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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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Entries in Ariston Aspasie (13)

Friday
Aug162013

Champagne Friday: Magnums!

Launois Special Club magnum.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Anytime I can fabricate the occasion I like to open a magnum of Champagne. If there are four or more people, it is the right size for the aperitif; I can't remember the last time I had to stopper one up and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. Whenever I do a customer tasting, anything that is available in magnum gets poured from magnum, and when I tell the customers that I am cheating by doing this, they usually just laugh...but I am serious.

Magnums have many advantages over single bottles of Champagne. The most obvious one is that you get half the amount of oxidative ageing in this format, since the opening at the top of the bottle is the same as a 750, but the volume of the wine is doubled. Because of the slope of the bottle, you also get more contact with the lees while the bottle is ageing. But the biggest advantage of all is in the attitude of the producers to this great format, since they feel that they benefit from more ageing, they almost always keep them on the lees longer.

2002 Dom Perignon 1.5L ($449)One can see this trend in vintage Champagne easily. While we are offering the 2003 & 2004 Dom Perignon in 750, we still have the 2002 Dom Perignon in magnum. They are just starting to release the 2003 now, more than a year after the release of the 750s. We have moved to 2004 with Pierre Paillard in 750s, but have 2002 Pierre Paillard in magnum. With Champagne Bonville it is 2008 in 750 and 2007 in the big bottle. Louis Roederer’s Brut Rose is the same story, 2008 in 750, 2007 Rose  in magnum. Pol Roger’s excellent Winston Churchill is 2000 vintage in 750 and 1999 in magnum.

2002 Pierre Paillard 1.5L ($119) On my last visit to Champagne I started asking producers about the base age of their non-vintage magnums after doing an accidental vertical of the non-vintage Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne with Paul Vincent Ariston. We started with the 2008 in 750, which is what we have on the shelf currently, moved on to the 2009 base which is now on the water, and when we gathered for dinner he offered a magnum as the aperitif, based on 2007. This--the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut 1.5L ($79.99)--is what we have on the shelf and what is coming in the next shipment...with a full year of extra ageing than what we have in 750, soon to be more when the new shipment arrives!

Pouring Marguet Brut Rose Champagne from Magnum.

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L ($84.99)We have Bruno Michel Rose on the way that is two years older than the 750s. The Marguet Brut Rose ($79.99) that I am pouring in the picture above received more than an extra year on the lees than the 750s from the same shipment. Jacquesson released their excellent "Cuvée 736" Brut Champagne in 750 in early spring, but it is only just now shipping in magnum. Checking the IDs on Krug Brut Rose ($699), the 750 (Krug ID 212020) has a youngest element from 2006, while the magnum (Krug ID 212024) is aged a full two more years with a youngest element from 2004. Both were disgorged in spring of 2012. Additional ageing happens at almost every Champagne house.

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 1.5L ($79.99)This translates into more depth, nuance and complexity in the Champagne served from magnum, without any sacrifice in freshness. In fact, I find the magnums to show more freshness. I hope that you’ll join me in drinking more from this most ideal of Champagne formats! Here is what we have in magnum:

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L (89.99)Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $49.99

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $99.99

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $169

Bruno Michel "Blanche Brut" Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Collard-Picard "Dom Picard" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $129

Collard-Picard "Prestige" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $109

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $139

Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $84.99

Krug "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $399

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $699

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

2007 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $149

Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne 1.5L $89.99

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $64.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $65.99

2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $449

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

1999 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill Brut Champagne 1.5L $499

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $129

Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne Magnum 1.5L $149

1990 Veuve Clicquot "Cave Privée" Brut Vintage Champagne (1.5L) $425

Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne (1.5L) $119

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $149

 

You are invited to click this link to browse all Champagne Magnums on KLWines.com.

A toast to you,

Gary

 

Friday
Aug022013

Champagne Friday: Midsummer Roundup

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

As much as I like to talk Champagne with all of you, I thought it might be a fun change of pace to share  some of my co-workers' favorite Champagnes this summer. Here is a roundup of some of the top staff selections from the last month. Enjoy!

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($39.99) Consistently one of my favorite direct import producers in our champagne section- Fleury makes complex sparkling wine from 100% pinot noir vines. The result is a rich and decadent sparkler that doesn't sacrifice minerality or brightness for its lush texture. -Mike Barber

 Michel Loriot "Cuvee Reserve" Brut Champagne ($29.99) Top Value! Apple, pie crust toastiness, chalky minerality with a beautiful, persistent bead and balanced acidity. This is the real deal, folks. I love this 100% Meunier, insanely affordable Champagne! -Sarah Covey

2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) I had the fortune to revisit this incredible Champagne in the company of Angelique and Damien Coutelas, who were recently in town for a producer visit and consumer tasting. The 2005 impressed me before, and upon re-tasting I was amazed at how it has blossomed over the last six months in something even richer and deeper. Worth a serious revisit! 70 year old Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vines are the source of this enticing Champagne, and in the cooler 2005 vintage these naturally low-yielding vines yielded even less than usual. The result is a rich, complex Champagne with a creamy texture and savory elements that make it ideal for pairing with food. Lemony, bready aromas lead in the nose, followed by flavors of nutty lees and fresh-buttered sourdough toast on the palate. The dry finish that leaves lingering saline-like mineral and nutty flavors. This would be superb with many seafood dishes or a simple roast chicken, and makes a lovely gift. From a producer that is brand new to the US market and that you can only find at K&L, this is a real special deal here. -Chiara Shannon

