Wednesday, January 21, 2009

N.V. Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Brut

Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Chartogne-Taillet
Variety: Champagne Blend (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)
Designation: Brut
Country: France
SubRegion: Champagne
Appellation: Champagne

The Wooden Guys are amazed at all the apples in this wine.

This N.V. wine got two different 89 ratings, one from Steve Tanzer on December 1, 2005, and another from Wine Spectator on October 15, 2003. Funny thing about N.V. wines, though, you get to use the 89 rating, even when it applies to something disgorged at an entirely different time. Looking at those two reviews, it's pretty clear this champagne is not consistent from year to year. Is that good or bad? I can't really say. I know the big houses strive for consistency, but isn't the fact that grower champagnes do a better job of letting the grapes and terroir do the talking one of the charms of these gems?

89 pts. Tanzer on 12/1/2005
Light gold color. Fresh aromas of orange blossom, acacia and honeysuckle, with a suggestion of grilled nuts. Round and supple, with deep, almost sweet flavors of mango, apricot and yellow plum. Frothy and suave, with ripe orchard fruit flavors and notes of pear and apple. The delicate, almost weightless finish is subtle, fine and long.

89 pts. Spectator on 10/15/2003
Starts with a yeasty, baking bread aroma. Fresh, firm and satisfying for its apple, citrus and wheat notes. Nicely balanced and textured. Drink now.

Night One

The color is pale straw, with a very slightly copper-colored tint.

The nose is apples. No, make that APPLES!! Not fresh tart green apples, but more like one of those half-baked without any sugar or spices. Once it cooks, add just a teaspoon of warm caramel, and that is what this wine smells like.

The palate is interesting. Imagine lining up every apple you ever ate, from tartest to sweetest, then back to tart again, and quickly taking a bit out of each one, and you get what happens from attack to mid-palate. It's dry, don't get me wrong, but the impression of apple is there the whole time.

Night Two

Like Night One, the nose is huge with apples, apples, apples, and a little dollop of caramel.

And like Night One, the palate runs through a bite of every apple you ever taste, though now the tart ones are more pronounced. Still, the only possible impression of this wine is APPLE. The mid-palate adds just a bit of baguette, but mostly, it's still apples.

This is also a good time to answer the obvious question- how did I make champagne last two nights? It's called a champagne saver, and a picture of mine is below. It pushes down into the bottle to make a seal, then the wings fold down over the lip of the bottle keeping it tight. The next night it opens with a "pop!" and you can't tell it had been opened the night before.

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