2016 Vouvray “Le Portail”Champalou
France | Loire
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by Anthony Lynch
There are plenty of reasons to love the Champagnes from J. Lassalle, the historic récoltant-manipulant in Chigny-les-Roses. Should you favor “grower” Champagnes, in which the producer controls the entire process from farming the grapes through vinification and bottling, theirs were among the first-ever such wines to have hit the US market—now forty years running. The fact that the domaine is run by women—three consecutive generations of fearless women—makes the wines even more impressive and refreshing amid the male-dominated industry. Or perhaps you have a delicate palate like Kermit, who gravitates toward the Lassalle bottlings because they systematically complete their malolactic fermentation. Rare for Champagnes, this natural process yields a softer acidity, so the wines taste dry and extremely refreshing without mimicking a dagger as they slide down the hatch.
These factors certainly contribute to my enjoyment, but when I uncork Lassalle’s Cachet Or, a blend of Champagne’s three principal grapes in equal parts that spends three whole years on its lees to marry and mellow, I think of Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier.
Simply because Lassalle is Lulu’s favorite Champagne, and she serves it at l’apéritif every occasion she gets. Lulu has famously stated that she drinks Champagne because it makes her laugh, but also because water would make her rust. Having just celebrated her 102nd trip around the sun, a strict regimen of Lassalle is becoming ever-the-more crucial for her. We can all agree that Lulu must be doing something right, so I invite you to join me in raising a glass of Cachet Or to her 102 years, and to a rust-free future for all of us.
|Blend:||1/3 Pinot Meunier, 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir|
|Winemaker:||Chantal Decelle-Lassalle and Angéline Templier|
|Vineyard:||50 years average|
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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