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Friday, September 26, 2014

10 Impromptu Wine Encounters

Smoked lemon rinds, citrus, minerality and blazing acidity! Not bad, but not my favorite style! Score: 86 points. 

"Appreciating old wine is like making love to a very old lady. It is possible. It can even be enjoyable. But it requires a bit of imagination." ~ Andre Tchelistcheff  Okay so diving into this wine, you;ll find loads of old leather, dried cherries and plum skins, dry, lean and rustic, mellowed tannins, and a medium to short finish. Score: 85 Points Purchase

Hello Bordeaux In a word, stunning. But if you want to see its stunning side, patience is required. It needs an hour in the decanter to fully develop and unwind. Aromas of dark plum, dried earth and licorice. The tannins meld into the background, plenty of structure and acid. This wine is very polished, dry red and dark fruits, mocha and floral underbrush, delightfully tickle each taste bud. While drinking marvelously now, further aging will reward the patient! #drinkcru Classic #SaintEmilion Score: 94 points. 

It's said, that Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it. What is true in Jazz music is true for this wine: It's old cigar box, dried cracked leather, dried plums and the crackle of dry underbrush under a winemakers boot! Not easily approached or understood, study it for the best result. Score: 91 Points

Champagne Uncorked: A tiny bit of oxidization nearly spoiled the party, still tightly tuned bubbles, vivid minerality and acid frame the abundant apples, brioche and citrus. A very enjoyable wine to pair with sushi! Disgorged 2/2013 Score: 89 points Purchase

Drink me all summer! Fine ground minerality, apples, pears, and just a sweet touch of 3rd use French oak. Very crisp! Score: 90 points. Purchased a few after the impromptu encounter. You'd be wise to do the same. 

So many Gewürztraminer [IMO] miss the the mark badly, but if you want the perfect example of it, being done correctly this wine from @HylandEstates is it or as I'm fond of saying is the real deal. Fresh summer ripe peaches, orange peel zest and spice, vibrant minerality and plumbed w/ acid providing great balance!  Score: 91 points. Media Sample. 

"You may or may not notice but from this point forward I will be using the word 'sublime' in almost every sentence." - C. Cowherd #extrabrut #champagne Having just come back from Champagne, where I tasted of the very best Champagne in the world, I'd have to say this one of the best I've ever had. I was blown away by its creamy texture, robust bubbles, crispness, a very round, mouth filling Champagne that will confirm the reason you spend so much coin to obtain it. Score: 96 points Media Sample. 

Chateau Paul Mas: Coteaux de Languedoc: Floral and dried underbrush aromatics, welcome you in, while crushed, ripe blackberry, licorice, fine ground minerality and black olives cater to every sip and slurp, abundant acid makes food pairing a snap! All of this for under $20 is a wine lovers dream! I have much more to share with you about Chateau Paul Mas, but suffice it to say for the moment, this wine is off the charts good, and for a relatively small price, it's a blockbuster with a matinee price. Score: 93 points. Media Sample

This Riesling is off the chart [a] good, a gem from my favorite region in Germany, hello #Rheingau. If you want to be impressed by Riesling, the Rheingau is great place to start. The nose is like the trailer for an upcoming summer blockbuster, that tantalizes you, while not giving away the plot. The nose explodes in your face with a bouquet of honey blossoms, fresh summer peaches and wet stone aromas. On the palate, tho finished #dry this #Charta there's plenty going on...stone fruits..acid wrapped around a drop of honey. I see Thai Food in my future, w/ this bottle in hand! Score: 93 points.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grape Collective SpeakEasy Interview: Cuvée Corner Wine Blog

All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own”. ~Johann von Goethe

In case you missed my interview on the Grape Collective back in July, feel free to check it out, when you have a chance, let me know your thoughts, all the best cheers!
Our SpeakEasy series of blogger interviews takes us to San Diego, where Bill Eyer resides. I don't know at what Southern California intersection I'll find Bill, but I do know I can meet him (virtually) on the Cuvée Corner, his wine blog. We talk about wines from Lodi Zinfandel to Oregon Pinot Noir. Also, we find time to discuss quoting the great minds of history, like E.B. White and Van Halen.
Q: You recently went on a trip to Lodi to explore the wineries and wine country there. What were some surprising discoveries you made? And what can people expect when they visit there that’s different from better-known wine regions like Napa Valley? Read More

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On the Wine Road: A Visit to Dry Creek Vineyard

