The Wine of the Week
by Annette Tomei
NV, Tendil & Lombardi, Pinot Noir (Blanc de Noir) Champagne, France
Champagne – much has been written about the romance surrounding it. Even the history of Champagne’s magic, ‘those tiny bubbles’, relate to its terroir. Historically, Champagne’s cool climate and early winters are credited with the bright acidity in the fruit and the natural yeasts taking a long winter’s nap before reawakening in the spring to finish the job of secondary fermentation in bottle resulting in those precious bubbles.
Over the past decade or so, Champagne has seen a rise in small, artisanal-style producers who focus more on flavors of the terroir, as opposed to vigilantly maintained house styles. Tendil et Lombardi was formed in 2007 by childhood friends, Laurent Tendil and Stefane Lombardi. Their grapes come from the Aube region in the Côtes des Bars. Unlike most producers, they have chosen to make single-grape wines from the two preeminent grapes of the region, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They also produce a saignée-style rosé (uncommon in Champagne where rosé is colored from blending). Their first release was in 2011 and the wines have already achieved critical acclaim.
Wines from the Côtes des Bars are known for their complexity and strong character. The Tendil et Lombardi Blanc de Noir certainly fits that bill. The bubbles are fine and persistent in the glass, smooth and rich on the palate. Straw-gold color, with aromas of buttery brioche and quince, evolving to an earthiness reminiscent of good blue cheese. The palate is exquisitely complex – aniseed, tangerine, balsamic drizzled wild strawberries – a long lush, layered finish. This is not a fruity wine – it’s deliciously earthy and savory. This wine is up for the task pairing with rich, fatty, flavorful, even gamey foods: grape leaf-wrapped grilled sardines, foie gras or other classic patés, seared duck or crispy sweetbreads with wild mushroom duxelles; or even lardo pizza.
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