Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Le Tour de France

For the next couple of days the Tour de France will cruise through the scenic wine region of Champagne as it rolls in from Belgium and the north and begins its picture postcard trip through the French countryside. Located about an hour or so east of Paris, it is a pretty easy trip and well worth an overnight visit. The world renowned wines of Champagne are a reflection of the cool northern climate, the soil , the grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), how they ripen in this environment, and the traditional method of fermenting the wine a second time in the bottle to create the fine, elegant bubbly mousse.
While sparkling wine is made all over the world, those of Champagne are a fusion of the natural environment and traditional winemaking and are in my opinion, the best bubblies in the world. The soils, a thin layer  overlying a deep layer of chalk are only found along a band of slopes in the Montagne de Riems, the Marne Valley, the Cote des Blancs, and the the Cotes des Bars and Montgeux (for a map of the region click here.) There are many styles of Champagne but the most popular are Brut non-vintage which is typically a blend of wines from multiple harvests and two or three grape varieties, Blanc des Blancs which is all Chardonnay, Rose Champagne which is made in several methods to incorporate its salmon/pink hue from Pinot Noir grapes, and Vintage which for many Champagne houses represent their top cuvees.
No other wine in the world says "celebrate" like those of Champagne, and nothing could make me happier than a deliciously crisp, creamy and delicate bottle of bubbly to toast the arrival of the Peleton to this beautiful region. Today's "vin du route" is a what many would believe to be an oxymoron - a fantastic affordable true French Champagne. Laurent Dauphin's Champagne Brut Cuvee Tradition is a classic blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier creating a fine, focused and lively wine - very pure and almost delicate in a way. A great way to celebrate a beautiful sunset, the start of a great summer vacation or a casual summer dinner. To purchase and for special pricing on this delicious wine for a limited time click 56 Degree Wine. 
One interesting note about this wine is that we opened it on Saturday to taste in the shop and had a half bottle or so left at the end of the day. We corked it with a Champagne stopper and when we reopened it on Tuesday after the holiday it was, if anything, even better! Part of this is that Champagne gives off CO2 which help prtect from oxidation, but it is also I believe a true sign of the quality and complexity of this lovely wine.
For the next several weeks until the Tour ends in Paris on the 25th of July check back here for updated "vins du route" from some of my favorite producers and regions. To be notified by Twitter updates when new posts or wines are added click here. Also be sure to follow the race on the Versus Channel or online at Le Tour de France

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