French Wines: Françoise Bedel Entre Ciel et Terre Brut Champagne
What French wines best describes you? For me, it’s champagne. It’s not that I have such a sparkling, bubbly personality; rather, I’m always ready to celebrate any occasion but typically disappear before the evening ends. My days of dancing until the wee hours have long gone, especially as my clubbing heels have given way to vineyard boots.
In a previous column, I had described my so-called dating life in terms of wine: some paramours were aggressively forward and could have used a few more years of maturing; others were pleasant but lacked complexity (read: dull). The most recent object of my affection was tough and tannic around the edges, but hedonistic at his core. Drawn in by his complexity, the finish was ultimately bitter.
The woman behind this month’s wine, Françoise Bedel, owes much to one man in her life: her son, Vincent. Sickly as a child, Vincent did not respond well to traditional medical treatments. Instead, Françoise turned to homeopathic remedies, and Vincent began to thrive. As the third-generation owner of vineyards and a domaine in western Champagne—only 50 miles from Paris—Françoise wondered if she could apply the same natural philosophy to her viticultural practices and stop using pesticides and chemicals. Introduced to a group of farmers practicing biodynamics in 1996, Françoise began converting her vineyards in 1998, becoming certified biodynamic in 1999.
Biodynamics goes beyond organic farming, incorporating elements of cosmology and ethics to create a sustainable ecosystem. Planting is based on the lunar calendar, and soil treatments include burying cow horns with a mixture of powdered quartz and manure throughout the vineyard. Just as her son responded well to homeopathic treatments, Françoise says, the ensuing change in the health of her vineyard was indisputable.
Whether or not you’re a believer in farming by the cosmos, her champagnes are indisputably gorgeous. This month’s wine, the aptly named Entre Ciel et Terre Brut Champagne, is pure elegance and sexiness in a glass. In accordance with the blend in Françoise’s vineyard, which is heavily planted to pinot meunier, the Entre Ciel et Terre can be 100 percent pinot meunier in some vintages, a grape typically used for blending.
The flavors are of lemon, pear, toasted brioche and ginger, with a saline finish that kept me coming back for more. Just what did she bury in that cow horn—crack? White cheddar cheese popcorn? This is the Pringles of wine: no one can drink just one glass. Pair it with a triple-cream cheese or a buttery pasta dish, as the brut champagne will cut through the decadence. Seafood is always a perfect marriage, whether raw oysters or a salmon mousse.
Although the Entre Ciel et Terre is a bit pricier than most wines for this column, ringing in at around $75 per bottle, why don’t you raise a glass to yourself to celebrate 2014? Heaven and earth decree: you’re worth it.