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne ($34.99) I am just one in a long line of staff members at K&L to fall head over heels for this wine. It is the balance of mineral freshness with the pure and elegant fruit qualities that really set this wine apart. Great for the wine geek, and any sort of setting. Really delicious. -Kyle Kurani

2004 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($59.99) Special wine and not just in name! As with all Special Club bottlings this comes from Launois' top parcels of vines. The wine has extra time on the lees which not only enhances its depth and quality but also gives the wine great oxidation resistance to allow for extended cellaring. The vibrant acidity of the 2004 vintage gives energy and life to this wine that is simply a delight to drink now and will only get better with time. -Ryan Woodhouse

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne ($27.99) Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining. Top Value! -John Majeski

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99) Based on the 2004 vintage, this is a terrifically rich and very lovely champagne, made from old vines, planted in the 1920s, long before commercial clones were available. The reulting concentration and depth is a reward that exceeds many champagnes costing well over $100. -Keith Wollenberg


And of course, I couldn't resist adding one of my own...

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne ($54.99/Wine Club) I love extra brut Champagne, and Antoine Billecart has made a great example of the style with this bottling. He and I drank this along with his team at Quince in SF the last time he was here, and with four years on the lees, it came across as dry, but without a hint of austerity. Many big houses lack respect for Meunier, but not Billecart- this wine gets its charm from the clean fruit that this indigenous grape brings to the blend. It is composed of 40% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and the long, cool fermentation and generous lees time has given this wine the fruit and balance to please even a first time extra brut drinker. To watch the video from my visit with Antoine at Billecart-Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Ay this past April, click here.

A toast to you,

-Gary

Friday
Jun212013

Champagne Friday: Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Gouttes d'Or Vineyard (Brouillet)

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Since I first met Caroline and Paul Vincent Ariston of Champagne Aspasie in Brouillet, I have never gone to France without visiting them. The Ariston’s make top class Champagne at very reasonable prices, and were the very first that we brought in direct here at K&L. When I first met them, they just had their daughter Bertille- now she is 14… Time goes by much too quickly! Cinnamon and I just returned from a short (only four nights!) trip to Champagne, and we spend the day with the Ariston’s. As usual, we had a great time and also learned many new things about what makes their wines so special.

Brouillet, circled on the Larmat Atlas of Champagne.

Brouillet is in the far Northwest corner of Champagne, between Reims and Soissons. This area could not be more different than the intensively planted mono-culture of the Cote-des-Blancs and Mountain of Reims. Here, polyculture is still the rule, with wheat and canola making a patchwork with the vineyards. Only hillside sites with the right soil are granted the appellation here and abundant chalk is found here alongside sand and clay. This area is one of the last in Champagne to be harvested, and Paul Vincent likes to pick ripe, so he often harvests 10 days after most of the appellation.

On this trip I learned something that I did not know about the Aspasie wines. They are in fact an RM, and sell their wines as such within France. Because of the complexities of exporting, and in order to fairly compensate the members of his family, Paul Vincent set up a negociant business for export. The only wine sold under this negociant label is their estate grown Champagne.

The Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne ($27.99, $15.99 375ml) has always been our number one selling direct import Champagne. This is for great reason- no producer is as patient with their entry level wine, ageing it for five years before selling it. The value for money is off the charts. This wine has plenty of richness and weight, but keeps its balance with excellent refreshing qualities as well. The toastiness of this wine is all natural and arrived at by long ageing.

For me, one of the most special wines from this estate is the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($34.99, $79.99 magnum) which is almost all from the old vine Chardonnay in the Gouttes d’Or parcel. This is the second steepest vineyard that I have walked in Champagne- only the Clos des Goisses was steeper. Unlike most Chardonnay in Champagne, the Gouttes d’Or faces West, and on this trip it was a furnace. When we got back to the car, the thermometer read 41 Centigrade- 105 in old money!

Returning back to the house, Paul Vincent treated us to a comparison of the 2008 based Blanc de Blancs and the recently disgorged 2009. The last of the 2008 just docked here in California, and it is simply spectacular. Looking back at my notes from tasting the wine as vin clair on May 25th of 2009, I found it to be both racy and rich at once. On June 17th of this year, that had not changed- it had snap and refreshment that cannot be beat while also filling the mouth with rich, creamy texture. This bottle reminded me of the quote “A bottle between four of us, thank God there aren’t more of us” and went down very quickly! Later on, just before dinner, we had the Blanc de Blancs from magnum, and this batch is still based on 2007, with a full extra year on the lees. The magnum gained a lot in complexity without losing any of the freshness of the 2008. If you have more than two people, this is the way to go!

Aspasie: a new plantation.

 

Grillmaster Caroline Aspasie.

It is hard for me to say more about the Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) than I have already said- it is simply one of the best Champagnes that money can buy. Not only does it offer the kind of incisive cut that one finds in Salon, but it is nearly exotic enough to be Condrieu. The Viognier like fruit expression on the nose also has flinty, bready elements and the palate is a kaleidoscope of complexity. The finish, which lasts and lasts has the brightness of the best of the appellation. Paul Vincent calls it “a wine for squirrels” as the high acidity raises his cheekbones! It is based on 2006 and composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc.

A toast of Aspasie to you!

–Gary