by Paige Donner
One bottle of Champagne requires the equivalent of all the fruit from a single vine.
A few things these two different champagnes, from very different houses, have in common is that the Chardonnay used in each comes exclusively from the Côte des Blancs, and the best of the Côte des Blancs at that: Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, and in the case of William Deutz cuvée add to that list Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Villers-Marmery. Each distinguished champagne presses only 1ère and Grand Cru grapes from the region's harvest and uses only the first pressing or cuvée.
And the other commonality is that both cuvées are prestige cuvées. Meaning one is lucky to get the chance to taste them, let alone own a bottle or two.
William Deutz by Deutz
This extraordinary house, founded in 1838 is, of course, based in Aÿ one of the most attractive villages in Champagne and certainly home to some of the most prized Pinot Noir from the region.
For this remarkable champagne, only the best years are chosen and only the juice from the first pressing, the cuvée, is used. For the blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay you'll find an exclusive vinification of Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay and Verzenay for the 55% - 65% of Pinot Noir and, as mentioned above, only the Côte des Blancs' most sought after grapes to make up the rest. The technical sheet from the house does suggest a zeste of Pinot Meunier added to lend that varietal's generosity and fruitiness but in the recent tasting it was not mentioned, in fact, by the house.
This is the champagne to open when you are enjoying caviar, lobster, foie gras and also sushi and, yes, many Asian cuisine dishes that are subtly flavored with the exotic.
Nose: Characteristic of wines cellared for a good length of time (minimum 5 years and usually much longer) but sort of shy to reveal its age. Hints of mirabelles, white peaches seared, soft hints of spice and flower scents such as aubépine (Russian hawthorn).
Mouth: A distinguished burst of freshness, complexity tells of its minerality and also that telltale roasted flavor of a great vintage champagne. It washes down tenderly with velvet softness, leaving the sensation of balance and absolute refinement.
Deutz is one of the great houses of Champagne. It is also one of the great houses of Aÿ, France. Worth visiting one day, to be sure.
Champagne J. Pierron Leglise
Vendanges 2010 Millésime (Vintage 2010 Blanc de Blancs)
This grower champagne is surely one for the connoisseurs. It's the kind of champagne that, nearly impossible to find in certain export markets abroad, makes a trip to France imperative for a certain kind of wine appreciator, if only to get the chance to taste such a rarefied grower champagne.
This family-run estate is based in Oger, one of the Côte des Blanc's most prized villages when it comes to Chardonnay vines. The estate, now run by the family's 2nd generation, is comprised of a generous 4.5 hectares. For champagne that is a large estate, given that these are some of the world's most expensive vines, and some of the most prized in Champagne itself, too.
In this connoisseur's bottle of blanc de blancs you'll find only Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger chardonnay from vines averaging a mature 30 years. Champagne J. Pierron Leglise does not do malolactic fermentation which of course lends his champagnes that slight edge of freshness and heightened acidity as well as the ability to age. For this Vintage 2010 it has been kept in the cellars for a full 5 years before being disgorged. The 8g of sugar softens and offers a touch of roundness to this perfectly fresh and crisp profile.
Nose: Candied lemon, acacia honey, mimosa, hazelnut, Carensac licorice, pear and marzipan.
Mouth: Softness yields to that mineral chalkiness so emblematic of the best champagnes, which then flows into a creamy sensation of great refinement stewed ripe fruit.
Try this with foie gras accompanied by a mousse de yuzu. Also lobster with seaweed (Japanese Nori) infused butter.
The total production of this champagne house is 24K bottles. At time of writing there are 400 bottles of this champagne Millésime 2010 left.
Champagne J. Pierron Leglise, 51190 Oger, France