I don't drink much Champagne. It's often expensive, and somehow when I have a few extra bucks in my pocket, bubbly of any type isn't what I typically reach for.
That's changing, with sparkling wine in general and, even in these tough times, Champagne proper. Did I write up the absolutely killer NV Lassaigne Champagne Brut Blanc des Blancs I had some weeks back? When researching that post, I found out about importer Joe Dressner's conjoined brain twin and got a little sidetracked.
Nevertheless, Lassaigne makes exceptional grower Champagne, and even their Les Vignes des Montgueux bottling at the base level is startlingly good. Pure, clean, complex, full of spine-tingling acid nervosity, just delicious.
Which inevitably brings me to a topic that I've found tiresome, until now. Wine geeks tend to think grower Champagne kicks ass for many reasons. One big one seems to be that these small scale producers generally don't add too much dosage to their wines, dosage being the sweet wine slurry added to sparkling wine before release to round out flavors and convey some house style. Growers lean away from the heavy dosage that the big houses overload their flashy brand names, taking what might otherwise be acidic, boring mass production Champagne and turning it into overly sweet, boring mass production "dry" Champagne.
Yawn. Seriously, even I've been rolling my eyes at such a David vs. Golaith set up.
Then I try some big name Champagne and...well...it's true. Some of these "dry" wines are way too sweet without the redeeming balance of Loire or German whites.
Take the NV Drappier Carte d'Or Brut. Brut means dry, but if you look around the internet, you'll be hard pressed to find any notes that tell you just how sweet this wine is. Sure, you see "round" and "full bodied," often synonyms for "sweet" in all kinds of wines. One prominent magazine even suggests it's "firm and refined." Maybe if you serve very cold.
I suggest people start using the word "sweet" when describing this wine.
The good news about the Drappier? It smelled and tasted like Champagne. There's no mistaking the chalkiness in most Champagne. But that dosage! It's just too much, leaving me guzzling water to refresh my mouth. Or better yet, something from Lassaigne.