Friday, December 19, 2008

Wine of the Week: Inflorescence La Parcelle Brut Blanc de Noirs 2001

This week, I’m very proud to have a guest posting on my blog for the first time ever. Naturally, I wouldn’t trust just anyone to write on my blog. But brooklynguy, who writes one of my favorite wine blogs, always has astute things to say, and I welcome his contribution. We had dinner together in NYC this week, and among the many wines we drank together was this wonderful La Parcelle by Cédric Bouchard, which I have asked him to write up as my Wine of the Week. The current release of La Parcelle is the 2001, although this is not stated on the label, and curiously, the entire 2,000-bottle production was released exclusively in Japan and the United States, so if you live outside of those countries you won’t be able to find this wine, unfortunately. Cédric Bouchard’s Inflorescence and Roses de Jeanne champagnes are imported into the United States by Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY; Triage Wines, Seattle, WA; and Vintner Select, Mason, OH.

The following is brooklynguy’s review of this wine, presented entirely as he sent it to me, without edits or amendments:



I’m quite proud to write as a guest here on Besotted Ramblings and Other Drivel. A bit intimidated—this is, after all, the finest source of Champagne information on the internet. But I will do my best to share with you the Wine of the Week: Cédric Bouchard Champagne Inflorescence La Parcelle.

Even within the group of hipster grower/producers, Bouchard is doing some unusual things in Champagne. First of all, his wines are always based on a single vintage—no reserve wines are used. Even when the label says NV, the grapes used all come from the same summer. And even more mavericky, Bouchard makes only single vineyard wines. Yes, this is common everywhere else. No one talks about the Burgundy producer who makes wines individually for each vintage, and from individual vineyards. They all do that in Burgundy, and most everywhere else. Not in Champagne. Only a few producers offer even one single vineyard wine, although that number is rising.

This is not to say that single vintage, single vineyard Champagne is intrinsically better than other wines. Cédric Bouchard’s wines would most likely be fantastic and compelling if he were to blend vintages and parcels. It’s Bouchard and his good land, his great farming and vinification that makes these wines excellent. And in the end, there is something special about drinking the wines and knowing that you drink one specific time and place in the Aube’s Côte des Bar. My friend who drank this wine with us the other night said exactly that: “I’ve never tasted a Champagne like this one.”

Bouchard makes a Blanc de Blancs and several Blanc de Noirs. The wine we drank is a Blanc de Noirs from a vineyard called La Parcelle, all 2001 grapes, and it was just fantastic. The texture is immediately striking, very silky and fine with incredibly tiny bubbles. The nose is so delicate, so refined, and so vinous, with fragrant purple fruit resting on top of mushroomy earth. There is a definitely umami sense to the nose. The wine is richly expressive and broad, yet somehow completely contained and elegant. There is delicious dark fruit that is subtly infused with chalk, great clarity and focus, and a ridiculously long finish of dark fruit and flowers. This wine is delicate enough that I wouldn’t want to risk it with food—this is one to savor on its own.

Now, what if I told you that 2001 was one of the worst Champagne vintages in recent history? Can you imagine how good the 2002 version of this wine will be, for example? This wine is not cheap at $100 retail, but if you love Champagne it’s worth every penny. Production is small—usually a few hundred cases of each wine, and people are catching on quickly. There is a good chance that Bouchard’s wines will become much more expensive in the next 10 years, and even more difficult to find. If you haven’t done so already, it might be worth trying one now while it’s relatively easy.

10 comments:

Thomas said...

Great start to the weekend guys – thank you for the note, “Brooklynguy”.

I find the wines from Cédric Bouchard very interesting. I have only tasted the Inflorescence and Les Ursules” and they are very interesting. I find them both very food friendly and especially the latter is a Champagne you have to drink with food. I also find Les Ursules rather backward and it almost has this diamond-dust and I feel it’s really a wine to cellar. I don’t how you guys feel – how long can it go?

