Friday, December 11, 2009
White, black, white
The intention was obviously to write about an astounding champagne I'd had a few weeks ago. But then other great bubbles came my way, and I realized it would be hasty to sum up everything in one epiphanic blanc de noirs. So I'll give you a pair, instead.
2006 Lassaigne "Les Papilles Insolites" - this is a 100% pinot noir with no dosage and no sulfur. I had been forewarned that it would be unlike most typical Champenois fare. (As though that would shake me!) So I popped it for myself, because in that case – this is the principle of going to movies alone, to avoid the dread "bad choice" that could alienate one's movie-going companions – there would be no one else to register shock, discomfort or, well, drink the rest of the bottle. I let the cork out and poured some into a Zalto champagne flute. The bubbling liquid was deep yellow in the glass. And a lean in to smell what was nutty and aromatic led obviously to a taste, which led to a few moments of internal parsing, then quickly, a contented nod. Oh, yes. This wine had everything I pine for in a good glass of champagne, but was, obviously, not something one fills one's stem with every day. It has depth and breadth, is vinous but detailed, streamlined. Crunchy fruit to it, and tannins to structure the whole thing. This would be a champagne to decant, if I could ever be that sensible. By the next day, it had developed roundly, and was even more compelling. I am itching to get back to one of the two wine merchants who purvey it and snap some more up.
NV Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru - ashamed as I am to admit it, I used to think pinot noir-dominated champagnes were not my style – Selosse Contraste aside, I would say with a dandyish chuckle. Well, not a bit of it. If Lassaigne's Papilles Insolites was already one colossal raspberry to that particular prejudice of mine, a recent bottle of Egly-Ouriet's Brut Tradition (75% pinot noir) was a kick in the pants, to boot. I can no longer claim disdain for that robuster grape. This bottle, disgorged in mid-2008, was of vinous depth that had me grinning from ear to ear. The notes of almond paste and toast were addictive. I vaguely recall that I had had too much to drink that evening. But this, dear readers, was worth the plunge into excess.