bubbly ("vin mousseux") -- for a $5 closeout tipple, delightful
The fine print is almost as mysterious as that on any Italian label: "Elaboré par V.cl. à F21200," it says, "423 France -- brut -- bottled by Veuve Ambal F21200 -- Montagny-les-Beaune." We'll try to decipher it.
Once we see the word Beaune we know we are in Burgundy, home of pinot noir and chardonnay. In spotting Veuve Ambal, we at least recognize a company name -- the nice English words "bottled by" are a huge help -- resembling those of other French producers, including for instance that very great Champagne house, Veuve Clicquot (veuve means widow). Our Pierre Delize is a vin mousseux ("frothy") because though it may froth and sparkle, its origins lie outside Champagne; therefore it may not call itself by that magic word. Blanc de blancs, white from white, tells us that it was made entirely from white grapes
Having deciphered a few basics we may go on to gloat that, with this sale-bin treasure, we inadvertently delve into a whole world of French sparkling wines, or perhaps we could say un-Champagnes. There are three styles made all over the country. The bubbliest are mousseux -- Champagne is itself a mousseux -- the next bubbliest are crémant, having about half the pressure in the bottle as mousseux, and the least bubbly, pétillant, frizzante, or "crackling." Since sparkling wines are made everywhere, these category descriptors can be a part of Appellation Controlée designations which we usually associate with a place. For example, crémant is part of the official AC designations Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, and Crémant de Loire. Note that our Pierre Delize is not a Crémant de Bourgogne, even though it is from Beaune, because its fizz level classifies it mousseux instead.
Anyway it is most tasty. Do check the sale bins. If you don't finish the bottle before it goes flat, remember your French culinary history, as taught by Madeleine Kamman in The New Making of a Cook: use it up in soup. "It is believed," she says, "that onion soup was created by the French king Louis XV from a bottle of flat Champagne and a few onions on an occasion when he came back famished from a joyous night in eighteenth-century Paris." Delightful.