Monday, July 7, 2008

René Geoffroy Pureté

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much. I’ve been buried in work of various sorts, and haven’t had much time on my hands. However, I did go see Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy this afternoon to taste the current lineup, which is terrifically strong — anything that says 2004 and Geoffroy on the label should be a mandatory purchase, including the Empreinte, Volupté and the as-yet-unbottled Cumières rouge. I can’t wait to see the 2004 Millésime in a few years.

Geoffroy introduced me to a new wine of his, which unfortunately you can’t buy unless you live somewhere like Norway or Japan. (Ironically, you can’t even buy it in France, although I’m sure he’d sell some out of the cellar if you asked nicely.) It’s called Pureté, and it’s exactly the same wine as Expression (Geoffroy’s non-vintage brut) except that it has zero dosage.

Normally I’m not such a big fan of such a practice, as my reasoning is that if a blend shows balance at nine grams of sugar per liter, how can it be balanced with zero? My favorite non-dosé wines are usually those that have been intended to be non-dosé from the start, and I’m often disappointed when I taste a non-dosé version of someone’s regular brut. Yet with enough richness and depth of fruit, a few people are able to pull it off. Benoît Lahaye and Marie-Noëlle Ledru are two names that spring to mind, and now I'm adding René Geoffroy to the list.

The 2004/2005 Pureté smells terrific, with an intensely minerally nose and sleekly lively notes of cherry skins, red apple and blanched almond. It isn’t necessarily a better wine than the Expression: it has greater nuance and detail, as well as more pronounced chalkiness, but the Expression has a more complete finish and it’s certainly the more user-friendly wine. Yet I do think that both wines are successful in their respective ways, which surprises even me. (By the way, that's obviously not the real packaging in the above photo, although it would be a great idea.)


Robert said...

Thank you again for the insightful post. Your blog is excellent. It is informative, broad, and always there is a surprise or a new discovery--ex, DeThune, Prevost.
I am expecting a case of Geoffrey soon, so was glad to hear you like the 2004s. What other information would you be able to share about this producer? I don't have a strong sense of their style yet, and the fantasy names dont do much for me.
Thanks again,

Peter Liem said...

Hello Robert,

Thanks for the compliments. Geoffroy is an outstanding grower, one of the best in Cumières. I won't go into a ton of detail here, but very briefly, the Expression (brut NV) is about half meunier, and always very forward and fruity. The Empreinte is based on pinot noir, usually about 80%, although the exact proportions always change; the Volupté is the reverse, with the majority chardonnay. Millésime is blended from whatever the best quality juice is in the vintage, if the vintage is up to Geoffroy's standards. The style is bold, packed with fruit but not without elegance and grace. The wines are very expressive of Cumières, which is itself a bold and fruity terroir, and as with many growers, the wines are simply released too young — Empreinte and Volupté really need another decade in the cellar to reveal their full complexity and character.

I hear you about the fantasy names — they used to be called Réserve, Sélection and Prestige, but Jean-Baptiste thought that was boring.

Brooklynguy said...

hey peter - great post. i've been looking for empreinte for over a year now and cannot find it in the NYC area. i finally found some volupte (you found it for me, actually!). i didn't know that norway is a good market for grower chamnps.

Peter Liem said...

Thanks, Neil. I'm surprised that there's no Empreinte in NYC. Maybe it's because the 2003 was a shorter crop? I'm sure the 2004 will show up on Skurnik's new containers this fall.

I've never been there, but apparently Norway (all of Scandinavia, actually) is a fabulous market for champagne. They love the stuff, especially if it's dry or if it's old, and it fits nicely with their food. And they've got the cash to pay for it.

Robert said...

Speaking of champagne and scandinavia, has anyone ever looked at Richard Juhlin's on-line subscription site on bubbly?
I have a couple of his books. I find them to be pretty useful.
The homepage appears, well, a bit stuffy. Under the welcome banner, it says: Are you one who enjoys getting the most out the best that life has to offer? (yuk).
There was a pretty big pile of Geoffrey's Empreinte at Skurnik's Fond du Lac facility 3 weeks ago. I bet you could order some from a good retailer (I don't know the NYC market).

Peter Liem said...

Richard Juhlin is undoubtedly one of the two most important champagne writers today, and he has an unparalleled experience of old champagnes. He's a great taster, and I have nothing but the highest respect for him. I was quite disappointed when I subscribed to his website, however. It was poorly organized, and what's worse, the majority of the tasting notes were only in Swedish, with a note saying that the English translation was on its way. The site isn't cheap, either — maybe $60 or something like that — and it left me feeling like I just lit my money on fire. Admittedly that was a while ago, and he might have made some brilliant updates in the meantime, but it didn't inspire me to check back. I'd say, read the books. said...

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