There is the somewhat odd accountant exercise; we call the Tasting Note, where we put together the fragmented pieces into a final result. I hate it – yet I have done it thousand of times before and continue to do it. It’s the poor mans version of an individual emotional experience, which somehow only tells the story of what we can measure and weigh.
So I end up in the same blind alley as everyone else. Yet sometimes – like yesterday - I can’t hold back the experience I had. I want to share. I want to inspire. Don’t we all? I think most of us know that fragmenting wine is ridiculous. The real mojo of wine lies in the things we can’t explain.
Before I take you into my Champagne experience, I should write a small disclaimer.
For some Champagne growers and I am no way neutral, when I share my opinion. Why should I? I am not your consumer guide, but merely a kind of diary storyteller on wine. I like to think of true wine lovers as constant subjective individuals, emotional effected by all the impressions they have obtained. When it comes wine, we should throw away reason and embrace chaos.
A glass of Champagne from Jérôme Prévost is not just a bubbly neutral thing, which I can compare neutrally with wine A to Z. It’s the work of a dear friend. Jérôme have showed my so much kindness and made me understand how he thinks.
There is laugh, joy and inspiration stored in my memories and I constantly wish I could visit him more often. I want you all to know how gifted Jérôme are and how he like no other can tame the Pinot Meunier grape.
Just one thing more. I have often said, that I really don’t pay much attention to vintages. It’s not that I think it’s both important and educational to know as much as possible about each vintage. Vintages are fascinating in terms of how unforeseeable nature is and how dramatic each growing season can be. I am just saying, that sometimes we, as consumers, miss out on the smaller vintages because we are constantly trying to cherry pick. Small vintages are not to be missed, as they often just add to the diverse understanding of wine.
But here it’s the other way round. The glorified 2008 vintage in Champagne. So can it (and Jérôme) live up to the expectations or was it just another overhyping coincidence?
Recently I have become somewhat allergic to Champagne with some age. Allergic is a strong word. I know. But the more Champagne I drink, the more I see myself drawn to the youthful side of Champagne. I will hopefully come back to this in other thread, where I will illustrate my thoughts on; “Young”, “Mature” and “Old-Champagne”.
2008 Jérôme Prévost, La Closerie “Les Béguines”
Blend: 100% Pinot Meunier
Terroir: Sand & Calcareous elements
Vinification: Oak 450- to 600-liter barrels
Age of vines: 45 years old
Location: Village of Gueux – located west of Reims.
Dosage: 1-2 g/l.
Glass: Zalto “White Wine”
When I opened the 2008 "Les Béguines" I immediately detected some classic notes of mature Champagne. Some autolysis notes came forward, presenting themselves rather conservative with its notes of dark bread, touch of mild caramel and hazelnuts. The more Champagne I drink – the more tiresome I find these secondary notes, as they are rather monotone and overpowering both terroir, freshness and singularity.
But it took about 30 seconds before all of my reservations were proved wrong. Like the sun burned away the morning mist, the last drops of funky aromas were cleared. Underneath a landscape of beauty unfolded. Never ever have I smelled such sophistication from Pinot Meunier. We are again at a level, where it makes no sense to fragment the Champagne and list each note. Once again I am even sure I can get them right and I paid only attention to the superb balance of this Champagne. You had all imaginable things in play here. A super rich Champagne, filled to the brim with the most healthy fruit zest you can image. You feel these fruit driven notes all the way from nose – to the tip of the tongue - to the finish line, were it delivers so much sizzling energy, clarity and acidity kick.
They are all kinds of herbs and spices flying around and lots of them have Asian roots. The oak is present – but just filling in superb roundness and highlighting how complex it is. You sense it has some evolvement present, but just with small pockets of oxidation. No way near a nutty nightmare, but it felt more like the aromas from when you toss in freshly churned butter in a bowl of pasta.
But here comes the interesting part. I rested (or should I say, hid1/3 of the Champagne from my wife) and returned 2 hours later. The Champagne has completely contracted. Where it before felt like a Champagne just entering a perfect maturity window, it now felt like a one year old Champagne. The deeper and rounder notes, where replaced by freshly squeezed green apple juice. The clarity was even higher, still so complex and constantly fired up with a frightfully high acidity.
Completely insane Champagne and by far the finest "Les Béguines" I have ever tasted.