Monday, June 21, 2010

A Couple Northern Sparklers

Domaine Moltés Antoine et Fils Cremant d'Alsace Brut NV: Roland Moltés owns three plots in the village of Pfaffenheim, including a parcel in "The Steinert," one of the most highly regarded (and steepest!) vineyards of Alsace. He blends Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir, resulting in a wine that opens with notes of ripe apple, ripe pear, and a hint of toast, and is dry and almost nutty on the palate. Some lemony notes and and attractive mineral character appear on the finish. You're not likely to confuse this with Champagne, the way you can with, say, Clavelin's Cremant du Jura; even so, this is a very good quality sparkler, with fine bubbles and a long-lasting mousse.

Interesting factoid from the Moltés website: "…[T]he estate carries out the visual selection of the most robust vine plants by multiplying the selected plants in the old vines. This method should be distinguished from clonal selection, which involves reproducing the best plants and which can reduce the diversity of the gene pool over the long term."

Champagne Grongnet Blanc De Blancs NV: Cécile Grongnet is a grower-maker of Champagne from the village of Etoges, in the Marne Valley, where she and her father have a small property of just under 35 acres. She makes Champagne from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but it is her blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) that has given her recognition among Champagne aficionados. With so many producers aiming for a big, powerful style of blanc de blancs, it is startling to come across one of such delicacy and subtlety. The nose gives a hint of graham cracker and green apple; the palate is subdued yet refreshing, with notes of lemon, green apple, and a bit of lime at the very finish. I am the first to admit being easily dazzled by a Grand Cru powerhouse like Roland Champion, but there is also great pleasure to be had in a wine that asks you to acknowledge its subtle qualities.

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