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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 Brut Rose (7)

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
Jul262013

Champagne Friday: Special Coutelas Tastings with Angelique and Damien Coutelas at K&L

Angelique and Damien Coutelas of Champagne Amaury Coutelas.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

We will have some very special guests visiting K&L over the next couple weeks, Angelique and Damien Coutelas of Champagne Amaury Coutelas from Villers-Sous-Chatillon in the Western Valley of the Marne. We will be hosting tastings with them in all three K&L locations. Many of you are familiar with them from their excellent 2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) that we featured last year in the Champagne club. This young couple are making top class Champagne, and this is a rare opportunity to taste with and ask questions directly of the wine-maker owners of this great estate.

The Coutelas family has been growing grapes in Champagne since 1809, and making their own wines since the 1920’s. They own seventeen and one half acres, mostly in Villers, but they also have property in Ambonnay, Bouzy, Vitry la Francois and Troissy. All of their vineyard is farmed sustainably. These are Champagnes of power and depth, with plenty of dark fruit power and honest toast from long ageing. They use a lot of old oak, and also some new, custom made large foudres. If you have enjoyed the Champagne’s of Tarlant, this is a producer you will want to know!

They will pour the following wines:

2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) This half and half blend of Meunier and Pinot Noir come from estate vines that average over 70 years old- among the oldest I have ever heard of in Champagne. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and finished with only six grams per liter of dosage. It is a very full bodied wine, with super power in the middle, yet refreshing on the finish. This great new (but only new to the US!) producer is one to notice!

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne ($39.99)

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvee 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) The Cuvee 1809 from Coutelas is  spectacular Champagne composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from vines of over 40 years old. It is vinified in oak without malolactic fermentation and is aged for over eight years on the lees, on a cork, not a crown cap. It is very dry Champagne, with only six grams per liter of dosage. It has flavors of white truffles and intriguing earth- this is Champagne for connoisseurs. It has a very chalky, powerful, fresh finish. This is serious Champagne, and a great thing to try when you feel like you've had it all!

Amaury Coutelas "Elixr" Brut Rose Champagne ($34.99)

Here are the dates, times and places. All tastings will be $5 and walk in only, with no advance tickets.

K&L Redwood City: Monday July 29th, 5pm-6:30pm

K&L San Francisco: Tuesday July 30th, 5pm-6:30pm

K&L Hollywood: Thursday August 8th, 5pm-7pm 

View listings on K&L Local Events

If you can’t make it, I strongly recommend that you pick up a few bottles to try- this is a serious producer!

A toast to you,

-Gary

 

Friday
Apr262013

Champagne Friday: Thienot - A Different Kind of Negociant

Garance and Alain Thienot in their winery in Taissy.

 

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Thienot- A Different Kind of Negociant

Visiting Champagne Thienot in Taissy just outside of Reims is a completely different experience from visiting other negociants and a refreshing change. I was shown around by Garance Thienot and later met Alain Thienot for the tasting along with chef de cave Laurent Fedou this month and I was very impressed. The facility is brand new, built in 1992- above ground with humidity control and air conditioning. It is the only negociant I have ever visited in Champagne that I did not have to worry about destroying my rental car when I pulled in…Most have ancient gates that don't look like they would accommodate a car! This new facility, with all the convenience of an open warehouse space is just a small detail compared to the impact the genesis of the business has had on the wines.

Most of the big name (and the unknown for that matter!) negociants in Champagne are very old operations. In contrast, Alain Thienot started his company in 1985, after working for decades as a grape broker for other houses. This is the perfect background for starting a Champagne house, as Mr. Thienot knew all of the vineyards and growers intimately. When he started, the prices for grapes were completely fixed by the cru rating of the vineyard sites each year - as he said, the price for the poor, the OK, the good and the great was all the same - and he was in the best position to know who was doing a great job in the vineyard. The prices are no longer fixed in Champagne, but this basic structure of pricing, by cru, is still very much the way business is done. So Mr. Thienot started small, buying the best of what was available, and shopping for vineyards of his own.

