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A Toast to Versatility

NO doubt this column appears on first glance to be one of those dutiful end-of-the-year pieces on sparkling wines. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Let me be plain: I need no seasonal inducement to write about sparkling wines, in this case blanc de blancs Champagnes. “I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” as the oft-misquoted Alfonso Bedoya put it in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

说得直白一点吧:我不需要为了应季才写关于起泡酒的文章,具体的说,是写关于“白中白”(blanc de blancs)香槟的文章。就像阿方索·贝多亚(Alfonso Bedoya)在《浴血金沙》(The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)中说的那句被人们反复错误引用的话:“我不必向你出示什么该死的徽章!”

Got that? Good. I don’t mean to sound belligerent, but I feel compelled to emphasize that I love Champagne and sparkling wines too much to ever consign them to the scrap heap of obligation. I drink them year round, with all sorts of foods, for any occasion, but more important, for no occasion at all.


An estimated 40 percent of Champagne is sold leading into the holidays, according to the Champagne Bureau, a trade association, but that does not mean we all must abide by the nonsense of restricting sparkling wines to end-of-the-year gatherings and celebrations.

根据行业协会“香槟局”(Champagne Bureau)的估计,大约40%的香槟都是在节日期间销售的;但是这并不意味着,我们都必须遵守“起泡酒必须在年底聚会和庆祝时才能喝”这个毫无道理的限制。

The plain fact is that Champagne is one of the world’s most versatile and pleasing wines. That’s another crucial point: Champagne is a wine, though this may not be obvious to some, and it needs to be thought of in that context.


Too often, sparkling wines are set apart, as if they were a valued set of cuff links brought out only for special occasions, then returned to their plush box. But Champagne goes wherever other wines are capable of going, whenever, with ease.


I must say, this perception of Champagne is partly the Champagne industry’s fault. It’s done such a good job of turning Champagne into an emblem of black-tie urbanity that it now seems out of place on the kitchen table.


The panel tasted 20 bottles of blanc de blancs Champagne. What might seem like just another seasonal roundup was in fact a tasting with year-round staying power. Florence Fabricant and I were joined by two other members of the what’s-good-in-December-is-just-as-good-in-July club: Juliette Pope, wine director at Gramercy Tavern, and Carla Rzeszewski, wine director of the Spotted Pig, the Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar.

品酒小组品尝了20瓶“白中白”香槟。这可能看起来像是又一场季节性的综述,实际上它是一场适用全年的品酒会。除了弗洛伦斯·法布里肯(Florence Fabricant)和我,另外两位评委也认为“在12月喝起来美味的好酒,在7月也是如此”:一位是谢来喜酒馆(Gramercy Tavern)的葡萄酒总监朱丽叶·蒲伯(Juliette Pope);另一位是斑点猪(Spotted Pig)酒吧、布莱斯林(Breslin)餐吧和约翰小渔船牡蛎酒吧(John Dory Oyster Bar)的葡萄酒总监卡拉·热谢夫斯基(Carla Rzeszewski)。

Now, I love all sorts of Champagnes, but I especially treasure blanc de blancs, the finest, most delicate of all. Most Champagnes are blends of three grapes: pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, but blanc de blancs are made solely of chardonnay.

我喜爱所有的香槟酒,但是我特别珍爱“白中白”,它是所有香槟中最精致、最微妙的。大多数香槟是用三种葡萄混合制成的:加州皮诺黑葡萄(pinot noir),加州皮诺默尼耶葡萄(pinot meunier)和霞多丽葡萄(chardonnay),但是“白中白”是完全用霞多丽葡萄做成的。

At least they are almost all the time. The three main grapes account for just about all Champagnes, but, as most Champagne geeks know, the rules allow three other white grapes: pinot blanc, petit meslier and arbane. Very occasionally, I come across a blanc de blancs that incorporates small percentages of these grapes, too, along with chardonnay.

至少几乎是这样的。差不多所有香槟都是用这三种主要的葡萄做成的,但是,大多数香槟迷们都知道,规则也允许使用其他三种白葡萄:皮诺白葡萄、小梅利耶葡萄(petit meslier)和阿尔巴纳葡萄(arbane)。一个非常偶然的机会,我碰到了一种“白中白”葡萄酒,其成分除了霞多丽葡萄外,还有少量这些葡萄。

Our Champagnes were from the lower end of the price spectrum, which admittedly is not so low in the greater scheme of things. You rarely see good Champagne for less than $35 a bottle these days. Yet only three of the wines were above $60, and the most expensive topped out at $80, which effectively eliminated high-end vintage Champagnes.