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Do you consider yourself an explorer? If so, do you sometimes wonder where the spirit of wine exploration has gone? It's a thought on my mind these days; as I now quietly sit behind this computer screen recalling the fond summer memories discovering a region I'm sure most of you are familiar with, but do you really know Dry Creek?  When is the last time you just drilled down deep into this very diverse sub-appellation known as the Dry Creek Valley? I think it's the best way to discover new and exciting wines, winemakers and places to hang out in these regions. Many of you locals may know [seen below] this already, but I found this great spot to enjoy lunch, a short drive away, with shade, where you can hear the not-so dry creek babbling and perhaps even get a look at few fish swimming by on a lazy afternoon. Dry Creek Vineyard fans, please don't take this suggestion the wrong way, I know DCV also has a very nice picnic area to enjoy as well, minus the creek. 

Many of you may know, that just a short five days separated me from one trip ending and another beginning. I wasn't back home any sooner than 5 days, before departing on my great adventure to Champagne. Which is why you'll see a bit of back and forth covering both regions. I also have more Oregon, Santa Barbara and Lodi coverage to share with you, it has been an exciting, action packed year on the wine trail.

I spent a few amazing [and they were breath taking] days discovering Dry Creek, thanks to an invitation extended to me by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.  I came away with some new impressions of the vine-scape there, and some exciting new discoveries. It really is quite the diverse region, I know many folks think of just one thing by and large, and that is Zinfandel. I think that is fair, but if that is your only impression of this region, you're sadly missing the boat. Because as I discovered, there is a lot more to the Dry Creek Valley, than meets the eye.

My visit to Dry Creek Vineyards was not part of the planned itinerary, but seeing they were having a library tasting, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to see how well the wines of the Dry Creek Valley age. Here comes the tasting note and scoring part of the article. If you're anti-score just imagine the numerical scores are words like good, very good and/or yummy. For everyone else who's not going to wince or get squeamish over seeing a 'score' associated with a wine review, then please take note. My general impressions of these library selections ranged from good to very good, with just one stinker. I recommend that you grab a few to fill your cellar. Although I do think the price of admission is a bit on the steep side of the equation, something which would temper my purchasing resolve. 

1988 Sauvignon Blanc Fume Blanc $50: Barrel aged, 5 months. Aromas of oxidation, nearly knocks you over and makes the anticipation for what is in the glass, less than a thrilling. This wine has gone over the hill, baked flowers,dried lemon peels, burnt sugar and vanilla flavoring. Skip this one, this is the stinker I eluded to earlier.  But if you want a delicious SB frome DCV, than I'd go with their current release 2013 SB, and sells for $15 at I sampled it recently and it's a sure bet. My Score: 75 points. 

1999 DCV Pinot Noir $60: Jumping in here, right away you see from the label, it says "California" meaning the grapes could be from anywhere in the state. But when I asked about where the fruit was sourced, they admitted it was mostly Carneros and Sta. Rita Hills fruit. So there won't be any aging indications gained from the review of this Pinot Noir. It spent a 11 months in French oak, it was lightly garnet colored in the glass, heading toward brick on the rim. On the nose, it was a bit oxidized, but it wasn't overwhelming. Looking past the oxidation,  dried cherries, baking spices, and a wet tea bag aromas linger quietly. 

The body has a very light and lean presence, I let this wine linger in the glass much longer than I would, a fresher wine to see what would jump out with a bit of air; taut cranberries, cherries, wet-earth, orange rinds, cedar and other floral flavors smoldered quietly. The body was a medium minus, and the tannin completely melded into the background. Still very tasty, but at $60, the price of admission is a bit steep. My score 88 points. 

1993 DCV "Old Vine" Zinfandel: It looks like I missed writing down the price for the wine, but this wine is at least a bit closer to home, the grapes are sourced from Sonoma County. Home to some pretty old vines, like 75-100 year old vines sourced to make this wine back in the go-go nineties. Possibly aiding this wine with a bit of color and backbone, this wine had 11% Petite Sirah blended into the back end of it. In the glass, again a very light, garnet color, heading toward transparent. On the nose, cherry brandy, floral, and brush trail aromas waft out of the glass easily, seducing you. On the palate, it's very light and lean, dusty baking spices, tea leaves, orange rinds, dried black berries. The tannins are completely melded into the background, and the finish is quite nice and lasting. My score for this wine is 89 points. 

