Nothing says ‘hard unit’ like a pre-10am Pommard

As part of producing two repast publications per year ( we get to spend a few weeks in France.

We started the day with Champagne as we taxied away from the Adelaide terminal and ended it some 30 hours later in Champagne. We were somewhat tired but the restorative effervescence of this great beverage’s bubbles gave us the stamina to plough on.

After checking into the charming Chateau de Rilly, we freshened up, grabbed our great mate Colin and headed up the hill to Clotilde Chauvet and Digger’s place for a leisurely tasting and meal. Digger, Clotilde’s husband, is a Kiwi (and a bloody good chap for one who was handicapped by growing up in the land of the long white cloud). He does have a real name but I have no idea what it is. He is just Digger to us.

Clotilde took us through a taste of her recent offerings. The most recently disgorged Marc Chauvet Brut NV is based on the 2012 vintage. It sees no malo and has plenty of reserve wine. It is fresh and bready with delicious fruit and a crunchy finish. The Marc Chauvet Brut Selection is from the 2011 vintage and has such a pure and fresh aroma of green apple and chalk. It is fine, compact and very long. You can smell the extra Pinot Noir fruit on the 2011 Marc Chauvet Vintage Brut. It is a veritable basket of summer berries. There are whiffs of bread and for now it is tight and compact. The team at Chauvet have decided that their tete de cuvee will now be branded as ‘Initiales’ and the 2008 is a beauty. It is rich and full with wheat biscuit notes and sappy white peach fruit. It is so fine with an overtly creamy mousse and detail is terrific. The 2010 Marc Chauvet Cuvee Duo Blanc de Blancs is fresh and crisp with green melon and apple crunch. It has plenty of chalk and is built like a fine and elegant white Burgundy. A couple of snacks of pickled white anchovies and dried sunflower seeds with soy sauce were sympathetic to the Champagnes.

Digger amped up some tunes from the internet radio and there was a good selection of Oz Rock and Kiwi classics being played. Heidi asked whether the station was an Australian or New Zealand one and Digger said ‘New Zealand’ and that ‘only so that he could understand what they were saying’.

For entrée, Clotilde’s parents had foraged around the area for some local snails. They had purged these little slimy, snot textured slugs so that the escargots now carried no unwanted cargo and Clotilde could drown them in butter and garlic and serve them at scolding temperature to her Aussie mates. She politely asked if we ate snails. Colin impolitely responded with ‘no but I’ll eat them’. He inhaled a half dozen in record time and looked quite satisfied. A bottle of 2013 Catherine et Pascal Rollet Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine de la Chapelle Vieilles Vignes was just the thing to wash these garden pests down with. It was loaded with all fruits yellow. Pineapple, mango, lemon and several other jaune tinged things I can’t think of right now. It was rich and textured with saline minerality cleaning up the finish.

With a main course of beef carpaccio with nuts and capers a Pommard that was right in the drinking zone was called upon. The 2007 Domaine Joseph Voillot Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens is just about ready. It has some smoke and fresh berry notes along with a meatiness not dissimilar to thinly sliced beef. Perhaps that was the remnants of carpaccio in my mouth? It was silky and sweet with round tannins and sneaky persistence.
We were about to bid our farewells and roll back down the hill but Cheese was mentioned. A splendid wedge of Chaource was just the trick and Digger felt the need to blind us on a cheeky 2002 Medoc for good measure. The Hotel in Rilly was Rilly good and we slept like dormant vines until our body clocks kicked in a couple of hours later letting us know it was the middle of the day back in Oz.

Oh, good. Here we go for another vicarious delicious and funny romp through France. [thumbs-up.gif]

having experienced it live, i can tell you even the vicarious thrill is worth it.

Love your transitioning Jeremy. Also love your write up and adventure. It is a Rilly fun read.

Thanks guys. We have hit the ground running. Will try and post regular updates.

