There may be people who think fine wine can’t come from a co-op but those people haven’t visited the right co-ops. A wine co-op is a partnership of growers who pool their resources to have better production facilities and equipment and more skilled winemakers than they could afford if they were working independently. Like any other wine producing venture, a co-op is as good (or bad) as its owners (its members) want it to be. If the members are both good farmers working on good terroir and care enough to devote resources to good equipment, hire good people, and hold high standards, the wines from a co-op can be among the best wines of an appellation. The Co-opérative Régionale des Vins de Champagne (CRVC) is such a co-op. Castelnau is the label under which this top co-op sells their best wines. The Castelnau Champagnes offer a particular value as there is no marketing hype (budget) built into the price. You are just paying for the Champagne and it is very good Champagne indeed.
CASTELNAU Brut Reserve, Champagne, NV ($36.99)
This fully sparkling, methode champenoise, blend of 43% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir (including 15% reserve wines for richness and complexity), aged almost 7 years on the yeasts (en tirage) in cold cellars and dosed to 8 grams-of-sugar-per-liter (true brut) stuns with its depth and richness. Pale gold straw in color, dry and in a fresh balance with just a hint of phenolic content. Richer toasty-biscuity bubbly offering citrus and tree fruit with red fruit essence and subtle mineral earth notes. Richer and more satisfying than than its pedestrian (for Champagne) price would indicate. Fine food friendly fizz. BearScore: 92+