Wednesday, October 16, 2019

No Bonnet To Pick

“Samantha, I have three times come to see you here in Los Angeles and even though you come to Champagne every year, you’ve yet to come see me”
The taunting but earnest words from Champagne producer Cyril Bonnet of Bonnet-Ponson on his last visit to California a couple of years ago. The smirk on his, extremely handsome face assuring me that he forgave me but the little poke at my side, it let me know that my overlooking had not gone unnoticed.

He was right. I had been to Champagne probably four times since we first met, and not too far from the little village his family domaine is tucked into, Chamery, located in the Marne, district of Reims. There were zero excuses and it was easily, and enjoyably fixable on my part. It was on my last trip to France, that I carved out the time to make an appointment to visit my dear friend Cyril Bonnet. 

Last time I’d seen Cyril was here in Long Beach after he’d lead an amazing Champagne event here at The Wine Country. Well, truth be told, the very last time I’d seen him we had taken him, post Champagne event, to a Long Beach institution, The Interlude. A dive bar that is exactly what it sounds like it would be. Basically, where hope goes to die. We celebrated his graceful and elegant performance by buying him shots of Tequila Blanco and pouring him into an Uber that whisked him off to his hotel near LAX where he was to catch an early flight to the east coast the following morning. Hoping he had somehow found a way to forgive me, I made the call and we piled in the car.

I had to muscle past a whopping 413 people to make my way to Champagne Bonnet-Ponson where I found the final village total, Cyril and his Grandfather, numbers 414 and 415. Four Americans plopped out of the car and there he stood in front of his modern looking, still under some construction family winery, the stunningly handsome, talented and incredibly sweet Cyril Bonnet. I heard my fellow female traveler take in a hard, sharp breath when she saw him, big gorgeous grin, swatch of wavy brown hair, “See. Told you. Wait until you taste his wines!” I whispered in her direction. 

We spent a couple hours there with Cyril and a couple of other drop in visitors. We got the “tour” which is to say we plodded around the tiny winery tasting a few things from tank, a couple more from the bottle, before making our way to the tasting room where we tasted through a dizzying array of bubbles as well as his Coteaux Champenois, the still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay he makes, sadly just for the tasting room, for now anyway. Once again I was floored by the quality being offered, especially when you consider the fact that they are all from 1er, or Premier Cru vineyards, grown and made by the same family that is splashed across the label. Beautifully structured, classic Champagnes made by the most delightful people. Winning all around. 

N.V. Bonnet-Ponson 1er Cru Brut $52.99
Made from equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay this perfectly balanced Champagne offers charming roasted stone fruits, pears and cream dunked biscuits all over the palate. Nice and plump in the mouth with nice depth and long creamy finish. 

N.V. Bonnet-Ponson 1er Cru Brut Rose $62.99
Made mostly of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with Chardonnay making up the final 25%. A gorgeous deep pink Rose with powerfully extracted red fruit aromas. The palate offers a evocatively inviting weight with flecks of holiday spicing and warm buttered toast. Super long finish and achingly tiny bubbles. Delightful with cold cuts, dark meat fowl and rich gooey cheeses.