No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Champagne in the All Day Night of Alaska, Continued III

I am in love with pinot meunier. It is a lovely, unusual grape that produces vibrantly colored and flavored wine. It tastes of simultaneously sophisticated, and playful delish life. What better combination than being quite grown up and fully capable of enjoying yourself?

My friend is a partner and the manager of the local, best wine venue. He occasionally invites me to taste new, wonderful wines, and as I taste he educates me on the history of the beverage we are trying. This is how I discovered pinot meunier on its own.

One of the three champagne making grapes, it is uncommon to discover a wine made of pinot meunier on its own. For the holiday, I have brought two to share as a gift with my sister and her partner. He has shared in wine tasting with us before; last year we traveled to Willamette Valley for her 40th birthday.

The Eyrie Vineyards Limited Bottling (Still) Pinot Meunier

It is significant to think, wine making in the United States was still in its infancy as recently as the 1970's. If that is true, we must simply accept that there is a youthful, less developed aspect to some of the flavors produced here than in other, longer standing, longer producing areas. Still, there is a boldness in U.S. wine making that, for that, can be admired.

Pinot Meunier is not a wine to speak of in terms of boldness. I have had enough champagne by now that I want to drink it not only for the sake of the joy bottled up in green glass with its flavors. I want to drink it too for the education it offers. Tasting wines that are only representative of champagne's single-grapes is a way to learn something of champagne's complex story.

Still, it is a scandal to list here an American wine.

Tastes of rhubarb. I feel like I may be drinking pie, and I am so happy. I can't help but be happy, drinking this wine. It is dry, and crisp in the mouth. This is a wine to be had with mushrooms, with earthy, wintery food, with the wild game of Alaska. Or, a wine to be drunk lite, and pleasant with a smile across the face. There is a slight, musky flavor to this wine I can recognize from champagnes I have had, though what we are drinking now is a still wine. Do not mistake my use of the word "musky" there is everything light and wonderful in this wine.

12. Egly-Ouriet Brut "Les Vignes de Vrigny" Pinot Meunier Champagne

It is an unusual gift to be able to drink Egly-Ouriet, a champagne produced with only the pinot meunier grape. A rare treasure indeed. The wine is hard to find in the United States, but I have a friend...

Beautiful. The best quality for this price point so far. Incredibly balanced flavor. It is a single grape champagne, and yet so full of sophisticated flavors. A lovely, rustic, earthy, wooded range of flavors. My favorite champagne.

This grape has nothing if not body. Slightly acid, without being sweet. Dry. There is substance to this wine.

We drank the Egly-Ouriet on its own. But then after a flute, or two, we began to eat a duck, endive, puff pastry tart with it. I found the recipe for this online and sent it to my sister. She made it to welcome me home. She is lovely.

Pinot Meunier is actually one of the most widely planted grapes in France. It more reliably buds and grows than its cousin, Pinot Noir. But its reputation is young and there are still many growers that do not acknowledge their dependence on it. Still, pinot meunier is beginning to show itself through talk in the industry. More have begun to speak of it. I am in love with this grape.

14. Bollinger Special Cuvee

"Bolly, Eddy?!"

Solid, drinkable champagne. Solid traditional champagne style. This is a pinot noir heavy champagne, balanced by chardonnay. There is no pinot meunier here. Pinot noir brings richness and intensity to the wine. The chardonnay lengthens, and leans the flavors. Best to drink quite cold. Not my favorite. But a solid, drinkable wine.

The Absolutely Fabulous ladies drink this or Veuve Cliquot. What a surprising contrast in flavors between them.

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