No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Champagne Villages and Far Away Thoughts

The story of champagne is told by its village. The wines are classified this way. Other wines of France are understood by district, and then chateau. Champagne is a district, distinct by village. To claim a champagne is Grand Cru is to say its village has the highest ranking; only a small percentage receives such a mark. Premier Cru is ranked next.

Verzenay is a commune of Northeastern France included among those in the Grand Cru rating. It is a village set on a hillside, with forest bordering its area. It is a village steeped in history, having been largely destroyed by combat in World War II, but still it contains a centuries old mill, and a centuries old lighthouse, and church.

Its vines carry a deep reputation, among the best in Champagne.

1. Pehu Simonet Brut Selection Grand Cru, from Verzenay

The winter has come together, finally, to find me lighter hearted, and happy; feeling more grounded, but with fancy feet. Still, this weekend finds it snowing, and with the weather I feel frustration.

It occurs to me that I have never been one to drink alone. The pleasures of such flavor have seemed a community activity to me. But more recently, with the desperate snow of this year, I found myself willing to taste champagne at home on my own. The brightness of the beverage is a way to revel in the memories of friends I share such activity with. It is a bottling of joy.

Reminds me of drinking apple pie with a thin sliced side of French brie. Acidic, but well-balanced. It dries the mouth, but doesn't pull the enamel off your teeth, as strongly acidic wines can do. A touch of ginger, like a bite in the mouth. Full flavors. Very slight after taste of honey.

Bright in the mouth. Highly mineral flavors. Crisp, firm bubbles. Very full, unique nose. Scents of moldy cheese and baked apple. Sweet and sharp smelling both. Bright golden color.

The information I read about Verzenay mentions the idea of taking a champagne tour. I am lost in thoughts of walks through vineyards, examination of grapes, tastings from barrels not yet ready for production, and others mixed to sell. I want to see them remove the yeast from the neck of the bottle, its explosion of juice about the floor as they take this volatile step in the production of such fantastic beverage.

But also, champagne makes me think of community, joy, and friendship. In tasting this glass, I think of my sister. I think of my friends that I drink this with. It occurs to me, I will write Kate to see if she will meet me somewhere for a tour of whatever. Perhaps we will just sit in a hotel somewhere and share a bottle of champagne dressed up in finery.

Next month I travel to Alaska to again taste wines with my sister. This time, however, we will be focusing on red wines, and whites that pair well with various foods. We will honestly be taking a class. An odd mix, the class she's found--how to make gourmet Caesar salad, and wine tastings. Odd, but it sounds like an exquisite time, including a multi-course meal, each course paired with wine.

For moments I am transported away from the snow, even as the places I think of are full of mountains.

1 comment:

  1. Apple pie and brie? I'm pretty sure I want the champagne, and I know I want fresh fruit and brie and some crusty bread now. Thanks for the review, it was informative and appetizing, and it's going to make the spaghetti dinner I'm planning to have later seem awfully underwhelming! But it might just inspire my next grocery trip.