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Monday, March 19, 2012

Champange Cognoscenti: Franck Pascal is Here!

"Attention, you have just crossed the doors of a vine grower not like the others…"

PJ Wine has got something special on their hands today:

For those lucky enough to have chased the Champagne dragon throughout France, you might have come across Franck's magical, mythical fizz. If you had the luck to try it, you'd remember it. You would also recall crying when you found out it was a Brigadoon of bubbles; the wines, it would seem, did not leave the guard-house of La Belle France.

Not until today that is. Franck's wines are now available in the States, although in painfully small quantities.

Pain is a fitting word for Pascal's production. 

The yields are painfully low: farmed from under four hectares of land in the Marne Valley--a sliver of terroir, rich in clay, sandstone, flint and limestone.

It's painfully chilly there; the pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay struggle to ripen and are loaded with teeth shattering acidity.

It's painfully difficult to work in Pascal's vineyard; there is a strict adherence to chemical-free farming, and cultivating an eco-system in the vineyard that requires everything--man, insect, grape--to be in perfect balance or risk total disaster.

But pain can be beautiful.

We [PJ Wine] stick our noses in a lot of bubbly over the course of a year, and no other champagne in recent memory has provided such a microscopic view/taste/experience of the Marne Valley--or really, just about anywhere--than what Pascal has achieved with his limited production wines.

He makes a number of cuvées, but today's offer is perhaps the clearest window into the House of Pascal. The Sagesse ($45is his zero dosage effort (no sugar added at disgorgement) and is as steely, vibrant, focused, and chiseled as any sparkling wine you are likely to come across. This is a serious champagne--one that would benefit from a little air, and is more appropriate for food pairings than as a simple apéritif (there are plenty of those to go around).

Some oysters would be divine, but any seafood dish would prove the depth of potential here.

We are glad our first taste of this wine came at a time when it was already available Stateside, and we didn't have to wait for the day when we could taste it again. Of course, with a production this small and this sought after, it's a problem we're likely to encounter anyway, and soon. --PJ Wine
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