Only four were vintage dated, and only one of those made our top 10, the 2005 Ruelle-Pertois Grand Cru, our No. 10 bottle. Nonetheless, we all considered this an excellent tasting.


Florence and Juliette were both surprised by the range of textures, from lean to rich and broad. Carla suggested that many consumers might find these Champagnes confusing, primarily because the dosage, a small amount of sweetened wine added to Champagne just before it is sealed, can vary greatly.


Producers use the dosage to balance out the wine’s acidity, which on its own can seem harsh. But it also serves a stylistic purpose, as more sweetness can soften austere wines.


“Dosage is a delicate thing,” Carla said, posing a sort of three bears scenario. “Too much, it’s top-heavy. Too little, it can be abrasive.”


We were seeking just right. Nine of our 10 favorites were bruts, which by definition may receive a dosage of up to 15 grams of sugar per liter. The remaining favorite, from Jacques Lassaigne, was an extra brut, meaning its dosage was 6 grams or under.

我们努力寻找最佳口感。我们最喜欢的10款香槟中有9款都是干型香槟;它的意思是,每公升最多含15克糖。剩下那一款是雅克·拉赛涅(Jacques Lassaigne),它属于极干型的香槟,意思是每公升含糖量在6克以下。

What stood out to me was how well balanced most of these Champagnes were. Few were too sweet or too harsh. I noticed most of all how the best of these Champagnes, like good Sancerre and Chablis, seemed transparent, with almost savory herbal and mineral flavors rather than the richer fruit tones that I often detect in Champagnes with pinot noir and pinot meunier.


Our No. 1 bottle, for example, the Delamotte nonvintage, was wonderfully elegant and fresh, with the sort of finesse and understated complexity I love in good blanc de blancs. Delamotte, incidentally, is the sibling producer of Salon, one of the greatest, and most expensive, blanc de blancs. Besserat de Bellefon, which produced our No. 2 bottle, has nowhere near the reputation of Delamotte, but this Champagne, with its lively texture, was surprisingly good.

比如,我们选出的第一名是未标明年份的德乐梦(Delamotte),非常优雅、新鲜,带有那种我特别喜欢的上等“白中白”香槟具有的细腻口感和低调的复杂度。德乐梦的生产者碰巧跟沙龙(Salon)香槟的生产者是兄弟企业,后者是最好、最贵的“白中白”香槟中的一种。贝塞特·德·贝勒丰(Besserat de Bellefon)是我们选出的第二名,它的名气跟德乐梦相比差得很远,但是这款香槟带有鲜活的口感,出人意料地好喝。

Among our top 10 were several very good smaller producers, like Pierre Moncuit, whose precise, chalky Grand Cru Brut was both our No. 3 wine and, at $43, our best value.

在我们的前10名中,有几款产自优秀的小型酿酒厂,比如皮埃尔·蒙库特(Pierre Moncuit),它精致的白垩口感特级庄园干型香槟在我们的榜单上排名第三,仅售43美元,是性价比最高的一款。

The No. 4 bottle, from Marc Hébrart, was very different from the Moncuit — riper, fuller and more fruity than any other bottle in our tasting — while our No. 6 bottle, from José Dhondt, long one of my favorite small producers, was more austere and fresh. The extra brut from Lassaigne, whose grapes come from Montgueux, far removed from the other producers, was likewise distinctive, very dry with a touch of caramel, not austere at all.

第四名来自马克·黑布哈特(Marc Hébrart),它跟蒙库特非常不同——更醇熟、更丰满,跟我们品尝的其他香槟相比,它的果味最浓。而我们选出的第六名来自乔斯·德豪特(José Dhondt),这是我一直以来非常喜欢的一个小型生产商;这款香槟口感更涩、更新鲜。来自拉塞尼(Lassaigne)的极干型香槟所用的葡萄来自蒙格村(Montgueux),与其他生产商的葡萄产地相隔甚远,所以它很独特,非常干,带有一点点焦糖味,一点也不涩。

Among the bigger houses we especially liked the complexity and finesse of the Billecart-Salmon, though it was the most expensive wine among our top 10.


Though we tasted 20 bottles, that really accounts for just a handful of the available Champagnes. Small producers like Larmandier-Bernier, Pierre Gimmonet, Agrapart, Guy Charlemagne, Aubry and Guy Larmandier are just a few of many who make excellent, reasonably priced blanc de blancs, while you could do a whole lot worse than the blanc de blancs from fine bigger producers like Louis Roederer, Deutz and Duval-Leroy.

