It's that time of year again! The big players of K&L's direct import Champagne program are back in stock and ready for your Fall celebratory needs. The labels we've spent the last decade building into recognizable names—Bonville and Launois—are in the store, stacked at the ends of the aisle, just waiting to be tossed into your basket. I didn't waste any time this week. I grabbed a bottle of the Launois Grand Cuvee and the Bonville Blanc de Blanc, threw them into the ice bucket, and camped out on the couch this weekend. It was time to get my bubble action on.
If you're new to K&L and you've never heard of Launois or Bonville, I'll give you the ten second spiel. Big house Champagnes like Veuve Cliquot or Dom Perignon are made by blending together many different wines; purchased from growers small and large throughout the Champagne region. Some growers don't even make their own namesake cuvee, foresaking the actual winemaking for the ease of selling their precious grapes in one fell swoop. Many producers sell part of their harvest, but keep some of it back to make their own Champagne. We call these folks grower/producers. Bonville and Launois are two of our most popular grower/producers here at K&L and in both cases we are able to purchase the Champagne directly; meaning we cut down on middleman fees (and that means cheaper prices for you!). You won't find two better Champagnes for the money at our stores:
Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne $34.99 - Perhaps the most exciting value in the store right now! This wine is based on the 2011 harvest, which was a difficult one for Olivier Bonville. He took extreme measures to ensure the quality of his entry-level wine, and made the best non-vintage that he has ever released. His entire 2011 high-end production was declassified into this wine; he will make no Belles Voyes, Vintage, or Prestige and has instead put all of his top-class, mid-slope, old-vine production into the regular bottling and the base for the rosé. It is composed of entirely estate-grown, grand cru Chardonnay including 50% reserve wines from 2010 and 2009. The nose is effusive, with baguette, white flowers and a nice salinity, while the flavors have a fine balance of white fruit, cream and precise Avize chalk. It is dosed at 8.3 grams per liter and is very, very long finishing. Don't miss this. The Underground Wine Letter also rates this wine Outstanding Plus: "This is a terrific Champagne with great balance, flavor and style and it is a real value. Pale yellow in color the wine has a lovely perfume with hints of peach and citrus and faint floral nuances accented by a kiss of vanilla. Creamy and very flavorful, this is a Champagne that is very harmonious showing subtle hints of peach, citrus, and spice. Elegant and long on the finish this is gorgeous to drink now or keep for many years."
Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $34.99 - This spectacular Champagne is one of the most sought-after in France, and Launois' cult status made it very difficult for us to make a purchase. We lucked out, and now we buy it directly, passing massive savings on to you. This house is from Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne and home to Salon and Krug's Clos de Mesnil. This Champagne is all Chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize--a roll call of the finest crus for Chardonnay in all of Champagne and all Veritas-certified for sustainable agriculture. It is aged for more than three years on the lees after an iron vat vinification. The aromatics of this Champagne are like polished white Burgundy with a touch of pine nut and minerals. The flavors are broad and rich. This is serious wine, with small bubbles and a refreshing finish.