Wednesday, 2 February 2011


So pay day was yesterday and I did not get as much as I was expecting as by the looks of it the accountant made a mistake; I think I should be able to breathe this one through!

...and as the pay day came, I committed to getting the bottle of the highly anticipate 'newly' discovered producer.

I rushed from the office to make it to Fortnum's before they shut and grabbed a bottle as if it were Olympic torch to start the feast of sporting excellence. Totally unrelated to the subject, but hey, came out like a pearl from a dead or old (nearly dead) shell.

So the tipple was very Pinot Noir! Interestingly fragrant, with melon-like richness but it was a little bit 'flat' (I don't mean less effervescent but sort of like unripe or insipid water melon) in taste and the mouse was aggresive. I thought that this cuvee must have been a total monocru (grapes only from one village in Champagne) and to be a little more brave I would suggest that this one was even a single plot. There are a few phenomena in this cuvee: a, monocru the likes of which are made famous by Salon from Le Mesnil Sur Oger (priced at about £250 a bottle); b, single grape of Pinot Noir which was made famous by Bollinger Vielles Vignes Francaise (priced at £400 a bottle; which since 2003 is also a monocru); if I am right in that it is a single plot then we have the following examples that are technically on par: Krug's Clos du Mesnil (cca £600) and Clos du Ambonnay. To make this even more interesting, Krug Clos du Ambonnay costing around £2500 per bottle is actually in the same village as Paul Dethune's operation is and is the same village in which the vines grow of the discussed grapes and cuvee. So this is the blurb. I trust it makes sense and I am going to draw a little matrix of comparisons.

                                       Grape Variety       Wood used          Cru               Plots      Price
Paul Dethune                     Pinot Noir                Yes           Ambonnay           1(?)      £43
Krug Clos du Ambonnay   Pinot Noir                Yes           Ambonnay           1          £2500
Bollinger V.V.F.                Pinot Noir                Yes                 Ay                 2          £400
Salon                                Chardonnay              Yes         Le Mesnil s/Oger   N         £250
Krug Clos du Mesnil         Chardonnay              Yes         Le Mesnil s/Oger   1          £600

N = grapes from multiple plots were used; the exact number is not known to me or may vary from year to year.

I am fully aware that some words may not be clear but I would spend too much time writing the explanations for everything that there is to be said about 'Cru', varietal properties and characteristics, Cru characteristic etc. It is much easier to see just the basic tech specs. There are other things which must be taken into consideration but about those later.

With this matrix you can see the similarities and the differences, limited as they may be. As much as I am a passionate drinker I would find it very hard regardless of how much money I might have, to spend or to justify either £600 let alone £2500 on a bottle of Champagne and to be even more specific on Krug (my Krug experience has always been 'disappointing').

But the point is all the Champagnes I have compared here, have not only different price tags but also taste differently. I drank a few bottles of Salon, VVF and one of Paul Dethune's Blanc de Noirs and I can say with perfect confidence that they could not be the same. I shan't bore you with details for now as there would be too much to dissect. I am happy that I had the pleasure of Paul Dethune's Blanc de Noirs as in conclusion I would not say that this wine is an ideal candidate to stand on its own (monocru and single plot - if) but it would be interesting to see, and keeping it still a Blanc de Noirs, how other crus i.e. Verzy or Verzannay or Ay for that matter, could contribute to this wine to give it more zest, life, finesse to convey something that would be a virtually unheard of in Champagne for nearly 100 years, and that is new style. Dethune himself may be restricted with what plots in what crus he owns or can source his grapes from. So lets just see what the future will bring if it does we have a new and a reasonably priced bombshell!

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