2004 Audrey et Christian Binner Crémant d'Alsace Extra Brut, $28, Jenny & François Selections. I'm a big fan of the wines from this Alsace estate. They are pure expressions of Alsace grape varieties and Alsace terroir. And more importantly, they are absolutely delicious. I tasted through Binner's wines at the recent Jenny & François portfolio tasting and my favorite wine in the current lineup is the Gewurtztraminer. 2005 is the current vintage, and it sings out with fresh flowers and bitter herbs. Like all the wines, it is fresh and pure, and eminently drinkable.
Non-dosé Champagne is highly fashionable in the Champagne region right now, but few people really do it right. The problem is that in order to make good non-dosé Champagne, you have to work exceptionally well in the vineyards, to achieve fruit that is ripe enough and complete enough to stand on its own. You can't just take your regular brut NV and decide that you won't add any sugar to it.The Binners without question work exceptionally well in the vineyards - they craft gorgeous still wines year after year. And reasonably priced wines too, by the way. But the 2004 Binner Crémant lacks resonance and depth, and it feels a bit stunted. I gave it the old "how does the wine taste after you leave it out all night" test, and it didn't do so well. I think that it would benefit from a few grams of sugar in the dosage, as un-hip as that may sound. Or maybe it is a lesser selection of grapes used to make the Crémant, who knows. Or maybe this is great wine and I don't know what I'm talking about.