Thursday, May 10, 2007

Closure Issues

So it's about 100 degrees outside, and you put a bottle of lovely French Sancerre in the fridge so that when you get home you can sit with a cool glass of white wine, letting the condensation drip down onto your hot little fingers and putting the cares of the day behind you.

Then the corkscrew slips into the cork and you realize you have a problem. The cork is spongy. This is not a good sign. You manage to get it out and there is the distinctive whiff of wet dog and old wet newspapers. This is also not a good sign. You taste it and it tastes of wildlife and old, wet newspapers.

You've just had closure issues. Everyone in California has issues, or so they say in New York. But when a bottle of wine is not sealed properly, all kinds of nastiness creeps into what would otherwise be your after work treat.

There is nothing like closure issues to make the most steadfast, cork-loving, traditionalist take a dramatic left turn towards the land of screw-tops, glass stoppers, synthetic corks, and crown caps. So I quickly stuck a bottle of champagne into the fridge, determined not to be foiled by another corked bottle of wine (at least not tonight).

It was the 2000 Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut ($27.99, Beverages and More), which was capped with a crown-style bottle cap like those you would find on beer. This was a first for me. Though gussied up with a ribbon, this closure simply does not scream romance. But it did mean that I could open up my sparkler without worrying that it was going to smell of wildlife. Tainted wine, it turns out, is even less romantic than a crown-cap.

The 2000 Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut has very good QPR. Pouring the wine into the glass I was struck by its bright gilt color, its abundant fine froth and its tiny, tiny bead. This is just what I like in a sparkling wine. Aromas of mineral, toast, yeast, and apple were inviting and promising, and the wine delivered on that promise in the flavors department with pear, apple, warm bread, and stone. This represents some of the flavor complexity one would expect to find in an imported French champagne, but seldom get in a domestic I found it had a surprisingly long finish for a brut wine. This is Chandon's premier bottling, and some of the complexity is the result of the 5 years of ageing this wine gets in the bottle on the yeast.

While this sparkler was more expensive than those I normally drink, and you did not get the familiar popping the cork ritual, I would definitely buy more of this wine. And I will be looking for the brut's pink sibling, too. Would you buy sparkling wine under a beer cap--I mean crown cap? After this experience, I would. With screw-caps now adorning Burgundy bottles, can Champagne be far behind?


Joe said...

Wow - a beer cap. If this catches on, I may just go back to beer!

Dr. Debs said...

I know, I know. I've come around to the screw-caps but I just don't know about this. Especially not if the only opener you can find is the Homer Simpson talking beer bottle opener...