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Wine Review #5:
Patrick Bottex, Bugey-Cerdon AOC, “La Cueille”
Méthode Ancestral

Tasted at: Sepia Restaurant
Chicago, IL
May 4th, 2018

8.0% Alcohol
Gamay(80%) and Poulsard (20%)
Uses the “Methode Ancestral” (see write-up below)
Natural Fermentation
Kermit Lynch Importer/Merchant

Medium(-) Intensity
Pink (Rosé)

Medium(+) Intensity
Fruit, Floral, “Bready”

Medium(+) Acidity
Low Alcohol
Medium Body
Medium Flavor Intensity
Medium(+) Length

Green Apple
Strawberry Jam

Very gamy-like with plenty of fizz.  This sparkling wine and its carbon dioxide, bubbly outpouring overwhelms the flavors.  The flavors just do not come through as one would hope.  Yes, you can taste some red fruit flavor traditional to the gamay grape, but there is very little intensity. I wish there was more balance and complexity.  That said, it was enjoyable as a desert wine and was more structured than some sparkling wines and rosés I’ve tasted.   A major wine importer / merchant says:

“Bugey is one of the best-kept secrets of France. As a geographical crossroads between the Savoie, the Jura, Burgundy, and the Rhône, it is one of the few regions where one can see both palm trees and snow within eyeshot. It is adjacent to the Savoie on its western side, located in between Lyon, Grenoble, and Geneva. The wines of Bugey were first cultivated here by the Romans and were later resuscitated by the medieval monks. Still, the region had to wait until 2009 before receiving its own A.O.C. status. Today, Cerdon is considered one of three crus within the appellation of Bugey, and the only one whose entire production consists of sparkling wine.

In La Cueille, one of seven high-altitude hamlets surrounding the historic medieval town of Ponsin, Patrick and Catherine Bottex are farming the limestone slopes above the Ain River. They have been working five hectares of land since 1991 and produce only a small quantity of their beautiful, intriguing sparkling wine. As a former part of the Duchy of Burgundy, it stands to reason that several Burgundian grape varietals have found a home here—not the least of which is Gamay. The Bottex’s blend consists of ninety percent Gamay and ten percent of the native Poulsard. They bottle this low-alcohol wine using the méthode ancestrale, a rare technique that experts believe predates the méthode champenoise. The wine first goes through a primary fermentation in cuve, but is then bottled before all of the residual sugar has converted to alcohol. After going through a secondary fermentation in the bottle for at least two months, the wine is ready—Champagne’s dosage is not permitted! The resulting wine is delightfully refreshing with bright fruit, a beautiful rosé hue, and a touch of sweetness.

Kermit had never heard of Bugey until Marcel Lapierre uncorked a beauty at one of his after-tasting parties. His best memory of drinking it, however, was from an ice chest at a hamburger barbecue on a beach in Hawaii. From Bugey to Waimanolo!” lists the wine at an average price of $23.  The average critic score was 87/100.  I gave it an 84/100.  After adjusting for price, my price adjusted score came in at 81.

Wine Rating: 84

Price Adjusted Rating: 81

Note: My goal is to provide characteristics of the wine and not to sway a wine drinker from trying any wine – even those that I rate at a lower score.  My rating is just that – MY rating.  I base the rating on 5 characteristics: balance, length, intensity, complexity and expressiveness.  I am independent in my evaluation of every wine.  Ultimately, my wine rating scale is the same scale used by Robert Parker whereby:

96-100 Extraordinary
90-95 Outstanding
80-89 Above Average to Excellent
70-79 Average
60-69 Below Average
< 59 Appalling

I also provide a price adjusted rating.  This rating takes into account the quality of the wine (per my rating) and the average price consumers are paying for a standard 750ml bottle of wine.