06 June 2014

1999 Artéis & Co. Champagne Brut

I have an interesting relationship with the sparkling wines of the world. I pop a bottle of bubbly at least once a week, but most of those are relatively inexpensive Italian Proseccos or Spanish Cavas or domestic versions that are crisp, tasty, and absolutely perfect with things like potato chips, fried chicken, and popcorn. You don't have to save them for a special occasion, and they're meant to be enjoyed like that in a casual fashion.

True Champagne is a different beast, and I give particular attention to two subcategories: grower and vintage. Grower Champagnes are small lot wines that reflect the character of the individual farmer who provides grapes for the great houses of the region. Vintage Champagnes can come from either small or large producers but represent a specific year rather than the blending that is typically done to produce a reliable and consistent house style.

The label was designed by the Swedish-Portuguese graffiti artist André Saraiva, though the restrained layout is not terribly representative of his work.

1999 Artéis & Co. Champagne Brut
4,510 Bottles Produced
$50, 12% abv.

I'm going to note that the price listed is the release price, and I've seen it listed at $100+. Also, quantities are limited and it may be somewhat difficult to find. But while I had a distinguished and delicious bottle of fine wine in my regular wine glass (better for the good stuff than a flute), I shucked a dozen oysters and prepared myself for a sybaritic afternoon meal. Yes, the pairing was magical, and I'll give some more tasting notes in a moment.

I typically don't give the full tech notes of a wine that I try, but just for kicks here are all of the details for those who appreciate premium Champagne and know a bit about winemaking. Why are there two different Chardonnays? Different terroir.

40% Chardonnay Chouilly – Grand Cru (Côte des Blancs)
40% Chardonnay Vertus – Premier Cru (Côte des Blancs)
10% Pinot Noir Vertus – Premier Cru (Côte des Blancs)
10% Pinot Meunier Congy

40% Grand Cru
50% Premier Cru

Dosage: 4 g/liter
Aging: 12 years (tirage in March 2000)
Disgorged in May 2013
Aging after disgorgement: 4 months

Now on to the tasting. It is a complex wine that should be considered carefully. The nose starts out with aromas of honey, green apples, and a touch of white raisins. In the glass it shows a beautiful golden color, with small bubbles. Great balanced acidity with a crisp mouthfeel and a finish that positively melts on your tongue. I could not have picked a better dish for pairing (although I am sure that there are cheese matches out there that would surpass my humble bivalves).

This is not the kind of wine you drink every day, and with less than 5,000 bottles produced, not many are going to be able to. But if you get the opportunity, be sure to enjoy this wine in the proper company, at the right time, and with the best food possible.

Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.

1 comment:

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