Popped into Ambonnay for a quick tour and tasting with Francis and Annick Egly at Egly-Ouriet. The current Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition is 50% 2010 with the balance being reserve wines. It is 70% Pinot Noir and you get some subtle red fruit notes. It has some lemon and a spine of grapefruit. It is dense and textured with chalky grip. The Egly-Ouriet Extra Brut V.P is 60% 2008, 40% 2006 and 100% really good. There’s some restrained exoticism. It is super dense, focused and pure. It is so dry and chalky with lip smacking acidity and length to burn. The 2006 Egly-Ouriet Vintage Brut is also an absolute beauty. The nose is full of freshly baked biscuits and breads. There’s some citrus blossom and a gentle nuttiness too. It has great shape in the mouth and all elements are harmonious. It has such great drive and superb length.

as always, the prose sparkles–after your invasion, France will look like locusts have passed through! Save some butter, cream, and foie for me.

But it is when Jeremy and Heidi reach Burgundy that things get Rully fun.

and when they get to the coast they’ll have Rouille good time

‘Each morning I have a smile’ is what Anselme Selosse repeatedly told us. And what is there not to smile about? You sense he has reached the self-actualization stage of life so far as winemaking is concerned. He owns a beautiful boutique Hotel in Avize with a high quality restaurant and he sells every bottle of wine he makes at good prices.

Anselme’s philosophy is simple, although he tells it in a complex poetic way. He is like a gallery curator. He lets everything fall into place and only interjects to show elements off in their best light when they are ready. He doesn’t keep tasting his young wines for fear that he will feel compelled to intervene. He doesn’t want homogeny. He embraces the subtle variations each season brings and the differences that various parcels from the same vineyard deliver. His wines are deep, dense, and soulful and could be quite confronting to some. They are about texture and power yet there are elements of grace and they are certainly harmonious.

We hit the cellar for a tasting with Anselme and were joined by a group of Texans some Belgians and their Dachshund named Lola. The tasting kicked off with the latest Jacques Selosses ‘Initial’. This has a fair bit of 2009 in the make-up and you get real generosity of fruit from the get go. It smells like a white Burgundy with whiffs of white peach, custard apple, apricot and honey. It is full and creamy with a big lick of salty minerality to the finish. The Jacques Selosse Version Originale we tasted was comprised of wines from 2009, 2008 and 2007. It had such a complex and engaging aroma. There was aniseed, truffle, honey, sage and lemon. It felt like a cream brulee as it hit the mouth then all sorts of citrus things fizzed and bounced around the gums. It too has a refreshing saline quality to the finish. The Jacques Selosse ‘Les Carelles’ Extra Brut Grand Cru smells yellow. It has dense preserved lemon flavour and is super salty. You get some wild botanicals and it is super dry sucking the cheeks in and making once wince with pleasure as you chew down on the wine. The Jacques Selosse Contraste is Blanc de Noirs and full of character. It smells of meat, musk, wild herbs and granite. It has an animale character to it yet it possesses grace. It is super rocky and bone dry. We continued the Blanc de Noirs theme with a Jacques Selosse Le Bout du Clos. It was full of nuts and berries. It had floral complexity and built through the palate finishing with a huge puff of chalk. We finished with a couple of Vintage Champagnes. The 2005 Jacques Selosse Millésime was spectacular. The first whiff reveals some oxidative smells but they work with the wine. It has some brulee and nuts along with candied fruits and iodine. It is full, dense, powerful and chewy. It has suck presence in the mouth, staining the gums with a myriad of flavours. It finishes with pungent minerality. The 2002 Jacques Selosse Millésime again opened up with some oxidative notes. It closed with truffle and citrus peel. It was full and fresh with plenty of lemon and a gentle butteriness. It was expansive and possessed great volume. The finish was dry and laden with geological material.
Anselme sucking down some Champers

Lola in full Champagne tasting mode.

Love 02 selosse. Such a rare bubbly.

Pol Roger have around 7km of tunnels carved through the Epernay chalk and I reckon we traversed every last meter of them with our enthusiastic guide. She was extremely thorough in detailing all things PR and business was in full swing with plenty of riddling and bottling action. Finally we hit the tasting room with tired legs and a parched throat. A few vintage Champagnes were needed to slake our thirsts.

