Monday, December 19, 2011
All About The Bubbles? Re-post In Time For The Holiday
“I hate to dump this on you your first day back from vacation but Adam is out with the samples of our vintage Champagnes. These were the only samples we had so he will be stopping by to see you this afternoon” an email from one of our favorite brokers that just so happens to bring in some of my most adored grower Champagne. “Oh just the vintage stuff? Well then I am sure I can try and make some time to see him”….rough first day back in the saddle right? “Some of these might not be as bubbly as they were yesterday” Adam confessed as he began sheepishly fumbling with the amazing line of wines he brought with him. Each bottle was topped with those treacherous little rubber stoppers….the ones with the little plastic caps and flimsy metal clasp, yeah those put-your-eye-out little fuckers. As he was reaching for the first bottle and flipping that metal doohickey, eyes twitching and brow deeply furrowed I explained, “Don’t give a shit about the bubbles kid, I want to taste the wine”. He poured the first wine and went on the tell me, “Some people only care about the bubbles, won’t even taste the wine if there isn’t a bunch of bubble in it” I watched as the fizzy but not violently bubbly wine was poured in the glass, saw it settle and noticed a tiny little stream of bubble rise from the bottom of the glass and break across the surface leaving a tiny little white froth along the top of the wine. I picked up the glass, gave it a good spin, (yup killing even more bubble but….opening the wine) dipped my nose into the wide opening, (I always taste Champagne from a standard tasting glass...always drink it from a white wine glass) and as I took in the rich and amazingly complex aromatics of the 2002 Camille Saves Grand Cru Brut my pirate grin lifted the left hand corner of my mouth. My nose still in the glass wildly taking in each layer…baked apple, pie crust, butter, red fruit…each thing landing upon the other in the most seductively pleasing way, I gave Adam the raised eyebrow and said, “Fuck the bubbles, this is remarkable wine”
When I was in Memphis having dinner with Michael Hughes and Benito I pulled a bottle of H. Billiot Grand Cru Brut Reserve from the fridge after dinner. Everyone was drinking red so they reached for one of the flutes that were still on the table from our starter bottle of bubbles. I tried to convince them to just finish the red and taste the Champagne out of that glass but….well trying to reason with buzzy folks is like herding cats, ask my husband. “This wine is made from amazing Pinot Noir, it can hold up in a regular glass” I tried desperately to explain but as the words fell out of my mouth I watched half the table dump the Billiot into what constitutes as a prison cell of a glass. I watched Benito smell the wine in his flute, he seemed pleased and all but then I slid him my glass….the big glass and had him smell them side by side, “That’s amazing” he said. Now I am not sure if he just meant the wine or how profoundly more generous it was out of the bigger glass but when Michael said, “I may never drink Champagne out of a flute again” I knew that my point was kind of made….I think.
“Will do in a pinch” we say that a lot about bubbly wines from around the world, they’ll do in a pinch. These are wines that have merit; they are frothy, tasty and easy, pleasant. These wines along with many from the actual region of Champagne are best served icy cold and in the straitjacket glass. This is where the bubbles are the focus, the number one most important thing; they should be fine and not raspy, graceful and not burn the tongue. From there the flavors come in and the range and scope that is absolutely about personal preference….sweet, dry, floral, mineral, sea shell, yeast and toast. Cava, Prosecco, Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant d’Bourgogne, California Sparkling, Perrier Jouet, Veuve Clicquot, Mumm’s, these wines all offer a nice celebratory bubble and are most definitely suited for that sexy shaped, elegant looking flute. In fact they are far more pleasing when they are served in one but wines like Billiot, Saves, Godme, Marie-Noelle Ledru and Pierre Peters….well they deserve to be treated like the very serious wines that they are.
Got home after work today and decided to take a soak in a hot bath, just felt the day heavy on my flesh and sought to soothe the arches of my feet, the backs of my knees, the muscles between my shoulder blades….felt myself aching just thinking about dipping my shoulders and hips into a pool of hot, clean, waiting water. Poured myself a glass of wine, plugged the ipod into the docking station…selected Van Morrison to keep me company. With Sail Into the Mystic working its way down my thighs I pulled my favorite sand colored crocheted sweater over my head, undid the button and zipper on my jeans and as I backed away from the mirror, (seriously even I don’t want to see me in my undies) I peeled the jeans from my hips I knocked a bottle of lemon scented bubble bath into the sink. “Oh shit, a bubble bath would be even better” I told myself. Flipped the cap on the bubbly junk, squeezed long squirts of it under the running faucet and instantly had the smell of lemon rind swirling around my day weary head. Perfect.
Did the “ouch ouch ahhh” thing that you do when the water is blazing hot but just feels so fucking good, until my fleshy backside settled into our way too small tub. Drew my knees closer so I was able to drop my whole back into the hot lemon scented water…heard the sizzle as the bubbles burst across my jaw and tickled my ears. “Feel your soul and spirits fly into the mystic” my soft whisper along with my bathtub partner Mr. Morrison. Sat there feeling as if the weight of the world were melting off my shoulders, my eyes closed, my skin clean and steaming. Opened my eyes when the track switched to Aint That Loving You Baby…a plucky little number and noticed….all the damn bubbles were gone. Just a fine layer of sparse fizz remained where the pile of billowy bubbles had been. I was kind of sad at first but as I looked down towards the faucet, saw my legs resting calmly beneath the still hot….still fragrant water, I realized once again that all the good stuff, all the important bits….they were as was the case with that Billiot and the 2002 Saves...lying in wait just under the bubbles.