It is New Years Eve, the biggest day for Champagne of the year. Just last week, one of our smallest craft Champagne producers’ wines has arrived, barely in time for the celebration. This is good luck, as his Champagne was my choice for last NYE and now I will get to repeat this year. The wine business is busy, and I will be celebrating at home with Cinnamon, the Morsel cat, and perhaps a bottle or two from the selection below!
Alexandre Le Brun is one of the very smallest producers that we carry, and because of this, we don’t have the wines year round. He only has 7 acres, and does nearly everything, from pruning to pumping himself. He is quality obsessed, and spares no effort on any of the growing and winemaking steps in the Champagne process, and this shows through in the scintillating, detailed wines he produces. The property that he owns is incredibly diverse given the size- he has vines in eight villages spread across twenty two individual sites. Among them are the oldest vines I have ever seen or heard of in Champagne, the 103 year old Meunier vines in Monthelon that he uses to make the red wine for his best-of-class rose Dilection.
His winery is diminutive, but very well equipped, with a top cellar of stainless steel and a lower cellar for oak barrels. He isn’t dogmatic about malolactic- the tanks and barrels choose their own path. When I visited in October, his fermentations were the most incomplete of any that I tasted, with most of tanks and barrels still showing a lot of residual sugar. The cellars are cold, and he takes his time! While Alex’s Champagne’s are more expensive than a lot of our DI’s, I think they are worth it. His Fascination Blanc de Blancs and Dilection Rose are certainly the best in either class that we currently have in stock regardless of price. I hope you will check them out. Here is what we have:
Alexandre Le Brun "Tradition" Brut Champagne $39.99: This is composed of a third each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier from Mr. Le Brun’s estate, and nearly every wine in this blend has gone through malolactic. This Champagne has a rich bready nose from the over 20 months it has aged on the lees and some very nice savory qualities as well. In the mouth the high quality Meunier gives this wine great roundness as well as some tasty baked apple flavors. The cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir show their stuff on the dry, long finish. It is dosed at 6g/l.
Alexandre Le Brun "Passion" Brut Champagne $49.99: Although labeled as non-vintage, this is in fact all 2005, and has been given eight years of ageing time o the lees. This Champagne is composed of half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and tastes much more expensive that it is. If you like creamy, toasty Champagne with depth and richness, this is one of the best that we carry.
2007 Alexandre Le Brun 'Cuvee Fascination' Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne $69.99: This was one of my top Champagne experiences for 2014- out of a plastic cup at an airport hotel! I drank it again for New Years Eve last year with take-out sushi, this time with better glassware, and was blown away again. The biggest problem with it is production- it is only one press load and we don’t get very much! This Champagne is all Chardonnay from two long rows in the Monts Aigu parcel of the Grand Cru of Chouilly- right across a small path from Cramant. If you love the high class toast of Taittinger’s Comte de Champagne, this is a bottling that you don’t want to miss. The Chardonnay in this bottle has top notch concentration and texture as well as a complex array of flavors; baguette, succulent nectarine and bright chalk. This wine is labeled as Extra Brut since the dosage is very low, but while it is quite dry, it is not overly austere. It has one of the longest finishes of any type of wine that we carry- truly top notch!
2009 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvée Revelation" Brut Champagne $79.99: (36 bottles available) If you are a fan of Meunier based Champagne, trying this is a must. The Revelation is composed entirely of Meunier from vineyards of fifty years or older, only 1200 bottles of this incredible wine were made. The vines for this Champagne are in the very cool micro-climate of Monthelon, just south of Epernay, and thus have a far racier character than any of our other Meunier’s that come from the Western Valley of the Marne. With quince like fruit, subtle brioche and ample mineral drive, this serious wine has a finish that lasts like a blanc de blancs. It is dry at only four grams per liter of dosage, but not austere. A classic!
2008 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvee Dilection" Brut Rose Champagne $99.99: (60 bottles available) If you love fine, subtle, elegant rose, the Dilection is not to be missed. The base wine is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from vines of 40 years or older. To give it the rose color, flavor and aroma Alexandre adds 15% red Meunier from the vignes d’etoges, a plot in Monthelon that was planted in 1902… Easily the oldest vines I have ever seen in Champagne. All of the vinification is done in wood. I found it to have incredibly pure, Burgundian cherry fruit and a seamless, medium to light body. This wine has so many layers that it will reward those who taste it quietly, but it is so delicious that one does not have to ponder it to enjoy it. The finish is, like all of the Le Brun wines, the best part- a true peacock’s tail!
Happy New Year! A toast to you!- Gary Westby