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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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Tasting with Oliver Krug

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Loriot Champagne is Back!

Michel Loriot with two of his exquisite 1964's and his current releases.

No one is more serious about Meunier than Michel Loriot. Mr. Loriot farms 17 and ½ acres of vineyard in Festigny, a picturesque village in the Western Valley of the Marne to make his all estate Champagne and the native Meunier is his most planted grape variety. While many of the big houses will talk down the quality of Meunier it is the only one of the big three varieties (the other two being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) that is indigenous to Champagne and in the right hands it is capable of top quality.

One thing that one hears a lot about Meunier is that it is a nice grape for getting some fruit flavors in a blend, but no good for ageing. This is a myth. Houses like Krug use a lot of Meunier in blends that last for generations, and anyone that has had an old bottle like the ones in the picture above will not need convincing. It is true that Meunier can taste better young than Chardonnay or Pinot Noir in Champagne, but that does not mean that it can’t keep! Tasting the two 1964’s from Loriot, one disgorged in the 1970’s and one disgorged that morning, is an experience I’ll never forget. The old disgorgement was deep gold, and full of dried apricot fruit and fall leaf-pile aromas. It had very full body, sweet fruit in the mouth and great leathery complexity. The freshly disgorged bottle, which received no dosage, was many shades lighter in color and much brighter and lighter in the mouth, but still very complex. Both were among the greatest Champagne’s I have ever tasted- period. Just thinking about them now gives me goose bumps… It was impossible for me to pick a favorite between the two.

While old bottles like this are not available for sale, Mr. Loriot’s top wine in current release leaves very little to be desired. I had the 2007 Michel Loriot "Monodie Meunier" Extra Brut Champagne ($49.99) earlier this week with a parmesan cream risotto that I made at home. Mr. Loriot loves the combination of parmesan with this old vine Champagne for great reason, and the risotto brought the electricity and vibrancy of this big, structured wine to the forefront.  He calls this wine monodie because it comes from one plot, a small south facing, mid slope filet called the l’Arpent. This vineyard was planted back in 1942, and is the only vineyard I have ever heard of that was planted during the 2nd world war in Champagne. These shy baring, old vines give a wine with subtle pear fruit and the 7 years of ageing on the lees give a frame of fresh baguette aromas. This wine is concentrated in the mouth, with plenty of minerality as well as body, but it finishes very dry- it is dosed at just 5g/l. Every fan should try this great wine once.

His normal range is fantastic as well- the Michel Loriot "Authentic" Brut Champagne ($29.99 750ml, $64.99 magnum, $16.99 half bottle) is an extroverted, fresh Meunier style that is aged for three years on the lees and contains 50% reserve wines. I love the pie crust aromas and rich mouthfeel of this Champagne- especially since it is married to a crisp, dry finish. He also makes the best off dry Champagne, that we carry, the Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99), which I did a feature on here.

I hope you will join me in drinking some of these great Champagnes!

A toast to you!


Gary Westby


République: An Experience to Remember

publique has become somewhat of an institution in Los Angeles since its opening in 2012. Despite this reputation, I had not dined at République until this past week.  I had been to the space numerous times for industry wine tasting and seminars, but somehow completely overlooked it for dinner.  I am pretty new to LA (approaching two years), so when I began looking for places to dine for my 4 year anniversary this month, République was at the top of my list. It fit all my requirements for a special occasion: incredible wine list, small plates to share, and a beautiful space.  So last night we splurged on the... UberPlus I believe they are calling it these days, and headed over to République to celebrate.  


I know what I am about to say is naive, being that République used to be home to such beloved places as the La Brea Bakery and Campanelli, but since I'm new to LA I hope you will cut me some slack when I say...HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PLACE? (of course you have) IT IS F**KING BEAUTIFUL!  Apparently, it was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1928 as a mixed-use space with various shops and office spaces, complete with tiled fountains, mezzanines, and courtyard.


I’ve been hearing about how incredible this place is, basically since the first week I moved here.  It has been hyped up to me by many of my friends and strangers alike for almost two years. There is always that fear that something won’t live up to its expectations, but the minute we walked through the door and sat down at a romantic little candle-lit table in the back, we knew it would exceed our expectations. There is a comforting feeling about the staff and the service that lets you know you will be taken care of.  

I will try not to go too far into detail, seeing as many of you have already had the pleasure of dinning here.  The team at Republique made this night so special for us. From the immediate congratulatory glasses of Krug to the moment we walked out the door, we couldn’t stop smiling.  Sommelier Adam Ohler paired our courses immaculately, starting with one of my favorite producers from the Loire Valley, Chateau de Breze’s bottling “Clos de la Rue.” This elegant white was paired with six of the most delicate, soft, and absurdly delicious East Coast oysters I’ve ever eaten. They were quite possibly the best oysters we’ve ever had, no doubt improved by the chilled glass of Chenin Blanc. The Clos de la Rue displayed notes of wet stones, honeysuckle, celery root and mouthwatering acidity coupled by a beautiful textural component that paired perfectly with oysters. Can’t find the “Clos de la Rue”? Try their other incredible bottlings, Clos David and Clos Midi.


