Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Unusual Sparklers

I’ve spent the last two days at the Salon des Vins de Loire, tasting many terrific wines. Although I didn’t come here with the intention of seeking out sparkling wines, several intriguing examples have crossed my path. Sparkling Savennières from the Domaine du Closel? Jean-François Mérieau’s pétillant naturel made from chenin blanc, chardonnay and pineau d’aunis, aged for 36 months on the lees? How about a gamay rosé pétillant from François Chidaine with 80 grams/litre of residual sugar? Toto, we’re not in Champagne anymore.

Those wines were all excellent, as were other, less uncommon wines. Perhaps the finest sparkler I’ve tasted in the last few days has been Vincent Carême’s chalky, racy 2006 Vouvray Brut, although coming close was Huet's 2001 Vouvray Pétillant. Another delicious wine was Domaine des Baumard’s new Brut Rosé (pictured), which possesses a rare elegance and delicacy for a sparkling wine made entirely from cabernet franc. These are never going to take the place of champagne (nor should they), but they are entirely compelling in their own right, and very, very tasty.


Brooklynguy said...

Hi Peter,

Discovered your blog recently via Dr. Vino and I LOVE it.

None of the wines you wrote about in this post, save the Huet, make it to the eastern US, do they? I love some of those producers - Chidaine, Baumard, especially Closel, but I have never even heard of those wines.

Peter Liem said...

Hi brooklynguy,

Thanks for your comments! All of these wines are brand-new -- essentially nobody has heard of these wines. I doubt the Chidaine rosé will come to the US, but you never know. The 2005 Montlouis Brut is fantastic, though, and he's also got a lovely 2004 Vouvray pétillant that might show up through Louis/Dressner. The Closel sparkler is wild! It seriously tastes like Savennières, although she added a little cabernet franc to it too (which she now regrets). I hope that Dressner brings it in. Do you know the wines of Jean-François Mérieau? This wine, the Jean Boa, isn't in the US but his other sparkler is. It's called Bulles, made from chenin and chardonnay, and it's absolutely delicious. At around $15 retail it's a steal.

Brooklynguy said...

Nope, never seen the Mérieau Bulles either. And believe me, I look for things like this. i hope dressner brings the closel and the chidaine rose too.

i've been trying to learn more about champs in the past few months, but it's hard when its your own $. I've been to a couple of Skurnik/Theise tastings and they're wonderful. Do you have any suggestions on how to learn more about Champs on the cheap in NYC?

Peter Liem said...

Tasting champagne on a budget is never easy. Certainly trade tastings are a great opportunity, if you have access to them. Failing that, get as many friends together as you can, and make them pony up!

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