Fri 8 May 2009
I could tell you go go out and spend $300 on a rare bottle of tête de cuvée Champagne for your mother, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you to go out and spend $100 on slightly less rare bottles of Champagne, because nothing is too good for your mother. I mean, she hoed the row, she toed the line, she felt the pain and you, my friend, were the gain, at least I hope you turned out that way.
These selections are appropriate not only for Mother’s Day but for celebrating other great occasions, for example, when the bank — for once! — honors that suspect check and you can turn those annoying deputies away from your front door, or when the appeals judge quashes the pesky little indictment that has been following you around ever since the bridge collapsed. There’s so much to feel good about!
But now, we’re thinking of Mom, and I think I’ll propose something interesting, two Champagnes, one made from all pinot noir grapes, the other from all chardonnay, and a sparkling wine from California made from a traditional blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. Anything to keep the old girl happy!
The Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut, 100 percent pinot noir grapes from Grand Cru vineyards, offers an entrancing color that’s like slightly tarnished rose-gold overlaid with tarnished silver; millions of tiny bubbles explode in an exhilarating upward froth. Beguiling scents of dried raspberry and dried red currants are woven with smoke, orange zest and lime peel and a profoundly deep mineral quality. The balance between a creamy texture and finely resonant acid keeps the wine vibrantly poised, with its spare elegance constantly weighted with an impression of lushness, while to a palette of red fruit flavors, a touch of wild berry paints a more intense tone. All of these elements are sustained by a tide of limestone that dominates the finish. Excellent. About $100.
Imported by Laurent-Perrier U.S., Sausalito, Cal.
The 100 percent chardonnay Champagne is the Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut 1999, also made of grapes from Grand Cru vineyards. The color is about as pale blond as you can get and still be considered blond; the bubbles resemble a surging tempest of foam. Aromas of fresh bread and biscuits, roasted almonds and almond blossom fill the nose. The wine is scintillating in its crispness and achingly dry, boldly effervescent, high-toned and elegant yet earthy and almost succulent in its roasted lemon and lemon curd flavors lit by a touch of spicy tropical fruit. The limestone quality that provides the foundation for this panoply is awesome. 750 cases imported. Excellent. About $92.
Imported by Wilson-Daniels, St. Helena, Cal.
We turn to California for the J. Schram 2001, North Coast. This sparkling wine is a blend of 77 percent chardonnay and 23 percent pinot noir grapes drawn from four counties: Napa (48%), Sonoma (26%), Mendocino (20%) and Marin (6%). A dark gold sparkler of remarkable tone, resonance and balance, this is toasty and nutty and bready, richly dimensioned, more powerful than elegant. Flavors of roasted lemon and pear with macerated lime peel are layered with baking spices and crystallized ginger, high-lighted with hints of caramel and toasted almonds. Very dry, persistently effervescent, loaded with mineral elements, the wine finishes with austerity so profound that it could be called Olympian detachment, except that the thing is so damned delicious. Excellent. About $100.
OK, if a $100 sounds a bit steep, you ungrateful wretches, here’s an alternative from Argentina, Mendoza in this case, where a few producers are beginning to make sparkling wine in the traditional Champagne method.
The non-vintage Bianchi Extra Brut, from Bodega Valentin Bianchi, is composed of 60 percent chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir. This is a delightful, very pale sparkling wine, offering notes of chalk and limestone, lime zest, toasted hazelnuts and fresh bread. It is indeed quite dry, as the designation “extra brut” implies, spare and elegant, with whiplash acid to electrify the package and mountains of minerals. Altogether, it displays charming balance between delicacy and earthiness. Very Good+. About $30.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa, Cal.
Old-fashioned nostalgic image of motherhood from TheParentingMagazine.com.
Image of a highly idealized Ma Barker from Today’s Inspiration, a wonderful blog devoted to the pulp fiction and magazine illustrations of the 1940s and ’50s. This illustration was created by Ken Riley and originally ran in the June 1955 issue of Saturday Evening Post. The blog’s proprietor, Leif Peng, describes Ma Barker here as looking like “a younger, hotter, deadly June Cleaver.” Everybody’s favorite Mom!
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