By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer
One of the Greats- Regardless of Price!
The Saturday after having dinner with Krug’s CEO, Cinnamon and I decided to stay home and have some excellent Dungeness Crab from The Fish Market in Palo Alto. We kept it simple, with Littleneck clams in garlic, aligote and butter as a starter, and shallot bread and arugula salad with the crustacean. Since we were still in the mood for good Champagne, we opened one of the wines I have long regarded as one of our best at any price, the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99). With the Clos de Mesnil so fresh in our minds, this was a great opportunity for us to compare.
The Belles Voyes is a very nicely situated vineyard in the mid-slope of the Grand Cru of Oger. The Bonville’s share it with many other growers, including Launois, who use it in their vintage. Their plot is only one and three quarters acres and was planted either in the late 20’s or early 30’s, no one really remembers. You can see it here on the Larmat Atlas of Champagne:
The vineyard gets its name from the excellent view that one has of the village of Oger from its slopes. Making a single vineyard wine out of this site was the idea of Olivier Bonville, who wanted to make a wine in the style of his grandfather after taking over the winery from his father Gilles. To this end, he took this old, massal selected plot and made a barrel aged tete de cuvee from one marc, or single press load of Chardonnay. This adds up to just 3000 bottles. Luckily for us, Olivier’s father didn’t think a “high priced”, barrel aged, single vineyard Champagne would be of interest to their customers, so when I offered to by nearly all of it the first time Olivier showed it to me, he let me!
Over the years, our allocation of this wine has dropped, but luckily we always get more than anyone else. The current batch is based on 2004 and is simply magnificent. You can check out more about this wine and my own impressions of it in today's video segment.
It is a very rich blanc de blancs that still finishes with the persistent length and chalkiness of the top Champagne in the world. It has layer upon layer of white fruit and subtle brioche, and will grow in your memory after having drunk it. I hope that you grab a bottle and treat yourself to one of our best.
A toast to you!