I am dying to taste the two very rare and limited cuvees - “Le Creux d’Enfer” and “La Haute-Lemblée” and have almost been promised a bottle or two, if they manage to find thei way into Danish territory. Have any of you guys tasted these?

Best from,

/Thomas

Peter Liem said...

Thomas,
I have tasted all of Bouchard's wines, and all of them are well worth pursuing, needless to say. Diamond-dust is a great description for Les Ursules—the 2005 (which is the current release in most parts of the world, but some places might have received the 2006 by now) is especially quite backwards, and will need some time in the cellar to really show its stuff. As far as aging potential, in Paris a couple of weeks ago I just drank the 2002 Les Ursules, and it was perfect—still youthful and primary in flavor, but feeling as if it's developed more harmony and finesse from its aging. I don't see why it couldn't continue to develop for another three to five years, at least. The 2005 might have an even greater potential for longevity.

Chief Executive Researcher said...

Quality cross-promotion. I'm duly impressed.

And I have a wholly unrelated question that I hope isn't out of order here since it's about a wine you've written about in the past and not about this week's WOTW.

Moutard's 6 Cepages. Which is arbanne, petit meslier, pinot blanc, pinot noir, chard and meunier.

Just had L. Aubry Fils Le Nombre D'Or Campanae Veteres Vites which - in the current release -- has the above, minus Pinot Blanc, plus Fromenteau.

Any idea if these 7 are the complete list of cultivars allowed? And do the "minors" get in through some grandfather clause in the AOC? Meaning, if I wanted to, could I plant and bottle Petite Meslier if I started my vineyard today?

I'm not. Starting a vineyard in Champagne, that is. So this is just idle curiosity.

A very happy Christmas, Peter. Besotted Ramblings has consistently featured my favorite wine writing this year. Congratulations on a brilliant job.

best,
J David

Frank Herfjord said...

la parcelle 2001 was also sold in Norway.

Sharon said...

Any idea why it's not available in France?

Peter Liem said...

Who knows. I do know that he hasn't got any even in his cellar, as when I asked about it, he told me to go taste it in the States! But apparently you could go to Norway too, as Frank says....

Anonymous said...

Nice note and as a lucky buyer in Australia I can only endorse the comments as to the quality of these delicious wines. Just a couple of extra notes on Cedric's impressive approach. His yields are much aunder what is permitted in Champagne , sometimes at half of the allowed yield and a level that would qualify for GC white burgundy. The wines are not only single vintage, single vineyard but also single cepage. To dat cash flow considerations have meant the wines being released prior to the 3 years required to "vintage" the label. The first "vintage" les Ursules from the 2005 harvest will be release in 2009. The wines are also "gassed" at 2/3 the normal pressure so the champagne is even closer to it base wine or more particularly its individual terroir. Cedric was bestowed with the "Vigneron of the Year - Champagne" in the 2008 Gault et Millau. Despite this recent attention Cedric remains level headed focused and like his wine feet very firmly rooted to the earth. I hope readers will experience these rare treasures sometime but with only tiny production ( the rose Creux d'Enfer 500 btls) and less than 15,000 btls across the Board it might not be easy. Ian

Marchi Wierson said...

these comments are all quite impressive and I might feel shy saying anything given I know nothing that would add to this. So my comment is only for the brooklynguy. Thanks for saying mavericky. I love inventive language. this is my first read of besotted ramblings, and I find the guest writer made me feel quite happy to have visited.

Brooklynguy said...

thanks for your kind comments, and thanks again for having me as a guest Peter. Biggest thanks, though, for sharing your precious and delicious bottle of Bouchard wine with me.

by the way, my verification word right now is "mated."

Anonymous said...

The '01 is a negociant wine. Bouchard bought the back stock when he purchased the vineyard from a family friend [I believe they did not even sell what they made]. Cedric's first vintage is the '03. None of the '01 bottles were sold in France.

The '01 is drinking so well right now!