Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I’ve been put through some Champenois calisthenics over the past couple of days. This morning I tasted through barrels of 2007 vins clairs with Emmanuel Fourny of Champagne Veuve Fourny in Vertus, not only parcel by parcel across the village, but also the same parcel put into different barrels. Just like in Burgundy, only with Vertus chardonnay: medium toast vs. medium plus; steam-bent vs. flame; toasted heads vs. non-toasted; Alliers vs. Vosges; François Frères vs. Radoux; etc. etc. Very, very interesting. Yesterday I was at Champagne Mumm, where chef de cave Didier Mariotti (pictured) began with a dosage tasting (the same wine with multiple levels of dosage). He then moved to a series of wines comparing different blends of Mumm de Cramant and Cordon Rouge 2007, including the final cuvées after being blended and pumped, to show how much they change compared to the initial sample. (They change much, much more than one would think, mostly due to oxygenation from pumping. I’ve never experienced that before, and it was tremendously interesting and instructive.) As if that wasn’t enough to think about, Didier finished with a massive “quality control” retrospective of various champagnes from the cellar, disgorged on the spot, including secret previews of multiple vintages of their superb new prestige cuvée, R. Lalou, and multiple comparisons of identical wines in both magnum and bottle. This is why I live in Champagne: these are the sorts of things you don’t get to see anywhere outside of the region.