Above: some of the labels that Shawn Virene pulled for his VIP debut party last night at Houston’s soon-to-open À Bouzy. Bollinger Grande Année? Now that’s my kind of wine, especially when priced so aggressively (check out “Bollinger,” a song that I wrote and recorded with my band Nous Non Plus here; that’s how much I love it).
Petroleum crowd, rejoice!
Not only is Houston now home to what may be the largest Champagne program in the country, with a 1.25 markup (!!!) applied to sparkling wines and a 1.5 markup for an ample gathering of heavy-hitting Californian and European lots, it is also the host city for biggest collection of still wines from Champagne, the elusive and coveted Coteaux Champenois.
For context, we turn to the Oxford Companion to Wine: “For every one bottle of still white [wine] produced in Champagne,” write the editors, “perhaps 20 of still red … are produced (in a good vintage), and 16,000 bottles of sparkling.”
In other words, still wine in Champagne represents less than .002 percent of the appellation’s entire production — and that’s in a good vintage.
I’ve only ever tasted one in my whole career as a wine writer.
Yesterday, I sat down with the author of the new list, one of Houston’s most respected and beloved wine pros, Shawn Virene, who is launching his new restaurant À Bouzy this week.
Shawn told me that the average price of a bottle of Champagne will be $50. And all the sparkling wines, even the hardest to source, will be available at the 1.25 markup.
As he was working on his cellar, he said, he contacted nearly every Champagne house that he could think of. And most responded gleefully, he reported.
It makes perfect sense: Champagne, a “luxury brand,” has been one of the appellations hardest hit by the world recession over the last decade. And many Champagne producers have been looking for a shots-in-the-arm like this — in one of the world’s hottest destinations for premium wine to boot.
Check out my preview here. I can’t wait to get there and check out the food: Shawn said Champagne-friendliness was the key element in crafting the restaurant’s menu.
Mazel tov, Shawn, for making our city an even more compelling wine destination!
In other news…
Thanks to everyone who commented on, liked, and shared my post yesterday on the meaning of the name Scaramucci. Thanks especially to the all the people who found my blog for the first time as they were searching for the signification of the surname.
It was on the verge of going viral until he got canned. O well (sigh)! No chaos here!