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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Thursday
Apr242014

Blends and Rarities for Champagne Friday

Ready to be tasted on Friday!

Champagne Friday #4 Blends and Rarities

This week for Champagne Friday I will be pouring a lineup of blends and rarities in the Redwood City tasting bar from 5pm until 6:30pm. The cost will be $10. I started this series of tastings four months ago with Chardonnay in Champagne and since then we have also covered Meunier and Pinot Noir’s expressions in the region. Now we will turn our attention to the most and least common types of Champagne: blends of all of the “big three” grape varieties above and exotic and extremely rare grape varieties.

I will present the following wines:

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne $27.99: This is my favorite example of a blend of the big three grape varieties in Champagne that all come from one place; Brouillet in the North Western corner of Champagne. It is composed of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Meunier and aged for 5 years on the lees. Most blends in Champagne are combinations of many different villages, vineyards and vintages, while this is only has about 10% reserve wines and comes exclusively from one tiny village.

Prévoteau-Perrier "Grande Reserve" Brut Champagne $39.99: The Prevoteau lets us look at what a small negociant does with a blend as it is composed of even parts of all of the big three varieties. It comes from three of the main regions in Champagne: the Marne, Sud-Epernay and the Cote des Blancs and is based on 2009 with 50% Reserves from the previous three vintages. It is mostly estate fruit, but includes some purchased juice as well.

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne $39.99: This blend comes from what may be the hottest of all the big houses in Champagne right now. It is composed of 56% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier and about 40% Reserve wines. This is truly from all over, with fruit sourced from almost all of the important villages in Champagne.

Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne $36.99: This batch of non-vintage Robert Fleury was at first destined to be 2001 vintage, and is exclusively from that harvest, making this five years older than the last batch we sold. Mr. Fleury decided not to put the vintage date on it and instead sold it for the non-vintage price because he did not think it was capable of long term (30+ year!) ageing. The good news is that this bottle is fabulous now at over 10 years on the lees and should keep just fine for its 20th birthday. This is a barrel-fermented blend of 18% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Blanc and 46% Pinot Noir. Pinot Blanc is a real rarity in Champagne, and only exists in a few spots in the Aube and it adds a ton of body to this very rich wine.

Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne $99: This super rare bottling is made with some of the nearly extinct, native varietals of Champagne. It is composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc. It is done as one co-pressed batch, with all of the varieties put into the press at the same time.

I hope to see you there! A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

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