Carol and Ken, Part II

Saturday morning we all drove off to Arrowhead, the Herman Melville home in Pittsfield. On our return, we made sandwiches and finished off the Crémant du Jura. It had kept its bubbles overnight in an open bottle, and developed a velvety ripeness.

The wine of interest at lunch, however, was our next entry in the rosé runoff: 2009 Sancerre Rosé from Roger and Didier Raimbault, $20 at Union Square. Made from Pinot Noir, it had a lovely pink hue, light and fruity, the taste of berries, with balanced acidity and tannin. A little pricey, I think, even with a case discount. Ken brought Rosato (Italian rosé) to go with the weisswurst. So another batter steps to the plate, tomorrow.

For tonight we drink champagne. We opened Veuve Cliquot, just to set down a baseline. It’s made from the only three varietals allowed in champagne, more than half of it Pinot Noir, in the case of old Yellow Label, the remainder Pinot Meunier and heavy on the Chardonnay. It is blended until the winemaker is satisfied it has the house-style peach and apple flavor, tart and creamy, like eating yoghurt. It is said the Pinot Noir gives structure, the Pinot Meunier fruit, the Chardonnay class.

Next up, as the lobsters boiled, the potatoes baked and the asparagus steamed, a Brut Resérve from Jean Vesselle, a récoltant-manipulant, or grower/producer. Without Pinot Meunier in the blend, this wine is austere and elegant. Located in the appropriately named town of Bouzy, in Montagne de Reims, where pinot noir is king, Diane Vesselle, Jean’s daughter, grows her own grapes and turns them into champagne herself. If you look closely at the label, you will find the code for that type of producer: CM, NM, RM, for cooperatives, négotiants, and growers. I have to take my glasses off to find it.

Everyone loved the Vesselle, and now another grower/producer was on deck, this one from Avize in the Côte des Blancs, where Chardonnay rules. This champagne was a blanc de blanc, in other words, no red grapes need apply, made by Agrapart et Fils. It was crisp, well-structured around a mineral base, with hearty fruit flavor leading to a soft finish. The label also said “Les 7 Crus.” I later learned that this meant it was made with grapes from all seven villages of the Côte des Blancs.

Next up…

“Wait, let’s get the dessert on the table.”

It was Carol’s strawberry rhubarb pie. As a daughter of the South, she has a way with crust. From the fridge came a Brachetto D’Acqui, a ruby-red sparkler from the Piedmont. This one was called Pineto from Marenco. Only 5.5% alcohol, it had a sweet strawberry essence that paired beautifully with our local berries in the pie, and the acidity was a match for the tart rhubarb. It’s about the same price as our “usual” Brachetto, which at 7% alcohol is not quite as sweet.

We went to bed satisfied that all the obligations of the lobster and champagne ceremony had been fulfilled.

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