André Clouet brut Dream Vintage
Grand Cru, AOC Champagne, 2013
France – Philosophy in a bottle
According to French philosophy, wine should be an expression of the soil and climate. They use the word “terroir” to describe this. Terroir makes every wine different, and many especially good. French wine is regarded worldwide as an expression of cultural perfection. The French believe that humans are responsible for the quality of the berries, the vine variety for their character, and nature for the quantity. This philosophy can be expressed succinctly as: “the truth is the vineyard, not the man.”
André Clouet / Jean François Clouet
We didn’t find the low house, dating from the 17th century, straight away, even though the village of Bouzy is not very large. Modest buildings are grouped around a courtyard, behind which a vineyard lies, similar to a clos.
But first of all, Jean François Clouet, last scion of this old family that is traceable to the court of Louis XV, guided us to an elevation. We found ourselves above Bouzy on the south side of the Montagne de Reims range of hills. Jean François points westwards: In 451 AD, Attila the Hun came riding from that direction and it was here that he met the army of the Western Roman Empire. But today, instead of a battlefield, a tranquil sea of vines stretches towards the horizon.
King or beggar?
Hardly any variety of vine shows such a broad spectrum of quality as the Chardonnay. Its wines range from faceless neutrality to breath-taking class. It is an extremely low-maintenance vine, which explains why it is grown around the world – even in places where it probably should not be. The aromas of the Chardonnay variety are not very pronounced: a bit of green apple, a little hazelnut; in warmer latitudes, also melon and exotic fruits. The wines are often defined by maturing in casks. They develop more or less subtle notes of butter, toasted bread and vanilla. The grapes achieve their highest expression in their region of origin, Burgundy. Its heart beats in the Côte de Beaune: one might think of the plant growth of Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet. With their finesse and complexity, they can survive for decades. Chardonnay also achieves first class in some Blanc-de-Blancs champagnes. It additionally yields great wines in the Burgundian Chablis, and increasingly in Australia and Chile. A simple rule of thumb for pairing with food: When butter and cream are involved, you cannot go wrong with Chardonnay.