The report is live as of now, and it was a truly fabulous immersion, elucidating, compelling, and one that’s left a residue of stirring thoughts.
One is, I need to remind you that we should take the utmost care not to drink MAGNUMS too quickly after disgorgement. Champagne ages both more slowly and with a crucially different arc in the larger vessel. Until it is mature and ready to drink the Magnum subdues fruit in favor of a set of elements we’d probably agree are more “cerebral.” And an excess of that cerebral component is too often steely. But when the Goldilocks moment is attained, a stunning accord of firmness and authority arrives. It can be a crowning moment in Champagne drinking, because just as the steel becomes less blatant, the fruit rises to meet it, yet the fruit in Magnums isn’t really “fruity” the way it is in 750s. It seems to have shed its chub and found its stretch and sinew.
I had this demonstrated with the four Magnums I tasted, each of which only really started to display harmony on the 4th day after being opened. I did NOT rewrite my notes, but simply remarked on the development, because you are unlikely to drink them the way I tasted them.
I wrestled happily with the several 2014s, by which I mean I loved them and found it hard to say why. The words that came naturally – words like “civilized,’ seamless, calm” can make it seem as though the wines are somehow formal, mannerly…like, I don’t know, you wouldn’t burp in front of them. I do wonder, as a writer, how best to convey a strong love for a moderate wine. If my language is akin to the wine itself, it seems to fail in appreciation for virtues I actually do cherish. A good 2014 can be a caress of the finest seamlessness, as though it was placed carefully in the glass by a wise and delicate angel.
On the first day of tasting I was joined by Deborah Hansen, and we tasted in a comradely way without seeking to “impress” each other. (Though I was indeed impressed by Ms. Hansen….)
This was the first of what will be a few long reports, wherein I’ll live with the wines for as long as a week. Bründlmayer, Selbach-Oster, Schloss Gobelsburg, Von Winning, all of them are full-immersion experiences, like having the easiest house guest you hate to see go, even after five days underfoot.
In a way, the virtues of the 2014s are the virtues of Gimonnet in microcosm. The part of you that responds to them is smarter than you believe yourself to be. You’re appreciating things that don’t seek to impress you. As time goes on I return to Gimonnet as a beacon of sanity, symmetry, civility and reasonableness, AND, lest we forget: deliciousness!
There are many great wines that are great in a noisy way, and that doesn’t make them gaudy and it doesn’t mean I love them less or that their greatness is somehow vulgar. Not in the least! But Gimonnet is a balm of quiet. In a big dramatic lightning storm, these wines are the sound, not of the thunder, but of the rain as it hits the leaves.