We followed up the oysters with bone marrow and escargot that Adam paired with a Swiss cider that had lots of tang and just a touch of sweetness to pair with the caramelized, sweet components in the bone marrow, I don’t think I need to explain how good the bone marrow is, it's molten cow essence for god's sake. The escargot is served in a little shot glass filled with melted herb butter and topped with flakey puff pastry that is delicately wrapped around the escargo.  At Adam's suggestion, we ripped off the flaky pastry cap, nestled the escargot in its pillowy goodness, doused it in the butter, devoured it, and chased it with the remaining butter. Okay, he may not have told us to chase the remaining butter but it seemed appropriate at the time.


When deciding what main course to go with, we were intrigued by the options of duck and pig’s head, but Adam mentioned his favorite was the chicken.  A seemingly simple choice, but chicken cooked right can be magical.  Joe and I hadn’t had a great chicken since our year living in Germany; Germans really know how to cook a chicken. So we were intrigued and went with Adam’s suggestion.  The key to their chicken is that it is rotisserie cooked over a wood fire. At République they have a wood fire, a wood grill, and a wood oven, and they know how to use all of them. Our half chicken was moist with flakey skin and perfectly seasoned, accompanied by duck fat roasted potatoes and carrots.  If a restaurant can cook a great chicken, chances are everything else on the menu will be superb.  


With our chicken we had a bottle of 2013 Domaine André & Mireille Tissot Trousseau "Qvevri" Arbois Rouge $49.99 our first wine of the night from the Jura.  This Trousseau was aged in Qvevri, a traditional Georgian clay pot used for fermentation. The wine requires a bit of air and time to open up, but what’s waiting for you is incredible. Notes of cranberry, cherry and wild forest berries coupled with notes of iron, sanguine, forest floor, mushrooms and graphite all wrapped into a light-bodied wine with delicate structure and plush texture.  The combination of fruit and earth coupled with the chicken and duck fat roasted potatoes was bliss.


A cheese plate and an Apple Pie en Croute with vanilla ice cream, accompanied by our 2010 Domaine Dugois Vin de Paille Arbois $24.99, was the perfect end to the perfect evening. Vin de Paille is made by drying out grapes on straw mats for about 5 months until they shrivel, developing a highly concentrated sugar content. The result is a dessert wine with flavors of beeswax, fig, orange peel, dried apricot and nuts. With a bite of salty cheese and the ice cream dropped into the Apple en Croute, we sipped our Vin de Paille and savored the end of our experience at République.  

Thank you to Adam Ohler, Taylor Parsons and the entire team at République for providing us with an anniversary we will remember forever. Cheers!



Arthur Marc- A new discovery in Champagne!

Gregory and Patrice Marc in the heart of their Fleury-la-Riviere vineyards.

I just returned from my two week long trip to Champagne and Burgundy where I visited 38 properties and tasted over 536 different wines. It was a great trip, and both the 2014 & 2015 vintages are showing a lot of promise in both regions. One of the properties I visited was brand new to me; Champagne Arthur Marc in Fleury-La-Riviere.

Gregory and Patrice Marc are a father and son team with a tiny ten acre property in Fleury-La-Riviere. They represent the 11th and 12th generation of a family that has been working these vineyards since 1683. The village of Fleurie-La-Riviere might be the most beautiful village in all of Champagne, it is part of the valley of Brunay, which descends the hill from Hautvillers and goes down to Damery where it meets the Marne. In October, it looked like a river of green, red and yellow vines flowing into the mighty Marne.

In the winery the Marc family uses a traditional Coquard basket press and a combination of stainless steel and barrique. They never allow the wine to go through malolactic fermentation and sell no wine before it ages a minimum of three years. They have five years of stocks in their cellar and make approximately 40,000 bottles a year. They sell off everything except for the cuvee or first press as juice and their vineyards average 30 years old.

We are very proud to be working with this small, top quality property. The wines have excellent texture and poise and are made in an effortless, transparent style. Because of the incredible strength of the dollar and our direct purchase, we are able to offer the wines at great prices. I hope you will try them. Here is what we have:

Arthur Marc "Initiale Noir & Blanc" Brut Champagne $29.99: This Champagne is composed of even parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Marc estate in Fleury-la-Riviere in the heart of the Marne valley. The wine does not go through malolactic fermentation and is aged a minimum of three years on the lees. This elegant, restrained Champagne is dry and has the pin-point streamer of bubbles that fans of the expensive stuff love. The nose has the honest baguette toast of long ageing and the finish is citric and bracing. At the price, it is a no-brainer to try at least once! I served this as the aperitif to my Champagne team when we had our annual meeting.

Arthur Marc Grand Cuvee Brut Champagne $39.99: This is also half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but this bottling is aged for a minimum of five years on the lees. The Grand Cuvee has the texture and complexity of a big house tete de cuvee and surprisingly also the restraint. I love the elegance of this wine- it manages to balance brioche richness with chalky raciness and do it effortlessly. If you like long finishing, subtle Champagne on the drier side, you will love this.

2014 Arthur Marc Fleury Rouge Coteaux Champenois $34.99: Still red wine made from Meunier in Champagne? Sadly, not all of you will get to taste this… I was only able to talk them out of three cases this time! This is the best red wine that I have had from Champagne. It is light bodied, but has impressive wild fruit and leather flavors and a long finish from the crackling acid that a cold climate like this brings. Unlike Pinot Noir from Champagne, this Meunier is ripe enough to avoid the strained tea like flavors I often find in reds from the region. This is a walk on the wild side!

A toast to you!


Gary Westby

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