By the beginning 90s Alain Thienot had managed to collect up a number of gem vineyards, including a large parcel of Grand Cru Ay that belonged to Krug but was sold off when they were acquired by Remy. Now they have a little over 67 acres of their own estate and contract a further 32 acres from other growers. This large amount of prime estate fruit, and small amount of truly excellent contracts explains their very high quality in the bottle. Thienot also owns Canard-Duchenne, and this allows further flexibility in sourcing high quality grapes since it enhances their buying power.

The style at Thienot is very clean and fresh, and they use small stainless steel tanks for the fermentations to keep the various parcels separate. Alain Thienot is a huge believer in traditional assembelage and said that he is not wedded to using certain parcels in certain wines, but rather uses what nature gives him each vintage to create the style that he is after in each individual wine. The exception to this is the single vineyard “La Vigne aux Gamins”. This is a house making Champagne on the level of greats like Roederer and Bollinger, and very worth your attention. I hope that you will try some of these Champagnes! I brought in everything they have available and think the world of the wines- here is what we have got:

Thienot Brut Champagne ($39.99) This is a great way to check out the style of Thienot at a very fair price. It was the surprise of the Oscars- the small upstart house that kicked out Moet! It is composed of 45% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 20% Meunier. The light gold color and big brioche, cream and baked apple nose gives way to a wine that is packed with power and complexity on the palate. This full bodied Champagne has a luscious finish that is very impressive.

Thienot Brut Rosé Champagne ($64.99) This brassy pink Champagne is composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier. The color comes from 7% red wine from old vines in the grand cru of Ay-one of the plots purchased from Krug in the 1980’s. The Champagne has a very creamy nose and absolutely outstanding Ay black cherry fruit. This rose is one of the best we have in the blended style with both clean, abundant fruit and chalky drive. If you love rose, don’t miss this one!

All of the vintage dated Champagne from Thienot are entirely estate grown, and exceptionally good:

2006 Thienot "Cuvee Garance" Blanc de Rouges Brut Champagne ($99) This bottling is named after Garance Thienot, who handles the communications and marketing for the family firm. They have chosen to call this Champagne “blanc de rouges” instead of “blanc de noirs” because of the effort that they put into keeping the wine feminine. This is 100% Pinot Noir and a large proportion of the fruit comes from the grand cru Ay that the family purchased from Krug as well as from Garance’s own personal vines in the village of Tauxieres, on the border with Bouzy. This is one of the most intriguing, delicate examples of pure Pinot Champagne that I have tasted, and the quality of the fruit reminded me very much of Volnay even if the wine was straw golden in color. This very elegant, lifted wine won’t make you doubt it’s all Pinot Noir composition and the long chalky finish will leave you wanting more. This was one of the discoveries of my 2013 trip!

2005 Thienot "Cuvee Stanislas" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($99) The "Cuvee Stanislas" Blanc de Blancs is made entirely from Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs, all of them grand cru except for a little bit of premier cru from Vertus. This high toned, smoky Champagne has great focus and precision and superior, long, mineral finish.

1999 Thienot "Cuvee Alain Thienot" Brut Champagne ($99) This classy vintage Champagne is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. The Alain Thienot has so much aroma that I thought it would be giant Champagne from smelling the walnut bread and dark cherry fruit that was jumping from the glass. On the palate this is a very balanced wine with great clarity of flavor and a light bead. The long ageing of this Champagne has done so much for it- to think that the most famous names in Champagne are selling wine that is four or even 6 years younger shows the Thienot’s commitment to quality in the bottle. It is extremely focused and long on the finish and a must try for anyone who loves luxury cuvees!

2002 Thienot "La Vigne aux Gamins" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($149) This rarity comes from a miniscule one and a quarter acre plot of the Thienot estate in the Grand Cru of Avize called the Vigne aux Gamins near the border with Oger. The vines were planted in the 1950s and are massal selected rather than clones. This wine blew me away with its fantastic combination of white flowers and candied fruit. If you are looking for a toasty Champagne, this is not it- the Gamins is completely fresh and chalky style for Champagne fans that like it live and direct. It is also a great cellar candidate and will be even more fabulous as a twenty or thirty year old bottle. This great vintage is going for a low price for what it is…future vintages are bound to be more expensive! Use the link above to add this to your wait list so you can be notified when inventory is available.

I hope you'll try some of these great bottles from Thienot!

A toast to you,

Gary