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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in Champagne (74)

Friday
Mar012013

Champagne Friday: The Mountains of Reims and the Grand Valley of the Marne

Pinot Noir at Champagne Pierre Paillard in Bouzy.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Itinerary #3: The Mountain of Reims and Grand Valley of the Marne

This is my third installment on travel to the Champagne region, the first covered Epernay and the Cotes des Blancs and the second the Western Valley of the Marne. For this edition, I repeat the information on the hotel Ibis in Epernay, as it a great base for exploring the region. I strongly recommend picking up a picnic lunch to enjoy on the many roadside tables in the vineyards before leaving, as a sit down lunch will take up more than half of the day! I have some tips for great places to put together a picnic in Itinerary #1.

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers to taste and learn about the wines instead of hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable, and the friendly, professional, accommodating staff is available around the clock. Many of them I count as personal friends. The wifi always works, so it is easy to get back in touch with home, and the location could not be more central for visiting the vineyards. Epernay is a small city, and everything is in walking distance. Given how good the food and wine is, walking to and from dinner is a must!

19 rue Chocatelle
51200 Epernay

03 26 51 14 51

http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-0852-ibis-epernay-centre-ville/index.shtml

 

Elisabeth Gourtorbe with K&L's Scott Beckerley.

Champagne Goutorbe, Ay

Try Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99) Just fifteen minutes from Epernay, the village of Ay is the heart of the Champagne vineyards in the Marne. Parking is tight in this ancient village, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments. This is the chalkiest of all the Pinot Noir terroir in the region, and also some of the steepest. Big names such as Bollinger and Deutz are here in this village as well as a roll call of great growers. Instead of visiting the big guys, going to see Goutorbe is a great plan, since it is a two for one: you can taste the wines of both Champagne Henri Goutorbe and Champagne Elisabeth Goutorbe. After more than 100 years of making Champagne, the Goutorbe family had never had a visit from an American importer. The week that I visited, I was the third! The family decided to go national with their main brand, Champagne Henri Goutorbe, and chose the great book of Mr. Terry Thiese.  Elisabeth, the youngest generation of vigneron in the family, suggested working with K&L, and we have been directly importing her wines ever since. These Pinot dominated power houses have minerality like no other Champange from this grape variety. The Goutorbe wines are great examples of this grand cru.

9bis, rue Jeanson

F. 51160 AY-CHAMPAGNE
03 26 55 21 70

info@champagne-henri-goutorbe.com

website

 

Champagne Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

I have always felt that there is a real difference between the big houses in Epernay and Reims and the ones like Philipponnat that are in the vineyards. The people are prefer to tell you the story of the wines that they make rather than talking about their gift boxes or spinning tales of luxury. This house makes the great single vineyard Clos de Goisses, from a walled vineyard which is just up the road from the winery. When making your appointment, make sure to ask for a vineyard tour of this site, as it is one of the most spectacular vineyards in all of Champagne. It is so steep that they run stairs up it for the vineyard workers! This house is now owned by the Lanson-BCC group run by Bruno Paillard, cousins of the Pierre Paillard family who you will visit next. Everyone is connected in this region!

13, rue du Pont

51160 Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

03 26 56 93 00

commercial.export@philipponnat.com

website

Quentin PaillardChampagne Pierre Paillard, Bouzy

Try: Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Champagne ($49.99) Just five minutes up the hill from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ is the village with the best name in the wine world, Bouzy. This is the number one village for making the red wine in Champagne, and a huge number of houses use this Pinot Noir for making their rose. It can also be found bottled alone as a still red wine, and the Paillards make one of the best. All of their wine comes from massale selected vineyards and they are unusual in this Pinot village for planting quite a bit of Chardonnay. The' Acte' series wines, which are single harvest, single varietal and single vineyard, are some of the best, pure terroir wines in Champagne. The two young brothers Quentin and Antoine now run the family firm with their father Benoit, and all of them are fascinating individuals. Talk to them - you will learn a lot!  

2 rue du XXe siècle

51150 Bouzy - France

0 3 26 57 08 04

contact@champagne-pierre-paillard.fr

website

Benoit MarguetChampagne Marguet Pere et Fils, Ambonnay

Try: 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) Minutes away from Bouzy, the neighboring village of Ambonnay is equally famous for the quality of its wines. The Marguet house is across an alley from Krug's "Clos d'Ambonnay" and is surrounded by producers like Billiot and Egly-Ouriet. Benoit Marguet is one of my oldest friends in Champagne, and no one in the region is more dedicated to the craft of Champagne than him. You can see his dedication and attention to detail in my video interview with him where he speaks about his custom made egg shaped barrels. His wines are some of the most streamlined, dry and multifaceted that we carry, and the 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) is my favorite rose at K&L. He also has a great sense of humor, and speaks better English than I do, so you are bound to have a great time with him!


1 Place Barancourt
F - 51150 Ambonnay
(0)326 537 861
james@champagne-marguet.fr

website

 

Restaurant Patrick Michelon at Les Bercaux, Epernay

After a big day of tasting you will be ready for a great meal. Chef Patrick Michelon serves the most elegant dinner in Epernay. Park the car under the Ibis, drop off the Champagne that you bought in the room and walk across the square and around the corner to the restaurant. The wine list is exhaustive, with too many Champagne’s to even read through properly at the table. I usually show up ahead of my guests to have a ratafia and read ahead! They also have a very nice selection of Burgundy for their excellent meat courses, and the last time I dined there I enjoyed an excellent 2000 Pommard from Parent with my lamb course. As with any really great restaurant, I recommend the tasting menu as it offers the best of what the market has to offer and the best inspiration of Mr. Michelon. This is the sister restaurant to Bistro 7, and right in the same building.

Bon appétit!

