I had the great fortune to accompany Gary on his most recent trip to Champagne. Of the all the producers we visited; all our direct imports, two grand marques and some others, with the limited amount of space I have been given, two producers illustrate what I learned about Champagne, De Meric and Leclerc Briant. . Interestingly both are NMs but their scale of production is smaller than some RMs. As a small negociant, De Meric does not own any of their own vines. They get their fruit from growers whom they feel do everything right. In their caves they have barriques, foudres and stainless steel tanks, all of which are used to impart their own particular characteristics. They also use partial malolactic fermentation. What does this give to their wines? Complexity! You get broader wines with texture from the various oaks, more vinous and varied fruit tones, minerality, toastiness and creaminess—great champagne. This just describes the De Meric “Sous Bois” Brut ($27.99). In the Catherine de Medici, take the above description and increase the intensity and length. Leclerc Briant for me is all about vineyards. We stood above the the “Clos de Champion” ($29.99) tasted chardonnay from “Chevres Pierreus” ($29.99) and then visited “la Coisete,” a vineyard located within the city of Epernay, and right behind Pascal Leclerc Briant’s house. Because of its unique chalky soil, it is planted solely to chardonnay. Yes, we will be getting this very unique Blanc de Blanc in! Leclerc Briant farms biodynamically and has been working organically since the late ’60s. It was great to hear his insights to the politics of the CVIC, farming and terroir. As always you can get a great deal of information about these wines from Gary, or stop by the city store, and I will gladly chew the Champagne fat with you! —Kirk Walker
The Traveller was restless. He had traversed the countryside in an attempt to find the perfect place: to plant vineyards, to find contentment, to live. He passed by myriad wondrous hues of green, admired the vast yellow carpets of flowering blooms that seemed to reflect the sun back into the sky. He rested in shady nooks of stone, drank at percolating brooks unknown, squinting at the broken mirror as he quenched his thirst. He found beauty but not perfection. Each night the Traveller rested his face to the stars. They seem perfect, he mused. These stars gave hope to the Traveller that he would find what he was seeking. He slept with his dreams tracing the night sky. Each day was filled with the many small things that make up a life, but the Traveller was focused on his quest. He tasted the wares of the wine properties that dotted the hillsides like wildflowers, and noted the irony that no wine was completely perfect. Maybe his dream was folly. Was perfection only a way to gauge the imperfect, existing only in the abstract and nowhere else? A cloudy darkness descended. Despite no compass of stars to illuminate, the Traveller found a smooth, leafy bed and closed his eyes… The morning was as brilliantly clear as the peal of a church bell on a winter morn. The Traveller ambled to his feet, the mist of dreams disappearing from his eyes. But these eyes he could not believe. It was perfect. This land- the vineyard, the birds and animals. The fruit trees and the brook. The untilled pasture. All perfect! “Lovely, isn’t it?” The Traveller turned to the voice, and the woman that belonged to it. “Yes, it is,” said the Traveller. “I would like to offer whatever you wish for it. I would like to make it mine.” “Well, you can make it yours, and stay as long as you like. I’ve been here only a short while, but I know I’ll stay forever. But it is not for sale,” she said with laughter in her eyes. “Do you wish to stay?” “Yes, I would like that very much.” The Traveller turned away and waved his hat in an arc. “What do you call this piece of land?” The woman smiled. “Heaven, of course.” Until you get there, enjoy the beauty of the now. And nothing is perfect. Goodbye Patrice. —Joe Zugelder
Our Burgundy buyer, Keith Wollenberg, has recently scored big time with two wine gems. First, he nailed the beautiful 2004 Domaine Renaud Mâcon Solutré ($10.99), which has a pronounced nose of minerality and pippin apples with hints of dried rose petals. Along with its lush, viscous mouthfeel, you will be treated to a wine that is well defined and structured leading to a long, clean, crisp finish. One of my favorite house whites the last five years has been the none vintage Plaisir des Princes Chardonnay ($6.99). It is a declassified Mâcon from a single vintage (not declared on the label). This version is the best to date and one of my favorite wines in the store. It has this lovely minerality of a vineyard designated Mâcon: viscosity, depth, and of course personality. This is Mâcon in spades, and as Keith says, “If is walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck but sells for peanuts, who cares what they call it?” Mulan discovered a sparkling wine from Southern France that will rival anything twice its price. The non-vintage Jean-Louis Denois “Tradition” ($14.99) is a southern French sparkler that will knock your socks off. A lovely nose of fresh lemon zest, with a touch of nuttiness and yeastiness, leads to a palate impression that is dry, clean, yet mouthwatering and crisp. This is remarkable stuff that will rival the real thing that sells for much, much more. Those of you who are still grieving the sold-out 2004 Kirkham Peak Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand will be elated to know that our newly arrived 2004 Griffin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99) is the same wine. This wine is loaded with ripe grapefruit to lime peel qualities, both on the nose and across its clean, crisp, mouthwatering set of flavors. On the finish there is a hint of white peach to go along with an excellent acid structure. According to Eby, this is the perfect wine to go with cracked crab. If you have any questions please email us at email@example.com. Have a wonderful holiday season! —Jim, Anderson, and Eby
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