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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 Champagne (75)

Friday
Jul132012

Champagne Friday: Champagne for the Cellar

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne for the Cellar

Nothing compares to mature wine, and Champagne is one of the greatest wines in the world for lasting and gaining complexity over the passage time. However, information on how to age Champagne--and even the question of whether one should--is often contradictory and confusing. Many of you have been to Champagne and undoubtedly been told from the big houses that the ageing has been done for you at the winery, and the wine meant to be drunk as soon as it is released. Well, in this week's Champagne Friday video, I hope to debunk these and other myths and contradictions related to Champagne ageing and storage. Along the way, you'll be taken on a tour of my home walk-in cellar and wine locker, and be given the run down on several different wine cabinet storage options. 

Is your cellar is in need of a Champagne boost? Here are some of my favorite cellar candidates that are in stock now:

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne $27.99: Non vintage Champagne in the cellar? Are you crazy? We put a bottle of this in the K&L cellar for 5 years as an experiment, and served it next to the current release at a staff tasting. The verdict was unanimous, the older bottle was just better, with absolutely no lack of freshness. The time had allowed the wine to integrate beautifully, extra complexity to develop and the texture to fill out: all without sacrificing zip. This doesn’t just apply to this bottle- try putting down half a case of your favorite non-vintage and compare it to the current release next year, then the year after that etc. You will be impressed!

2005 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne $44.99: Traditionally, vintage Champagne is the stuff to put in your cave for the future, and this effortless, elegant Meunier based Champagne will repay keeping for a decade with lacey complexity. Many of the big houses say that Meunier doesn’t age- except for Krug, who use a lot… This wine will prove them right in five years, I bet you it needs 10 to start to toast up!

 

  

2002 Launois "Special Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $59.99: After drinking 1964 with Bernard Launois on my last trip, and 1995 earlier this week, no producer excites me more for keeping than Launois. This Champagne, like the 2002 Paillard that is listed next is the ultimate open ended proposition for the cellar: Drink tomorrow or in 30 years! Powerful Blanc de Blancs that gets its richness from old vines and a delayed harvest. It might seem strange that the top bottling is offered younger than the regular vintage, but Mr. Bernard Launois is adamant that extensive sur-lee ageing is reductive and shortens the ultimate life span of the wine. He goes against almost every other producer in Champagne with this iconoclastic opinion, but for anyone who has tasted perfectly stored, great Champagne that has aged on cork, we know it can work! Made from two plots of 65-year-old vines, one in the Grand Cru of Oger called the Chenys and one in Mesnil called the Derriere Maison, this is one of the ultimate expressions of Chardonnay that we have to offer.

2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne $59.99: This even blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir comes from very old plots in the Grand Cru of Bouzy. It is an intense, concentrated Champagne with a lot of black cherry Pinot character. Like the Launois, you can enjoy it now at 10 years old, or sock it away for your children.

 

 

2004 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne $189: This all estate Champagne is nearly always drunk to young. I did not understand the wine for many years, until I was able to taste older bottles and then I got it- this is great stuff. I think the 2004 is very much like the great 1988, which is just now starting to show its stuff. If you have the budget and the patience, it will not disappoint.

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

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

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!

 

Friday
Jun292012

Champagne Friday: Stopper Study

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

The Seal: An Essential Part of Champagne

Happy Champagne Friday! This week is all about stoppers. After all, Champagne could not exist without a perfect seal! Trapping carbon dioxide inside the bottle during the second fermentation is the step that makes Champagne sparkle- and it is very likely that this was first done by mistake.

Champagne is one of the highest acid fine wines in the world, and the climate is cool enough that often fermentations would stop for lack of heat after the harvest. The high acidity in the wine can easily mask a touch of residual sugar, and in the days before lab analysis, it would be easy to bottle something that had some sugar left. Add a tight seal and – bang! Bubbles or a broken bottle! 

In today's video, we will examine the first crown cap that Champagne receives at bottling, the cork it receives after disgorgement and finally to the stopper that often is put into it when we don’t finish the bottle. Along the way we will look at corks before they are inserted, corks from the past, silicon plugs on the ends of corks and synthetic/ composite “corks” that producers use to minimize cork taint. If you've never stopped to consider the stopper, you'll be surprised to learn there's more to it than you think.

A great bottle to have in the door of the fridge is the Baron Fuente "Grande Reserve" Brut Champagne for $23.99. Baron Fuente is a negociant that owns almost 90 acres of vines and purchases another 90 acres "sur pied," meaning that they pick the grapes. This is an important distinction since many negociants buy "sur lattes" meaning in bottle!

Baron Fuente "Grande Reserve" Brut Champagne ($23.99) This delicious Champagne is composed of 10% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 60% Meunier and had been aged three years on the lees. It is fermented at relatively cold temperatures in stainless steel with 100% malolactic fermentation. The wine has a very light, white gold color for the blend which is predominantly black grapes and a very pretty, tight bead. On the nose it is flowery and exotic, with a doughy richness to anchor down the wildflower elements. On the palate the wine is well balanced, light and finishes very cleanly. This Champagne is a spectacular aperitif.

I hope you give it a try. If you don't finish the bottle, you can just stopper it up and save to enjoy later, on its own or in a Champagne cocktail like the Negroni Sbagliato, one of my favorites!

A toast to you!

-Gary

 

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

How many corks does it take to stopper a bottle of Champagne? In today's video, Gary invites us to "stop" and consider the stopper, one of the most essential yet oft-overlooked components in Champagne production, storage, and consumption, from start to finish.