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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in Avize (2)

Friday
Jul122013

Champagne Friday: Bonville Vertical Tasting

  

Bonville vertical notes, page 1.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Ever since K&L received the first shipment of Champagne Franck Bonville in 2003, I have been recommending their vintage wines as the most vertical-worthy bottles that we carry. Not only do the wines develop evenly and beautifully over time, they are capable of incredible longevity and are priced fairly enough to purchase in a quantity that allows for enjoyment at many different points in their evolution. One June 25th of this year, Cinnamon and I were invited to Avize to do an incredible vertical tasting of Bonville, in the cellar where the wines were born. The wines did not disappoint, and although I have been treated to many great old bottles by Olivier in the past, the incredible context that tasting side by side allowed and the strength of even the obscure vintages surpassed all of my lofty expectations.

Tasting in the Bonville cellar.

When I wrote to thank Olivier, I dug up my first order with Bonville and sent it to him again.  That order arrived at K&L on January 23rd 2003, and the included 15 cases of the 1996 vintage, retail price $24.99 and 8 ½ cases of the last of the 1992 vintage at $29.99. The euro bank note had just passed its one year birthday and my contract for the currency for that order was 1:1 with the dollar. Since then we have carried every vintage release from Bonville, and some of readers have bottles in your cellar: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. The Bonville family does their best to make vintage wines every year, sometimes very little (like in 1992), sometimes quite a lot (like in 1996).

When Cinnamon and I went down to the cellar at Bonville to taste, we were surrounded by an international cast of characters- Bonville’s importers from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Japan and as close as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We tasted 21 vintages from the 2012 vin clair all the way back to 1959. Olivier had picked out a representative sample, from vintage-of-the-century candidate 1964 to the obscure 1977; wines made by his father, grandfather and himself.

My first note is at the top of the page and the rest follow:

Bonville vertical notes, page 2.

Bonville vertical notes, page 3.

Bonville vertical notes page 4. This tasting could not be better timed with the release of the 2008 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99), which we did not have in the vertical, but rather at lunch afterwards. This is the greatest current release Bonville that I have ever had, and eclipses even the 1996 and 2002 in their youth. This wine has much in common with their very great 1996; electric acidity married to concentrated richness and a sense of place that few wines ever achieve. It is shocking how good the wine tastes now, but its potential will not be reached for many years to come. This will gain complexity and effortlessly improve for a couple of decades, and I am sure I will be enjoying it on its The 2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne magnums are still available! 40th birthday if I can stay fit and healthy. I think this could be another 1964 in the making.

The 2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L ($84.99) is also available, although the 750’s are all sold out. This direct, fresh vintage is in the perfect hands with Olivier Bonville who has coaxed out some wonderful counterbalancing richness. In this format, the wine should last as long as any of us will and evolve positively for more than a decade. The 2008ss will be out in magnum next year.

I hope that you put down some of Bonville’s great vintage wine. Your patience will be rewarded.

A toast to you!

-Gary

Friday
Jul062012

Champagne Friday: Celebrate the Tour de France with Launois

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Hello All,

Today is a special Champagne Friday, because the Tour de France started in Epernay today. All of the Champenois have been out in the start village or lining the roads as the race goes through the Cotes de Blancs and the Grand Valley of the Marne. I thought that there would be no better way to celebrate than with one of our very best Cotes de Blancs producers, Launois!

For eight generations, the Launois family has been making some of the best estate-grown Champagne available from their sizeable estate. They have vines in the grand cru’s Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize and Cramant, and all of the wines that we purchase from them come from these top villages.

Bernard Launois does things differently. He has invested in three top of the line, computer controlled Coquard diagonal pressed, but still uses enamel lined iron (think Le Creuset cookware!) vats for fermentation and ageing because he does not like the way stainless steel fermented wines taste. While many in the Cotes de Blancs pride themselves on pure steel in their wines, Bernard values richness to balance his Champagne's naturally intense minerality. He harvests about 10 days after everyone else in his are done, and instead of paying gypsies to pick, he has Dutch and Belgian business men pay him to work the fields.  

The best introduction to his style is the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($34.99) which is made from the flatter vineyards on the estate. The current batch is based on the great 2008 harvest and the aromatics are like polished white Burgundy with a touch of pine nut and minerals. The flavors are broad and rich. This is serious wine, with small bubbles and a refreshing finish.

 

 

I might be making a mistake to mention the Launois "Quartz" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($34.99) since its cult following wipes out the tiny amount that we get almost immediately. It is made entirely from the Les Chetillons parcel that Pierre Peters sells as single vineyard, and only brought up to 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This pure Champagne is one of the few to show off the flowery side of Chardonnay, and is a show stopper. If we are out, get on the email waiting list for next time…it always sells out, but we always get more later!

If you like to cellar Champagne, grab a few of the 2002 Launois "Special Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne( $59.99) before they are gone. This wine comes from the families two best plots, Les Corroies in Mesnil and La Justice in Cramant, both of which are over 60 years old. It is Bernard’s top wine- and certainly one of ours.

 

 

Coming in by the end of the month is the Launois "Veuve Clemence" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99), made from the top and bottom parts of the steeper vineyard sites, and gets 4 years on the lees, an extra year over the Reserve. It comes off as more vinous, elegant and developed than the reserve.

On the same container, the 2005 Launois Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($49.99) is made from mid slope parcels, and is the richest, creamiest, toastiest of the bunch. This decadent wine will go great with lobster, and given the freshness of the ’64 I tasted on my last visit, the wine should last a very long time. Stay tuned!

Happy Champagne Friday,

-Gary Westby

Check out more educational wine & spirits videos from Gary and the experts at K&L on YouTube!