The wines we remember most involve a special cast of characters, circumstances and wildcards. This particular bottle of Bouzy Rouge came into my life when an inspired designer/family member, Joe Schrader, noticed I was enthralled with his Wolf oven while on vacation with Peter in Edina, MN.
Even without the comfort of my home kitchen tools (Thermapen, cast iron skillet and such), it quickly became clear that the gustatory potential of Joe's kitchen was limitless. I decided that Wolf oven was the best way to thank Joe for his hospitality . . . every day.
Surprised by my frenetic activity in his kitchen, Joe brought out a worn recipe book and pointed to a page featuring a family favorite: roast chicken flambé. I pulled the book from his hand, updated the recipe, and got started. Joe ran out to the wine shop to get "something special" to go with the meal.
With a name like Bouzy Rouge de Margerie, the bottle held Joe, Peter and me at rapt attention. Joe and I lit the chicken afire and served it and we all took our seats at the table. Joe poured the Bouzy Rouge and we each inspected the label. This mystery wine was from the Champagne region but it did not sport the usual Champagne cork and cage. What was going on?
The wine was a clear, sexy shade of garnet, indicating some age and/or oxidation. Visual and mouthfeel inspection indicated no petillance/bubbles whatsoever. On the palate, we got baked red fruit and earthy complexity inlaid with medium tannins and a long finish that set the tone for a very special dinner,
This was a still red wine from Champagne country, a Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. Champagne expert Peter Liem sites Bouzy as having one of the region's greatest terroirs. And Joe's choice of a wine produced in one of Champagne's warmest climates seemed the perfect match for a chicken that had been doused with brandy and Port wines, then lit afire. The Boozy Rouge was rich, fruity and complex, a gift from the village's South-facing vineyards on the Montagne de Reims.
Bouzy Rouge is a highly celebrated cult wine which is only produced in this village and makes a great party wine. A number of rosé Champagnes are made with Bouzy Rouge as the base wine. Though this wine can be elusive in U.S. wineshops, a search for my new White Whale is worth the effort.
If you get the chance to visit Champagne, make it a point to party in Bouzy. Or, you can run out, like Joe did, and find your own surprising gem at a wineshop when looking for "something special." Pro tip: Start by finding a friend or family member with a hot oven and take it from there.