2014 Badagoni Brut
Author: Oleg Cherne
|Region:||Kakheti, near the Alaverdi monastery, Odzhio and Khodasheni villages|
|The vineyard’s territory:||20 ha|
|Planting density:||about 2,700 per ha|
|Vine age:||19 y.o.|
|Sugar content:||6-15 g/l|
|Acratophore aging:||about 3 months|
|Optimal serving temperature:||+8-13 °С|
The world of Bacchus is unpredictable and magical. I never thought I would ever have the pleasure of describing a sparkling wine, where the history of a single bottle turns into such a significant story!
If we talk about sparkling wine not in terms of the technical aspects of what makes a classic champagne, but in general as a significant drink, we can safely say that the Badagoni have created a wine for people who don’t want to wait ten or more years to drink a classic champagne.
This is all thanks to Badagoni enologist Donato Lanati, who has created work of art I hesitate to even refer to as a sparkling wine. It’s more something in the style of impressionist artist Claude Monet with his lines, or van Gogh…
We also mustn’t forget that a sparkling wine produced using champagne technology is still a wine. Yes, it is supposed to be made from certain grape varieties, preferably from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and preferably in the French province of Champagne. Even its very title, the «champagne method,» is owned legally and exclusively solely by local wines, while the rest use what is known as the «classical method.»
But perhaps, few people ever breach the main issue: what’s sold in stores is far from what a sparkling wine should be. Today, on August 4, as I write this article while the whole world is traditionally celebrating and praising champagne, I’ve decided to dedicate it to the sparkling Badagoni. And I must add: the speed of the cork, which can reach 120 kph, isn’t even its main selling point—unless, of course, we’re celebrating a Formula 1 victory.
Warning: to anyone wanting to risk checking this speed for themselves, please don’t point the bottle directly at anyone, and never look directly at the cork. Also, don’t try to cork up the overflowing champagne with your mouth, like American driver Daniel Sexton Gurney did before he decided it was best to just take a shower in it anyway.
When it comes right down to it, the pearl of the sparkling wine world is brut. Such a classification gives rise right away to questions of grape variety and mineralization, which are ultimately what make a true champagne unsurpassed. But this requires storing your bottle for at least ten years, while the minerals alter the quality and intensity of the drink. And if it’s any less, I wouldn’t call it champagne at all, but rather raw wine material from Champagne, the only thing with which it has in common is its name.
So what ends up happening? Nine times out of ten, consumers end up drinking a partially finished product proudly referred to as champagne, with all sorts of Perons and Madams, Crises and Adams (Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Cristal, Abrau Durso). Believe it or not, if we want to drink real wine made according to every last champagne canon, we need to make a clear distinction between the classics, and freshness. After all, there are so many high-quality well-made sparkling wines out there, as they say, «ready for the table!» And I’m confident when I say that Badagoni truly deserves the gold medal, and in reality deserves its own special name. Perhaps «Sexton,» in honor of Daniel Sexton Gurney! Or «Drink-it-now champagne.» Just don’t forget the glass! No need to pack a few atmospheres in yourself: it can backfire.
So, now what we have here is «Sexton» by Badagoni. There’s a little bit of sex, a little bit of tone, but its pride and joy is its noble freshness. In a word, I must thank the producer of this wine, and sincerely hope they won’t make any slips with its copies in subsequent years; and that their efforts will reveal to people the true concept of taste and value in a sparkling wine, which in reality doesn’t require any aging. Generally speaking, the first sparkling Badagoni is a real millesime wine, which we can expect to always be the case, regardless of being from a good or bad year, as it’s wholly unique and dare I even claim, heaven-born.
Of course, I would never claim it can be compared to, say, a 2005 Cristal Louis Roederer for 500-600$, or a 2008 Veuve Clicquot for $1,000, or anything bottled between 1772 and 1785 intended for long-term aging. But this wine easily tops five to seven year-old wines. In short, now one can add the notion of a young brut to the legacy of Victor Lambert, who developed the technology of fermentation in 1874 (Champagne old brut or aged Champagne).
I would like to specially mention that there are few people who actually understand brut, and Brut from Badagoni is one of a kind in its velvety smoothness. So if you want to train yourself to a more serious sparkling wine, then brut is just what you need. It is not just pleasant to savor, it’s salubrious as well. My personal opinion is that among all the sparkling wines out there, only brut is worthy of attention. Indeed, this notion has long served as the basis for its formal reception. Not only that, but a champagne shower is a traditional purification ritual (even though it’s probably not advisable to get drenched and walk around all sticky), and it also has its own unique sound!
