Pierre Peters

Pierre Peters 1/29/14

A couple blocks from Salon is Pierre Peters, helmed by the feisty Roldophe Peters, who is quite a troublemaker, and I'm guessing probably a compete shit-disturber if you really got him going.  This was my third and final visit for the day, and was equally compelling as the previous two visits, but for different reasons.  

When I arrived, Roldophe informed me it's a very busy time of year and this would have to be a short appointment. 2 hours later I left. Funny what happens when you put two troublemakers in the same room and add champagne.  We ran through the hyper clean winery with a gleaming set of presses.  Peters' operation was larger than I expected, and was impressive with enamel, stainless, concrete and wood including Stockinger from Austria which apparently is the best for Champagne.  

Due to the rushed visit, we didn't taste any vin clair, but Roldophe pulled out some rad wines to taste, and mostly things I can't get or get small allocations of, see troublemaker.  First up was the Extra brut, 2010 base.  He makes extra brut in cold years and l'esprit in warmer ones. Delicious! Terry theise please bring this wine to the US.  

As we were tasting he gave me his thoughts on the only crus that matter in the cotes de blanc - Mesnil, avize, cramant, and oger.  Probably because these are the ones he uses.  Regardless, it was fascinating and useful to hear his descriptions: Mesnil - grey, winter, coastal, minerality, seaside Oger - white, spring no citrus, white fruit, floral, sweeter tones Avize - orange, summer, lots of body, ripe citrus, developed.  Cramant - brown, fall, sweet spices - cinnamon, saffron, vanilla when young, roasted nuts

2008 reserve Oubilėe - created as a challenge to prove that you can have bold, nutty, slightly oxidative tones without using oak.  Incredible wine, and it tastes like it's been in oak.  The 07 was great too!  Side by side of 06 and 08 l'Esprit these two wines were the first time I've tasted saffron in Champagne,  fascinating.  Also Roldophe feels that l'Esprit goes one of two ways, chocolate or coffee,  the 06 was chocolate and the 08 was coffee.  It was quite clear the difference.   Next up was a side by side of Chetillons from 06 and 07. Roldophe, myself and many other top sommeliers agree that these wines are drunk far too young, hence my killing babies tweet.  To help combat this he's starting an oenethque line next year starting with the 2000, can't wait to experience that! Both of these wines were great, but showed quite differently.  A spot on flavor that Roldophe pointed out in the 06 was caramel with sea salt, crazy.  The 07 was painfully young, but has all the components to be great in the future.   We finished on a pair of rosės from 10 and 11, delightful and thought provoking.   This was and awesome way to finish an amazing day.  

Georges Laval

1/28/14 George Laval 

Ironically I spent much of the day being lost finding my hotel in Epernay because my gps couldn't find it and I didn't have a map of the city.  However, one of the hardest producers to find was no problem.  The entrance really is poorly marked, but knowing that going in made it easy.  Also google street view has been a life saver, I know exactly what to look for.

Anyway, visiting Vincent as my first appointment was perfect.  He spoke little English, so it forced me to immediately work on my French.  His winery is tiny, and he truly only makes a small bit of wine, 6000-7000 bottles annually.  Frankly I'm amazed that I get any, and talking to him and the guys at 520, a serious wine shop in Epernay, I think I get more than most!  For such a small winery he really has a impressive network of caves under his building.  It was a perfect first visit because Vincent is a delightful man that truly is interested in making world class wine, but is down to earth and approachable.  None of the champagne marketing machine here, just honest and amazing wine.

His wines, between the vin clair and ones in bottle really showed a sense of place for Cumieres. Through all 10 wines I tasted in various states of their life, I truly noticed a thread that seemed more terrior driven than winemaker, but maybe vincent is just that good.  Through all the wines, including all 3 grapes and 4 vintages, Cumieres showed something fine.  I'm still trying to put my finger on it, but it was a classiness that was unexpected and I think often overlooked because Cumieres isn't grand cru.  The wines all sang in a voice that wasn't present in any of the cotes de blancs villages today.  Vincent planted the word fine in my mind, because the wines weren't quite elegant, but had a hidden majesty about them, particularly once I acclimated to the high acid.   One of my favorite quotes of the visits was when we were discussing acid, sugar, and balance and how he doesn't like to use much if any sugar. His thought is that if they don't add sugar to Corton Charlemagne than he doesn't need to add it to his wine either.  High sights indeed!  Vincent was also one of the few people that I've heard actively talk about the vineyards in terms of where on the slope they're located - top, mid , bottom, as well as the different soils.  It was very obvious talking to him that the folks in champagne are quite aware of whats going on with their land, it's just rarely discussed with the trade or consumers.  Tasting his wines opened my eyes about the quality and potential of Cumieres. It also showed me that 2013 is going to be a stellar year for champagne.