Right, have to be quick. The troupes have gathered for dinner, and I am already a tad tipsy. But let me highlight two wines from the Blanc de Blanc tasting ( a more full-blooded post shall follow). First impressions then.
We gathered in the Conservatory at the Cellars-Hohenort to taste through 10 rare Blanc de Blancs. Freshness, clarity, and verve were always going to be key. What struck me were the layers of complexity in some of the wines. Blowing most of the table away was the 1997 Salon Le Mesnil out of Magnum. It was rich but taut, balanced but swaying slightly. From 50 year old vines; golden colour greeted the eyes and mushrooms left the palate wondering – the palate that is – if it ever knew about complexity before. Johan Malan from Simonsig said about the wines of Salon – which have only been made 30-odd times in 90 years – “these kind of wines you remember when you have tasted them.” A fine fine fine mousse leveling honey, brioche, mushrooms onto the same exquisite plane. Delicious.
But then there was the NV De Sousa Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Reserve from Magnum. This wine may not have been the most complex, the most eclectic, but by Bacchus it was the most balanced, sexy Champagne I have ever had. The nose was floral and delicate, like an old pressed flower found in a book you have found on your grand mother’s shelves. The palate was both licking a piece of slate and biting into overripe lime. Fuck the flavours, it was all about elegance. Maybe, for me, it was slightly more cerebral than anything else because I have been thinking about elegance a lot lately. This wine for me epitomized elegance. Light, but with wait, sexy but understated, an equation of a wine: nothing to add, nothing to take away. If there was any bubbly in the flight to fuck me, it was this one; because let me tell you it would of gone on all night until I was spent, and the De Sousa would have just looked at me – lighting a cigarette – and said, “Darling, are you spent? A shame, I was thinking we should go downstairs for a cocktail.” It was that sort of wine.
Excuse the spelling. Excuse the grammar. I am writing this in the entrance hall to dinner and everyone is streaming in. I have some fantastic Riesling in my glass and I’m about to get naughty. Big Bottle Festival is just getting started and I am already more than excited.