Monday, October 19, 2009

Green Shoots?

Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut There's a lot of economic pain in our future but I'm hoping we've started to turn the corner for real. Industrial production is "growing seriously fast," the dollar's decline will increase prices on imported wine but help US manufacturers and the workers they employ, and several people I either know or encountered just found jobs in the last week.

To celebrate a good friend's newfound employment, we opened a bottle of Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut "Les Vignes de Vrigny" 1er Cru, which is 100% pinot meunier from 40 year old vines — quite unusual. This is a joy to drink, a wine of real cut and verve. It's autolytic, with aromas of toasted hazelnuts and salted crackers (not the bread or brioche found in many Champagnes), but I also smell yellow flowers, chalk, and pears. It's beautiful, creamy, and long, with the racy acidity driving red fruits down the sides of the tongue with lovely cut and precision. The mousse is full, fine, and alive. This spent 40 months on the lees and was disgorged November 2008, so likely there's a lot of fruit from 2004 in here.

Going way downscale, I recently bought a terrific bottle of the 2004 Agricole Vallone Salice Salentino Vereto Riserva for just $11. Wine in Chicago seems to be more expensive than everywhere else on the planet (among other things, we have the highest sales tax in the nation), so you can probably find this for less. This medium-bodied wine shows bright cherry fruit, solid acidity, and some zingy pepper notes that showed great with pizza. The 10% of the blend that's malvasia nera is used to soften the wine; the other 90% is negroamaro. It's nice to find an affordable, everyday wine with real character and life.


Anonymous said...

I disagree on wine prices in Chicago, I actually think we have very good prices comparatively. Binny's competes with the best of them around the country. Other than that, like your write up!

Wicker Parker said...

Binny's prices their wines rather aggressively and being a big chain benefits from economy of scale to boot. So yeah, their prices are in line with, say, K&L in California. Smaller shops that do not benefit from such economy of scale typically have to charge more than their equivalents on the coasts by $1 to $2 per bottle. Among the tradeoffs, though, are that the independent shops are often friendlier to the customer, offer more personalized service, and often stock a denser selection of interesting wines. Binny's has some good stuff, and I'm sure that some of the people who work there are passionate about wine, but I'd rather shop at the small shops, regardless.

Anonymous said...

Understand the desire to purchase from smaller shops. I find Binny's has an excellent selection and I don't seek too much help when buying wine. I know regions and styles I like. Wine Discount Center has a great selection and great prices as well. Sorry, just think we have quite a good selection of wine shopping in Chicago. I like your Blog, keep it up!