November 3, 2008

BFC 8: A New, Improved Definition of Small

This was never really a fair fight. A tiny, family-owned vineyard's base wine versus a slightly larger, but still small, family-owned vineyard's reserve cuvée.

Ployez-Jacquemart produces 6000 cases a year. Gaston Chiquet is comparably huge with 16,700. Compare this to Moët & Chandon's 2,000,000 or Veuve Clicquot's more than a million cases produced annually. This was a TRUE battle of Little Guys.

And both wines impressed. One a classic expression of Champagne. The other, an intriguing old-school, throw-back. The clear winner... was the crowd.

Ployez-Jacquemart Brut, NV. As they like to say in Champagnese, "This one is 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Meunier." They grow red grapes organically on a couple of small parcels near the village of Ludes, and source Chardonnay from grand cru villages elsewhere. Their wines never see malolactic fermentation and are always at the low end dosage-wise. This had a lightly yeasty nose of white wafer and honeyed lemon. It is elegant Champagne, linear, well-balanced and chalky. Fresh lemony apple fruit with layers of strawberry and red currant. And a zippy, stainless-steel and mineral finish.

Gaston Chiquet's Cuvée de Réserve. This is old-school Champagne. Intentionally crafted in an antique, oxidized style. This was disgorged April 2004 and is one-third each Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It's half 1995, half 1996 (1996 was a biggie, and 1995 didn't suck). The Réserve spends 7 years on its lees. The nose was baked apple, ripe fig, saffron and toffee. This was a big, sensual wine, achey with lees and finished with a brilliant, saline minerality.

Jack Purcells versus satin toe shoes. How do you score a contest like that? Good thing it was only an exhibition.

No comments: