As you could probably guess by now, one of the things I enjoy most about my ‘job’ is sitting down and talking to producers about their wines, their vision, and Champagne in general. I have been granted countless and amazing opportunities in which I have witnessed firsthand the intensity and passion for their labor of love, and for this I am thankful. I also appreciate their insight to the world of wine critics, marketing, and promotion, which is always fascinating to hear from their perspective. In short, I love visiting Champagne and the makers of Champagne.
But the most striking and repeated response that I garner once I visit a Champagne producer is flat-out surprise. Surprise that I rarely ask for samples, surprise that I don’t ask the producer to open up his/her oldest or rarest bottles, and surprise that I don’t make a general nuisance of myself by constantly visiting or requesting visits when there is nothing new to taste or discuss. I admit that it took me a while to wrap my head around these remarks the first few times I heard them. They didn’t quite sink in. After years of hearing them repeatedly, at different locations with different producers, I finally began to ask, “What do you mean?” Part of me was wondering if I was
supposed to be asking for cases of samples and if I was supposed to demand that early twentieth-century corks
Was I doing
offending the Champenois?
Since the start of my love affair with Champagne I have always been happy to purchase any bottle I wish to taste from the marketplace. If I want to review I wine, I buy it. Certainly, if the opportunity arises to taste a Champagne from the cellar of a generous a producer, then that is fine and well, but there isn’t enough time in the day to visit everyone and taste everything out there. And if someone wants to send me samples then great, but I don’t normally go asking for specific wines or certain disgorgements. (The extent of my request for samples is written on the last page of this issue: samples are welcome, but not expected.) Certainly, there have been times when I have asked to try a specific wine from a producer, but, whenever possible, and based on time and location, I try my best to taste the wine either with the producer himself or at the very least I share the bottle with others appreciative of the wine, including others in the industry. I also always offer to pay for any requested samples.
Special Web Sample Edition - October 2010