1995 DRV Reserve Merlot Dry Creek Valley $65: This is where the rubber meets the road, the fruit sourced from the Dry Creek Valley. They moved away from the "reserve" model on the label, realizing there was no legal definition for the term, so it was meaningless.They instead opted to use Single Vineyard Designate, which signifies any wine wearing that tag, as being a step up from the other wines which are produced from many different blocks and sites. Back then it was Larry Levin, making the wines in the nineties and currently they have Tim Bell leading their wine-making ship. 

This wine was perhaps my favorite in the lineup that day, sporting a Bordeaux like blend, 75% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petite Sirah. A darker, ruby color in the glass, baked cherries, cedar and light plums tickle your nose. This wine coats the mouth sumptuously, dark, ripe plums, baked cherry theme continues, vanilla, toast, baking chocolate and a tightly wound Cuban Cigar, just pulled from its case. Still has a solid structure, elegant tannin and the finish goes on and on. I could almost talk myself into grabbing a few of these, very delightful, and drinking amazingly well at the moment. My score on this wine 93 points and worth the price of admission. Does this wine answer the questions about the aging potential of the Dry Creek Valley, perhaps, but it is a good start, seeing this wine turns 20 next year. 

1992 Cabernet Sauvignon DCV, Dry Creek Valley $75: A twenty plus year old wine, easily holding its own nicely. You'll want to uncork early and decant to unlock its myriad flavors and unwind the layers of time. In the glass, still a dense ruby core, and turning garnet color on the rim. The nose is a bit reticent, it was not ready to make its debut. But if hard pressed, I could come up with cracked, dry-earth, baked plums, dry-baking chocolate and white pepper. Again this wine is wound pretty tightly, medium minus mouth feel, and nice grip. The fruit is not too giving, dark plum skins, spices, tar, and finishes dry, and lean. I was not overly impressed with this wine, but I couldn't find any flaws either, it just was not a style I prefer. just too rustic and lean. It could improve with further decanting, but I'm not sure it's worth that much effort. My score for this wine 87 points. 

1998 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, DRV, Dry Creek Valley: Argh, again I failed to write the price down for this wine, but I'm sure if you call they'd be glad to find the price for you. I checked their website, but found no place which listed any of their library wines. In the glass, throwing lots of sediment a light ruby core and a brick like color of garnet. The nose is quite fragrant, sporting ripe plum, licorice and cedar aromas. Highly polished and well integrated tannins. I found this wine round and approachable right away, toasty oak, vanilla, candied orange zest, dried cherries and plums, aged premium cigar tobacco and dried earth. The finish is long and lasting. My score for this wine is 89.

From this quick experience, I'd have to conclude the wines of the Dry Creek Valley do have some pretty nice aging potential. I sampled all these wines at their tasting bar in the Dry Creek Valley, when I asked if there was a charge, they said because I was a guest of the WDCV, my tasting fee of $20 would be waived. Did you know that there is far more Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the Dry Creek Valley than any other grape varietal including Zinfandel. You can expect to see quite a bit more coverage on this region in the coming weeks. Until next time folks, remember life is short, so remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Adventures in Champagne: Louis Roederer Champagne Uncorked

"A single glass of Champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced; the imagination is stirred, the wits become more nimble." ~ Winston Churchill

I will admit to feeling a bit of exhilaration, during my visit to Champagne, especially when I looked at the itinerary, seeing a visit to Louis Roederer Champagne had been a last minute addition. When no one was looking, I jumped in the air, and clicked my heels together. [I apologize in advance if you now cannot get that image out of your mind]. But again, hey it's not everyday you get an invitation to visit Champagne and meet some of the shakers and makers. So please I beg your indulgence once more as I finish up my notes about the visit to LRC. A visit which literally blew my mind. I think it's worth noting, that not even one bottle of their bubbly was oxidized, not even a little bit. 

First up in the tasting notes is this sinfully elegant dream, a classic Blanc de Blanc from the what many have described as the epic 2008 vintage, but JBL said, 2004 was the Champagne Aficionado's year. I do love a good blanc de blanc, [tho they are far less common, but are gaining in popularity] this one did not fail to deliver either. I found both vibrant and creamy. Persistent, lip smacking acidity greets you with delightful flavors of fresh baked patisserie pear, bright honey-crisp apples, toasted almonds, a drop of honey and scented by acacia blossoms. 

