Saumur, Champagne, and a Little Giant


I have been eating and shopping for wine in New York City this past week and will share a connected vignette of a Saumur-Champigny shopping find, a transported Champagne note, and a wine friendly restaurant.  This week’s quick holiday in New York, where my wine and personal roots run deepest, produced unfavorably opposite impressions on my wallet and waistline girths.  I accept these developments as wine blogging hazards, side effects in the fulfillment of WineZag’s mission to present readers with information I discover to be nourishing to my own wine enthusiasm; value paths to great yet inexpensive wine, notable places to drink wine with food, when to dent the budget on higher priced treasures that are really values in expensive clothes, and when to act on hard-to-source wines that are immediately available in the marketplace.

Ask my wife how many times last week I moaned, “Why can’t we have these kinds of wine shops with breadth of intelligent inventory in Boston” and learn how sick she is hearing about that from me.  The last time I uttered the phrase was walking out of Union Square Wines & Spirits (212) 675-8100 on 4th Avenue and 13th Street in the Village.  It is a dreamy shop to walk through with inventory that penetrates a vast global range of interesting regions with intelligent selections.  It was here that I tripped over the wine that I can now reconfirm as the most interesting bottle I drank in all of 2010; ($60 *****2005 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny.  The wine was priced at $75 before discount, and $60 with discount.  Now that I have safely restocked (phew), go and grab whatever they have left.  You will not find another wine like this, anywhere.  Do not wait, act now.

Six of us drank some of the Clos Rougeard while dining at Little Giant (212) 226-5047 at 85 Orchard Street (and Broome) on the Lower East Side.  They offer a $20 corkage fee in a relaxed setting to go along with inventive comfort food; a recommended wino spot, but bring your own wine since the list could be stronger. The 2005 Saumur-Champigny is the entry level Clos Rougeard, but it is completely compelling and unique.  Its familiar gaminess and truffle quality was on full display, and its grace, restraint, and purity of fruit were all there once again to protect its number one rank in the final 2010 WineZag poll.  It actually reminds me of great stinky Burgundies that are chiseled into my palate’s memory banks, all coming with much stiffer several hundred dollar price tags. But then again, it is a distinctive Cabernet Franc style that is not found anywhere else in the world or in the Loire and can not be replicated by Pinot Noir.

We also drank ($42 ***1/2Guy Larmandier Brut, a NV grower Champagne I carried with me from Boston and made by the established multi generation Larmandier wine making family.  The wine is constructed primarily from Chardonnay, and has a deep biscuit flavor with intense elegant fruit and tight tiny bubbles.  It is both fresh and rich all at once, offering a rewarding drinking experience that is smooth on the palate despite its serious vibrancy.  I am pouring two cases of this wine for a group in Los Angeles next week and wanted to make sure it was as good as I suspected it can be.  Check!  Go find some…I bought mine at Vintages in West Concord, MA.

Now, off to Los Angeles for a blogger conference and hopefully some new wine adventures.
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