardonnay with 12% red Pinot Noir added before the second fermentation. The wine is salmon-orange in color and fully sparkling dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Tasted with several other Rosé bubblies, this is a richer and “foodier” Champagne Rosé with lots of rich red fruit (along with enough citrus) and a supple toasty richness (from lots of reserve wines). Still plenty fresh with a lovely feel in the mouth. Deeply satisfying. This is not aperitif Champagne; rather it is to go with salmon or steak tartar or carpaccio or even simple pasta dishes (but hold the red sauce).  YUM! BS: 93+.

After all, what is your host’s purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they’d have simply sent Champagne and women over to your place by taxi. – PJ O’Rourke

Wine of the Week: Ch. AMPELIA Castillon 2011

FrancoisDespagneAt last Tuesday’s (01/21/14) 2011 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice in Houston, a lowly unclassified Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux was a surprise star of the show. I have drunk many vintages of Ch. Ampelia and quite like them but I don’t remember the wine showing this well in such august company. This makes me particularly happy because owner winemaker François Despagne is such a good guy. Despagne is better known as  the owner/vigneron/winemaker of highly regarded St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé Ch. Grand Corbin Despagne. He spends several days every year in Texas tasting and talking about his wines.

Ch. AMPELIA, Cotes de Castillon, 2011 ($17.99)ChAmpelia
An organically grown, 13% alcohol blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc  fermented half in stainless and half in concrete tanks using pump-over and aged 12 months in all French oak barrels (33% new) The grapes were hand-picked and sorted both in the vineyard and on the sorting table at the chateau.   Deep purple-red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Dark juicy-dusty red fruit with spice and a hint of basil/mint over dusty earth and supple oak. Very well integrated and complete. Alive in the mouth. A pleasure to drink now but will improve with some time in the bottle. BS: 91.