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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 Michel Loriot (10)

Friday
May312013

Champagne Friday: A Perfect Champagne and Cheese Pairing

Michel Loriot in the L'Arpent Vineyard that produces the Loriot Meunier Vieilles Vignes.By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member

Food and wine is something of a regular topic here at the K&L, as it ought to be really at any wine shop, but the topic comes up especially often with Gary and Cindy Westby and me. I am forever asking them what they had for dinner, what they drank with it, and how the paring worked.

Champagne is one of my favorite wines to drink with (and before) dinner, and so when Gary returms from his annual trip to Champagne, it is my habit to interrogate him about what he ate and drank. After returning the last time, one particular thing stuck firmly in my head: he mentioned that for the first time he could remember, he had been served a non-French cheese with a bottle of bubbles. To say cheese is a big deal in France is an understatement. I was surprised that this took place in front of a guest. It must have been a nearly perfect pairing.

Let me tell you, it is.

The Champagne is the 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) The cheese is Parmesan.

With this in mind, I set out to create a dish that would compliment this natural pairing, as well as highlight the savory components of the wine. This bottle of Champagne has both driving minerality contrasted with a beautifully creamy mouthfeel. Pinot Meunier always has this umami quality that tantalizes me the way that truffles and mushrooms can when incorporated perfectly into a dish. In order to find the right dish I found myself flipping through the French Laundry cook book.

Eventually I stumbled on the perfect dish: White Truffle Risotto with Shitake Mushrooms and Parmesan.

This risotto is constructed in the usual manor: soften shallots, toast the rice, add white wine, and then carefully ladle in stock until the rice has absorbed enough liquid to be cooked through but firm. After the risotto was cooked properly, I folded in a cup quartered Shitakes that I had sautéed in butter and a splash of Cognac separately (flambé carefully please), stirred in a touch of heavy cream, and a few drops of white truffle oil (a few drops really do go a long way, it is completely worth it to spend a bit more of high quality oil, the difference is truly amazing), and a half cup of grated Parmesan. I topped the risotto with a baked Parmesan cracker, grated the cheese on to a silicon pad, and popped it in the oven until lightly golden brown and crispy.

I poured a glass of the Champagne and proceeded to enjoy truly a great pairing. The interplay of the savory aspect of both wine and the dish were truly stunning. The richness of the Risotto was countered with the driving minerality and fresh acidity of the wine, and everything was in harmony. I encourage all of you to think about Champagne as a great wine to have before dinner, but also as a very capable pairing to many dishes.

Cheers!

-Kyle

Loriot's ancestors watch over the L'Arpent day and night.

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
Feb012013

Champagne Friday: The Western Valley of the Marne

 

Michel Loriot checking his vineyards by mountain bike.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Itinerary #2- The Western Valley of the Marne

Visitors to Champagne often miss the Western Valley of the Marne, which is a pity, since I find it to be the most beautiful parts of the whole region. Here you will find steeper slopes and higher peaks than the Mountain of Reims and a more mixed agricultural landscape than the Cote des Blancs. This is the home of Pinot Meunier, the indigenous Champagne variety. It is also home to a lot of the region’s most innovative producers, vignerons working with small barrels, ancient varieties and organics.

We’ll start the day off at the Hotel Ibis in Epernay again, whose information I will repeat below. Grabbing lunch before departing to eat on the road is a great idea, as a three hour lunch will turn a good day of visits into a two stop affair. For information on great spots to pick stuff up in Epernay, check out last week’s Champagne Friday.

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers interested in tasting and learning about the wines rather than hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable. The friendly, professional, and accommodating staff are there 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!

Hotel Ibis :: 19 rue Chocatelle :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 51 14 51

 Taste: Leclerc Briant "Les Crayères" Single Vineyard Brut Champagne

Champagne Leclerc Briant, Epernay

Start your day on foot by walking up the hill from the Ibis to Leclerc Briant, whose historic holdings were mostly in the western valley of the Marne. The vineyards have now all been sold, and the winery is now owned by a family from the US, but the stocks are all from the original estate, and will be for at least another couple of years. Here you will be able to taste single vineyard, bio-dynamic Champagne from the village of Cumieres, which is just a few kilometers west of Epernay. On your way to your next appointment you will drive right by their Les Crayeres site.

