By Monica Angeli
Every month, the Ristorante Tre Cristi Milano wine expert introduces us to one of her favourite bottles of the moment, allowing us to discover the people, wineries, local areas and influences at the heart of this ancient art form, where the wonder of nature meets human brilliance.
ORIGIN’ELLE, Françoise BEDEL – CROUTTES-SUR-MARNE (FR)
Do you remember when in our youth, we used to longingly wait for June? The end of the school, the knowledge of being about to spend the next three months away from the classroom, roaming the streets to play with friends or going to the beach, laughing and sprinkling some water on grandma… going to sleep later, chasing lizards on the cobblestones in the countryside under the blazing sun. I liked it even when I had to go to my father’s business: I would sit behind the desk and help him as well as I could, I would pretend to be an adult on his big chair and I loved when the customers would remark that I was just like him.
Then one day the magic comes to an end. We still wake up at 7, we do our daily routine: bathroom, getting dressed, coffee, shoes, work. Well, that’s life, you might say. But let me tell you what we can do: once we get to the end of the day, tired, flushed and thirsty, we need to cool ourselves down! A good shower first, and then, let’s have a toast: growing up isn’t that bad after all, if it allows you to keep a good bottle of Champagne in the fridge!
I wish to share with you a pleasant discovery that happened in Crouttes sur Marne, one of the very first towns you will find yourself in, if you follow the path of Champagne. Ever since 1979, here a wonderful woman named Françoise Bedel has been leading a business bearing the same name to make Champagne, of the kind with the capital “C”. Following an entirely biodynamic methodology certified since 2006, Françoise cultivates her passion for the Pinot Meunier with unbelievable dedication and character, giving the land (of clay, marl and limestone) a way to express itself while following meticulously Maria Thun’s lunar calendar for tending the vineyards, sampling the grapes, harvesting, pressing, re-fermentation and bottling. Six of the eight hectares of land belonging to the maison are planted with pinot meunier vines, the other two being equally divided between chardonnay and pinot noir; they are all tended directly by the company, from vineyard to bottle.
Given all this, I can now present you Origin’elle, the emblem of the company and its very identity put into a bottle (75% pinot meunier, 15% chardonnay and 10% pinot noir). Now let’s uncork the bottle: as soon as we pour it into the glass, a determined, crackling fragrance assails our senses, almost distracting us from the shining gold colour and the perlage, which is plentiful and persistent, if extremely fine. To the nose it reveals a wonderfully complex opening… it reminds me of Dad when he used to crack walnuts open with his hands, spreading that subtle fragrance of dried fruit in the air. Then a mature berry, the skin of a juicy apricot, the vertical taste given by the yeast (upon which it rests for 3 years). It is pleasantly rounded on the palate, the bubbles tickle without overwhelming and they give room to the wonderful, thirst-quenching freshness that is typical of the Meunier.
We could go on, but the bottle is already finished. I’ll leave you then to your summer evening, tired but happy, with the final gift of Madame Bollinger’s words: “I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone, but when I’m with guests I consider it mandatory. I have fun with it when I’m not hungry, and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I don’t touch it, unless I’m thirsty!”.