This amazing juice is punctuated by a rich note of smoky minerality, quietly playing bass in the background, and a long sumptuous finish will have you thinking about opening another bottle. Now just picture this in your glass, and a small tub of your favorite style of popcorn [mine is kettle corn] and you'll be in heaven. Only 20% aging on oak, no mal, 4% triage. I scored this wine 92 points and if you like Chardonnay, this wine is highly recommended. 

Another amazing 2008, this time 100% Pinot Noir, a gorgeous Rose Champagne produced via  the Saignée or bleeding method. Basically, the weight of the grapes, one on top of another, until they begin to burst and since the grape skins are only in contact with the juice for a short amount of time, the result is just a blush of color. Many people say and I tend to agree, that this method produces some of more compelling styles of rose. The grapes harvested for this wine, came from steep south facing slopes, planted on chalk and sandy soils. 

This style of Champagne is becoming very popular here in the states, and this bottle helped me to understand why that is so. Blood Orange, toast and a brilliant splash of summer strawberries. The bubbles are vigorous, very concentrated and continue to fill the glass. On the palate, this Champagne is creamy and elegant, more blood orange, citrus, rose petals, floral notes and the finish sails on and on. Only 9 grams of dosage, it's pure, clean and crisp from start to finish. My score 92 points, again highly recommended. 

"When I make Cristal, I make it in the classic style, not in the modern style" ~ Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Louis Roederer’s Chef de Caves

Okay, what can one say, when it comes to Cristal, and for many there is only one word [ladies] swoon. I know, I know can you believe I tried not only this bottle, but also the 2002, and the 1993 a twenty plus year aged bottle, poured from a magnum. This was my first experience with this [and I feel free to use the word here] amazing bottle of Champagne. The following are my notes, Grand Cru, 25+ year old vines, 60% farmed bio-dynamically and the dosage was 8-10 grams. The fruit is harvested from mid-slope vineyards, and is a blend of  40% Pinot Noir [planted on chalk] and 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Menuier. 

This wine had seen very little time in oak,  with just 20% fermented, with a weekly stirring of lees which gives this wine just the right touch of richness. Lecaillon explained that, Cristal is not released until 5 years after disgorgement, and I thought, my that is quite a long convalescence. Another thing I noticed, that after disgorgement and before release, the wines are NOT stored [aged in caves] with a metal cap, like some producers, and when I asked why it was further aged on cork, I was told it brings a textual difference and a richness you simply cannot achieve with a bottle cap. 

Described as being very young, and it was recommend that aging this wine for at least 20 years, would bring the best result for tasting this wines great power. I found it very round and inviting, it had a great lift on the palate. Smokey minerality and vibrant acidity, carry the bright fruit, citrus, ginger, and slices of Macintosh apples. The secret to making great Champagne it would seem, gleaned from trip there, is too plant Pinot Noir on as much chalk as you can find, the flavor profile is extraordinary. 

Here is the picture of the 1993, which I thought was spectacular and I readily accepted glass after glass, but this was opened during lunch, a pens down, sit-back and relax moment. So sadly I didn't a single note on this wine, the only lasting impression, was that this Champagne was quite exceptional. Again not even a hint of oxidation, nope not one. Now I was quite surprised and delighted to see a bottle of red wine being poured into a decanter, and wow it was an amazing little number from Bordeaux. I say little, but in every sense of the word, the wine in that bottle was over the top amazing, a near perfect wine in my estimation. 

After tasting this wine, I reached for the notebook for just a few hasty notes. Because as many of you know I've become quite enamored of all things Bordeaux of late. The 2006 Chateau Pichon Longueville is a drop dead gorgeous wine, there is no getting around that, this is a wine that could make you wet your pants. Hopefully that won't happen when I'm around, but if you happen to be pouring a gem like this, please by all means send me invite, and I'll be glad to ignore everything else, ha. 

In the glass the wine nearly opaque, a gorgeous dark ruby color shimmering in the glass. This wine has many years of development ahead of it, but is drinking amazingly well right now. On the nose, dark plums,cedar,leather and floral notes. On the palate, this wine is seamless, well integrated tannins, and a lush, silk like mouth feel. Vivid dark plums, cassis, mocha, blackberry and the finish is off the charts long. I scored this wine 96 points, and if you can afford the price of admission, you'll love every drop and it's quite worth the price tag.

