Before I get started, remember to get out and VOTE!
Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife. This week, we have our very good friends visiting from France. More than anyone, he is responsible for my education and appreciation of wine. She is one of the nicest people you will ever meet (even though she is from NJ, she does put up with me and him) and is a fellow Champagne snob. Their two girls are adorable, making my wife consider having a third child (but that is a ‘no’). They don’t make it back to Philly all that often, but when they do, I like to pull out a few ‘treasures’ that I have been saving in the basement for them. Here are some of the wines we tasted this last week that stood out:
2002 A. Lancelot-Pienne Champagne Blanc de Blancs: Retail $45-50. There is no doubt that I am a champagne freak, but there is an exception: Blancs de blancs (BdB). Most champagne is made from the blending of three varieties: one white (Chardonnay), and two red (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). A BdB is only made from chardonnay and perhaps it is due to the lack of my other love, Pinot Noir, that has made it very difficult to find a BdB that I actually really like. This was no exception. There was great fruit: peach, lemon and a bit of baked bread, but there was also some residual sugar that seemed out of place. It was just lacking the soul that I feel Pinot lends. Very Good. 86-88 points.
1998 Jean-Noël Haton Champagne Brut Millésimé: Retail $60. Ah, this is more like it. While this is not a Pinot dominated wine (40% Pinot Noir, 60% Chardonnay), the difference from the Lancelot was noticeable—there was a deeper, more concentrated backbone here. The nose included some citrus and peach. The brioche aspect was fantastic and lingered for a while. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 points.
2002 Montaudon Champagne Brut Millésimé: Retail ~$50. I have been a fan of Montaudon for a while, but I have only really had their Non-Vintage Brut, this was only the second time I have tried their Vintage. The wine had all the characteristics I like in my champagne: a bit of citrus, a bit of yeastiness and a vinous quality that comes with age. It did not have, however, an over abundance of effervescence, which caused me some concern for the other 5 bottles in the cellar. Outstanding. 90-92 points.
1985 Moët et Chandon Dom Pérignon:Retail ~$250?. This was one of the wines that we decided to break out while we were ‘hunkering down’ during Sandy. I was really surprised by how young this wine seemed–it was a very pale yellow with a very active mousse. On the palate, tons of citrus and acidity–so much so that it was difficult to identify the baked bread that characterizes a Dom Pérignon. The finish, though, was simply amaziing, lingering for a couple minutes or more. I dare say that we opened this too early–perhaps even ten years too soon! Incredible. 92-94 points.
1999 Domaine Courbis Cornas Les Eygats: Retail ~$35. I have really tried to like the northern Rhône wines, really. Wines made mostly from Syrah, Côtes-Rôtie, Cornas, St. Joseph, Hermitage all are fine regions, but I just can’t get into them the way I do with burgundy. I don’t know if Syrah is supposed to be restrained like it is in the Northern Rhône. I know that could be considered blasphemy, and I might no longer be considered a French wine snob, but what can I say? This wine was certainly good and enjoyable, but I am not sure where to place it–I would much rather spend the same $$ on a Burgundy. Stewed red fruit and earthiness with nice acidity and finish. Very Good. 87-89 points.
One night, quite inadvertently, we had our own little ’80’s night. No, we did not put on any Toni Basil or Corey Hart, but we did break out a few bottles that I was worried were well past their prime:
1980 Lequin Roussot Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru: Retail ?. 1980 is not on anybody’s list of great Burgundy vintages, but this appellation (Bâtard-Montrachet) produces one of the finest chardonnays in the world. This was the second of three bottles that I picked up a few years ago. The first bottle was rather scary—one of those bottles that I nearly poured out. This bottle started out a bit scary: the cork was completely saturated and plunged into the bottle as soon as I tried to put a corkscrew in it. The wine was very different from the last bottle and very good in an odd way—there was very little (no?) fruit anywhere—on the nose only some faint vanilla and maybe a hint of lemon (but I might have been imagining that). On the palate, it felt like wine, but again, there was very little fruit, but it clearly was a very well made wine. Undoubtedly, this should have been consumed 20+ years ago. Fun to drink, but impossible to rate.
1985 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Cuvée Fleur de Champagne: Retail ?. From a magnum. A golden color, more reminiscent of a pilsner than a champagne. A compelling nose of caramel, brioche, and lemon peel. On the palate, lively effervescence that delivered the same flavors along with some green apple, pear, and peach. An incredible dry finish that seemed to linger for minutes. This champagne and it’s well developed flavors are right in my wheelhouse. Incredible. One of the best champagnes I have ever had. 94-96 points.
1985 Joseph Cattin Riesling Hatschbourg: Retail ?. This is the third of these that we have tasted and this was clearly the best. A nose of petrol, peach, and melon. On the palate completely dry with still plenty of acidity. Long finish. Outstanding. 90-92 points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Usually, I do not simply look back over my ratings and chose the wine with the highest score for the wine of the week. I like to think about which wine made the biggest impression, was the biggest surprise, or maybe even the best value. Well this week, the wine had all three and was also the highest scoring: 1985 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Cuvée Fleur de Champagne. This was a wine that I will likely remember for a while–on of the top 10 wines of my life up until this point (OK, maybe not top ten, but close). If I told you what I paid for this, you would just be mad, so I won’t.
What was your wine of the week?