Our friends at Artisan Wine Depot invited us to a tasting of a selection of French champagnes and other wines in October. We simply ran out of time to get this posted. Forthwith, we will proceed to review Artisan goes French.
The first champagne was a Diebolt-Vallois NV Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Made from 100 percent chardonnay grapes, this bubbly featured full fruit aromas and a floral palate. What a pleasant surprise when we were expecting the usual yeasty bread and toast. Artisan is featuring the wine at $47.99 a bottle.
After the tasting, while looking at our notes, we realized that we liked the champagnes with no pinot noir better than those with pinot noir. That makes the Diebolt-Vallois even more of a bargain (for us).
We were not as fond of the two Stephane Coquillette sparklers. The NV ‘Carte d’Or’ 1er Cru ($109.97, only available in magnums, 33% chardonnay, 67% pinot noir) was closer to the toasty, smoky aromas and flavors we usually associate with French champagnes. M. Coquillette’s NV ‘Cuvee Les Cles’ ($44.99) is 100 percent pinot noir. We found it needed a little more fruit, and had a ferrous minerality.
But there was a surprise waiting. The Saint-Chamant 2002 Brut Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru (apparently out of stock at Artisan) was also 100% chardonnay. Notes of apricot blended with citrus and a limestone chalk finish. Saint-Chamant NV Rosé (also out of stock) was 90% chardonnay with the other 10% made up of pinot noir and pinot meunier. We’re not crazy about rosés, but this one was pretty good, albeit with no aroma at all that we could detect. Unfortunately, this winery doesn’t seem to have a website so you’ll have to go searching if you want it.
Reds: 100 Percent Pinot Noir
The Domaine Charles Audoin 2010 ‘Cuvee Marie Ragonneau’ Marsannay ($26.99). Wine Spectator describes this wine as having a “graphite edge to the aromas … giving way to a solid base of tannins on the finish.” The section of that sentence we omitted described various fruit notes that didn’t seem to exist.
The Domaine Michel Gay et Fils 2009 Chorey-Les-Beaune Vieilles Vignes (apparently out of stock) opens with distinct aromas of iodine. Again, Wine Spectator says, “hints of smoke, earth, and black tea.” The only word we’d disagree with in that description is “hints.”
Domaine Michel Gay et Fils had a second entry, their 2009 Beaune-Coucherias 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes (also apparently sold out). This is actually a pretty good pinot noir, with cherry, raspberry, and plum notes. Our favorite so far.
Artisan featured a second tasting of French “grower” champagnes this past weekend. We are very far behind on writing and want to at least summarize the Paso Robles Garagiste Festival before we review the second Artisan tasting. Stay tuned.