Back in the USA, with a few random thoughts...
Back in Portland, with some post-trip thoughts and observations…
1. The next time you hear a winery justifying their 14.5%+ alcohol Pinot Noir because “great Pinot requires full phenolic ripeness” – please direct them to the 2014 Musigny at Domaine de Vogüé. Ripeness, richness, balance, length, intensity, elegance – all in a 12.1% alcohol package. If loving this wine makes me part of the Anti-Flavor Wine Elite, then I’m a I card-carrying member. Robert Parker has lost his mind (and his influence, thankfully.)
2. Grower Champagne, and the increasing awareness thereof, continues to be the most exciting thing happening in the world of wine. It’s a veritable revolution, and the best is still yet to come. Beware, however, a lot of Brut Nature bottlings that exist only to feed the fashion of the moment. Don’t get me wrong – I love great non-dosé Champagnes, but there are plenty hitting the market that probably would have been a lot better with a touch of dosage. It’s all about balance, and finding that sweet spot that pulls the wine together.
3. One can eat so much better for the money in Burgundy than in Champagne. You can eat wonderfully in both regions, but the bang for the buck at the table in Burgundy is far ahead. Perhaps it’s the proximity to Paris, but you can spend a lot of money for some fairly mediocre meals in and around Reims. That said, a recent meal at l’Assiette Champenoise in Reims was one of the better meals I’ve ever had anywhere. Just make sure you’ve got a lot of room on your credit card.
4. I’m a hard-core terroir-ist, but the human factor – the hand of the winemaker – often gets the short end of the stick, when in fact it is vital. There are hundreds of domaines farming great terroirs yet making lousy wine. WHO farms the grapes and makes the wines is more important than ever.
5. So much of winemaking, both in Burgundy and Champagne, comes down to stylistic choices. Great wines live on a pretty broad spectrum, and the winemaker – consciously or not – makes choices about where they want to play. Seek out producers that play in the arena that YOU like. The day of critics coming down from the mountain with their pronouncements is over.
6. One of the great culinary inventions of all-time is a medium-rare burger on a fresh brioche bun covered with melted Époisses cheese. You will die with clogged arteries and congestive heart failure, but you will die happy.