This month I have two very different wines. First up, a sparkling pink Bugey from Cerdon which, in my wine world is synonymous with “Look out, good times up ahead!” Next, a K&L staff favorite, Marselan from Domaine l’Attilon, is back in the house! Read on! NV Cerdon de Bugey (methode ancestrale), Caveau de Mont St. July ($14.99) Spontaneous fermentation. An altogether preferable scenario to spontaneous combustion, and A LOT more fun to drink. This pink, semi dry bubbly was made by spontaneous fermentation, otherwise known as methode ancestrale. Grapes are picked by hand (not just any grapes, these are the local poulsard and gamay grown on mountainous slopes in the shadow of the Alps), and fermented in chilled vats just reaching 5 or 6 degrees alcohol. The young and light wine is then bottled, along with its active yeast and considerable unfermented sugars. Under pressure of the cork, the wine continues to ferment, gaining a few degrees of alcohol but retaining a nice amount of sweetness. And the bubbles, of course, another result of fermentation under pressure. This one is so delicious and fun to drink, with a distinctly, well, grapey aroma and a fruitiness that calls out for celebration and jubilation. This is also wonderful served with spicy Indian takeout or a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips! 2004 VdP des Bouches du Rhône Marselan Domaine l’Attilon (ORGANIC) ($8.99) Marselan, a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache, is a new grape variety. Domaine l’Attilon’s organic version of this new cepage is bursting with bright, crunchy black currant and cherry fruit balanced by violet floramatics and a vibrant acidity. Another terrific value from the south of France! —Mulan Chan
My two picks for the month are like comparing apples and oranges. One is an old-world style while the other is a modern Champagne. Up first is the Rene Collard Cuvee Ultime Ultra Brut Champagne ($39.99). This is quite unlike our other Collard wines. Comprised of grapes entirely from the 1995 vintage, this wine has no dosage, or no sugar added. Though it is a dry Brut, it is not a tart style due to the ripeness of the pinot meunier (100%!) used in this wine. A big doughy nose with plenty of ripe pear fruit. In the mouth, ripe apples, yeast and delicate truffle nuances. The no-dosage aspect of this wine comes out in the crisp, lingering finish. Number two for the month is a huge favorite of mine. The Tarlant Cuvee Louis Brut Prestige ($39.99) is composed of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir with fruit from the chalkiest hillside vineyards that Tarlant owns in Oeuilly. All of the vines are 45-plus years old resulting in fruit of the highest quality. Fermented in oak barrels without malolactic fermentation for 13 months. Aged on the lees for seven years! The current blend is equally from the 1996 and 1997 vintages. Youthful nose with crisp acidity yet, rich with apples, toast, and a bit of yeast. On the palate, golden apples, fresh bread and cinnamon spice. Don’t forget to toast the kids going back to school! —Scott Beckerley
This month I have three wines for your collection. They are not cheap, but the quality and pedigree behind them are sure to show themselves when you drink them in ten years. 2001 Heitz Cellars “Martha’s Vineyard” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($119.00) This wine is superb. I tasted it twice at an industry-only tasting in March, and it stole the show. The 2001 Martha’s delivers on both the winery’s reputation and the vintage. At once rich and elegant, its intense color is followed by aromas of mint and cassis. On the palate, red fruit and firm tannins combine into a focused and firmly tannic wine. One for the cellar… this one will not disappoint those who are patient! 2002 Vineyard 7 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($75.00) A newcomer to the Spring Mountain area of Napa, this wine is one to put in the cellar and forget about for 5-10 years. This wine exhibits a complex nose of ripe, black currants and blackberries intermixed with whiffs of cedar, tobacco, spice and a hint of chocolate. There is a wonderful balance to the wine in the mouth and the rich complex flavors reflect their aromatic profile. The two winemakers are legends in winemaking. Christian Le Sommer spent years at d’yquem and Ch. Latour and is currently working Barons Rothschild’s properties around the world. Larry Langbehn has spent 30 years in the California wine industry, most notably 10 years with Freemark Abbey. 2003 Egelhoff Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($74.95) Bob Egelhoff is the winemaker for five Napa Valley wineries: David Arthur Vineyards, Amizetta Vineyards, Richard Partridge Wines, Axios Wines and Phelan Vineyard. His 2003 is very approachable with soft tannins and a long creamy finish. 100% cabernet sauvignon sourced from Sacrashe Vineyard and Glendale Vineyard in the hills surrounding Lake Hennessey. 847 cases made. See you in the City… —Mike Jordan
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