Old Vine Champagne: Sebastien Girost Dure Peine
You've definitely heard of two of the major grapes of Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and you've probably heard of Pinot Meunier, the other one*. Most Champagne is a blend of the three, but there's a good chance you've had some pure Chardonnay or pure Pinot Noir from Champagne. Pure Pinot Meunier? It's a thing, more and more common lately, but far from the norm, and I bet most of you have not tried one yet.
The first pure Pinot Meunier Champagne I tried was Egly-Ouriet's Vignes de Vrigny. It's awesome stuff, though these days a little pricey ($100 or so) and might be hard to find. Few get super excited about it, but anyone should feel very good about their situation if they're drinking it.
When a true champion of Pinot Meunier, Jerome Prevost, sprang onto the scene, things began to change. There has been hype since I first encountered his fabulous wines. Pretty much always allocated, or at least limited, they are amazing wines, and it's not surprising that these days you'll likely be shelling out $200+ for a bottle... if you can find one.
Christophe Mignon is another Meunier luminary to look out for. Great wines, not exactly inexpensive but well worth a look...
....but let's get to the point today. Sebastien Girost makes a pure Pinot Meunier from a small plot (32.75 ares, which is about 0.81 of an acre) planted in 1929. He calls it 'Dure Peine', which sounds quite tough, but apparently the name comes from the Celtic 'Durr Penn', which means 'high waters' and may refer to springs found it woods near the vines. Anyway, we tried the 2015 Dure Peine last week and found a complex, gracious and delicious wine. How much is an excellent Pinot Meunier from a tiny vineyard planted in 1929? I really can't believe I'm say this, but it's $45. Time travel. I know.
Sebastien Girost Champagne 'Dure Peine' 2015 - $45
Juicy and exuberant on the nose. Aromas of pear, white peach, crunchy raspberry, lemon, mint, hawthorn, fresh crusty white bread, a little praline and so many delicate herbal/leafy nuances, this is a lovely study of Meunier. Fruit vacillates between crunchy and juicy on the palate, great inner perfume of flowers, herbs and nutty/yeasty autolysis, subtle chalky texture, easy-going fine-grained mousse, beautifully integrated oak and acidity. Juicy finish, lots of fresh tart fruit and myriad bready, nutty and herbal nuances. Yummy stuff.
We jumped on this one. You should as well. Please send questions and orders to email@example.com
*There are still other grapes: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, Arbane. Officially there are 3 grapes allowed in Champagne: Arbane, Petit Meslier and Pinot. Here 'Pinot' is a family that includes Blanc, Gris, Meunier, Noir and Chardonnay.