I sometimes wonder if Gimonnet is really “understood,” notwithstanding their market success. I suspect the estate’s essence, the particular way they enact terroir, is too little attended to. And I suspect (with sinking stomach) that many young tasters find the wines too “conservative” and don’t know how to respond to something that’s clean and technically correct. Man, I hope I’m totally wrong about that. More thoughts along this line will appear within the tasting texts, as they came to me spontaneously. But to summarize them, I’d say that Gimonnet’s Champagnes impress drinkers who do not need wines to be “impressive.” The key word being “need,” because we all enjoy impressive wines, but I do not require that particular entertainment, when wines are as fine as these are.
Put it this way; there’s a perfect volume to play music, in which it is present enough to get your attention but not so loud as to commandeer it. If the music is compelling or enticing enough, you notice and listen. You are pulled in. Is this as lovely as it seems? As fascinating? In contrast, music played loudly can be fabulous – can be – but you either surrender to it entirely, delaying whatever it was you were already doing, or you say “Not now,” and turn it off.
I will always prefer to be drawn in, because it harkens back to an exquisite moment in childhood, when you are welcomed to absorption. Is there anything, anything more beautiful than a child lost to the world, in the thrall of a fascinating spell? I think I love Gimonnet’s wines as I do because, even at their most intense, they whisper and croon, and I enter the silvery world they offer.
There’s much to be said for experience and observation – not to mention maturity. Tasting the two zero-dosage cuvées – which are extraordinary, by the way – I had to wonder at the prevailing miseries of so many “zero” Champagnes, and what Gimonnet knows that those callow (or luckless) growers don’t. He’s making it look easy, but it isn’t easy.
Champagne is a dramatic example of needing to consider how a wine mightdevelop, in this case when disgorgement issues are behind it. With several of these I was tempted to put a “plus” in parentheses, to indicate what I thought would be a wine’s ultimate quality, but I decided not to. That’s what words are for. I’d rather tell you what I believe you’ll encounter if you drink the wines now, as I’m doing.
The cuvée “Paradoxe” appears to be a thing of the past. Didier always had second thoughts about whether to produce a blend of CH/PN – hence its name – and when he discontinued it I wasn’t surprised. That said, a small tribute is in order. That wine was really lovely. It both was and was not inherently a Gimonnet wine; it had his grace and class, but obviously not his flavors.
With the top wines, we had to “consider” the 2015 vintage, a sugar-ripe year that ended up physiologically unripe, with attendant grassy flavors you either accepted or did not. Rodolphe Peters was unwilling to even permit me to taste his Chetillon, though I liked the Mont Joly quite well, and I find myself wondering at the forgiving nature of the Champenoise – growers and negoçiants alike – when an entire vintagehas weird flavors that arguably don’t belong in Champagne. We’re not talking about better and lesser years. We accept those. We’re talking about vintages that introduce extraordinary flavors such that the prevailing template of the wine is distorted.
As such, I have to make an effort to wrench myself away from the question of what you should buy. I have no idea what you should buy. It’s clear what my favorites are, but your taste may be different. This is a survey or the current collection from a grower for whom I have unqualified respect and a man I hold in affection and esteem. It has wines of differing types, according to vintage. Some of it isn’t what I’d call “classic,” but the daily-drinking wines are in order. My unguarded opinions are here, and you can decide whether they have any value as “guides” or whether they simply tell a story – here’s how it was, this time. See you next time!