Plus, brut is easy to pin down. It either dries out your throat, or pipes up like a melodic flute. All I mean here is that if you drink a young sparkling wine from Champagne, it might dry you up. Of course, I’m talking about brut with its high sugar content.
The price per bottle meets expectations, although makers of inferior products aren’t too friendly towards it, because they think this wine is simply unprofitable to produce! But here, as they say, one should know where to buy to avoid any «mass-market» look-alikes.
And although Badagoni started its way, so to say, from scratch relatively recently, in 2003, within a very short period of time it has already melded together the seemingly impossible: author’s winemaking with the mass production of wines, focusing their efforts on the recreation of traditions we observe in the winemaking of Alaverdi monastery with its various awards.
From the outside looking in, it all closely resembles how a high-quality champagne is made: the winery and its production are similar to remuage and disgorgement, used in the production of champagne wines. In this case, I would call this the process of sharpening and removing anything unnecessary. And as it turns out, it’s not just for anyone to drink. Only people who really deserve it.
This wine is made using secondary fermentation in hermetically sealed tanks. It was tended to for several months and matured under pressure, where the natural «magic,» or the miracle of turning grapes into a sparkling bubbly beverage, occurs.
The secret of this wine is also in the bottle, being as it is the result of a creative partnership between Badagoni and the Italian Tonutti company. The bottle, where the wine continues to perfect itself, is designed to facilitate a unique maturation process that turns the wine into its full self in around five years, making it more profitable for investment, when the strength and quality of the sparkling Badagoni will already demand a different price. In this case, you should store it at a 45-degree angle, upside-down or horizontal. Plus, this is ideal if you’re looking for a sabrage, or opening the bottle with a saber!
This wine emits the intense aroma of green apple, and has an elegant color and subtle citrus flavor. Noteworthy is its freshness and energy, and the taste of apples in this sparkling Badagoni is the brand’s signature aroma! To some extent, this wine has a crystalline fragrance, in the spirit of the ancient deity of Badagoni.
Sexton Badagoni goes well with all dishes and even without them—drink it any time, if you’re in Georgia in the morning, or if you’re in Germany, and on any special occasion if you’re in Russia.
The wine is made from selected Mtsvane grapes, harvested in the vicinity of the historic monastery of Alaverdi in Kakheti. Mtsvane is the high-quality standard type of white wines of Kakheti. Its name (Mtsvane means green) came about thanks to the matte yellowish-green color of its berries.
Despite the fact that there are so many proven ways to make sparkling wines associated with a particular type of vine, Badagoni sticks closest to a rather complicated methodology. Even though today there are more than 500 indigenous grape varieties in Kakheti alone (of which about 200 are used to make dry, dessert and natural sparkling wines, including Aladasturi, Aleksandrouli, Mtsvane, Krahuna, Mujuretuli, Ochanuri, Ojaleshi, Rachuli, Tetri, Rrkatsiteli, Cicka, Tsolikouri, Chinuri, Saperavi, Chkhaveri, Khikhvi, Usakhelouri, Shavkapito, Mtsvivani, Kakhuri Dzvelshavi), the company still needed to choose a particular variety, ultimately deciding on Mtsvane. The timing of the grape harvest is a crucial key to success, as one of the most fundamental conditions is not just sugar content, but technical ripeness.
Of course, it is difficult to come up with something new today, and grapes may have indeed become the main secret of the success of any manufacturer. I should also note that the winemaker understands the indigenous features of this variety well, which is simply fascinating, as the winemaker is Italian! Mr. Donato Lanati, who studied and experimented with the vast majority of all Georgian grape varieties in his lab for several years (he has processed more than 300 varieties), concluded that Mtsvane is unique, as it combines all the virtues of grapes to make a truly noble sparkling wine, and is no less amazing than any champagne!
Most likely, this grape embodies the beauty and grandeur of the mountains with their snowy caps, majestically guarding the valley’s surrounding area, the expanse of the Alazani river and, of course, the extraordinary warmth of the sun.
Hence, the fine qualities of the wine: its tenderness, full body, and harmony of its taste with the strong flavor of the grape, which puts Mtsvane first among white grape varieties for the production of an unforgettable sparkling Badagoni Brut wine.
This is a masterpiece that shows its character with its first sip, attracts with a subtle bouquet of paradise flowers, fruit, berries and, of course, a sparkling straw color against the background of long-lasting bubbles that finally make their escape from the bottle’s confinement to create a perfectly harmonious drink every time.
The vineyards, where grapes for Badagoni Brut grow, are located in a unique area around Alaverdi monastery, which just like many centuries before still attracts lots of visitors to enchant them with its grandeur.
