2004 Michel Gonet Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Prestige, Grand Cru, France ($84)
Just look at the calendar today: the new month starts with “D.” You know what that means: it’s bubbly season! I love December! It means you have a trial run of 30 days to test and gather what you plan to pop on the very important evening of Dec. 31!
Before you decide, I would love you to try my leading bubbly, from one of my top imports, the venerated Champagne house of Michel Gonet. And, later, I’d love it to ring you in to 2015!
When you factor in the value, I think you’ll be as excited as I was last holiday season, looking over the wine list at caviar specialist Restaurant Petrossian in New York. We were selecting good Champagne to go with the sturgeon roe, and turned to the tête de cuvée (or “top-of-the-line”) part of the menu. Yeah, all the biggies were there, at $300-$400 a bottle, and more. But there sat the Michel Gonet Prestige on the same list, in the same section…at $150 a bottle! (If you buy it today for delivery, of course, it costs even much less than that!) No wonder Wine & Spirits magazine made it a top value of 2013!
Why the dramatically lower price? Because “Michel Gonet” is not a household word! The estate was started in deep history, as many of the best estates were (1802), and it was a big brand in the U.S. for many years. But the patriarch of the family, named “Michel Gonet,” had an argument with his American importer around 1970. Et puis, voilá! No more Michel Gonet in the U.S.! For over 40 years!
Until 2013…when I lunched with the elegant, playful, thoroughly Gallic Michel Gonet over superb andouillettes, in the southern Champagne countryside. I knew it had gone well when he said: “I can work with you.” Merci, Michel! (I think it was my enthusiasm for the tripe sausages that did it.) And now, once again, there is exquisite Michel Gonet flowing in the U.S.
Their top wines, the ones I import, are all Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay), harvested from vineyards rated by the government as 100%. This is a rare thing. Even rarer: the vineyards are around the winery in Avize, the superstar village from the Côtes des Blancs, and its next-door neighbor Mesnil-sur-Oger—the SUPERNOVA village next store (home to some of Champagne’s most mind-blowingly expensive wines).
These Gonet Blancs de Blancs are always focused on complex tertiary flavors, not on simple young fruit. They always feature beautiful acid, to make your Champagne as refreshing as it can be. AND…they are believers in low dosage …which means that the wines are dry, very dry, great for all kinds of Champagne foods.
The 2004 Prestige (from a top vintage), is richer than the other Gonets, with more power and a sumptuous mousse. Sheer luxury and elegance. The nose develops towards aromas of honey, white blossoms, and quince. If you’re looking to impress, at an absurdly reasonable price for quality of this kind, this is a magnificent dinner-party-opener. Let the caviar roll, as well as salty or fried num-nums. But it is also a Champagne for serious richer dishes, such as classic sole in cream sauce.