My husband Michael and I always giggle about our friend Kate because the only wine that she ever drinks is Champagne. Nothing but the best French sparking will do for her. It's kind of funny because she is not normally the kind of person who is so rigid and frankly, so bling. The more I think about it though, the more I think she's on to something. Even though Champagne is usually reserved for the cocktail hour, it is a very versatile wine that can be consumed throughout an entire meal. And, let's face it, it's nice to drink something that inspires such feelings of festivity and celebration. I suppose that if I truly had the option, I could drink Champagne every day of my life. What's so wrong about it, really?
Fortunately for me, the Champagne gods were smiling down upon me last night at Lucques when a bevy of wine vendors happened to dine there and bring me samples of some amazing sparkling wines. There was the gorgeous and rare Dom Ruinart vintage 1998 and a really interesting sparking Saumur from the Loire Valley made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The highlight to me though, was a Champagne that I had never heard of before last night called Dosnon & Lepage.
Davy Dosnon and Simon-Charles Lepage, I was told, were childhood friends who after inheriting a couple of hectares of vineyards in Champagne, decided to set out to create a new Champagne house, one that approaches Champagne from a new direction. They farm their land, as well as an additional five hectares, biodynamically, manually harvest and press the wines in traditional wood pressers. They also bottle only single-varietal wines. This is the most significant difference from the traditional type of Champagne house whose goal year in and year out is to create a consistent brand or "style" that is normally a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Dosnon and Lepage instead want to emphasize the essence of the grapes themselves and their special location in Avirey-Lingey, part of a unique region called La Côte des Bar, an area dominated by rolling hills of limestone.
The wine that I tasted last night was a blanc de noirs (made from 100% Pinot Noir) which just blew me away. Out of the gate, this wine drinks like a blanc de blancs or Meursault with its racy, high acid brightness and clean elegance. Thanks to their vineyards' Chablis-like soils, this sparkling is a study in minerals with its salty, nuttiness, vibrance and texture. It has a meaty richness in the mid-palate that is the hallmark of the Pinot, and that gives it a heft and muscle that is usually lacking in Champagne made solely from Chardonnnay.
Dosnon & Lepage are also quite concerned about their impact on the environment and are not only focusing their efforts on sustainable farming practices, but are also reaching beyond Champagne. They are a member of "One Percent for the Planet," an organization of businesses that give 1% of their revenues to improve the environmental health of the planet through support of initiatives around the world. They also support animal related causes like Peuple Loup (Wolf People) a group that studies wolves in Canada in an effort to save the species and work toward its survival along side human civilization.
It's hard not to fall for this winery. The wines are spectacular and their ideals are commendable. I'm going to start pouring this Champagne by the glass at Lucques because I can't resist supporting something so worthwhile and so delicious. And for that matter, I'm going to support the idea of drinking Champagne more regularly. It may not be the only wine that I will consume, but I don't mind making the effort to drink more of it. I'm sure Kate would approve.