Friday, December 14, 2007

Chicks dig Champagne

If I could give my son (age 12) some advice that I thought he might remember and actually use in later life it would include the following:

1. Never play cards with a man named "Doc".
2. Never eat at a place called "Mom's".
3. Eat what is fresh, local and in season (and never eat anything that weighs more than your head).
4. It is never too early to start a 401(k).
5. Follow your passion & the money will follow.
6. It is also never too early to start a wine cellar.
7. Stash away a case of NV Veuve Clicquot every year (to drink the following year).

I am sure this list could grow if allowed to, but we need to stick to the basics and lets face it, if you stick to these seven you just about have all the big stuff whipped. This last item on the list took me until I was about 46 years old to understand that not only does French Champagne "kick ass" but, that aged champagne "REALLY kicks ass". During the holidays my friends and I get together to celebrate the season with good food, friendship and a big dose of Champagne.
Since most this group doesn't have jobs in commercial real estate (okay, none of us are in commercial real estate) we stick to Non Vintage Champagne. For a quick lesson on what Champagne is follow the link. For now, all you really need to know about Champagne is that in this context it is referring to the sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France.
Sparkling wines are produced all over the planet, but if you are going to use the term "Champagne" correctly, then we are talking about these wonderful wines from Northern France.
These wines tend to have a great acidity (so they go well with food) and often there is a yeasty/ bready/doughy component as well. As I noted above, aging a non-vintage Champagne will be rewarded. With some bottle time these wines develop complexity in the nose and palate and you can serve wines that taste expensive, but were less the result of a large wallet and more the result of planning ahead (stock that cellar now!)
I had a chance to taste 9 Non-vintage (NV) Champagne recently and I am sharing the notes of that evening. One last thing. Champagne in general is produced in two different styles. One style is crisp, tart and almost minerally and the other style could be called "creamy". Personally I prefer the creamy style and my rankings will reflect that, the second number denotes the group ranking of these wines.

Bollinger NV: Green apple nose with a doughy/yeasty palate, nice finish. 8/3

Gosset NV: Earthy nose, creamy mid-palate. 3/9

Drappier Cote d'Or NV:
Earthy nose, sweet upfront fruit, lead pencil, rose petal, lasting finish. 1/2

Jacquard NV: Bread yeast on the nose with a creamy palate. 6/5

Prevoteau Perrier NV: Yeasty nose, not much character. 7/6

Domaine Michel NV: Bread dough nose, licorice, short mid-palate, no finish. 9/8

Beaumont du Craymont:
Yeasty/earthy nose, apple fruit/cider. 5/7

Yeasty nose with balanced tart apple fruit. 4/1

Duval Leroy: Hint of earthiness on the nose creamy mid-palate with a long finish. 2/4

A final note, the reason that vintage Champagne is so expensive is that it is rare and only made in years where the fruit is deemed "perfect". The NV Champagnes are made in what is called a "House Style". These wines are meant to be consistent from year to year and they may include wines that have been blended from multiple vintages.