As a nice touch, a miniature flag of your country of origin sits alongside a French flag on the tasting bench. Only problem was that the New Zealand flag was designated as our flag. We decided from that point on to drop our ‘I’s’ and replace them with ‘u’s’. Our guide quickly realised the error and sheepishly replaced said flag with ours.

The current release line-up from Pol is as strong as I can remember, led by the brilliant 2004 Sir Winston Churchill. It is rich, powerful and explosive Champagne. It has red fruits a plenty coupled with bakery notes. It is creamy, strong and regal. Our guide mentioned that the Rosé category of Champagne was selling like ‘hot buns’. The 2008 Pol Roger Rosé really is ‘bootyfull’. It smells of chalk, limestone, strawberries and bread. It is dense and direct and has great acid line and is a wine of finesse. The 2008 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs is absolutely superb. There are aromas of mint and flint, white peach and green apple. It has pin point bead and is creamy and elegant. There’s a rigid mineral spine and a big squeeze of citrus to the finish.

We left fully refreshed and having averted a major diplomatic incident. French and Australian ties have never been stronger.

“When you have been kiwied as many times as I have, you get used to it.”

Nice one mate, the usual bad wine and food…enjoy the trip!

You back for Monday Table next week?

No mate, still away for a few more weeks.

Big D and I had our own Monday Table on Sunday night at Chez Hall. Selosse Substance very good. '09 Carillon Bienvenues superb. '64 Ligeret Vosne ‘Suchots’ absolutely superb. '34 Latour completely shagged. '59 Leoville Poyferre really good. Wine of the night was a '47 Richebourg. I’ll have to check the producer.

Hip Hop Agrapart has got to be the naughtiest dog we have ever encountered in continental Europe. This 40 something kilo three year old boxer is mad. He launched himself at Colin with the power of the Les Bleus front row and spent a considerable amount of time licking the cellar door window whilst we tasted the excellent wines with Pascal.

Pascal Agrapart is making Champagne of great character and soul. These are wines that are full flavoured and direct and that express their terroirs with good clarity. The Agrapart 7 Crus Brut is a beaut. This is 90% Chardonnay and 10 % Pinot Noir and the current release is 60% from the 2013 vintage and 40 % from 2012. It is comprised of fruit from 4 Grand Cru sites and 3 1er Cru. It is fresh with lemon and biscuit notes and is cut with striking grapefruit acidity. The Agrapart Terroirs Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is off 4 Grand Cru sites, 40% from 2012 and 60% from 2011. It is a fluffy wine brimming with citrus and spicy aromas and flavours. There’s a suggestion of aniseed and it finishes with bright, lemon-like acidity. The Agrapart Complantée Extra Brut Grand Cru is a blend of 5 varieties to show that terroir is more important than cépage. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Chardonnay are taken from the Avize terroir. It has rich orchard fruits. There’s sherbet acid line and it is light and airy in the mouth yet delivers a powerful flavour hit. We next tasted a pre-release sample of 2010 Agrapart Minéral with 0 dosage. The final release will have 3 grams. It comes off the chalky soils of Avize and Cramant and is a wine of high fidelity. It is very fine and floral. There’s a squeeze of citrus and loads of slate and chalk. The finish is decidedly salty. The 2010 Agrapart Avizoise Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is from two Avize parcels off the clay rich soils. It shows some restrained exoticism with a little mango showing up on the nose. There’s plenty of spice and some wild herb action. It is a structured wine that is stacked for future development. The 2010 Vénus Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is from Pascal’s oldest vines of Avize. It is zero dosage and has some custard apple lactic notes along with rich spicy fruit. There’s a seriously chalky base and the wine has great shape and superb length. We finished with a rare and unique wine. The 2012 Agrapart Experience Grand Cru has no chaptalization and is all natural alcohol. Pascal wanted to make the most pure and unadulterated wine he could. It is very clean, fresh and pure with notes of verjus and grapefruit. It has an unctuous mouthfeel and good volume. It finishes with good precision.

