Last night Matthew Boudreau, the executive chef at the Ram’s Head Inn on Ram’s Head Island on Shelter Island, was taking a busman’s holiday. He was in the restaurant with three friends at the end of a two-day experiment in guerrilla dining. As far as I understand it, the group hit up as many as three restaurants each night ordering bottles of Champagne and appetizers.
This is one of the grower Champagnes that you’ve been hearing so much about. Unlike big houses, these producers grow their own grapes and make their own wine. The wine on the Frisky list is their nonvintage made using grapes from vineyards in the seven villages of the Côtes des Blancs. (They are: hmmm. My Tom Stevenson World Atlas of Champagne and sparkling wine says there are five grand cru villages in the Côtes des Blancs — le Mesnil sur Oger, Oger, Avize, Cramant and Chouilly. A sixth, Oiry, is just outside the boundaries of the Côtes des Blancs. And there are five premier cru villages. The website says the majority of their vineyards are in Oger, Avize, Cramant and Oiry. So I’m stumped.)
According to the Agrapart’s website the wine is made from 100 percent chardonnay (typical for the Côtes des Blanc :)), from the 2003 and 2004 vintages and aged in oak barrels. It went through 100 percent malolactic fermentation, was bottled in 2005, sat on the lees for three months and was riddled by hand. It was disgorged 60 days before sale and the dosage is limited to 10 grams of sugar per liter.
The website says it tastes like citrus mixed with peaches and green almonds. I’ve never heard of a green almond.
Anyway, this leads me back to one of the sets of numbers in the wine world I cannot remember. (The other is the aging requirements for crianza, reserva and gran reserva.) Perhaps listing it here will reinforce the information.
The sweetness level of Champagne is determined by the sweetness of the dosage, wine that is added to the bottle after disgorgment.
Here it is:
Brut nature–less than 3 grams per liter, or no dosage
Extra brut — 0 to 6 grams
Brut — less than 15 grams
Extra dry — 12 to 20 grams
Sec — 17 to 33 grams
Demi-sec — 33 to 50
Doux — 50+
So our Agrapart falls on the extra brut side of brut. And it’s pretty delicious. I tasted it more than a month ago and remember it being steely, elegant, bright and tangy.