Now I don’t normally take tasting appointments this late in the season, once the final newsletter is put to bed we tell our suppliers to take a hike….not really, but we are not looking for new wines and the tasting area is full of gift baskets. That and hopefully we will be too busy to be sitting around tasting wine anyway, so we just stop taking appointments. Our suppliers understand and hear the same thing from everyone, “Please go away, I’ll call you if I need something” most of those that have been in the business for some time don’t even bother asking, they know the answer is going to be, “no”.
So when I heard one of my favorite reps, Chuck Morris of Beaune Imports say, “Hey do you want to taste…” I instantly flashed the, “What the?!” face, that was until he said, “the RH Coutier Rose and 2002 Brut?” well lookie there something just opened up, yeah I know…whore, total whore. We were in fact busy, more stocking than dealing with customers so I snuck off to the kitchen with Chuck to taste the new arrivals.
I had, just a couple of days before, tasted the regular…sounds so stupid to call it regular, let me start again. I had recently poured the NV R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) at our end of the year Champagne event, and had been somewhat floored by how well this, “little” (as far as price, not texture or flavor) held its own with the other, more expensive wines that night. I first tasted the wines from this estate like three years ago, the importer had taken us to dinner at A.O.C and asked us to taste this Champagne from Ambonnay that he was considering importing. After pulling my jaw up off the floor, (humbled by the trust of my palate) I tasted through the wines…lovely, powerful and rich but lovely….thought about the other Champagne in his book, the more delicate, Chardonnay based wines from Agrapart, thought this wine would offer something entirely different and finally asked the price, “What the hell are you waiting for?! Are you freaking nuts? These wines are wicked delicious and seriously…at those prices? Dude..” I am sure he was so glad he asked me, he was asking my opinion, taking me to dinner, (So does that count as disclosure?) and I’m breaking his balls. He ended up laughing at my reaction, (guess he knows me pretty well) saying, “Okay, okay…this is why I asked you” and after some serious negotiations the wines arrived last year.
Chuck was waiting for me when I raced back to the kitchen, he had two bottles open and had already started tasting, “Damn dude, way to wait for me” I said as I reached for a glass. “Just making sure I had them in the right order” Chuck responded while sipping from his nearly empty glass. I started with the Rose, found it somewhat boring to tell the truth, I kept spinning the wine in my glass, sticking my nose as far in as I could…meh. I was fearful as I put down my glass of Rose and poured myself a glass of the vintage, I nervously brought the glass to my nose the whole time thinking, “Shit, why the hell did he ask me? What have I done? This poor bastard is going to be stuck with boring ass wines and it is going to be my fault” with trepidation I lowered my nose and I swear the wine leapt from the glass, grabbed my face and laid a big passionate kiss on me. My fears assuaged, I tasted the wine and fell in love all over again, so I reached for the Rose again, slowly brought the glass to my nose and while it didn’t quite leap from the glass, it was shaking its stuff for me, revealing ripe succulent fruit…awe, it was just shy!
2002 R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($59.99) now the first thing that came out of my mouth when I tasted this wine that afternoon was a rather snooty, somewhat geeky, total dork word and seeing as I try and spare people from that kind of verbage I will just say, “this wine is very wine-like”. Deep core of red fruit, baked rich flavors, little bits of that kind of white flower thing you get in great white Burgundy, and an almost oily texture in the mouth that almost makes you forget you’re drinking Champagne…you know, except for that sassy stream of tiny bubbles that tickle the tip of your tongue. The wine seems to grow in your mouth and the finish is insanely long.
N.V. R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut Rose, ($57.99) not a starter wine as I found out, this wine needs to open a bit and would serve you well as bottle number two. The nose is rather delicate, rose petals, spice and wild berries with just a bit of sweet butter on brioche, but the palate…damn, the palate. All ripe black cherries, mouth filling, broad shouldered but elegant but all cherries and the finish…sweet black cherries and sweet cream. Supple, graceful for its size and so freaking generous without clunking up your palate with yeast or toast…pure red fruit is what you’re left with and what keeps you reaching for your glass.
All three wines from Coutier will have a spot on our shelves for as long as they are available, which sadly is not that long as they make very little of it and the importer only brought in a small amount for this inaugural launch, (of the Rose and vintage) and I know I will be snagging a few for myself, finding wines with this much power and grace at $60.00 a bottle is very rare and I will unashamedly be “gettin’ mine”.