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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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« Blends and Rarities for Champagne Friday | Main | Marathon Day of Cognac »

Pinot Power Champagne Friday

This evening's tasting lineup- all Pinot Noir Champagne!

Happy Champagne Friday! I hope that you will be able to join me this evening in Redwood City for the third in my series of Friday Champagne tastings, this month focusing on Pinot Noir. I will be pouring from 5:00 PM until 6:30 PM and the cost to taste is only $10.

Pinot Noir makes up a little less than a third of the grapes grown in the Champagne region. It is the last of the big three (Chardonnay and Meunier being the other two) to ripen, and needs a warm micro-climate in order to produce good results. Champagne has the opposite problem with Pinot Noir than we do in California; while we are always looking for cool places to plant, they struggle to ripen this most difficult of varieties. In general you find it planted on south facing slopes in the Champagne region, although the north facing slopes of Grand Cru’s Verzy, Verzenay and Mailly are the exceptions that prove the rule.

It is thought of as bringing structure and power to blends, and on its own can be quite formidable. In today’s tasting we will experience five pure Pinot Noir Champagne’s, and take in the diversity of styles that this, one of the world’s great grape varieties, has to offer in one of the coldest places that it is capable of making great wine. Here is the lineup:

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne $39.99 (the Aube)

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne $109 magnum, $49.99 750ml (the Aube)

Daniel Ginsburg "Cuvee Prestige Louis XVII" Brut Champagne $49.99 (Ay)

Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (2008) $49.99 (Bouzy)

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $74.99 magnum, $34.99 750ml (Verzenay)

As usual, I will be cheating by pouring from magnum the two wines that I have available in that format, the Fleury and Arnould roses. These two will provide a great contrast, as the Fleury comes from the very southernmost part of Champagne and the Arnould the northernmost, with the Fleury using all skin contact and the Arnould an addition of red wine. The contrast between the old vine Paillard from Mountain of Reims and the long aged Ginsburg from the precipitously steep pure chalk of Ay will also be interesting. I hope you can join me!

A toast to you- and hopefully with you!

Gary Westby

PS: I fly for Champagne tomorrow- so look back at this page for lots of updates from my fully booked trip to the region.

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