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The Champagne Bliss
by Maury Feren


I don't know how many years ago I came across Pouilly Fuisse a popular French wine (high end) the first time. It wasn't until my late years in my 60's-70's- 80's that I became a Wine Sommelier.

I graduated from the Society of Wine Educators at that time. I cannot specific the exact year. I went on to teach wine courses at John Carroll's Continuing Education program at night. I taught for 13 years at the annual homecomings. Each one of these homecomings could have been a story in itself.

One thing I learned is that each year my pupils had gathered up more knowledge and the wine I chose had to be better and better. They were wonderful times. My wife Bess always made sure that we had a nice selection of crackers and cheese for the classes and the tasting. They helped make for some truly fun evenings.

There were a few moments that I will always remember. There was one night that I opened a bottle of champagne for the finale and it blow up to the ceiling spritzing all over the place. I always chose Rose champagne for the effect and it also worked well for me.

There is no way to replace Moet and Chandon, Perrier and Louis Roederer and the other big names. But pink Rose has its place. Another way I was able to bring more attention to my selection. I would always finish off my lecture with Rose champagne and fresh strawberries.

Spain entered the sparkling wine picture about that time. Cordo Negro hit the market big along with Frexinet which was done in the original French Champagne method and priced below any French champagne of note. It dominated the lower end of the sparkling wine market.

It is fascinating to note that American wines had not yet come on the scene. They were available by had not received any attention at that point. As it turned out. They moved to the forefront and took over the popular voting in the market. I gave many wine tastings at that time concentrating only on the Europe wines. Some Americans liked Christian Brothers which who had begun making a name for themselves at this time.

Recently I saw a story in the New York Times about Pouilly Fuisse and it brought it all together. Cote De Beaune, Cot De Nuit are the pride of Burgundy wines. This is the reason why. You may hear the word Terroir when you read about the French wines of importance. This is interrupted that a great wine cannot be produced except as a magical combination of climate, geography and history. Climate defines the unique characteristic of the Burgundy region. The Climats are demarcated plots whose boarders are believed to have been mapped out by Cistorcian Monks beginning in the 4th century. Each Climat has its own history and identity with diverse soils, fossils, rock formations and minerals. They all use the same Pinot Noir grape but the wines they produce very widely.

Here is an interesting point that you won't hear many wine producers talking about it. Every little Hector in France will vary with each section producing different tastings and different quality wines. So the wine becomes a product of the skill of the wine maker and the Climat varying in taste and body because of this difference.

Turn over and come to Napa Valley in California where all of the land will be of one piece with no difference to one end to another. Every one of the top brands will be represented there Moet and Chandon to Louis, Roderer. However, it will be the wine maker's skill that will put the wine in the top category. It's a whole different process but one that has paid off big for the American producers. Nobody has been able to produce a wine to compare to the French Chablis. It's a wine you'll always remember if you never tasted French Burgundy.

Going back to my original story about Pouilly Fuisse is a prime example. It was my first job as a public relations person in a corporate situation. I was invited to New York to a meeting of some kind with monetary interest for both parties. My host ordered a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse which at that time was considered Creme De La Crème.

I knew it was something special and I saw the bill - $25 which in 1970 could have been a $100 in today's dollars. A funny thing Pouilly Fuisse had disappeared from the scene for one reason or another it lost its charm. Most of the shipments never hit the mark and up to this day I have not heard much about them. However, it is still produced in its famous Burgundy area so we may yet feel its presence.

French champagne still rests on its past laurels. The recognition of its high marking like the Rothschild wines, Dom Perigon, White Star pink champagne, Piper Heinseck, and Bollinger Blanc De Noir. A 1928 Krug sold for 25,000 a case. In the interim Spain crept in offering some great buys at prices no one expected. Chile became a big factor in the wine industry in the 70's. Using the same popular varieties as the USA they dominated the scene not only because of price but they also met the standard of that day.

Argentina moved in; in the 90's with Malbec taking a good piece of the market. Wines from all over the world compete today for their share. But American wines still maintain their position as one of the best. The magazine Wine Spectators has been a great force in recognizing these fine quality wines so relevant and important.

Wine information is from the New York Times.







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