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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

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Entries in Bruno Michel (9)

Friday
Oct262012

Champagne Friday: It's International Champagne Day!

Benoit Marguet inspecting one of his magnums.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Today is International Champagne Day, so it is a very special Champagne Friday. Later today, I will be in the San Francisco store pouring a tasting of all magnum, all estate-grown Champagnes from 5pm until 6:30 PM. Please join me to celebrate International Champagne Day in SF  if you can! Even if you can’t come, you can still do your part and drink some Champagne today.

Why magnums? I believe the best premium that one can pay in regards to Champagne is the upgrade to a magnum (1.5L) format. Whenever there are enough people to drink two bottles of Champagne- at my house that means three people- I consider a magnum. Since Champagne undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle, a magnum is at a tremendous advantage: not only does it enjoy double the wine to oxygen ratio in the larger bottle, but the curve of the glass allows for more contact with the yeast before disgorgement. This means you get more of the aged character that you do want (contact with the lees) and less of the ageing you don’t want (contact with oxygen).

I hope you can join me this evening in San Fransisco. The cost to taste is only $10! Here's what I will be pouring:

If you have enjoyed the wines of Lallement, Bollinger and Krug in the past, I think you will very much enjoy Michel Arnould.

Bruno Michel "Blanche Brut" Champagne $32.99/ $$79.99 magnum

Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne $34.99 / $74.99 magnum

2002 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne 1.5L $99 (magnum only)

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne $39.99/ $84.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne $32.99/ $64.99 magnum

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $34.99/ $74.99 magnum

 

A toast to you, hopefully with you!

–Gary

Friday
Aug242012

Champagne Friday: Pairing Champagne and Fish

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Dinner at the Fish Market

Nothing is more fun for a Champagne fan than to create a whole menu to pair with our favorite bubbles. I have enjoyed dinners like this with many of you, sometimes even at your homes! Last week I dreamed up a salmon-themed menu at home to go with older Champagne for the K&L Champagne team of Scotty, Mari & Kyle. This week, I put together a paired dinner with my friend Henry Hiatt at the Palo Alto Fish Market and it was a great success. I hope that next week I can encourage all of you Champagne fans to do the same on a big or small scale, and share a picture or two with me.

There are a few guiding principles to pairing Champagne, but that being said, it is one of the best wines on the planet for its ease of pairing, and there are very few pitfalls when combining Champagne with food. This is in stark contrast to the two most popular categories of still wine at K&L: rich Cabernet (which only really goes with steak) and rich, oaky Chardonnay (which I am still looking for a pairing for- my old colleague used to joke that cigarettes were the pairing).

Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs ($39.99) Champagne was at the bottom of the ocean 300 million years ago, and the chalk soil that makes the wine so great is littered with shellfish fossils. This connection to the ocean makes Champagne a natural with seafood, and shellfish in particular. Shellfish has a tendency to make whatever wine that is paired with it taste sweeter than it is, so often Champagnes that might seem austere on their own really shine when paired with them. I love drinking extra bruts and very dry blanc de blancs with oysters, scallops & crab in particular. On Wednesday we did two pairings like this that you can see in the video segment: the Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99) with Kumamoto oyster’s from Humboldt and the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99) with a crab and avocado salad. The Bruno Michel comes from a very cold site in Pierry, and although not an extra brut, it is still one of the driest blanc de blancs that we have. It went fantastically well with the oysters, cutting the richness and highlighting their saline, savory quality. The Belles Voyes richer side was brought out by the crab, and showed how much weight palate weight that wine hides over its long impression on the mouth.

2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne ($59.99) Spicier foods show better with more open knit Champagne. I love to pair Pinot Noir based Champagne with dishes that pop with spice and tang. At the Fish Market we had saffron prawns in a tomato based sauce with the 2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne ($59.99). This richer wine has time on its side at 10 years old, and really opened to show the black cherry chalk that only the village of Bouzy has to offer. A few of the staff commented on how much brighter this bottle shined than the one in the staff tasting… Nothing beats a great dish as a foil. We were then treated to a bottle of 1995 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut Champagne from Keith, our Burgundy buyers cellar, which also had the Pinot punch for the savory sauce. What a treat!

For the main course, Dijon crusted tilapia, we went with an older Champagne from the cellar. Although tilapia itself is quite delicate, the panko and mustard crust offered up quite a bit of flavor. The 1996 Leclerc Briant "Cuvée Divine" Brut Champagne is a blend of half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Pascal Leclerc’s entirely bio-dynamic vineyards that are now owned by Roederer. This wine showed a touch of the truffle and butter flavors that really seemed to baste and add richness to the dish. It was the favorite pairing of the night for a few of my colleagues.

2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) One category of Champagne that we did not pair on this occasion is the Meunier based wines of the Western Valley of the Marne. I love the ripe pear fruit and often mushroom-like flavors of these wines with pates of all sorts, especially then now illegal in California Foie Gras. These Champagnes also go very well with savory tarts, caramelized onion and of course mushroom. The 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) is unbelievable with Parmigiano-Reggiano and trying that pairing with the Loriot family is only the second time that I have ever had a non-French cheese in France.