Just below is the merry band of wine-scribes who went with me, on this trip, and I'll name, names later, but allow to suffice it for now, they and me included were all very happy, after an amazing lunch. Twitter Handles:  :

Until next time folks, remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wine of the Week: Clos Magne Figeac Saint-Emilion 2010

“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.”  

I was asked the question recently, do you do Bordeaux? Do I "'do" Bordeaux, ha, did Debbie do Dallas? Hell yes, I do Bordeaux and in my ever not so humble opinion, if you're not into Bordeaux it's only because you don't understand it yet, or you are not able to appreciate it subtleties. For any vinosapien raised up on California wine, Bordeaux is a shock to the system, leaving most folks befuddled by a word not often found in New World wines, restraint. 

My wine of the week comes from Clos Magne Figeac Saint-Emilion 2010, and unfortunately this vintage is not widely available as yet. This wine did come to my attention via CIVB, who had it sent as a sample. There's still plenty of 2009 taking up shelf space at local retailers. It comes from a producers whose vineyards had been originally held by the world-renowned Chateau Figeac, hence the namesake still on the bottle. 

One of the 100 Top Wines $55 and under picked by an august panel of experts to represent the best of reasonably priced Bordeaux available in 2014, wines which over deliver in this price category. A delicious Merlot dominated blend, perfumed with 22% Cabernet Franc. Still a very young wine, sporting youthful tannin and grip, dark ripe plums and ripe blackberry fruit sing a marry tune, on the mid-palate, filling your mouth with joy, but a spine of acid keeps things harmonious. 

The other usual suspects also attend the party, leather, underbrush and licorice. The finish is long and pleasing; you'll be sad when this bottle is gone, of that, there is no doubt. That said, once this vintage hits store shelves, don't hesitate, this is case purchase territory. The average price for this wine is $24 and that price it's hard to beat. My score for this wine is a solid 90 points. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Champagne Uncorked: A Visit to Champagne Louis Roederer

“I'll drink your champagne. I'll drink every drop of it, I don't care if it kills me.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby Girls

My first trip to Champagne, was for me, a complete success. I came away from the trip with a brand new appreciation and a deeper desire to get to know it so much better. With each trip to France, I come away with a profound new respect for a country and its people. A place, I barely knew or understood twelve years ago, back before I started this wine journey I'm currently on. I know this will sound cliched, but I like to think of wine as a journey, it's not a destination.

Each stone you overturn on the path way to discovery, develops greater understanding and appreciation not only for the wine, but for the great folks behind these labels, who bring great traditions and passion to the table. It's evident in what they say, how they say it and oh-so evident in the final product, passion sells and it's contagious. As a result, I'm drinking more Champagne myself, than I ever have before. Perhaps, it's just a bit of carry over from the trip, I did bring three bottles back with me. I'm so glad not a single one of them had an issue, contents under pressure and all. Honestly, since I've been back, Mrs. Cuvee and I've uncorked and enjoyed three or more bottles to the delight of us both. 

I went to Champagne with a great group of fellow explorers, two who had been there before and have written about it extensively. While the rest of us were first timers, exploring this fine region up close and personal. You can see some of them in the image above, meeting up with the LRC communications lead, while I straggled behind to capture this scene. 

A gorgeous marbled hallway greets visitors and employees alike each day, and welcomes you into the grandeur that is Champagne. But of course not all Champagne houses are created equal; Louis Roederer Champagne has to be one of thee most well known and regarded for its consistent quality and passion for only giving the very best effort to produce World Class Champagne. I want to type bubbly, but after a visit to the region, I don't it's right to just refer to it simply as bubbly, that is just too generic in by book, thus Champagne. 

We [LRC] don't make Champagne, we make a wine of Champagne!" ~ Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Louis Roederer’s Chef de Caves

Our group was quickly met by none-the-other than Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Louis Roederer’s Chef de Caves who pointing to the map of the region, he quickly gave us the run down on the vineyards they own versus those grapes which are purchased from growers. Lecaillon explained to us, "Roederer owns 70 percent of its production. We are more of a grower, but we are also négociant, as well."

When we asked about developments in viticulture at Roederer Estate, Lecaillon explained that, since 1996, LRC has been on its own root-stock, supplied from its own nursery. The reason being, we wanted to control our own destiny, we have narrowed our diversity, micro vinafication, it's a true root-stock story, LRC now produces more root-stock then what can be found in the south of France. We now control nearly the whole process, except for the fruit from the growers, who are not willing to take the same risks that we are, especially when it comes to farming biodynamically. 

