Being a total Champagne freak. And for those friends in the southern Hemisphere who have not been locked up yet in La Bastille (Paris) for drinking ,and or for even mentioning the word Champaña. I am of course talking about the region in north eastern France, to be found geographically on the 49th parallel. Where the soil is made up of ancient chalk deposits that contain a high amount of belemnite, or for those, like me who fell asleep in my Geography and Chemistry lessons, at school, oh la la. This is a mixture of marine fossils that have been spewed up volcanically over millions of years and have settled there on the hills of Rheims and Epernay, and do continue all the way, in one huge erruption, on to Goodwood in Sussex and it`s neighbouring counties of England. I say, maybe that is why they are now making some pretty decent fizz over their now. One of them is called Nyetimber? Very apply, very English and very dam good indeed.
So, back to Champers. The REAL stuff. Last 20th October, also full moon, was a Friday morning, and I received an email from a trade body in Champagne pointing out that this was World Champagne Day! Oh yeass!! I like this idea a lot. Oui, oui. Not that I need any excuse at all to pop 75psi of Portuguese cork from a proper Champagne bottle. But I had never heard of this special day before, though the message relays that it is the 19th World Champagne Day, and that we must send in our news and photography of the wine we will be drinking that day to celebrate such a fine event, and super dea. Muggins here did just that. I messaged a chum of mine who I was going to share a glass of wine with that evening, and have a chat. “We are going to drink Champagne“` and celebrate, I told him and put the phone down.
Burrowing amongst my cardboard mess of a wine cellar, I came across a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal 2004, so I put it straight back in the case, and kept looking. Nothing against L.Roederer or Cristal, of course, but you have to be in a certain sort of dark mood to drink Cristal, Well I do anyways. Maybe it`s a Russian thing?
With this day only to celebrate, I now have a tremendous thirst for something really good to quench it. And there it is! My current, along with the almost unaffordable J.Selosse wines, favourate Champagne producer, Francis Egly. So I whip out a bottle of his Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru ‘Les Crayères’, which is of course made of 100% Pinot Noir from the legendary Les Crayères vineyard in Ambonnay. High up on 30cms of the afformentioned topsoil, sitting ontop of the aformentioned pure chalk. All the vines are, minimum, 70 years old. The juice is pure barrel fermented heaven, blended from two vintages, 2008 and 2009. Half and half. And now to add insult to injury, he ages the wine for 70 months on it`s lees. Full stop. I love this wine so much, I am almost not wanting to write this bugga bloggy as I think it may finally bugga me up on availability, and the price too.
Knowing that my generous chum would also put something on the table, I took a photograph of the two Champagnes together here for you. I decanted the Egly-Ouriet, as it always benefits from a breather. And, I had never heard of Lombard & Co Brut N.V. before. It was a classic mix of Chardonnay,
PN and PM. Showing golden bright, rich brioche on the nose and palate, backed with sharp notes of citrus and yellow plum. Delicious. We nibbled on some English Cheddar, chatted away and then decided to go to dinner. I had squirreled away a red, just in case. Remembering that today is Champagne Day, of course as I do not have anymore of Georges Vesselle`s wonderful Bouzy Rouge in the cellar. But, thanks to the angels of Ambonnay, I do have a few bottles of Egly-Ouriet’s Ambonnay Rouge Coteaux Champenois 2012. He only produces six barrels of this 100% PN, and I now have only 5 bottles (75cls) left to savour. It is incredible stuff. Sweet red cherry, tobacco, spice, licorice and leather all ooze out of my Universal Zalto. Super fresh concentration and depth, with no hint of wood at all, though I know it has been vinified and aged in oak.
At last, the food arrives, including some oven slow-roasted knucle of lamb. Sorry, yes more wine. Well we have drunken all the fizz and the Coteaux Champenois. So we toss a coin and a miracle happens. We end up with two more reds at the table. A 2010 Valbuena ‘5anos’ from Vega Sicilia and a bottle of 2014 Eben Sadie’s `Poffader` from Swartland. It does not get much better than this for me. Two bottles of super Champagne and a brilliant Coteaux Champenois. Then two bottles of quite juxed-opposed red wines, that come from two different hemispheres. Talk about an eclectik mixture. Both were decanted, of course, as they need to breath.
The 2010 Valbuena has almost 100 components in it, all of them corresponding to a plot of vines. 180,000 bottles were produced and we drank it in a lot less minutes. It has all the signs of being one of the best vintages ever for this second wine from Vega Sicilia, mostly Tempranillo but with 5% Merlot that has matured five months in 20,000-liter oak vats, and then 18 months in new barriques (equal parts French and American oak), three months in used barrels and then five months in the vats again before being bottled in May 2013. Well this is what it says on the back label. However, I have tried several Valbuenas over the years and really always prefer it`s accessabiliy over it`s bigger brother, `Unico`. This was a Burgundian Ribero del Duero if ever I have had one. Really just too easy to drink.
In the other decanter is a 48 year old vine, of 100% Cinsault. The 2014 Pofadder, all the way from South Africa. Pure pure clean fresh, deep nose. Deep throat? oops, wild flowers, strawberries, redcurrents. Oh my god, I love this bottle too much. Almost restrained palate with soft soft tannins, and an acidity intertwined in this ‘Zoo Biscuit’ of a wine, that makes me want to go back for more and more and more.
Needless to say, I went to bed fully dressed, The End.