The Bubbly Has Landed

Brut Baby!

Brut Baby!

It’s Fall again (or almost – it was 52F when I woke up this morning, so cool enough that it pretty much counts as Fall for me), which means it’s the main selling season for the wine business.  Already, salespeople are trolling the streets like hungry wolves, rolly bags full of clinking samples in tow, ready to pounce on any unwitting account.  Containers are arriving by the thousands at ports on the East and West Coasts, forcing Customs inspectors to get off their butts, put down their cronuts, and check to make sure no wayward saucisson secJamon Iberico or other highly dangerous cured meats or stinky cheeses enter the country.

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Jérome Bourgeois, winemaker

This is where this young man pictured above, Jerome Bourgeois, comes into the picture.  He makes outstanding wines in a little town lost in a little area called the Marne Valley, in a very unknown region of France called Champagne.  See if you can say it with me, I’ll spell it phonetically: Sham-pain.  Winemakers there make a really cool and interesting little wine that ends up full of bubbles, it’s quite fascinating to say the least.  Of course, I’m teasing, this is after all one of my favorite wine making parts of the planet!

Anyone who reads this blog knows I like Champagne. Heck, let’s be honest, I LOVE Champagne. I do like other bubblies (especially Cremants and Perlants, some Cavas and Proseccos too), but the French stuff is where it’s at for me. Maybe it’s genetic, who knows? So as someone who represents small, high-quality growers, it’s killed me that I couldn’t find a good Champagne at the right price point.
Until now.  I was turned on to Champagne Bourgeois-Diaz in, of all places, Montpellier, which is in the South, nowhere near the Champagne region. A friend in the business in France proferred a glass and said “Tais-toi et bois” (“Shut up and drink”). Lo and behold, here was a gorgeous bubbly, tart with bright acidity and minerality, with lovely, lively fruit aspects. What is this, I inquired, and he showed me the bottle. A few quick calls and emails, and poof, here we are.

Stainless steel fermenting tanks
This tiny family-owned estate farms their own 7 hectares (17.29 acres), scattered around the town of Crouttes-sur-Marne, south-west of Reims. The vineyards are planted on clay and chalk soils, and composed of 55% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay and have a south-west exposition.  All the wines are made using a traditional Coquard basket press (see picture below), with a minimal dosage (5-9g/l for the Brut).  2/3 of the Cuvée Brut Distingué and Brut Rosé is fermented in stainless steel, the balance in barrel.  The higher end bottlings see more barrel ageing.

Coquard!

Coquard!

Jérome Bourgeois, the young winemaker, believes in showcasing his terroirs, and this is evident in the final product, which is both reflective of the high quality fruit he gets and a platform for the land’s characteristics.  To achieve this purity of expression of the land’s character, Jérome has gone biodynamic. What does this mean? No man-made chemicals are ever used, a careful ecological balance is maintained in the vineyard by allowing cover crops to grow between the rows (check out the wild-looking vineyard in the picture above), and the biodynamic calendar is scrupulously followed, among other things. Whether you believe in biodynamie or not, maintaining a healthy vineyard and not polluting the earth can’t be half bad. And the end product reflects this: the wines are alive with an energy one doesn’t find in the mass-market bubblies out there.

Filling the old-time Coquard press with Pinot Noir
Jérome currently makes four different cuvées:
-the Brut Distingué (65% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay of which 20% is vin de réserve, and 25% Pinot Noir);
-the Rosé Distingué (25% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, of which 12% is AOC Champagne still red wine);
-the Cuvée du Fils is a wine that sees some oak-ageing and is composed of 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (half of which sees wood);
-Lastly, the 2004 Le Millesime is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, aged in oak barrels until Jérome feels it’s ready.

Best of all… the wines have cleared Customs and are now available for the US market for the 1st time.  I’m so excited I could pop like… like… like a Champagne cork.  Sorry, bad joke.  But good wine.  Try it.  You’ll love it.

Cheers!

Comments

  1. Mosen Defrawy says:

    Oooohh! You got my mouth watering just reading this! Got to try me some.

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