Entries in sparkling wine (38)
Many people believe that a monk called Dom Perignon invented the method of producing sparkling wines in Champagne. However historical evidence shows the technique was actually invented in England. Some 30+ years before sparkling wine even appears in French history, English scholar Christopher Merret presented a paper on the topic to the Royal Society in 1662. That was 8 years before Dom Perignon travelled to Champagne, 20 years before the French made their first Sparkling wine and 60+ years before the first Champagne House was created.
In fact English playwrights of the era were including references about the popularity of these wines in London decades before the word for sparkling wines (Mousseux) was even used in the French language. The English also possessed the skills to create superior strength glass than the French thanks to their coal-fired kilns. This allowed them to contain the high pressures created during bottle fermentation. Another factor essential to the deliberate bottling of sparkling wines is that the English re-discovered the cork earlier than the French after the Romans use of cork was lost in the Dark Ages.
By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer
Cellar Cantidate: 2004 Bollinger La Grand Annee
This Saturday Cinnamon and I drank a fabulous bottle of 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne with an equally great piece of Salmon from local fisherman Pietro Parravano. As I have repeated as often as possible, to anyone who will listen, the 2004s are the vintage to collect right now and put in the cellar. While good and great vintages on either side of 2004 have many attributes to recommend them by, 2004 is alone in its classicism. The Bollinger is one of the strongest examples of this vintage that I have tasted.
This wine is composed of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, vinified entirely in barrels at Bollinger in Ay. It has been aged for more than six years on the lees in its bottle, and on cork rather than on crown cap. They selected 16 villages for this blend, all from their own estate and the final product is 88% Grand Cru and 12% Premier Cru.
This great Champagne has not yet reached its potential, but like many great young vintages it was all too easy to drink now- especially with a meal. Cinnamon had broiled the salmon fillet with a miso-mayonaise glaze and served it with perfectly fried rounds of rosa bianca eggplant. She cooked the ultra-fresh salmon perfectly and we were able to enjoy it as seared sashimi in the middle and fully cooked on the thinner sides. The salmon played well to the vinous, Pinot power of the Bollinger that on its own was quite light on its feet. It was quite a treat to come home to this after work!
I think that Cinnamon put it better than I could when she said this bottle had “the freshness of 2004 with the blue-blood classic richness of Bollinger.” I think this freshness will remain for many years to come and its well structured frame will fill out with both more weight and complexity. I prize the transparency of this vintage and the juxtaposition of the packed house style. I think this is a legend in the making. Now all I have to do is keep my hands off of what I buy!
A toast to you,
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