The Wine of the Week: Jeeper
Great Story, Better Wine
Maison Jeeper was founded in 1949, just after World War II by Armand Gourtobe. M. Gourtobe came from a a family of high-quality Champagne producers. In the war, he was injured while rescuing some American soldiers. In recognition of his heroics, the US Army awarded him a Willys Jeep.
M. Gourtobe returned from the war disabled and with the new nickname “Jeeper Man”. His Jeep enabled him to get around his vineyards and continue his Champagne making legacy. The name Jeeper was given to the new wines in the late 1940s, in order to set his brand apart from other Gourtobe’s in the area.
In 2009 Jeeper was acquired by two other Champangnois winemakers, Nicolas and Miriam Dubois. In 2013 they partnered with Michel Reybier of Clos d’Estournel (a Grand Cru of Saint-Estèphe). Together, they are dedicated to natural processes in the vineyards and the winemaking. The 2014 vintage is their first release.
The unique bottle shape was designed by owner Nicolas Dubois. It is both visually impressive and functional – the narrow neck and rounded shoulders reduce the oxygen exchange during the aging process (just in case you are interested in putting a few down for the future!).
About this Wine
The Grande Cuvée Naturelle Extra Brut Champagne is unique, even to Maison Jeeper. This certified organic wine made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay is bottled with zero dosage (no added sugar) and no sulfites. The Chardonnay is aged in neutral oak before blending. On the nose, this wine initially smelled of ripe cantaloupe. This opened to include apples, brioche, and apricot. On the palate, the flavor of tart lemon, green apple, and lots of minerality and a faint hint of cherry on the finish. The mouthfeel is bone dry with an astringent finish. The mousse is lively and prickly. This is all the character of being extra dry without the dosage to round out the palate. This may strike some as a touch aggressive, and many as a refreshing clean sensation.
This is definitely a food wine, and a premium one at that. I liked it even more with some salty Jamon Serano and homemade crispy flatbread. Jeeper Grande Cuvée Naturelle is a perfect pairing for oysters or caviar, of course. If you throw in a side of perfectly prepared french fries and some rich tangy béarnaise sauce, you have my dream meal! Keep the food simple and of the highest quality, and you may be thrilled with the elegance, simplicity and deliciousness.
At somewhere between $70-110/bottle retail (depending on your location), this is quite a splurge for most of us. Is it worth it? In short, absolutely yes… especially if you are looking for something unique, organic, natural, and without sulfites. Add that it is beautifully designed and something none of your friends are likely to know (so you can share the fun story and be the cool kid with the exceptional wine sense).
Maison Jeeper also produces a rosé, a blanc de blanc, and an earthy blend named Grand Assemblage Brut. They have two other wines in the works, both with significantly more age, and equally delicious I’m sure!
My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!
Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com
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