One day last week, Sunny Brown of Michael Skurnik Wines and David Graves of Pioneer came by my office for a business meeting. As they are veteran wine guys, they brought three somewhat fancy wines to taste: PIERRE GIMONNET Oenophile Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, 2008, BRUNDLMAYER Riesling Helligenstein, Kamptal, 2013, and PAUL JABOULET Condireu Les Armandiers, Condireu, 2014. When I saw this line-up, I felt an inward cringe which I hope did not show on my face. I do not (generally) like Extra Brut Champagne (too dry). I do not (generally) like Austrian Riesling (often out of balance on the dry side). I do not (generally) like Condrieu as Viognier (from which Condrieu is made) is near the bottom of my hierarchy of wine grapes (right there with Torrontes). But, out of courtesy and maybe a bit of morbid curiosity, I agreed to taste through these three (initially at least) less than inspiring selections with them. Please pass the salt as I need to put a little on the humble pie I will now eat. Color me stunned! WOW! All three wines were stellar. Each seemed to be trying to out mineral the others. One might allow as to how “Rocks rock!” What a great way to meet minerality.
PIERRE GIMONNET Oenophile Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, 2008 ($73.99)
100% Chardonnay (33.5% from Cramant, 32.5% Chouilly, 10% Oger, 22% Cuis and 2% Vertus) given a full malo-lactic fermentation (unusual for Champagne) and aged 8 months in stainless steel tanks (with two rackings) before the methode champenoise. Aged 60+ months on the yeasts in the bottle before disgorgement. No dosage (added sugar). Yellow-gold and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Focused, delicious, supple style of Champagne offering more than enough richness to handle the dryness. Toasty, very ripe lemon and orange mostly citrus fruit and lots of mineral with ample yeasty richness. Integrated and complete. Really holds your interest. Lovely. BearScore: 94+.
BRUNDLMAYER Riesling Helligenstein, Kamptal, 2013 ($36.29)
100% Riesling fermented in stainless steel at 15-20°C and then racked into big neutral wooden casks to age on the fine lees. Straw with green highlights and well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant (typical of higher-end, drier Rieslings) phenolics. Lovely pure dry Riesling with essence of peach and citrus and even some apple perfume but dry and restrained. Lots of mineral. Delicious. Holds your interest as it develops and opens up in the glass. BearScore: 94+.
PAUL JABOULET Condireu Les Armandiers, Condireu, 2014 ($108.99)
100% Viognier from biodynamically-farmed, 25+ year-old-vines planted on south-facing slopes cropped at very low yields of 20 hl/ha. Aged 55% in French oak barrels (5% new), 25% in small concrete eggs, and 20% in stainless steel tank. Gold-straw with green highlights and well formed legs. Dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Vivid, fresh, elegant, but supple mineral-centered Condrieu. Essence of peach and peach stone, citrus and peel and liquid stones. Lovely, pure, focused. About as good as Condrieu gets. BearScore: 95.