Champagne Friday: GOSSET Brut Excellence

A few weeks back, I tasted Gosset Brut Excellence and thought “This is a winner.” Last weekend, it was. A winner that is. Gosset Brut Excellence won the award (a pair of chaps) for the top Sparkling wine in the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. The chaps come in addition to the Class Champion belt buckle and Double Gold medal it had already won. A winner indeed. My note from a few weeks back:

GOSSET Brut Excellence, Champagne, NV ($41)
Tech: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, and 19% Pinot Meunier sourced primarily from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. Gosset bases this blend on three vintages and then adds 20% reserve wines (wines aged in a sort of solera with many vintages blended together). The wine spends over 2.5 years en tirage (resting on the lees before disgorging). Sensory: Medium straw in color with a hint of green highlights. Dry, light-to-medium-bodied with crisp acidity and scant phenolics. Focused, classy, classic, and delicious. Tart lemon-citrus fruit with some some subtle red fruit notes along with lots of toast and a lot of minerals. Fine style. Gets richer and more satisfying as it warms and flattens (which I like very much). Delicious. BS: 92.

This week’s CHAMPAGNE QUOTE: “One holds a bottle of red wine by the neck, a woman by the waist, and a bottle of champagne by the derriere.” – Mark Twain

Champagne Friday: Veuve Clicquot Cave Privée Brut 1990

I’m back. And this time I mean it. So let’s get to it: Champagne Friday.
This week, I tasted the Veuve Clicquot Cave Privée Brut 1990. Released in Texas just last month after having reached the legal drinking age in Texas, this rare (only 24 bottles came to Houston) bubbly has spent its youth chillin’ in the caves at Clicquot’s cellars in Reims. The idea here is the ultimate in Brut Vintage, which is where many of the best values in Champagne originate. For most Champagne houses (and Clicquot is no exception), Brut Non-Vintage is both the entry level and the work horse. I’ve heard and I believe it that Veuve Clicquot’s famous “Yellow Label” brut is on more Houston wine lists than any other sparkling wine. While Yellow Label is obviously a popular choice, Brut Vintage is a whole n’other critter. Most houses’ Brut Vintage sells for maybe 50% more than their Brut Non-Vintage but delivers as much as 100% more quality, flavor and value. This is certainly true of Clicquot’s Brut Vintage, currently 2004. The 2004 is certainly delicious and will undoubtedly feature in a future post but last night it acted in a supporting role to show off its older sibling, the 1990. This has star power and more than just a little exclusivity.

VEUVE CLICQUOT Cave Privée Brut, Champagne, 1990

11.1% Alcohol. A blend of 56% Pinot Noir, 11% Pinot Meunier, and 33% Chardonnay from 17 crus all over Champagne made to be the 1990 vintage. There were no real “belles and whistles” in the winemaking, blending, and champenization. The big difference here is that these bottles were kept “en tirage” in Clicquot’s cold chalk cellars until they were disgorged in 2008 and then dosed at only 4 grams per liter (and so a sort of an Extra Brut). This Cave Privee wine then received an extra four years of bottle aging before finally being released in 2012. Sensory: Pale golden straw in color, fully sparkling with remarkable richness. Quite dry with still very fresh acidity and a scant hint of phenolics. The nose is rich and toasty with notes of cocoa and even coffee with whiffs of red fruit and citrus as well as a chalky minerality. The mouth brings more of the same with still ample effervescence. As the wine warms and flattens a bit, it gains in richness and texture. Its depth and complexity command your interest. As it opens further and further, the wine moves past being a beverage into the range of an experience. This isn’t an “aperitif” Champagne or a “food” Champagne, rather, this is contemplative Champagne that peels back to reveal layer after layer. You’ll want to drink this with and as part of a conversation. This wine is a great pleasure. Bear’s Score: 97 points. Price: about $225 per bottle. (If I hadn’t recently tasted Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996 and La Grande Dame 1998, I may have rated this higher.)

This Week’s Champagne Quote: When you have bubbles, you have no troubles. – my friend Denise Wardwell (while sipping Cave Privée 1990)

CHAMPAGNE THURSDAY – PIERRE MORLET Brut Millesime 1er cru, Champagne, 2002 – and a Champagne Quote

Yes, THURSDAY. Dinner tonight was at Triniti which is clearly the hot new restaurant in town. I have mostly good to say about the restaurant: vivid flavors, lots of creativity, beautiful presentation, excellent service, pretty good wine list, and a stunningly good but-not-excactly-on-the-menu ice cream trio (brown butter, honey comb, and caramel ice creams) somewhat offset by a loud, too warm room, small portions, and a tasty but somewhat over cooked piece of fish.

Now, about the Champagne part: my hosts – Marc Laderriere of Vina Robles and Mary Dodson of Serendipity – ordered a bottle of Pierre Morlet 2002 … and it rocked my world. Pierre Morlet is an estate producer (recoltant manipulant) in Avenay-Val-d’Or which is a premier cru village in the Montagne de Reims. The Morlet family’s vineyards consist of thirty-plus parcels totaling forty acres in Avenay-Val-d’Or, Ay, Bisseuil, and Mutigny. Some of these vineyard blocks are situated next to parcels that produce the super premium cuvées for such famous Champagne houses as Bollinger, Krug, Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Pommery, and Veuve Clicquot. For example, in Ay, the prestigious vineyard La Côte aux Enfants of Bollinger, is adjacent to the Morlet family’s Gilbertin vineyard.

PIERRE MORLET Brut Millesime 1er cru, Champagne, 2002
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay with primary fermentations in either small tank capacity or in French oak “demi-muids” (600 liter) barrels with weekly batonnage of the lees. Sensory Note: Straw in color, bright, clear, and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with balanced acidity and very light phenolics. Rich with ripe citrus and earthy red berry fruit. Toasty-yeasty with minerally earth. A very long finish that starts with a hint of chocolate essence. Yes -I wrote chocolate. It is at the edge of exotic. Bear Note: My note from October of 2009 indicates that this was very nice (91+ points) but tonight (2/16/12) at Triniti, it was exceptional: rich, satisfying, fascinating. It improved in the glass as it flattened and warmed. Utterly Delicious. The last sip was magnificent. BS: 95. ($75.00???)

We also had an excellent bottle of Vina Robles new release of their VINA ROBLES Syree, Paso Robles 2008, a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah that I will talk more about later.

I leave you with a Champagne Quote:
Two warm bodies and one cold bottle of Champagne will produce something more wonderful than would happen without the Champagne. – Helen Gurley Brown