Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sans Soufre

The fact that I do indeed like Natural wine and are exposed to lower thresholds of sulphur doesn’t necessarily mean that I am obsessed with a hunt for numbers and a clear division on what wines are on the right side of the “law”.

Nevertheless I am eager to see more and more going for lower dosed sulphur wines as there is clear evidence that sulphur has an impact on wine. Many are spooked and see ghost of movements in the making when discussing sulphur, but in fact the only movement is in their own minds.

I am also pleased to see how it’s often a small authentic grower pushing the boundaries and often producers located at the periphery of the most famed appellations.
To add another trophy for the diversification and alternatives for the wine lower, it pleases me even more to see Champagne now also being exposed to sans soufre and especially to see such a cuvée emerge from the skilled Marie-Courtin in Polissot (Aube).

2009 Marie-Courtin “Concordance”

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Terroir: Clay and chalk
Vines: Planted in 1968
Dosage: 0 g/l
Winemaker: Dominique Moreau
Disgorded: Jan-2012
Glass: Spiegelau Adina Red Wine (Water Goblet)

Let me just say that this experience came across several phases – including; exiting, worrisome and thrilling. The start was good, kicking off with exotic notes of currant, mango and pineapple - wrapped in such a lively and fragile package. It also seemed rather tight and there were distant breezes of seawater indicating a very young Champagne. After having shared 2-3 glasses with my wife, I rested it and returned an hour later. The result was devastating and like sunshine had been replaced with sea fog. In real language this meant a Champagne on the verge of dissolving itself , with this seawater component in completely control, leaving behind a Champagne without nerve, direction or focus. 

Obviously disappointed, I decided to rest maybe 20% of the bottle for the day after.
My excitement was low, but my curiosity was on the other hand elevated, as I released the Champagne stopper on day two. I couldn’t believe it. In the glass were the most focused, fragile and weightless Champagnes I have encounter in a while. Fruit wise, the Pinot Noir character was singing with Aube's magical terroir definition of black cherries and warm currant perfumes. I enjoyed those remaining 3 glasses like it was the last drops of wine I would ever taste. Pure bliss.

Summarizing: I can’t help to wonder what to do when opening my next bottle? I will think like this – it’s one way or the other in need of cellaring and I think 2-3 years should do the trick. Fingers crossed.


Anonymous said...

So glad to see you posting still. Thank you for another gem.


Mark said...

Nice that you have the patience to see how the wine develop. Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I am also pleased to see You writing again! - sorely missed ;-)

The 2-day champagne phenomenon is, in my mind, widely recognized (i.e.: that it gets better), naturally calculating for age and style which will determine how much better...
It is actually one of the reasons I like this blog so much - that You often taste the wines in several stages.

About the sans soufre comment - I am a big fan of "pure/clean" wines, unspoiled by too much sulphur. However, I am also realistic (in my mind again of course) in the way, that i do not see wine as a completely natural "thing", but more as a man-made "thing", which requires help, e.g. in the form of sulphur. I must admit, I have had many bad experiences with 'vin nature', often being unfocused and unpolished, tasting of partly fermented apple juice... but I am continuing to try new vin nature wines, in the hope of being pleasantly surprised! ;-)


Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering whether your disappointment on your first day champagne (after returning an hour later) was due to the larger wine glass and the increase in the temperature? I'm just curious because it happened to me before and perhaps that could be one possibility.. what do you think?

Thomas said...

Thank you all for you kind comments – I really appreciate it.

@ Tobias. By tracking the wine over some days and giving feedback on every heartbeat will of course increase the geek factor. I sometimes speculate that there are elevated risk of a my tasting experiences will come too far away from just happily drinking the wine in one go and not sort of being focussed on everything has to be so perfect. I would like to obtain both things, but at the moment I just work too much, so the tasting-over-several-days comes in naturally and I do indeed find it very interesting.

We all have different starting points and searching for different qualities in wine. In my “Why I like Natural wine” I touched upon several things which have lead me in this direction. I completely understand why that is necessarily not the case for others and have do desire to push forward my beliefs. Sulphur has sadly become a debate about numbers – as I underline in this post. I don’t know the sulphur numbers on 80% of the wines I drink, but instead try to focus on energy and purity, which IMHO just happens to be better 9/10 times with a low dosed sulphur wine.

@ Anonymous

No – the returning an hour later was tested both cold and warm. I don’t think it had anything to do with the glass.

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Have you tasted the Drappier sans soufre (100PN, zero doage, zero sulphur and also from Aube) I find it extremely pale in colour and fully stable over a couple of days. Probably their modern gravity winery is helpful when making wines without sulpher but never the less. I was in minor chock over the almost white colour and fresh and fairly complex and focused nose/palate first time I tasted it. My guess is that this wine will keep well for a decade or so...