虽然我们品尝了20瓶香槟,但那真的只占了现有香槟的一小部分。很多小型酿造商能够制造出口味极佳且价格合理的“白中白”香槟,比如Larmandier-Bernier,Pierre Gimmonet,Agrapart,Guy Charlemagne,Aubry和Guy Larmandier;当然像那些Louis Roederer, Deutz and Duval-Leroy之类的优秀大制造商生产的“白中白”香槟也还算不坏。

I should mention that one bottle in our tasting, the Prestige Brut from Franck Bonville, was tossed out because it was corked. It was a reminder that Champagne is more like other wines than we think, for better or worse.

有一点我得提一下,我们品尝的香槟中,有一瓶是享有盛誉的弗兰克·邦维尔(Franck Bonville)干型香槟,但是它被我们排除在外了,因为它带有木塞味。这再次提醒我们:不管是好是坏,香槟跟其他葡萄酒都没什么两样。

Tasting Report


Delamotte, $55, ***
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Great combination of finesse and complexity, with brisk, fresh flavors of minerals, herbs and chalk. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.)

精致与复杂的完美结合,带有清爽、新鲜的矿物质、草本和白垩味。(经销商:Vineyard Brands,亚拉巴马州伯明翰市)

Besserat de Bellefon, $56, ***
Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée des Moines NV
Savory mineral flavors with a rich, gripping texture. (Winesellers, Skokie, Ill.)

贝塞特·德·贝勒丰(Besserat de Bellefon),56美元,***



Pierre Moncuit, $43, ***
Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut NV
Chalky and herbal with fine, clear, lingering citrus and fruit flavors. (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.)

皮埃尔·蒙库特(Pierre Moncuit),43美元,***
白垩味、药草味,还带有精致、清新而持久的柑橘味和水果味。(经销商:Polaner Selections,纽约州芒特基斯科市[Mount Kisco])

Marc Hébrart, $46, ** ½
Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut NV
Ripe, fruity, with flavors of lemon, apples and plums. (Terry Theise Estate Selections/Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y.)

马克·黑布哈特(Marc Hébrart),46美元,** ½
醇熟,有果味,带有柠檬、苹果和李子的味道。(经销商:Terry Theise Estate Selections/ Michael Skurnik Wines,纽约州赛奥西特市[Syosset])

Billecart-Salmon, $80, ** ½
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Light, lacy, clear and pure with a fine texture and toasty, nutlike flavors. (T. Edward Wines, New York)

贝丽卡-沙蒙(Billecart-Salmon),80美元,** ½
清淡、精致、清澈、纯粹,口感极佳,带有烧烤和坚果味。(经销商:T. Edward Wines,纽约市)

José Dhondt, $50, ** ½
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Clean, fresh and refreshing with citrus, mineral and herbal flavors. (Becky Wasserman Selection/Pas Mal, Tenafly, N.J.)

乔斯·德豪特(José Dhondt),50美元,** ½
干净、新鲜、提神,带有柑橘、矿物质和药草味。(经销商:Becky Wasserman Selections/Pas Mal,新泽西州特纳夫莱市)

Jacques Lassaigne, $50, ** ½
Blanc de Blancs Les Vignes de Montgueux Extra Brut NV
Dry and earthy with flavors of minerals and herbs, and a touch of caramel. (Jenny & François Selections, New York)

雅克·拉赛涅(Jacques Lassaigne),50美元,** ½
非常干,朴实,带有矿物质和药草的味道,还有一点点焦糖味。(经销商:Jenny & François Selections,纽约市)

Ruinart, $70, **
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Taut and fine with fresh, chalky, spicy flavors. (Moët Hennessy, New York)


Demière-Ansiot, $57, **
Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru NV
Steely aromas, with spicy, herbal flavors and a touch of balancing sweetness. (Becky Wasserman Selection/Pas Mal)

强烈的芳香,带有辣味、药草味和一点点用来调和的甜味。(经销商:Becky Wasserman Selection/Pas Mal)

Ruelle-Pertois, $40, **
Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru 2005
Fresh, tangy and herbal with flavors of herbs and green apples. (Charles Neal Selections, Richmond, Calif.)

新鲜,刺激,带有药草味和青苹果的味道。(经销商:Charles Neal Selections,加州里士满)
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