It’s almost impossible to write about Champagne without the excessive use of exclamation points. It’s like the bubbles themselves invade your speech, making each word sparkle with lyrical effervescence. And yet, until I started working for K&L, I didn’t really like Champagne. I found the mousse distracting, the bread-dough yeastiness uninteresting and the hangovers unbearable. But then our Champagne buyer, Gary Westby, introduced me to small, grower-producer Champagnes, like the Franck Pascal Cuvee Emeric, and my opinion of the bubbly stuff changed completely.
The Cuvee Emeric is one of K&L’s direct imports, a wine we get straight from the producer, which means that it’s an incredibly good value ($54.99), something that those of us on a limited budget or feeling the crunch of today’s economy can surely appreciate. It may not be inexpensive, but it’s worth every penny for a special occasion. Moreover, this beautiful sparkler is made from Pinot Meunier, a grape I knew nothing about before I started at K&L. Most Champagnes are made from Pinot Noir (Blanc de Noir), Chardonnay (Blanc de Blanc) or a combination of the two. You’ll occasionally see cuvees where Meunier is a significant part of the blend, but 100% Pinot Meuneir Champagnes are rare, which is another factor that really sets this wine apart. The Meunier gives the Champagne a distinctive mushroomy-earthy quality that I love, and it has more pronounced acidity, which makes it a great companion to a meal and more age-worthy.
The wine, though it’s not labeled vintage, comes entirely from the 2003 vintage, and all of the fruit comes from just one vineyard, planted to uncloned vines (yet another rarity!). Like I said before, it’s aromas tend to the Chanterelle end of the spectrum with hazelnut undertones, pain grille and a hint of fresh sea air. On the palate, the wine has yuzu, apple and Camembert flavors with a creamy, soft mousse that fills your mouth.The wine builds in complexity with air, which always makes it quite moreish, as Gary would say.
The only problem with the Cuvee Emeric, frankly, is that I want to keep drinking it. And I have a one-glass-of-Champagne rule, no matter how good it is. Oh well, it means I’ll have to share it with friends. Time to toast the launch of the pet website my fiance has been working diligently on for the past six months. Welcome Cute as Hell and bon chance!