For me, being the gopher to go pick up our monthly wine club selection at Fine Wine Source is a great job. I go in, say hello, and everyone knows my name, I think there was a television show about that years ago. The beauty of the shop is that there are no cut and dried times to come to a tasting, unless there is going to be a guest to discuss wines, like a winemaker, then the rules are different. I can have a private tasting say on a Friday at 1:15 and if extra customers come in, the more the merrier. The store uses the Coravin system so the wines are always fresh, and the whites are chilled and the reds are room temperature. For the most part, it is perfect, and the staff can answer your questions about the wines, and most of the time, they will bring up some aspect, before you even bring it up. Great customer relations, and they can even edit the selections, as they seem to know what I have tried and even what I have bought.
They were definitely in the Holiday spirit, because the first wine that was opened, and it was not by the Coravin system was Champagne G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon Brut NV, a famous Champagne house in Reims, France. This is the wine that keeps the company afloat, most of the time, the wine is Non-Vintage, but they even declare a vintage year periodically for this wine as well. This is their signature wine that they try to maintain a consistency year after year, decade after decade, and then at the top of the heap they also offer Cuvée R. Lalou. The three varietals that are used to make this wine are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and it is grown on their estate and they also have long time contracts with growers to maintain the taste that they strive for. They maintain three hundred base wines from a hundred different Cru vineyards to keep that consistency. This signature wine that is non-vintage still requires twenty months in their cellar to age, before it can be released. Over the years I have had some great Champagnes, but it is not the first wine that I go for, as I find that some Brut designations are just too dry for me, but this wine has enough of that “brioche” and yeast mix that I have come to expect from a good bottle of bubbles.
The other French white wine that I had for a tasting was from the Loire Valley and I have been appreciating these wines more and more. The Domaine Huet “Le Haut-Lieu” Sec Vouvray 2017 was a delight. It is one of the quirks of wine that the Chenin Blanc wines from Vouvray, when done properly are famed for their ability to age. Domaine Huet is a thirty-five-hectare estate that has three vineyards and each one is distinct and has its own characteristics. The “Le Haut-Lieu” is on heavy clay and limestone grounds and is considered the most approachable of the three vineyards. The average age for the vines in this vineyard is twenty years and the fruit is harvested several times to allow full ripening and the grapes are pressed as plucked. The wine is aged for six months, and it had a floral nose that was enticing, and it was a very refreshing wine to drink. The tasting event was off to a great start.