From my recent adventures in France I mentioned wandering my way into Antic Wine shop in Lyon. It’s a wonderful place, a sort of mecca for wine lovers from outside Europe. At least, if like me, it just feels good to be near bottles of wine of that quality. (One of my early experiences in a really mind blowing wine cellar I remember the strange restorative comfort I took just from standing near irreplaceable bottles even if I was unlikely to taste them. I have also long had a strange sort of empathetic encounter where if I turn my attention to another person or a thing in a certain way I’ll get taste-flashes of what that person is tasting, or taste what a thing is like. So, to stand near amazing bottles sometimes feels as though I am experiencing the wine even when it hasn’t literally been opened and poured for me.)
Quite quickly into my multi-hour visit with Georges at Antic it was clear our wine interests overlapped enough and that I respected his palate enough that I would readily take his advice on wine. So, when he found out I love Champagne and had tuned into the kind of wine I like he recommended I buy this bottle of Rémi Leroy Blanc de blancs, and I immediately did.
Getting the bottle back home I was torn. I could feel through the glass the kind of wine it would be. To truly enjoy it all I wanted to do was stay home, drink it on my own, and fall asleep in low light wearing a silk negligee – I just knew it was going to have that sort of silken, delicate, ethereal-with-substance sort of feel to it that can only be captured by such an experience. But as a wine lover in a community of wine lovers it is also important to share unique wines with people that can appreciate it and so too can understand its importance. So, I brought the bottle with me on a recent trip to Canada and drank it with friends on Vancouver Island while visiting them all in Victoria.
The Remi Leroy Blanc de blancs grows, uniquely, in the Côte des Bars of Aube. The area is predominately planted to Pinot Noir, but it is also full of Kimmeridgean soils, which many believe are better suited to Chardonnay. So, some brave souls have risked planting the white grape even as it grows surrounded by the red. Leroy is one. He farms organically, with a focus on cover crops to encourage the health of the soils and then takes a more minimalist approach in the cellar while keeping the focus on clean, stable cuvées at the same time. It would be ridiculous to call a methode traditionelle wine program anything like natural or non-interventionist, as so many steps are integral to just making sparkling wine, but Leroy aims to reduce cellar techniques or inputs that would otherwise be unnecessary. It’s a kind of balance I admire.
So, what of the wine itself?
It is unbelievably beautiful. My original sense of falling asleep in low light, perhaps candles, in a silk negligee captured the feel of the wine. It’s a slower paced, end of the day sort of wine. That softened glow one gets from candles with their flickering light cast across the walls and ceiling resembles the mouthfeel and presence of this wine on the palate.
Candle light, without doubt, has a delicate nature to it but at the same time the mood it casts is powerful. It can change the feel of an entire day, regardless of how things have gone. There is intimacy to it and a calm, sensual openness. Candle light in its qualities resembles the feel of silk used for negligees or nightgowns – soft and smooth, while thin and satiny, exactly what we mean when we use the word silken. It is light, delicate, sensual, and, again, carries its own unique mood.
The Remi Leroy 2009 Blanc de blancs sits in the center of this family of feeling.
If I was to turn to regular tasting notes I’d have to admit in a strange way I don’t remember its flavors – they were chalky and pale yellow, high tone ethereal notes, without being shrill, like what one would hear at high voice from a choir singing in a well-tuned cathedral – the wine was so much more about its texture, mouthfeel, and mood. It’s finish was long.
When I bought the wine from Antic, there were few bottles left of this 2009, it turned out, and it doesn’t get exported from France. The Remi Leroy brut does make it to the United States, for those wanting to try some of the Leroy wines, but I confess I haven’t had it yet. Based on the Blanc de blancs I would be shocked if it isn’t wonderful and I intend to taste it as soon as I can.
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