-Gary

 

Friday
Feb222013

Champagne Friday: Dosage

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Dosage or: Why do they call sweet Champagne dry?

When it comes to selecting a dry or sweet Champagne, the labeling is very confusing. This is because of a historical demand for drier and drier styles over the past two hundred years. When sparkling Champagne was first introduced, it was very, very sweet. That style is now called doux and is extremely rare, with over 50 grams per liter of sugar. While we currently do not have any doux at K&L (demand is almost non-existent today) we did carry an excellent one, the 1995 Fleury Doux Champagne a number of years ago, and poured it at the inaugural tent tastings.

Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec Champagne In the 1800s, demand for drier Champagne increased. The Champenoise obliged by introducing demi-sec, or half-dry, which is still quite sweet but not as sweet as doux, with 35-50 grams of sugar per liter. Demand today is weak for sweet Champagne in this style, but we do carry a few, including the Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec ($49.99), the Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime ($39.99), and the Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial ($49.99).

Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne Demand for even drier styles continued, so sec (dry) Champagne was introduced, but it is important to note that this style is still pretty sweet, just less than demi-sec at 17-35 grams of sugar per liter. I can hardly think of an instance of more confusing terminology in the world of wine. It is labeled dry, but it is a sweet style. While many Champenoise are of the opinion that sweet Champagnes are only produced today, as one producer who will remain annonomus once remarked, “for old people to drink with cake," we do have one of the few exceptions in stock. The Michel Loriot “Cuvee Marie-Leopold” Sec ($34.99) is a not just serious Champagne, but in my opinion one of the finest values to be found in all of Champagne. It was created by Michel for the 100th anniversary of his house. It gets a full four years of aging on the lees and 20 grams per liter of a specially made dosage using pure cane sugar is added to it at disgorgement. If you think you sweeter Champagne is not for you, this could very well change your mind. It comes with my highest recommendation.

Louis Roederer "Carte Blanche" Extra Dry Champagne Moving on to the 20th century, demand for still drier Champagne continued, but the Champenois were running out of words! So they introduced extra sec, or extra dry, which is gently sweet, but at 12-20 grams per liter of sugar still sweeter than brut. The most famous wine in this style is the now discontinued Moet & Chandon White Star, which we still get requests for all the time. We carry the very well balanced and extraordinarily well-made Louis Roederer “Carte Blanche” Extra Dry ($44.99) as a representative of this style. This wine, like the Loriot above is blended specially for the slightly higher dosage and is an excellent partner to paté at the start of the meal or macaroons at the end of it.

In the teens Perrier Jouet premiered brut (they could hardly call it 'extra extra dry'!) for their customers desiring even drier Champagne. Currently the law states that brut Champagne must be dosed at less than 12 grams per liter of sugar. It amuses me that the producers in Champagne simply ran out of vocabulary to describe what has become the dominant style for the region. Out of the 224 Champagnes we have in stock at K&L at the time of writing this post, 204 of them are brut!

Marguet "Valentine Brut Nature" Champagne is only $29.99 with Wine Club Discount!Bringing us up to the present in the 21st century, many sommeliers and Champagne fans are looking for even more precision in their wines. Thus, More and more extra brut is being produced today, an austerely dry style at 0 to 6 grams of sugar per liter. To give you a sense of current demand, these wines account for more than five times the sales of any other category besides brut at K&L. They make excellent partners to seafood, especially sushi. If the wine has less than 3 grams per liter of residual sugar, and no extra dosage has been added, they may also call the Champagne brut nature, pas dose, or dosage zero. My current favorite in this style is the Marguet “Valentine Brut Nature” ($34.99) which has just 1 gram of residual sugar per liter. Pick up some sushi to go and enjoy this bright, zippy wine with it!

I would like to thank Eric de Brissis of Champagne Baron Fuente for helping me out with the current rules for dosage, as they just recently changed. Also keep in mind that the European Union gives the producers three grams per liter of leeway for residual (not added!) sugar. Some producers say that this is far to loose of a range, especially since it would be hard to test for.

Here is the CIVC’s official chart on the dosage of Champagne:

Doux- 50 grams per liter of sugar or more

Demi-Sec- between 32 and 50 grams per liter of sugar

Sec (Dry)- between 17 and 32 grams per liter of sugar

Extra Dry- between 12 and 17 grams per liter of sugar

Brut- less than 12 grams per liter of sugar

Extra Brut- between 0 and 6 grams per liter of sugar

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

Friday
Feb152013

Champagne Friday: Top Value in Vintage Champagne

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Happy belated Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day and other festive occasions can provide those of us with something special to celebrate the perfect excuse to splurge on a 'special' bottle of wine, but what about the rest of the year? 

If you're like me and most folks out there, you probably can't afford (or choose not to) open pricey bottles every night. Pricing on Champagnes from the famous houses start around $50 per bottle--and that's for the entry level bottlings--and rise skyward from there. If this is out of reach for you on an everyday basis, you're not alone. Fortunately, my mission as Champagne buyer for K&L has been to focus our Direct Import program on Champagnes from the small grower-producers, where real value lies. These are true artisan Champagnes, and thanks to our direct import, we are able to offer many incredible values in $30 price range.

 The 2004 Baron Fuente "Grand Millésimé" Brut Champagne ($34.99) is hands down our best value in vintage Champagne. There is so much more class and breeding here than what you get for spending the same or more for one of the famous house's large production entry level Bruts. Made with fruit from the very northerly Aisne department of Champagne, this blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir is fresh yet rich in the mouth, with depth of flavor balanced by crisp acidity and mineral drive on the finish.

Believe me, you rarely see vintage Champagne of this quality for this price. It is showing fine development now--try it with a classic pairing of oysters or caviar--but it has the stuffing to age, too.

I hope you give it a try!

Cheers,

-Gary

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