My Desert Island Fizz: Michael Edwards
27th April 2020
In a new series of online interviews, we take a look at well known wine professionals and with the idea of Desert Island Discs in mind we ask them to choose, instead of music, their three favourite sparkling wines to take with them if ever they find themselves ‘Robinson Crusoe’d‘ as such!
Our series entitled ‘My Desert Island Fizz‘ starts with our good friend and most well respected sparkling wine author, Michael Edwards, who shares with us the three labels that he’d have accompany him on that lonely imaginary island:
Great Champagnes from latest available vintages
The idea of Desert Island wines must seem surreal in the Pandemic crisis right now – saving lives and surviving is the real priority for all of us in it together. But to keep morale up and bring the pleasures of the finest wines, here is my first selection from Aÿ the birthplace of sparkling Champagne.
Hommage à William Deutz Meurtet and La Glacière 2012
Since the arrival in 2003 of Michel Davesnes as cellar master, quality is surging, based on a new ultra-modern cuverie, where non oxidative wine making in stainless steel allows for ultimate fruit expression. Last year, 2019, saw the launch of two 2012 parcels of Aÿ single- vineyard Pinot Noir for what is said by certain authorities to be the best year for Pinot since 1952. Meurtet is delicate visually, especially the finesse of its tiny filigreed bubbles. There’s substance and structure behind the discretion, bolstering a top Champagne that nonetheless speaks gently. Yellow fruits,& Bigareau cherries beguile the nose; racy mineral tension frame texture and mouthfeel. A gastronomic wine for tuna steaks & lightly hung game. Despite its name, La Glaciėre is actually a warmer site – shimmering golden yellow hue, reflections of copper: ripe fruits aromas, warm and immediate, reflecting a superb harvest at perfect maturity. An opulent classic to come. Drink 2020 – 2035. www.gonzalesbyassuk.com.
Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne multi vintage base 2013 plus a Solera of fine older vintages
Claude Giraud ‘s family had been winemakers in and around Aÿ since the 17th century – today he owns some of the finest vineyards, spread across 30 parcels in 14 lieux-dits (named sites). With such fabulous grapes, Claude is a committed exponent of oak from the local Champenois forest of the Argonne, where the wood’s impact is gentle and less smothering of the wine. Here the grape mix is 75% Grand Cru Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay. As a multi-vintage, the base wine is 2013, the Solera has manifold portions of fine vintages that include 2004 and 2002 + 1998 one of my favourites. The result is terrific complexity The oak gives deep gold hue and rich tones of patisserie and spices. Also, citrussy lighter fresh scents of lime & lemon from the Chardonnay as well as peach and quince from the Pinot. Gastronomic wine Drink 2020 -2035 www.henri-giraud.com
Champagne Roger Brun La Pelle
Vignerons since before the French Revolution, the Bruns are a well-known family in Aÿ with a visceral love for the little town that was a cradle for the original sparkling Champagne, then made purely from Pinot Noir. The great great grandfather of Roger Brun, was a cooper and red-wine maker while working for Moët & Chandon during the phylloxera crisis of the early 1900s. Philippe Brun, Roger’s son, has been in charge of the business & winemaking at the house since I first met him 14 years ago, the start of a personal friendship still very warm today. A charismatic larger- than- life figure and former rugby player, he is one of the most generous producers I know, generous with inside information about what is going on in Champagne; he’s an invaluable source of the truth about the most recent harvest in Champagne, where his vat House presses the grapes for such giants as The LVMH titans. Behind his bluff muscular frame is a fine engineer’s mind, who worked in California before returning to the family Domaine.
Besides a full range of classic Champagnes, the pride of place must go to his slice of the superb early ripening site of La Pelle in the best hillsides south-facing slopes above the village cemetery. A usually powerful Blanc de Noirs, it was subtle and complete in the excellent slightly cooler 2013 Vintage. Deep burnished gold, profoundly scented, its aromatic fruitiness tinged with the voluptuousness of the terroir, wondrous vinosity. Should be reserved for the greatest dishes, rich seafood or any sort of meat. Not a dance-hall Champagne. Outstanding. www.champagne-roger-brun.com
Internationally respected Champagne, Sparkling Wine and food author & journalist. Ex Chief Inspector & Wine Editor for the Egon Ronay 'Restaurant Guide'.