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swirl and savor

Wine of the Moment, Champagne Drappier Carte D'Or

Beth Ribblett

Isolated a couple of hours’ drive south-east of Epernay, the Aube vineyards of the Côte des Bar seem like a different wine region. But this is still Champagne, even though the region is closer to Burgundy than Reims, and it produces some intensely flavored Pinot Noirs which provide a different flavor profile to that of its northern cousins. The more powerful pinot noir grape from the Aube results in a fuller bodied and more assertive complex style with a very fresh and dry finish. The great houses to the north are well aware of the quality of their neighbor's wines: a big house like Veuve Clicquot will have up to 20% Pinot Noir from the Côte des Bar in their Yellow Label blend and the legendary Krug also buys grapes here.

Wine has been produced from the soils surrounding Champagne Drappier for some two thousand years. The present custodian of the business and the home is Michel Drappier with his father and mother still on hand to help (and children waiting in the wings to carry on the tradition), but the Drappier family history goes back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Remy Drappier, a merchant draper (hence the name) from Reims and his son, Nicolas (1669-1724) were suppliers of wine to Louis XIV. It was in 1808 that Louis Drappier moved to Urville and began to develop the business that is still thriving today. The family's heritage is linked with stories of Cistercian monks and their leader, St-Bernard of nearby Clairvaux Abbey, one of the most influential religious figures of medieval France. However,wine production actually began during the First century AD, when the Gallo-Romans first planted vines on the site.

The Champagne Drappier Cart d'Or-Brut is predominantly Pinot Noir, with just a little Chardonnay added to provide that buttery smooth palate. It is fresh but mature, has complex flavors and full rich fruit. This has only 7 per cent white grapes, making it almost a blanc de noirs. It has a strong, savory, bready, developed bouquet showing lots of yeasty notes. The rich, smooth, very appealing flavor has a streak of lemony acidity running through it and a clean and dry finish.

Always searching for bargains, and they are few and far between when it comes to Champagne, I saw this wine on one of our distributors close out lists. I bought what was left, but at this price, there wasn't a supplies are limited, but you can buy this great little bubbly for $25. Seriously, this is a ridiculous price for the quality of this Champagne and you should not waste time in calling me or stopping by if you want some. We bought a case for our personal consumption and the other 2 are up for grabs! A great way to bring 2010 with a recession buster Champagne!

Wine Spectator: Elegant style, displaying floral, mineral and citrus aromas and flavors matched to a creamy texture. Well-balanced, classy, firm and long. Ideal as an aperitif, but could match light dishes as well. Drink now through 2012. 90 pts.

$25, just silly....