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,