Denis Barraud’s estate is on the slope of the Roche de Vergisson. The Roche is a giant Basalt outcropping in the Mâcon. What makes this an exceptional place for chardonnay? It is the soil surrounding the Roche, highly folded and well drained limestone. From these slopes, depending on the specific soils, comes Pouilly Fuisse, Saint Veran, or Mâcon Vergisson. After the scorching heat of the 2003 vintage, the 2004 comes across as a refreshing late afternoon breeze, cool and long yet full of life. It was a long harvest, beginning on September 18 and continuing until October 12. Barraud does not like to chapitalize, and he kept his fruit on the vine long enough so that it was not necessary. This year we are proudly offering both the St-Veran and the Pouilly-Fuisse here at K&L. 2004 Denis Barraud St-Veran ($13.99) A mixture of stainless steel and a small percentage of oak; only the oldest vines that are capable of handling the oak go into barrel. The wine exhibits good weight and length. The aromatics and flavors range from bright citrus, soft floral, to lush tropical and pineapple, but always framed with good acidity and minerality. 2004 Denis Barraud Pouilly-Fuisse ($18.99) This wine comes from vines on the lower slopes of his Pouilly-Fuisse parcels and is a serious step up from the previous wine with more oak, battonage and longer aging before bottling, and on the technical side and in the glass, more weight and length. Again the fruit tones are dominantly citrus; with more oak influence and hints of vanilla and spice. On the palate the wine sparkles with good texture crisp acidity and lingering minerality. Both of these will drink beautifully over the next year or so. With crab season in full swing, you will not want to be without a bottle. —Kirk Walker
2000 Franck Bonville Brut Millesime Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($29.99) This little marvel from the village of Avize has a great richness that still retains the cleanliness of the 1996 vintage. To be honest, I love the 1996 and have it in my cellar. I hold the 2000 in the same esteem but, for different reasons. The Bonville family has been making Champagne for over 100 years and purchased their 15 hectares of land parcel by parcel beginning in the late 19th century... Avize is one of the top 17 villages in Champagne given the highest rating of 100% for producing quality sparkling wines. Like the 1996, the 2000 is very cellar worthy but, it is more drinkable now. Four years of ageing on the lees. An outstanding nose of pears, almonds and flowers. On the palate, lots of richness and complexity with just enough acid to make it extremely balanced. Ripe pear and golden apple flavors greet the palate with just the slightest bit of honeyed apples on the finish. A marvelous Champagne to have with Brie or simply by itself. One- hundred-percent chardonnay and 100% delicious! N/V Ariston Brut Rosé Champagne ($28.99) In contrast to the Franck Bonville, we have the Ariston Rosé. Fans of fine rosé Champagne should stop in their tracks right now and read this. A blend of 50% pinot noir and 50% pinot meunier from estate vineyards in Brouillet. Lovely, pale pink colour in the glass. Bing cherry nose with fragrant rose petal accents. Rich and well-rounded with cherry fruit, tangerines, minerals and vanilla. Marvelously creamy with a small bead and a fine frothiness. One of our greatest rosé Champagnes for under $30.00 that returns to thrill us for the New Year. A perfect foil for anything from white fish to slowly cooked pork roasts or a fruit tart. Or, like the Franck-Bonville, elegant on its own. Champagne time is anytime! —Scott Beckerley
We here at K&L feel very proud to represent one of the best producers of Blanc de Blancs in all of Champagne, Launois, from the village of Mesnil. Mesnil is the southern most of all the grand cru villages in the Cotes de Blancs, and the chardonnay grown here is perhaps the most sought after in all of Champagne for its finesse and age worthiness. In addition to being blessed with great soil, the Launois family is obsessed with quality on every level. They harvest after most of their neighbors are done in order to get perfect ripeness in the grapes, and this allows them to add less dosage (sugar) while still maintaining perfect balance in the Champagne. Not content to purchase the commercially available clones of chardonnay, Launois has its own nursery were they are propagating their own best cuttings for replantings. It took me a year and a half of begging to get them to export the wine— they were already selling it all and did not see any reason to expand into the U.S. Please taste them if you have not already. Currently in stock we have the Launois “Cuvee Reserve” Brut Blanc de Blancs ($25.99), which is like polished white Burgundy with a touch of pine nut and minerals on the nose. The flavors are broad and rich. This is serious wine, with small bubbles and a refreshing finish. Also we have the 1998 Launois Brut Blanc de Blancs ($29.99). This wine has extraordinary concentration and a wonderful tension between ripe chardonnay fruit and scintillating Mesnil minerality. The bead is wonderful; scores of perfect miniscule bubbles jet from the bottom of the flute when you pour this Champagne. Get out the brown paper bags and compare to Salon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, etc. Feel free to contact me at 1-800-247-5987 ex 2728. A toast to you! —Gary Westby
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