March 3, 2007

Pommery POP, Reims, Champagne, France

Cat brought this bottle home a couple of weeks ago, but we only got around to trying it last evening. Normally, champagne would not last five seconds in our house... but this one made me hold off. Yeah, the bottle is cobalt blue and it says POP in huge letters right on the label. Yeah, this is the Champagne that is taking the night clubs of New York by storm and was "designed" to be sipped through a straw from petite little bottles. Uh, right. We didn't have any straws.

So the snob in me kept putting this bottle off. I figured it would be a sweet, over produced, mass consumption designed waste of our time. I figured this was another example of a storied French wine house marketing to the undeveloped tastes of moneyed twenty-somethings around the globe. I had it all figured out.

I was wrong. It was pretty damn good. Actually, it was great. The nose was yeasty and full of citrus. That is a good sign. There was some vanilla and apple in there too. It smelled terrific. The palate was crisp and dry with good structure. Definitely a Champagne to hold up to food (it's a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier... traditional Champagne varietals), it tasted of lemon and orange, a little cream soda... but only in the driest not-quite-sweet sort of way. The finish was long and yeasty. Both of us were really surprised. We love Champagne (who doesn't) and in the last year have tried a variety of those from known and unknown Champagne houses. We've loved Bollinger and Tattinger. We have a predisposition for Veuve Clicquot. There was a Salmon-Billecart that we really enjoyed, as well as a Laurent Perrier. All big names in Champagne. Pommery is no slouch, either, and POP lived up to the tradition of this house... which is to make really terrific and uniquely styled Champagne.

I had to learn more, and digging into the history of Pommery I found it to have a great story. Earlier we posted a review of Veuve Clicquot not so much to review the Champagne as to impart the story behind one of the most recognized and respected luxury Champagne brands. Actually, the first real Champagne "brand." All of that was due to the leadership of Madame Clicquot, the first female to direct a wine house of such prestige. Hot on her heals, though, was Jeanne Alexandrine Louis Pommery, the widow of Louis Alexandre Pommery who died only two years after taking possession of the winery. This was in 1858, and Madame Pommery took the helm of the winery with a vision. She moved the house away from still wine and focused on sparkling with the goal of creating a grande marque Champagne house. She did. She also acquired over 12 miles of underground chalk and limestone tunnels originally built by the Romans and connected them, creating an awesome network of underground cellars. Cool stuff.

So, this was a really pleasant surprise. That, and then there is the price. Non vintage Champagnes generally run in the $40-$60/bottle range. Veuve Clicquot is typically somewhere around $45. Not expensive, really, but definitely out of the range of frequent Champagne consumption... at least on our budget. POP can be found for around $30. That is a fantastic deal and an excellent value, at least in our now corrected opinion.

cost - $30.00

winecommando rating (1-10) - 9

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