Yesterday, I was tasked with inventorying, consolidating and moving a rather large stash of (mainly) grower Champagne. It is no secret that Perman's Champagne palate is superlative-- the main secret is: we have butt loads of glorious stuff and it is unknown to many of our customers, and to this one employee. Until now.
I went through boxes and boxes of unmarked treasures, including THREE DIFFERENT SKUS OF CÔTEAUX CHAMPENOIS, which, in case you have been living under some kind of bridge, is the rare, still wine of the Champagne region. That most wine shops truck along with their merry little lives successfully without ever stocking one bottle of this weird, anomalous and frankly unnecessary category tells you a little something about what is going on here. This is Pinot Noir (or Chardonnay) harvested in the coolest climate possible, a feather in your low brix, subdued alcohol cap.
|Who needs one when you can have three?|
I also found a lot of Georges Laval. Like about 15 six packs worth of his very fine Brut and Brut Nature, plus about 5 bottles of the 2005 'Les Chênes'. Vincent Laval farms a tiny 2.5 ha estate in Cumières, farmed organically since 1971, a virtual impossibility in the cold and wet climate of Champagne. Laval still employs a Coquard press, an old school relic that most houses have discarded (the laws were changed in 1992 to allow for larger presses, and therefore higher yields) to insure maximum quality for each parcel. This is a 10,000 bottle per year production, so I calculate that we have about 1% of the total planetary production here, in Chicago.
|Laval et Amis.|
After that, of course, some Gaston Chiquet 'Special Club' both 2004 & 2005 and some Vilmart 'Coeur de Cuvee' 2004, a prestige bottling made from 50+ year old vines of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the single vineyard of Blanches Voles. This wine, like those of Laval, is pressed below the allowed maximum of 2550L/4000Kg and only 800L (from the middle of the pressing) is used.
You know about this Special Club business, right? Who would not want to drink Champagne whose vin clair and end product had been evaluated and approved by 26 different Champagne growers? If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me. Special Club it up! We also have the 2004 Special Club from Henri Goutorbe, an esteemed producer in Äy.
What is this? Oh, yeah, just a bunch of Agrapart. Here, another user of the Coquard Press and a Chardonnay specialist in Avize. The vin clair for Terroirs is partially oak aged and comes from old vine, Grand Cru Chardonnay parcels in Avize, Cramant, Oger & Oiry. Minéral comes from 40 year old Chardonnay vines growing in 2 lieux dits: Le Champ Bouton in Avize & Bionnes in Cramant. These 2 vineyards are composed of almost pure chalk with no top soil to speak of. Minéral is always vintage dated. We have 2005.
How about some Marie-Noëlle Ledru in Ambonnay? This is simply the story of a woman and her 2 ha of land. Yes, there is some 2008 Cuvee de Goulté, a prestige wine made, and some 2007 Brut. The Marne Marne Marne. I want to die in this Valley I think.
All this talking about Coquard Presses has made me thirsty and there is one room, one room only that can slake this thirst. Can you guess where that is?