Standing in the door of a garage, just off the street on a back road in the Vallee de la Marne west of Epernay in Champagne, I tasted a wine so good, I almost didn’t buy it when I got back because I didn’t think it could be as good as what I remembered. This vintage Champagne had been aging en triage for over 20 years and had just been disgorged as we stood and watched. It had no dosage and was “cave” temperature … and it was brilliant. Suffice to say, I finally bought some, disgorged to order and finished with no dosage. It has now come in and I have gotten to taste, or rather drink from a couple of bottles. WOW! Every bit as good as I had remembered.
JP MARNIQUET Prestige Champagne, 1989 ($101.99)
An estate-bottled, vintage blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in the Vallee de la Marne and aged en tirage (on the lees of the bottle fermentation) until it was disgorged in the late spring of 2013. This disgorgement is un-dosed so the flavors and richness and balance all come from the vintage and those long years of cold, slow development in Marniquet’s cave. So how does it taste? Amazing. This is rich, developed, complete, complex Champagne with great length and purity. It is hard to describe the flavors. The first taste is like the last sip of one of the best bottles you have ever tasted and it builds from there. Toasty, rich, elegant but with an ever-changing mix of both fresh and dried fruit. The chalk-mineral-earth of Champagne is present but fully integrated. This is a wine you want to spend some time getting to know. Drink it from wine glasses rather than Champagne flutes. Sip it with richer foods or indulge in it in lieu of dessert. Lovely in the mouth. BS: 100
“A party without Champagne is just a meeting.” (with apologies to Julia Child who said “cake” but probably wishes she’d said “Champagne.”
Please check the EVENTS PAGE for an upcoming WINE 101 class and our annual CRU CLASSÉ BORDEAUX TASTING featuring the 2011 vintage.
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!