Grower Champagne on Christmas DayBy Marisa D'Vari | December 25th, 2011 | Category: Champagne, News | 1 Comment »
So now after two and a half days of drinking $$$$ of very fine champagne (as a guest!) I am back in New York and looking for something slightly more affordable for Christmas.
At Le Bernadin last week, sommelier Aldo Sohm (who won best sommelier in the world competition and is always winning new ones) introduced me to two new champagnes, Phippe Gonet 3210 -- very clever title as it means 3 years of aging, 2 terroirs, 1 grape (chardonnay) and zero dossage. I LOVED this champagne ... it was a pure beam of clean fruit with a delicate mousse that dissolved like a cloud in your mouth.
Alas ... I couldn't find it for Xmas so the store recommended Laherte Brut Tradition NV (below)
The other wine was Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes de montgueux, which I bought today for our Christmas feast with pastries from Thomas Keller's Bouchon.
Jacques Lassaigne is a 4.7 hectare family vineyard located in Montgueux. The vineyards boast prime southeastern exposure & consist primarily of Chardonnay vines (94%) & the rest is made up of Pinot Noir (6%). The Montgueux vineyard sites were originally held for the Montrachet of Champagne & are located near the gates of Troyes—the former capital of Champagne.
The terroir in Montgueux is nearly identical to the growing sites found further north in le Mesnil, as they share the same limestone vain —this is exceptional terroir for making great champagne. The non-vintage Blanc de Blanc is a blend of nine different vineyard sites & two successive vintages.
Age of Vines: 35 Years
Yields: 60 hl/ha
Pruning Method: Guyot
Soil: Heavy clay.
The grapes are harvested by hand—from 9 different sites—at their maximum ripeness before being destemmed & gently pressed. The fruit undergoes complete malolactic fermentation & no sulfites are added to the blend. The wine is aged in new & old barrels for 12 to 24 months & held in bottle for 1 to 5 years until it is disgorged, corked & released.
Tasting Note: Pale straw in the glass with lovely mineral, dried fruit & citrus zest aromatics that reflect the purest expression of the Montgueux terroir. The palate is vibrantly alive with crisp citrus & melon flavors that are backed by deft acidity & dazzling minerality. The finish resonates with succulent citrus notes.
Laherte Brut Tradition NV
The word on cellertracker is mixed ... some call it "adolescent" (ouch! after all that mature 1980's Champagne in Champagne a few weeks ago!) with some giving it the dreaded 88 points ... the "kind" score for a wine you want to support but don't really like.
Still, I am re-assured by some people saying it has notes of honeydew, strawberry, green apple, and lemon cake (a real fruit salad) though others call it bracing, zippy, and full of "masculine charm"
And yet JW of Chambers street wines recommended it highly, saying:
"On occasion saying that we’ve made a ‘discovery’ is really kind of silly. In this case these wines have been around for quite a while (1889, in fact – a mere newcomer by some standards) but they’re new to us – thus a discovery.
I’d been hearing about Laherte, and I ended up tasting them in Italy – at the fabulous natural wine fair called VinNatur; there were a few Champagne producers there, but none of those wines came close to the distinctiveness – and just plain excellence of Laherte. As you might now assume, this is natural wine: organic and biodynamic farming on an unusually diverse and large number of terroirs (over 75 vineyard parcels in 10 different villages).
Each wine is vinified separately and subject to a range of technique – fermentation in tank, barrique, and foudre (large wood barrels); malolactic on some wines and not on others – all depending on what each wine requires as it evolves. The dosage is very low (dosage = “The final addition to a sparkling wine… which determines the sweetness, or residual sugar, of the finished wine. In French this is called the liqueur d’expedition and usually comprises a mixture of wine and sugar syrup” – Jancis Robinson, the Oxford Companion to Wine) – the wines are very fresh and vivid, but also quite rich and ripe – evidently very good quality fruit is used.
All of the range of wines are excepetionally good: excellent NV Brut and Rose, and the fantastic Les Clos – a unique blend of all seven types of grapes that are permitted for use in Champagne – one our best wine discoveries, sparkling or still, that we’ve made this year. JW"
Also, Columbus Circle wines recommended both of the wines above