Last dispatch from Champagne (for now!)

I’m writing from an airport hotel at Charles de Gaulle in Paris, as I have a 7am flight out in the morning. Man am I glad I arrived here when I did this afternoon at 6pm – I just went downstairs to get a bottle of water and saw a line of about 250 unhappy people snaking through the lobby waiting to check in. It looked like a line for the Space Mountain ride at Disneyworld. I don’t know if it was a cancelled flight that plunked them all here in the lobby at the same time, but what a mess…

Entry to the restaurant at Le Marius in Les Riceys (which I don't recommend, btw)

I wrapped up this quick trip with a great visit to Jérôme Coessens in Ville-sur-Arce this morning – just a few villages away from Les Riceys where I spent last night, and one of the most exciting parts of the Aube in terms of the wines that are being produced here.

Especially chez Coessens. From his 5.5 single-vineyard parcel he is making extraordinary wines. He is on the same terroir as Grand Cru Chablis, but he’s growing Pinot Noir for sparkilng wine. Fascinating stuff. As with all serious Grower Champagne producers, he thinks of them as wines, first and foremost. Complex and fascinating wines that just happen to have bubbles. There were three new cuvées to taste since my last visit – an intensely delicious Brut Nature based on the 2009 harvest and disgorged just weeks ago on February 12th. It was powerful, long and captivating, and will be released in a few months.

His 2006 Millésime (Jérôme’s first vintage) is an Extra-Brut, with a dosage of 4.5 grams. I loved the raspberry and cocoa notes – it’s a rich wine, but one that carries itself with great elegance. Yum. And then his new Rosé, also from 2009 fruit, redolent of wild strawberries, black cherries and cassis – an intense rosé that begs for roast chicken with morels and truffles…

We also tasted a few of his vins clairs from the 2012 harvest – two very different examples. The one from his 1975 plantings was very floral and ethereal, while the base wine from the 1970 vines was way at the other end of the scale, bigger and richer with more weight and power and density. It will be fascinating to see what these do when combined for future bottlings…

It’s a small world here in Champagne. There are some 7,500 small producers, but there discount viagra no rx often seem to be connections and links. Jérôme Coessens did his internship at Pierre Brigandat, whose son Bertrand Brigandat went to viti-vini school with Nicolas Chaauvet from Marc Chauvet. And they have the same importer in Italy, it seems. Le monde est petit…

Serious home-cooking in Champagne...

Jérôme and his wife Valérie kindly invited me to their home in the village of Fouchères for lunch, where I was treated to a fabulous multi-course meal that blew away my restaurant dinner from the night before. The highlight was the roasted veal medallion with seared foie gras and morels. Absolutely delicious stuff.

This, then, is my final dispatch from this side of the pond. I’m off to Amsterdam in the morning to grab the direct flight back to Portland, and look forward to seeing you at the winery in Carlton or our tasting room in Portland soon. Cheers!