I’ve been down in the Aube for the past couple of days, finishing up some research for a new champagne project that I will soon be unleashing on you. Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip: I drank a bottle of the new 2006 Les Ursules with Cédric Bouchard, talked with Jean-Pierre Fleury about biodynamic viticulture and saw how François Moutard makes organic compost. And of course I did a bunch of other things.
This morning I tasted with Bertrand Brigandat of Pierre Brigandat, a small, family-run estate in the village of Channes. Brigandat has 7.5 hectares of vines in the area, but makes only about 55,000 bottles of wine a year, as a portion of his grapes are sold to the négoce. I’ll admit that I’ve been disappointed with some bottles of Brigandat’s non-vintage brut that I’ve bought in the past, but his sensibilities are in the right place and he works well in the vineyard and the cellar, enough so that it makes me want to keep returning to his wines. Today I tasted the new release, composed largely of 2005, which is a year that I’ve found outstanding as a base for non-vintage cuvées. (We got too busy tasting and I forgot to take a photo of the bottle, so you get a photo of Bertrand instead.) This is 100-percent pinot noir as always, with about 25 percent reserve wine, and made entirely in enameled steel tanks. Packed with round, rich fruit, it’s wonderfully expressive of the Bar-sur-Seine, showing a ripe depth and earthy undertone. It’s not a wine to contemplate or deeply analyze, although it would stand up to whatever scrutiny it was subjected to — I enjoy the fact that it speaks of place and that it has a character that holds my interest intellectually, but I enjoy even more the fact that it’s simply delicious to drink. As Rudi Pichler, Jr. would say, it’s “a wine for living.”
Pierre Brigandat is imported into the United States by Bonhomie Wine Imports, South Orange, NJ.