Mittelbergheim is rated as one of France’s top 100 beautiful villages. It is now rated as one of the nosiest as well after Albert Seltz tried to enter his Landcruiser without his alarm remote. He couldn’t find said remote, we grabbed the keys to an Audi and departed quickly to drive through a couple of the local Grand Cru vineyards.

Albert is a thoughtful chap who is very much in tune with the land. He is fascinated with the geological sub structures that make up the land and believes very much that it is what happens below the soil that is responsible for much of the resultant wine. He desires to capture the salty minerality that healthy vines with healthy root systems can deliver and a tasting of a wide and varied range of his wines has confirmed that he has achieved this.

We tasted a few interesting things from tank. Albert likes a long, slow alcoholic fermentation and generally keeps the wines on lees for at least two years. The 2015 Albert Seltz Auxerrois is a low acid little number but big on minerality. It has plenty of apple and pear. A 2015 Albert Seltz Pinot Noir from tank showed notes of cherry and earth and had a pleasant underlying rocky earthiness to it. The 2014 Albert Seltz Reserve Riesling is an absolute beauty. It has declassified Grand Cru fruit in it and is redolent of lime. It has great shape, intensity and drive. The Albert Seltz 2012 Albert Seltz Sylvaner Sono Contento is a waxy little number, crammed with exotic fruits. It is detailed, textured and finishes with a sprinkling of salt. 2013 Zotzenberg Sylvaner Grand Cru is complex with plenty of citrus and spice. It is full and unctuous and countered with iodine minerality. The 2013 Albert Seltz Zotzenberg Riesling Grand Cru is a beauty. It is full and unctuous yet has great poise and delicacy. It has bright citrus fruit aromas and flavours and a gentle skinsy feel. The 2013 Albert Seltz Riesling Rebbuehl is salty and linear, built on a base of graphite. There are notes of wild herbs and lemon. The 2012 Albert Seltz Riesling Brandluft has so much energy. It is chewy, salty, chalky and creamy. Full but detailed. The 2013 version is a little more tropical but no less chewy. It is dense and powerful and will need some time in bottle to unfurl. A 2006 Albert Seltz Sylvaner was heavy on the quince. It had a bit of petrol and some burnt fig to finish.

Just to show the remarkable food and wine pairings at your disposal with various Alsatian wines Albert cut some aged Comté and served us a taste of the 2010 Albert Seltz Brandluft Riesling. It was a near perfect match with the saline quality of the cheese highlighting the salty minerality of the Riesling. Some fiery pickled ginger was put with the 2013 Albert Seltz Zoltsenberg Gewurztraminer. It was superb. The pepperiness of the ginger was tamed by the sweet luscious and spiciness of the Gewurtz. Albert had one more trick up his sleeve. He put his thumb in a glass that had some Sylvanner marc in it and lit it, just to show the high proof of the spirit. He trundled off to the local hospital with third degree burns and we went around the corner to Gilg for a splendid meal of local specialties.

When I get home to Oz I’m setting up Tarte Flambée Hut to go into competition with Pizza Hut. The miniature pizzas are the real deal and we could deliver them in little remote controlled cars. We smashed a few in while Albert got the wine sorted out.

The 2013 Albert Seltz Pinot Gris had plenty of fat but was not heavy in the slightest. It had just enough sweetness to match up with the wonderful house terrine of Goose Foie. It was also pretty damn good with what is one of the greatest pies I have ever put in my pie hole. The Tourte Alsatian here is stacked with lamb, chicken and veal. It has a layer of creamy cheese and is encased in the most beautiful golden pastry.

We were fading fast with the ravages of jet lag encroaching on our ability to stay awake. Albert strongly suggested we try the dessert here called Cyrano, a semifreddo kind of sweet thing of coffee and chocolate loveliness with a toffee crust. It was splendid.

drank the 1990 Pol Roger last weekend, a great quaff, so I appreciate the 08 note–looks like a great vintage.

Take good care of Jerry and Cindy; have fun.

Good times and notes, Jeremy.
For what it is worth, Pascal’s dog is named Hip Hop, not Epoque, I believe. They do sound sorta similar.
Cool that you got to taste some '10s.
Had half a bottle of '08 Avizoise tonight. Hot damn! It’s good.