Jacquesson and Ulysse Collin
I wouldn't quite put them in the 'unicorn' category yet, but today's four wines (especially the Collin) are well on their way to such status. JACQUESSON
Jacquesson is a producer I love. Over the last decade and a half, the house that was once Napoleon's preferred Champagne has headed down the path of many other growers and has begun producing single vintage, single vineyard, non-dosé wines that seek character and uniqueness rather then a 'house' style.
Today's offer features two amazing wines from their lineup of single-vineyard offerings, the racy, electric 2005 Extra Brut Avize Champ Cain and the mind-bending 2008 Extra Brut Rosé Terres Rouges.
I had the '05 Champ Cain at a wine dinner last week and it was fantastic, though definitely not for the faint-of-heart when it comes to acidity. The 'Extra Brut-ness' of it was on full display. Very few beverages can cut across the palate like this with such energy. The fruit and savory nuance combine with lovely textural elements to make for a fantastic glass of bubbly that screams out for appetizers, especially shellfish.
The other Jacquesson on offer is one of the most unique Champagnes on the market right now -- the Extra Brut Rosé Terres Rouges 2008. When approaching this wine, emphasizing the 'Rouges' in the name is probably a good thing to do as there are some red wines on the market that aren't as deeply colored as this.
You've probably heard people throw around the word 'vinous' when discussing a lot of these more-adventurous grower Champagnes. Let me put it this way, if you look it up in the wine dictionary, they should just have a picture of this bottle, as this is about as 'wine-like' as a bubbly can get.
It's densely red-fruited and quite full on the palate, but the nuance lurking underneath is more akin to a mature Red Burgundy than your typical Champagne. However, it still shows the racy acidity you expect from an Extra Brut, and that sets up fantastic tension (another word you hear a lot) as your palate constantly adjusts to either element.
If the Champ Cain is for Oysters, this one is for duck, game or even beef.
Jacquesson Extra Brut Avize Champ Cain 2005 $148 (REG $169)
Jacquesson Extra Brut Rose Dizy Terres Rouges 2008 $139 (REG $169)
Not to bloviate, but I'll always remember the first vintage of Collin that I tasted. It was sometime in 2007 and the 'grower' Champagne movement was really still in its infancy in terms of the US audience. I was working at another store that did very little with Champagne, but I'd been tasked with changing that. Mostly I was combing the market for Selosse and old Salon as that's what collectors were really hot on at the time. I made a point, however, of looking for more of the 'boutique' wines that were beginning to find their way stateside.
There I was with a glass of Collin's 2004 Blanc de Blancs in front of me. This was his first vintage to be sold and, even though it only showed flashes of Collin's future prowess, there was something I loved about it. It was lively, yet anxious...pointed, but somehow gentle. The low dosage allowed the delicate, savory undertones to speak clearly before the bracing finish took over.
Fast-forward a decade and Collin's wines are now some of the most highly-regarded of the grower category, with sales-reps tasked with divvying their tiny allocations up by the bottle for the many restaurants and shops that clamor for them. I rarely get to offer these wines out in a newsletter because I simply don't get enough of them. Today, however, I'm happy to do just that.
2011 was a challenging vintage in Champagne but I can say that, hands down, Collin made his best wines to date in 2011.
The Blanc de Blancs Les Pierrieres is probably the best wine he's ever made and the stunning, deep and silken Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons is not far behind.
When I say 'quantity' I mean more than the case or two I usually get, but these are by no means plentiful, so if you're interested, please ping me back quickly!
Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Pierrieres (2011) $76 (REG $91)
Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons (2011) $79 (REG $94)
*Ulysse Collin wines arrive Tuesday 6/28. Save