Brilliant pale salmon, with gorgeous aromas of strawberries and red cherries, infused with spice and stone minerality.
His name is Aldo Sohm. He’s the wine director at Maguy Le Coze’s gastronomic palace, Le Bernardin, on West 51st Street. You may have seen Aldo on the “Today” show or the CBS “Early Show,” or heard him on Martha Stewart Radio’s “Winesday.” To say the least, when it comes to food and wine pairings, when Sohm speaks, gastronomes listen.
In 2006, Sohm was named “Best Sommelier in New York.” Two years later, he walked off with “Best Sommelier in the World” honors. For those of us who know the acuity of Sohm’s palate and the laser-like precision of his selections, neither award came as much of a surprise.
Occasionally, despite the deepest and most carefully managed selection of Premier and Grand Cru Burgundy in the country, Sohm can’t help but toss in an eclectic curveball. Such was the case last week on West 51st Street, when Le Meilleur Sommelier du Monde introduced us to the story of Fabrice Gasnier’s stunning “La Cravantine,” a crystalline, artisanal retort to Champagne Rosé.
In 1999, Gasnier sought out Jacques Mell, a Champenois consultant who was crisscrossing France, ferreting out adventurous young winegrowers willing to experiment with the rigorous protocol of biodynamic farming. Just a half hour after Fabrice met Mell, he plunked down $2,000 and scheduled a half-day lesson en biodynamie.
We learned all this on a recent visit to Fabrice's family home among the vines in the "Chezelet" lieu-dit. As we sipped just-bottled “La Cravantine” from crystal Zalto flutes in the family dining room in Cravant-les-Coteaux, Fabrice continued: “In the ‘80s and ‘90s, we had a number of cold, wet growing seasons. Everyone in the appellation was obliged to make multiple passes through the vines, spraying fungicides and pesticides liberally in an effort to fend off mildew and disease. Jacques promised that if I adopted biodynamie, not only would I never spray another drop of poison on my Cabernet Franc, but that the root structure of even the oldest vines on the estate, planted by my grandfather just after the war, would be rejuvenated, and would quickly plunge deeper into the substrata.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Gasnier proceeded cautiously, slowly experimenting with natural potions, in many ways re-introducing himself to his vines. By the spring of 2006, he had converted the entire estate into a biodynamic oasis. The very next year, all that hard work paid surprising dividends. Without spraying an ounce of herbicide, Fabrice’s Cabernet Franc vines remained perfectly healthy in the difficult 2007 vintage. As Mell had suggested, the call to harvest came early. In a year that proved problematic for many in Chinon, Gasnier’s fruit was clean, pure, and sweet, while retaining stunning acidity.
The following spring, Fabrice told us, he decided to put Mell’s promise to the test. In the spring of 2006, Gasnier had dug a cross-cut next to a row planted by his grandfather in the 1950s to eyeball the root structure. Two years later, in the spring of 2008, Gasnier dug again. “My grandfather would have been smiling ear to ear. The old roots had not only been revived,” Fabrice said, “they’d burrowed an additional meter and one-half into the substrata!”
Fabrice Gasnier’s Chinon “Vieilles Vignes” is consistently one of the richest and boldest Cabernet Francs of the region. But even more astonishing is the winegrower’s sparkling Rosé, drawn off just two tiny 40-year old biodynamically farmed parcels, each planted on clayey soils strewn with chunks of bleached limestone, much like the red-grape Champagne hillsides on the outskirts of Reims.
The 2014 rendering of “La Cravantine” was harvested on September 22nd, two weeks before the rest of the Cabernet Franc on the estate. Berries were large and thick-skinned, mimicking the size and makeup of Champagne’s Pinot Noir. The berries are pressed gently and the juice — crystalline clear and infused with a very slight salmon tint — is held at low temperatures overnight. After traditional Méthode Champenois vinification, Gasnier bottled just 1,500 cases of “La Cravantine” in the spring of 2016.
Today, the bubbles are tiny, boasting superb persistence and intensity. Brilliant pale salmon, with gorgeous aromas of strawberries and red cherries, infused with spice and stone minerality. Juicy on the attack, kissed by sweetness (just 3 grams per liter of residual sugar). Acids are piercing. Fine-grained tannins provide tension and added nerve, making for this exquisite Méthode Champenoise Rosé that piqued the palate of even le Meilleur Sommelier du Monde, Aldo Solm of Le Bernardin.
$64/bottle or $16/glass at Aldo’s Wine Bar on West 51st Street. Just $19/bottle today for the Best Sommelier in the World’s bargain retort to Champagne Rosé. 600 bottles.
Outstanding light rose - should have bought more!
Loved this wine - lived up to the WA description in spades. Would love to have more opportunities to purchase again!
I've never thought much of "pink champagne," but the description from Wine Access of this one was very appealing, and it lives up to the praise - and beyond. I wish I'd ordered three cases! Beautiful color and a delightful palate pleaser, perfect for anything from a casual picnic to an important celebratory occasion. The price was a steal (typical for our favorite merchant!).
We noticed that the credit card number you entered matches one of your saved credit cards. We’ve updated your saved card with the new information.