Last Monday happened to be one my favorite days of the year. Why, you ask? Well, it just so happened to be the annual Grower-Producer Champagne event from Terry Theise and WineWise here in San Francisco. I can’t think of a better Monday than showing up to an incredible tasting of many of Champagne’s very best grower-producers. Can you?
And just as expected, I was more than thrilled with this year’s lineup. But what was most surprising was my consistent admiration for the 2006 vintage. So a brief story about 2006 for those who don’t know…That year turned out to be quite a worrisome vintage with an abnormally sunny and dry June & July, a risky wet and humid August, only to return to its typically sunny September. The conditions in 2006 were so funky that several producers worried that no vintage would be declared at all from it. Well, from what was tasted last Monday, I can happily say that 2006 turned out to be quite a fantastic vintage after all. But then again, if anyone was going to turn a problematic situation into an utterly splendid outcome, it’s these guys right here.
Below are some of my favorites that I tasted that day. Cheers to all of the producers represented at the event and the impeccable reputation they continue to earn for the grower-producers of Champagne! -Juju
2006 “Paradoxe” Brut: And just like a paradoxe, it starts with a light burst of buttery biscuit then smoothens out to soft green apple, pear, orange blossom and encoring with a distinct kick of minerality.
2002 “Millesime de Collection” Brut: Creamy to the touch and decorated with bruised apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange peel, and walnuts. Showing just a slight bit of oxidation, its zesty acidity and hints of saline are keeping it a kid at heart.
2004 “Special Club” Brut: Reminiscence of an autumn dessert with notes of baked cinnamon apple, pear peel, pecans, and honey. Soft and frothy feel followed by pleasantly bitter sense of minerality paired with toasted pie crust on the finish.
NV “Cuvée de Rérserve” Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru: So fresh, so clean like the famous words of Andre 3000, this was refreshingly dry with vibrant acidity and hints of chalky minerality that perfectly promenades with fresh lemon peel, green apple, honeysuckle, and grapefruit peel on the finish.
2006 “Rive Gauche-Rive Droite” Grand Cru Brut: Like an afternoon in the countryside, this wine is adorned with sweet spices, red apple, and sweet orange blossom; augmented by an absolutely stunning gust of creamy yeast that’s finished off with toasted almonds.
2006 “Aubry de Humbert” Brut: As if taking a stroll through an English garden, this wine is a floral bouquet of chamomile, iris, lavender, and honeysuckle. Light and frothy with smooth bubbles, its herbal aspects are well-paired with yellow apple peel and nutty notes on the finish.
2006 “Nicolas François Aubry” Sablé Rosé: Quite possibly my favorite rosé of the day, its succulent notes of dried red cherry and cranberry were perfectly juxtaposed by the dry, meaty, and white pepper aspects finished with hearty bread crust. A rosé that I would love to have at Thanksgiving dinner.
2007 “Grand Cellier d’Or” Brut: Like something out of Willy Wonka, this meal in a bottle is a superb reminder of why I love Vilmart so much. It’s absolutely fantastic with characteristics of gamey meat spiced with paprika that has been prepared with a spritz of lemon, yellow apple, tropical pineapple, and finished off with honey-lemon and a vigorous flurry of minerality.