July 4, 2010

Dirt Bubbles


After my last post, a few of you called (the old switchboard at the Lab rings through to a service now) to complain.

It wasn't a quiz. At least, not intentionally so. I (wrongly) assumed the thematic context of the dinner would be obvious from the wines listed.

The experimental theme of the dinner was "Wines from the Same Dirt." In the case of the two Pinot Noir flights, all were wines from the exact same vineyard and vintage -- one in New Zealand; one on California's Central Coast. In the case of the Champagnes and the Sauternes, the wines were from adjoining, or adjacent, at least, nearby vineyards.

The Champagnes are from Vertus. A place I'm disappointed to admit, I have not been. But I have Champagnista par excellence Peter Liem to thank for a research note. Some time ago, on his abandoned blog, he wrote:
Not to be missed is Veuve Fourny’s Millésimé 2002 Blanc de Blancs, sourced exclusively from parcels in Les Barillées and Les Monts Ferrés in the heart of the slope (the same terroir, incidentally, as Larmandier-Bernier's outstanding Terre de Vertus).
Sensing opportunity, I promptly located a bottle of the wines from each producer. I would have preferred to match vintages as well. But it's not a perfect world, and I was happy just to find examples of both wines. Believe me. It wasn't easy. The Veuve Fourny was from 2000. The Larmandier-Bernier a 2004 (although labeled NV).

Both wines were beautiful. The Larmandier-Bernier a steely, tensile expression of Chardonnay with floral aromas and a salty minerality. The Veuve Fourny was more expansive and opulent wine. Would be hard to pick a favorite, which, thankfully, was not the exercise.

Discovering something about the underlying terroir was the point. In this pair, it remained elusive. The commonalities seemed to have more to do with the properties of Chardonnay than shared earth. Terroir is an elusive little bugger. And not so easily revealed.

Especially when, as we did, you hurry through the tasting, anxious to get to the next flight of wines... Stay tuned.

No comments: