CHAMPANGE TASTING: Beaufort, Collin, Lassaigne, Tarlant, Pascal

CHAMPANGE TASTING: Beaufort, Collin, Lassaigne, Tarlant, Pascal

THURSDAY JANUARY 17th, 6-10pm. $20.

This Thursday evening, we feature the Champagnes of Farm Wine Imports. Recently, they acquired a whole slew of amazing producers and I've been eagerly awaiting the holidays so that we could pour nice fat lineup. The inimitable Keven Clancy will be in residence, pouring the wines (and drinking them too). Some of the wines are super limited, so come early. Should be fun.

2010 André Beaufort Brut Millésime Blanc de Blancs $85 Domaine André Beaufort has formed organically since the 1970s. They are known for producing powerful and rich champagnes that age for decades. Recently, the son Amaury has started making the wines without the addition of sugar (Brut Nature), resulting in wines that are fresh, vibrant and more accessible in their youth. I find this 2010 more akin to Burgundy than Champagne. This stuff is what F. Scott and Zelda were drinking with their buddies in Antibes. The addition of no sulfites (or anything else) makes this wine aromatically exuberant and unabashedly rich. My wine of choice for New Year’s Eve. Pair with whole lobster tail and a lobe of foie gras.

Ulysses Collin Les Pierrières Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $80 Collin works in the far south, where the famous chalky soil of Champagne is right at the surface, mixed with a high proportion of silex, which imbues these wines with a wonderful mineral component. What makes them unique is Collin’s commitment to harvesting at maximum ripeness, allowing for a judicious amount of oxidation, and fermenting and aging exclusively in old Burgundy barrels. This year, the wine shows richness and depth: succulent apricot, white peach and Bosc pear intermingle with a savory constellation of raw carrot, wet soil and slate. A gastronomic champagne.

Jacques Lassaigne Le Cotet Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $70 From a parcel of 40+ year-old vines growing in the clay and chalk soils of Montgueux. The parcel is distinguished by his proportion of silex (flint) in the soil, which lends the wine a distinct mineral component. Picked at maximum ripeness and then allowed to undergo native fermentation without the addition of sulfites. Aged for two years in old barrels, then hand-disgorged, corked and released. Mineral, fresh, exuberant. A pure blanc de blancs that calls out for a giant fruits de mer tower.

Jacques Lassaigne La Colline Inspirée Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $86 Again, all Chardonnay from Manu Lassaigne, but form only the oldest vines. This wine undergoes fermentation and aging only in barrel. Slightly more unctuous, honeyed and broad, but also showing a very intriguing savory dimension that is reminiscent of great Burgundy. The palate combines baked apple, quince and raw mushroom. It’s more muscular and and mouth-filling than Le Cotet, but still bursting with energy. I would drink this with duck breast.

Champagne Tarlant Brut Zero $50 When I first tasted this wine from Tarlant, i wasn’t convinced. Sure, it was clean and bright, with an electric streak of acidity that would wake up your palate. But it was also a bit simple. I recently retested the wine and couldn’t believe the difference a few months in bottle had made. Still zingy and citrusy, but now showing a complex bouquet of red fruits and white flowers. Made from organic fruit, it’s a blend of 1/3 Pinot 1/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Meunier from the Vallée de la Marne. A wonderful (and affordable) portrait of Champagne terroir.

Franck Pascal Tolerance Rosé $60 A biodynamic estate in the Chatillon area of the Vallée de la Marne. He eschewed chemicals after realizing that vineyards sprays were derived from the same methods as the chemicals he was trained to use in the French military. He also tries to avoid sulfur because it can de-center the energy of living organisms, such as grapes, or a bottle of Champagne. Whatever you think about biodynamics, the results are difficult to argue with. This is the rosé, made by blending 6% red wine from the lowest yielding parcels of Pinot Noir and Meunier. It’s bright and red-fruited, showing a subtle tannic texture that draws out the acidity and accents the lovely fruit. Unique and beautiful stuff.