Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Champagne - Some Last Tidbits

Some odds and ends to wrap up my recent trip to Champagne:

First of all, I was wrong when I said that Peter Liem hasn't yet written about single-vineyard wines in Champagne. He wrote an article that appeared in the San Fransisco Chronicle a few years back, and like everything he writes, it's worth reading.

And speaking of Peter...he was a great host. Our first night in Dizy, after a day of driving from Paris and through the Marne to visit a couple of growers, Peter whipped up quite a dinner. He likes to cook Japanese food and we ate simmered Sea Bream, age-dashi tofu, bok choy and mushrooms, miso soup with enoki mushrooms, pickles, and rice that he prepared in a clay pot.

And we drank a delicious bottle of 1999 Marie-Noëlle Ledru Brut, and then an absurdly good bottle of 1976 Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs. Amazing wine - must age more Champagne.

We also drank a fair bit of Brandy de Jerez, including the rich and concentrated Equipo Navazos La Bota de Brandy Nº 13 and the deeply satisfying Gutierrez Colosía Brandy de Jerez Juan Sebastián Elcano Solera Gran Riserva.

Peter and I drank lots of other interesting things in the late evenings, including a pair of rare Amaro that are not imported to the US. With each sip I could feel the growing outrage and resentment from my friend, the writer of the Amari file.

I got a kick out of the lunch that Alexandre Chartogne served after tasting through his wines. The terrine with the aspic ring around it was good - pork head on top, a strip of blood sausage in the middle, and other parts on the bottom. But the one that looks like a loaf of bread, the terrine with fois gras and pastry around it, that one was truly memorable. A glass jar of fois gras too, in case we wanted to sample it without the bothersome pastry around it. There was cheese too. There were no vegetables. Everything was delicious, but I hope that his diet is typically more varied. I was assured that it isn't.

I had my first taste of Bordier butter. And I got to eat it several times, actually. With sea salt, with seaweed, and plain unsalted - each one a special treat with layers of flavor and texture that I didn't know could exist in butter. It reminded me of how simple things are usually not as simple as we think they are.
I listened to Charles Philipponnat talk for a while, and he is as knowledgeable as they come. Friendly and charming, too.

I drank more Georges Laval wine in one sitting than I am likely to in the next few years.

Including his great 2009 Coteaux Champenois, from the tank.

I walked by the old vertical press at Champagne Pierre Peters. It's no longer in use, but it is a beautiful thing.

I stood mid-slope in the Clos des Goisses and looked down at the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.

It was an amazing and unforgettable trip, but beyond the wine and the food and everything else, the best part was that I got to spend so much time with my good friend.

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

Great Champagne's been fun to follow along.