The Kakheti region is a rare gem in the Georgian winemaking industry. This zone is located in the southeastern part of Eastern Georgia, in the basins of the Alazani and Iori rivers. The most illustrious wine region of Kakheti is the Alazanskaya Valley. It is located at an altitude of 200-500 meters above sea level, and extends from the northwest to the southeast for 110 km. The average width of the valley is 20 km, with a humid climate known for moderately cold winters and hot summers. Its soils are brown, grey-brown and rocky.
The vineyards grow on a slight slope facing north. Kakheti enjoys a large number of sunny hours a day, resulting in the high sugar content of grape berries, which is not even necessary for dry wines. Because they face north, the grapes receive slightly less sunlight, thus the grapes accumulate the exact sugar volume necessary to obtain high-grade natural dry wines.
In Eastern Georgia, the most common grape variety is Rkatsiteli, which grows at an altitude of 400-700 meters above sea level. From this variety, excellent dry white and ordinary wines are produced (according to both Kakheti and European technologies), featuring pale straw hues with fruity flavors and a delicate aroma.
In fact, the 2014 Badagoni Brut sparkling wine should is best classified as another hallmark of both Badagoni and Kakheti as a whole. Indeed, the only thing left to say is that this is an ode to bubbles.
Bubbles from Sexton Badagoni, or tips for the champagne master
This is where the mystery hides, be it truth or deception. Bubbles are the page from which a champagne master reads, and where they present their product.
To understand the quality of a sparkling wine, it should be poured not into a classic tall or canonical glass, but into a B-glass (on the scale of a female bust size, with a volume of 200 ml) to see how the crater is formed. This crater shows the perfection of a sparkling wine, or its breath (the crater is where the bubbles are formed). The direction, intensity and, most importantly, the size of the bubbles tell everything one needs to know about the quality of the sparkling wine.
The main problem in the production of sparkling wines is the allowed sugar addition of up to 18 g, and yeast up to 0.3 g. Here is where the chemistry actually starts, which helps speed up and even change not just the second fermentation processes, but the first one as well. And here, of course, the age of the vine the producer uses, and the climate of sunny Kakheti help create a truly fresh drink that Moet will never make (if they never get lucky with their grapes, that is).
However, if we assume that only aristocrats or imbeciles drink Moet, and the brand itself is so great that it can swing EUR 50 a bottle, many questions arise concerning its bubbles. Namely, that this luxury brand is made from the grapes of young vineyards, which are unable to form a crater in a glass. The bubbles are formed randomly, resonating due to the presence of carbon dioxide. There’s no crater, so there is therefore no axis. Accordingly, the bubbles do not have the required size, and when you add sugar there might be trouble with the natural laws of fermentation.
So seriously, why Moet? Because it is the closest luxury brand to our price. So, as they say, just check it out for comparative purposes. Grab a glass of both Badagoni and Moet, just don’t pour it into a French flute glass (elongated for champagne), but instead use a B-glass, the breast of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, and hold a little tasting for yourself. Then you can see for yourself that the formation of bubbles in Badagoni Brut don’t change, it will run from the crater as well, while Moet gets distracted right away! What the reason is here is not my question.
The choreography of gases in Badagoni Brut is truly amazing. How was it possible to achieve such a unique inner ionization? It appears that Badagoni breaks all concepts and laws of typical champagne production to make a true wine, which you can drink here and now, and not be afraid to lose the bubbles, as usually happens when acceleration, clarification or filtering are used. The wrong bubbles are a sign that your body will get congested and oxidized when drinking such a champagne.
In short, be wary of large bubbles formed chaotically and with no connection to the crater, or what might be described as pulsing fields (thin axes running vertically that form bubbles). The real problem lies in young vineyards and sugar, which is officially authorized by the appellation (truly a shame).
So much for the exceptional terroir of Champagne (which by the way, is not the birthplace of sparkling wines), and judging by the state of today’s quality, the taste has been lost. While the French used to drink champagne, so to speak, based on the volume of female breasts, now it looks more like their receptors have changed. Now for a toast!
To women’s breasts, which once spurred man on to make more high-quality sparkling wines, and to Badagoni, which helps the French not forget their traditions. And when you fill your bath in a wine hotel, you probably won’t ever lose the bubbles from Sexton Badagoni there.
Consuming Sexton Badagoni
There are more than enough reasons behind when, where and how to drink this wine. But if you want to be truly stunned, use any kind of champagne glass, from a conical to B-glass. And, as the saying goes, godspeed! Don’t be afraid to wake up in the morning with a light intoxicated feeling and symptoms like a slight headache or dry mouth.