Thursday, February 14, 2013

non-vintage Champagne and Lot numbers

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NV J. Lassalle Brut Prèférence | Premier Cru | Chigny-Les-Roses

My mother celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago, and it was a weekend of wine and fabulous seafood. Oysters and uni, clams and shrimps, over the most satisfying hotpot. I haven't opened a Champagne in over a year - yes, criminal, but we had few things to be pleased with, and besides, I'm poor. So I've been holding onto this bottle for a few years now. Chris Kissack (the Winedoctor) wrote about giving non-vintage Champagnes 2-3 years of bottle age, and I'm putting that theory to the test.

When I bought this wine in late 2009, the catalogue listed it as Lot # 4271, indicating a disgorgement date of January 14, 2008. I remember drinking an earlier bottle of this, and being blown away by how complex and vibrant it was. About 3.5 years later, I was gagging to see if this particular lot shared any similar characteristics. The cork let go softly, the wine pouring with a shimmering gold hue. Fine mousse. Still feels tightly wound, structured - well extracted on the palate, mineral, and well-defined. You feel like it's almost there ... just almost there at the start of its maturity, but not quite. Amazing, to see these non-vintage wines show so much structure, so much youth still. The quality is very, very high.

So disgorgement date in Champagne is just as important as blend in determining its final character. That is truth. And the catalogue labelled it wrong. Because at the bottom of the bottle, there's a 4-digit number printed: 0609. And if I'm reading that correctly, it indicates a disgorgement date of June 2009. So quite a bit later than what I had thought. It's great that this producer is printing these dates, but there has to be a clearer way of presenting this information. Unless they don't really want you to know. Gasp. I still have a bottle of this (somewhere) ... I'll see you again in 5 years? 

DF

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