My memories of trips to France conjure up delicious bouillabaisse from a hole-in-the-wall bistro in a hidden alley in Nice, croque monsieur from a street vendor in Paris, and champagne sipping at any of the outstanding champagne houses in Cramant and Epernay.
The Diebolt family has lived in Cramant since the end of the 19th century; the Vallois family has been cultivating vines in Cuis since the 15th century. So it was a natural union when Jacque Diebolt and Nadia Vallois united and founded the Diebolt-Vallois champagne house in a village in the Côte des Blancs, whose chalky soil makes for happy Chardonnay vines. Their children, Guillaume, Isabelle and Arnaud help run the 26-acre estate, which also includes plots in Epernay and Chouilly. The vineyards are managed using traditional methods; hand picking grapes from each plot separately, then vinified apart.
The blanc de blanc is a true French brut champagne, and 100% chardonnay. Only the juice from the first pressing (cuveés) are kept for all the blanc de blancs. Fermentation is either carried out in thermostatically controlled vats or in wooden barrels. After bottling, the wines carry out their malolactic fermentation and develop their mousse in cellars hewn from Cramant chalk. It is there where they age several years before being disgorged.
This green label Champagne has been a consistent standout in its price category for its terrifically racy chalky character. Wine Spectator gave it 91 points. We love it for its bright acidity, lip smacking flavors of orange sorbet and lemon, with a hint of graphite on the long finish. Drink it as an aperitif or at the beginning of any meal.
Find it at Teller Wines under Luscious & Complex for only $39.99.