Another category that is often overlooked is sweeter styles of Champagne. These have fallen out of favor with most Champagne producers and because of that are very difficult to buy. Demi-Sec is often a clearing house for the worst of what producers make, so buy with care. The best of them, which are blended specially ahead of time to make good sweeter Champagne like the Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99) go very well with all manner of lighter desserts, especially strawberry shortcake!

I hope that I can inspire a few Champagne fans to play with some pairings. Like I said, please send me a picture or recipe if you find something that works!

A toast to you!

-Gary

***

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

Tuesday
Jun292010

Follow the Tour de France...with Bottles!

The 2010 Tour de France Organizers Must Like Wine!

The organizers of the Tour de France have been very kind to the wine lover this year, sending riders pedaling through many of the best wine regions of France. Why not sip while the riders suffer? I like the idea so much that Cinnamon and I are going to head out to Champagne to see the Reims finish and the Epernay start this July… I am sure we will be able to find something to drink there!

The Tour starts Saturday, July 3rd with a prologue in Rotterdam. The race heads into Belgium on the next day, and on the 6th the drama begins with seven cobbled sections on the stage to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. This is a great day for a bottle of the La Chouffe Belgian Ale (750ml $9.99), the classic beverage of the Ardennes. The Tour could be lost on these godforsaken roads. The only guarantee besides excitement on this stage is that the fans will show up, drink beer and eat frites by the kilo.

On the 7th, the riders will enjoy a flat, fast stage to Reims for what promises to be a bunch sprint in the largest city in Champagne. For this stage we look to one of the few Grand Marque houses that are still family-owned, Louis Roederer. Mr. Frederic Rouzaud, the man in charge, is even a bike rider himself. The Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne ($36.99) is a Reims classic, and as predictably good as Mark Cavendish after a fast Team Columbia lead out.

The next day, the riders start in Epernay, according to the itinerary. If you dig a little deeper into the map, you will see that the actual start is in Moussy, just south of the city. I will be there with Mr. Bruno Michel, who makes great Champagne in that village. I hope we can get a good vantage point with him to see the start! The AG2R pro John Gadret, who rode so well in the Giro d’Italia, used to work for him. I invite you to join us in drinking the Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne ($32.99), an organically grown, meticulously made blend of half Chardonnay and half Meunier. Have a toast to Gadret; he could end up winning a stage in the mountains this year.

On Bastille Day, July 14th, the Tour will go from Chambéry to Gap, covering some of the lavender-covered fields of Provence on a rolling course. What could be more French than dry rosé from the region? The 2009 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix-En-Provence Rosé ($15.99) will be the perfect thing to sip while watching Cofidis, AG2R and Boygues Telekom kill themselves to make the break and get some TV time. Watch for the seasoned veteran Christophe Moreau, he might be free to fly now that his team leader has been suspended!

On July 23rd, after many brutal days in the mountains, the race winds down with a flat, sprinter's finish in the greatest wine city in the world: Bordeaux. For many years, my father and I would always plan a special wine dinner in honor of the Bordeaux finish. I suggest that you do the same, and start with the bracing Sauvignon zip of the 2008 Reynon "Old Vines" Bordeaux Blanc ($13.99) with a nice piece of halibut, since turbot is hard to get here. You could then move on to steak au poivre with a bottle of the 1999 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($19.99), which is a perfect, medium-bodied Cabernet, and to me one of the finest values in the entire K&L portfolio. Finish the evening out with a half bottle of the scandalously underpriced nectar 2007 Petit-Védrines, Sauternes (375ml $11.99) and a cherry clafoutis. Perhaps we can toast a great win by American Tyler Farrar on the most beautiful sprinting boulevard in the world!

The next day, when your guests have left your Bordeaux dinner party, the riders will be battling it out on the last decisive day of the 2010 Tour, the 52km individual time trial from the city of Bordeaux up the Médoc to Pauillac. Along the way the riders will go past a roll call of the finest Châteaux; at 22k they will pass Château Margaux, then pick off Ducru at 45k and the great Léoville estates at 47k, before finally ending in the town that gives us Pichon-Lalande, Mouton, Lafitte and Latour. This is a night for a simply-made steak, potatoes and asparagus, paired with a great bottle of Médoc from your cellar. If you would rather plunder our cellar, I would recommend the 2005 Cordeillan Bages, Pauillac (Was $60 Now $34.99), which is a great value that just needs some decanting… We always have some interesting older Pauillacs at good prices as well, so check our website. Long time trials like this can be devastating, so look for rarely-fed climbers like the Schleck brothers to give up large amounts of time (and positions on GC) while Contador, Armstrong and specialists like Fabian Cancellara dominate the day.

I can’t wait! Tour fever has already taken hold of me.

Gary Westby

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