When asked about biodynamic certification and their use of it at LRC, Lecaillon stated, "We see bio dynamic as a tool. which allows our people to stay hands on with our vineyards. He went onto to say; "We currently have 65 hectares [of 240 plus hectares] we are farming Bionyamically and are certified. When asked if that included the wine making process as well, "he admitted that facet was much tougher to incorporate, but he said they [LRC] are attempting to bring it into the winemaking as well, that is was a long term goal".

While we were there, buckets of grapes were being furiously tested for ripeness levels, but not necessarily to find out when they would pick, because the first allowable date to pick is set by the CIVC and then communicated to the various houses and growers. When asked about brix, a term they don't use, but understand, Lecaillon stated, "Sugar ripeness means nothing to me, in determining the best time to pick", Reorderer is a vineyard driven story, our winemaking is soft ended". 

Regarding the grapes being brought into the wineries crush pad, it's very much a house divided, purchase grapes on one crush-pad and the purchase or contract grapes on the other side. Even the winemaking team which handles the grapes is diverse, but divided, the men are with the purchase grapes and the women work only with estate fruit. 

Why it is divided up as such, Lecaillon explained that men, in general are fixers and will work better with the contract fruit and women, listen, they listen to the voice of the harvest, and to what the grapes are attempting to express. He went on to say; "we match our feeling as a grower and a winemaker in the bottle and keep the two worlds separate, but in control".

Does that recipe of a house divided, but yet still very much equal work, um, well I'll let you do the math, but I think their reputation speaks loudly and proudly on the world stage of wine. I welcome your thoughts below, if you feel so inclined to share them. 

The tasting of the grapes—the direct contact with the earth and the soul of the fruit—dictates future harvests. ~ Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon

At LRC the oval tun remains a classic, in their Brut Premier, because of its subtle woodiness it imparts to the wine, what many recognize as neutral oak; this size of barrel has little impact. This process provides an efficient and authentic solution for maturation and barrel ageing of aromatic white wines like Chardonnay. A grape found in Brut Premier typically compromising 40% of the blend, and although this varies, its typical blending partners are Pinot Noir at 40% and 20% Pinot Meunier.

The Brut Premier is blended from fifty different crus. It is aged for 3 years in LRC cellars and then left for 6 months after the dégorgement or as we were told "the operation". And after an operation, one needs time to convalesce, so does Champagne. This is a delicious
Champagne, which is generous in the mouth, but crisper and cleaner then it use to be seeing it's down to 9.5 grams of RS and it use to be 12. Apples, pears and a snap of citrus, a very pure expression of the Champagne, that's not oxidized, and over delivers on the SR price point of $40, this folks is a no-brainer. 

From the crushing of the grapes, to the aging, the racking, the riddling and as you can see in the image above, even the bottling line is completely done in-house. There is nothing left to chance, there's nothing like controlling your own destiny, and for me personally, it reminds me of something I say often "If you want something done right, then do it yourself".

 Riddling: This daily and delicate operation enables the deposit to gradually settle in the bottlenecks. 

Way, down deep in the underground tunnels of LRC you find bottles of Cristal in what are called Riddling Racks, this tunnel, goes and goes as far at the eye can see. Without the light of my flash, only two lights sources will shine on the bottles which have not been disgorged and are waiting to be turned, the head lamp from the riddler and of a dimly lit lamp above, emitting a yellowish glow. At LRC, they have two full time riddlers for whose only job is to work with the Cristal, it takes them about 6 months to complete the process by hand, where as a machine can get the job done in as little as two weeks. I felt bad flashing these developing wines with my flash, but it was the only way I was going to get the image. 

After a tour of their facilities and formal tasting of a majority of the Champagne they produce, it was time for lunch, where we were treated to 2002 LRC Cristal, my first time having exposure to this much celebrated Champagne, I now see the attraction and why it's price point priced the way it is. I was quite impressed with it's overall profile and flavors, Though to be honest at this point in the day, my pencil was down and I was just enjoying the moment. 

There is more to come about my experience with LRC and I refer to this amazing Champagne house this way, because that is how I see it on the browser tab. I still need to detail, all the tasting notes from 5 other bottles I experienced that fine afternoon. Also are host Frédéric Rouzaud who is head of family-owned Louis Roederer, broke bread with us and had many interesting insights to share with us, things I attempted to write down between bites, sips and slurps.
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