As we launch into the month of Thanksgiving I am pleased to have the return of two marvelous Champagnes from producer Michel Arnould. The first of these is the Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Reserve ($25.99) . The blend is 65% pinot noir and 35% chardonnay. The nose is nutty and clean. This is a dry style with low dosage (10 grams per liter). All of the fruit used is from the 2000 and 2001 vintage. In the mouth, an initial zippy, lemony characteristic followed by flavors of Bing cherries, apples and a light bit of honey on the back of the palate. All of this combines with the hazelnut aspect of the pinot noir fruit to produce a memorable Champagne. Why drink copycats from other countries when you can have the real thing for less than $26? The “big sister” wine to the Brut Reserve is the Michel Arnould Grand Cuvee Brut ($29.99) . Drier than the Brut Reserve (only 9 grams of dosage per liter), the Grand Cuvee comes off creamier and richer. This is probably due to the fruit being entirely from the 1998 harvest (though it is not labeled as such). Identical blend to the Brut Reserve. Freshly roasted hazelnuts on the nose with lush ripe cherries and tart apple scents. On the palate, tart cherries mingle with cream and toast. Cocoa flavors on the finish. Both of these Champagnes have an elegance and delicacy and both are bold Champagnes unparalleled in value! A perfect way to start your Thanksgiving, or to enjoy with pumpkin pie at the finish. Happy Thanksgiving! —Scott Beckerley
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 email@example.com 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
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