Leclerc Briant :: 67, rue Chaude Ruelle -BP 108 :: 51204 Epernay :: 03 26 54 45 33/Fax: 03 26 54 49 59 info@leclercbriant.com

 

Taste: Tarlant "Cuvée Louis" Brut Champagne Champagne Tarlant, Oeuilly

American Champagne lovers have been sad for over a year now, because Tarlant is not available here in the USA anymore. I keep on working on my friends Benoit and Melanie Tarlant and I am sure one day these great wines will be back on the shelves at K&L. For now, we’ll have to be content to visit them in Oeuilly, and carry back as much of their great Champagne as we can fit in our luggage. The Tarlants make some of the very best grower Champagne in this part of Champagne, or anywhere for that matter. They have done a lot of work with small oak barrels and use them with Krug-like mastery. They are also the biggest proponents of low and no dosage Champagne, period. Tarlant wines have incredible depth, terroir expression and yet maintain crisp drinkability. To get there you will need to climb to the top of the village, once you have turned into what seems like a dead end alley, you have made it to the right place. Arrive early to your appointment here so you can take in the view of the Marne valley from their driveway- it is one of the best views in Champagne. If you don’t get a chance to taste their excellent Cuvee Louis while you are there, buy a bottle. You won’t be disappointed. You can check out a video that I made last year tasting with Benoit here: http://blog.klwines.com/httpblogklwinescomuncork/live-blogging-from-champagne.html

Tarlant :: 21 Rue de la Coopérative :: 51480 Epernay :: 03 26 58 30 60/Fax: 03 26 58 37 31 champagne@tarlant.com

 

Taste: 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne, in stock now at K&L ($49.99)Champagne Michel Loritot, Festigny

Continuing west, our next stop is Champagne Loriot in Festigny. Michel Loriot is not just the champion of Meunier, he is also the president of the Independent Vignerons of Champagne (see him in the picture at the top of the page, checking his vineyards by mountain bike!) His wines are respected throughout the region for being all that the 'big houses' say Meunier cannot be: serious, structured and age- worthy. The village of Festigny is tucked away in its own little valley just south of the Marne, and is full of horses, cows and of course, vines. All of the wines here are feremented in enamel-lined tanks that look like giant Le Creuset cookware. The wines never go through malolactic fermentation and have plenty of crispness as well as power. His flagship, the Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne comes from a vineyard that was planted in the middle of World War 2, and should not be missed by any fan of Champagne. For a sneak peak of their tasting room, click here.

Michel Loriot :: 13, rue de Bel Air –51700 Festigny :: 03 26 58 34 01/fax 03 26 58 03 98
contact@michelloriot.com

Yours Truly, tasting Tarlant.

Bistro Les 7, Epernay

Drink: Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne After a busy day tasting, you will be ready to eat! One of the hottest spots in Epernay is Bistro Les 7. Make your reservations well in advance, and get ready to run into vignerons, export managers from big houses, and all sorts of Champagne personalities. This place gets full every night! Start off with a glass of the Ratafia, a Champagne specialty from the mistel family which is half unfermented grape juice from the appellation and half marc made from Champagne. While the Champagne by the glass here is always served in magnum, there is no reason not to go for a bottle from their list, which is only a little bit more expensive than K&L’s retail prices. I recommend the Bonville Prestige, which I drank the last time I was there. The prix fixe menu is very reasonable; I love the duck confit (when it is on the menu), as well as the rabbit pate! They also have a formal restaurant, Les Bercaux, which is great as well. I’ll save that for another post!

Bistro Les 7 13 Rue des Berceaux, 51200 Épernay :: 03 26 55 28 84

 

A toast to you!

-Gary