Laurent Perrier is a big Champagne house, but unlike most of the big houses, they produce very little of their prestige cuvee. Moet & Chandon is synonymous with Dom Perignon and Roederer with Cristal. Only a few fanatics know about Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle. Grand Siecle has been difficult to sell for Laurent Perrier in the U.S. because unlike Dom or Cristal, it does not carry a vintage date, a feature that U.S. consumers associate with quality. The current cuvee of Laurent Perrier “Grand Siecle” ($79.99) that we offer is even better than one vintage. It is a blend of three very good vintages: 1993, 1995 and 1996. This is the 17th Grand Siecle that LP has released. The first came out in 1960 with a blend of 1952, 1953 and 1955. Another hurdle the Grand Siecle faces in the U.S. is the name; it is hard to pronounce. It sounds to me like “Grand See Eck” when a native speaker says it quickly. We sometimes call it the Sun King here at K&L, since the name is inspired by the prosperous period of time when Louis XIV ruled France. Name aside, it is what is inside that counts, and this Champagne is made entirely out of Grand Cru fruit, the best that they can purchase and less than 10% of their entire production. It is half chardonnay and half pinot noir. The Grand Siecle has glorious detail and complexity on the bouquet. In the mouth, the bead is ultra fine; it is hard to imagine smaller bubbles. The flavors are polished and fresh but still fully developed, a testament to the precise blending of the three great vintages. I have found this wine to be more elegant than Dom Perignon and more complex than Cristal. I hope that you will try it this holiday! We also have a limited quantity of the tiny production 1997 Grand Siecle Cuvee Alexandra Brut Rosé ($99.99) . From the masters of rosé, this is incomparable! It is composed exclusively from Grand Cru fruit, 80% pinot and 20% chardonnay. It has a gorgeous pink hue, and fine, delicate Pinot Noir fruit. It is very long and refined on the finish. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and say “add me to your list” to be the first to know about offerings and news. Or contact me at 1-800-247-5987 ex 2728. A toast to you! —Gary Westby
Steve Bird’s debut, the 2006 Bird “Old Schoolhouse” Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($13.99) is a winner. The nose has notes of grapefruit, passion fruit and some minerality. On the palate there is good acidity with tropical fruits and good body and length. Some of you may remember the Blue Rock and Frasier vineyard Pinots we carried last year from Murdoch James. The 2004 Murdoch James Pinot Noir Martinborough New Zealand ($17.99) is the first release of their “regular” wine. In 2004 they made no Frasier, so it went into this wine along with fruit from four other vineyards. The bouquet offers pretty plum, cherry fruit with a bit of clove, mushroom and a note of forest floor. On the palate there are silky tannins and integrated oak that add a hint of mocha to the fine finish. Both Clyde and I tasted the 2004 Craneford Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia ($9.99) from barrel in January and thought it to be a tremendous value. The wine sees neutral French and American oak that seasons the pure fruit. There are aromas of violets, black current, dark cherry and a mineral note. These elements come together on the palate with soft tannins and a touch of bittersweet chocolate that follow through with fine length. —Jimmy C
This Thanksgiving I am advocating a rather unusual food and wine pairing. Actually, my colleague Brian Brick in our Redwood City store is completely responsible for enlightening me to this wonderful combo. He is definitely the one you are going to want to thank after pouring youself a chilled glass of the NV Clairette de Die Cave Carod ($12.99) to enjoy with your slice of pumpkin pie! Brian contends that the delicate, sparkling sweetness (redolent with nectarine, white flowers and ginger) pairs sublimely with the earthy, spicy sweetness of pumpkin pie. Enough said, sign me up! For those of you asking “Clairette de who..?” here is a bit of background on this fantastic little northern Rhone sparkler. The A.O.C. Clairette de Die spreads over 1,300 hectares and 32 villages, located on clay and limestone based hillsides. Clairette de Die has been known since ancient times (dating back to 77 A.D.). The Carod’s vineyard’s altitude (over 700 meters) makes it one of the highest in France. With very fine bubbles, light in alcohol (8°) and still containing a touch of residual sugar, this Clairette de Die from Cave Carod is comprised of 75% muscat petits grains and 25% clairette and is produced by the method champenoise. Clairette brings delicacy and lightness to the wine whereas muscat gives its typical sweetness. This is an ideal wine for many fruit- or spice-based desserts, as well as with foie gras. To be consumed young, to conserve the full fruity and floral flavors. Happy Thanksgiving to all! —Mulan Chan
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