Created: Dec 24, 2018 2021 08:19
One could be forgiven for thinking they are looking at a Mayan pyramid when they see the Catena family winery in Mendoza, Argentina (Photo provided)
I would like to narrow down the wine selection to three types of roast turkey: champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir.
Piper-Heidsieck has appeared a few times during my forty-five years in the business and very recently Burrows Lightbourn has purchased wines from this historic company.
Florens Louis Heidsieck left his native Germany and founded Heidsieck & Cie in 1785 because he wanted to breed “the wine that smiles”. He presents his very first champagne cuvée (blend) to Marie-Antoinette who declares “love at first sight”. Later, Henri Piper joined this company in the city of Reims. Champagne’s acidity and tiny cleansing bubbles really make it a wine that pairs well with most foods – from soup to nuts, as the saying goes.
Piper-Heidsieck Raw Non Vintage represents the quintessence of their style: a classic champagne, well structured and fruity. Piper-Heidsieck carefully selects the fruits of more than 100 Champagne vintages (a vineyard or a village) for this blend. This adds great complexity and dimension to the wine and allows the bold Piper-Heidsieck style to shine. A majority blend of Pinot Noir gives structure to the composition while Pinot Meunier broadens the wine with its bright fruity expression and fleshiness and Chardonnay brings elegant tones and acidity. Older and more valuable reserve wines are added to create a cohesive flavor profile.
Notes of almond and fresh hazelnut accompany the precise rise of its bubbles. It is lively, subtle and light, leaving a deliciously incisive creamy sensation, marked by the purity of fresh pear and apple and a delicate citrus note. The Wa spectator ranked it among their top 100 wines for 2019. $ 66.50 (Stock # 7050)
Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage Brut, which means wild rose in French, is not your typical rosé champagne as it contains a very high proportion of pinot noir which results in a bold and deep, full-bodied yet distinctly elegant wine. It is guaranteed to delight your senses. $79.85 (# 7061)
My common response when asked to recommend a good champagne is that they are all good, but some are “better” than others. It would be hard to find a better than 2006 Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Rare Brut because it scores 97+ from reviewer Jeb Dunnuck who writes: “Their flagship release is Champagne Rare 2006, a 70/30 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that is a cellar selection from eight different Grand Cru vineyards. Tight structure, back and straight, it offers bright notes of stone fruit, toasted brioche, white flowers and obvious minerality. Needing a lot of air to show off her best, this beauty has a wonderful mid-palate, racy mousse, and the poise and class to sail for over two decades in chilly cellars. “
the Wine spectator counters with “aromas and flavors of toasted brioche and toasted walnuts enrich the notes of yellow plum, nectarine and grated ginger of this rich and creamy champagne. Finely woven and beautifully integrated, with a firm backbone of mouth-watering acidity providing a precise balance for the lush array of flavors. 96/100. $220 (article number 7060)
As I write this on Monday, I’m not sure if our Christmas dinner will consist of two, four, or six at the table due to this most unfortunate Covid situation, but I’d like to compare wines from New and the Old World.
Our Chardonnay Catena Alta Historic Rows 2018 is an Argentinian example of opulence and richness with a tight acidity that combines buttery croissants, juicy peach, pear, apricot, jasmine, cream, wild flowers and a touch of smoky oak with a touch of citrus – yum. 94/100 from James Suckling and 93+ from Pthe avocado of arker wine. $ 34.70 (Stock # 6172)
At almost the same price we compare 2018 Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuissé at $ 36.15, but of course he is the youngest because the northern hemisphere is one season behind Argentina. Together the villages of Pouilly and Fuissé give us one of the most popular examples of Chardonnay from its birthplace in the Burgundy region of France. Lemon gold color with flint limestone, crushed almond flowers, lemon zest, butter and vanilla. I admit we “cheated” and had our Christmas bottle with lobster last night, but it was a great start to this special week. (# 8163)
Here are now two Pinots Noirs from the 2016 vintage, both from producers who are highly biodynamic. Our 2016 Robert Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir is from a certified Demeter winery in Napa Valley. Sheep and chickens “mow the grass” and tractors smell of French fries when they burn recycled cooking oil. Pomegranate, Bing Cherry, Cranberry (we think of Turkey) and Raspberry blend harmoniously with violet and rose, forest herbs, cinnamon and cardamom. $ 59 (Stock # 6375)
Now let’s move on to an area where vines were first planted in 630 AD. Véronique Boss-Drouhin describes her 2016 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin like “a brilliant ruby color, an intensely fruity nose with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and liquorice”. Burgundian critic John Gilman writes: “The bottling of Gevrey AC 2016 from Maison Drouhin is excellent, offering that superb combination of sappy fruit and great minerality that characterizes the best wines of the vintage. The bouquet bursts out of the glass in a fine blend of red and black cherries, grilled meats, mustard seeds, dark earth tones, wood smoke and a skillful cedarwood framing. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, pure and very transparent in personality, with a good core of fruit, modest tannins and good length and grip on the poised and well-balanced finish. $ 67.60 (Stock # 8196)
As climate change warms up historic vineyards in Europe and the New World learns to tame their enthusiastic climates, I still find it interesting to compare the two – not to compete, but simply to learn and appreciate the differences. Best wishes for a very happy Christmas in these difficult times.
This column is an infomercial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbor Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm