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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
Aug242012

Champagne Friday: Pairing Champagne and Fish

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Dinner at the Fish Market

Nothing is more fun for a Champagne fan than to create a whole menu to pair with our favorite bubbles. I have enjoyed dinners like this with many of you, sometimes even at your homes! Last week I dreamed up a salmon-themed menu at home to go with older Champagne for the K&L Champagne team of Scotty, Mari & Kyle. This week, I put together a paired dinner with my friend Henry Hiatt at the Palo Alto Fish Market and it was a great success. I hope that next week I can encourage all of you Champagne fans to do the same on a big or small scale, and share a picture or two with me.

There are a few guiding principles to pairing Champagne, but that being said, it is one of the best wines on the planet for its ease of pairing, and there are very few pitfalls when combining Champagne with food. This is in stark contrast to the two most popular categories of still wine at K&L: rich Cabernet (which only really goes with steak) and rich, oaky Chardonnay (which I am still looking for a pairing for- my old colleague used to joke that cigarettes were the pairing).

Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs ($39.99) Champagne was at the bottom of the ocean 300 million years ago, and the chalk soil that makes the wine so great is littered with shellfish fossils. This connection to the ocean makes Champagne a natural with seafood, and shellfish in particular. Shellfish has a tendency to make whatever wine that is paired with it taste sweeter than it is, so often Champagnes that might seem austere on their own really shine when paired with them. I love drinking extra bruts and very dry blanc de blancs with oysters, scallops & crab in particular. On Wednesday we did two pairings like this that you can see in the video segment: the Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99) with Kumamoto oyster’s from Humboldt and the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99) with a crab and avocado salad. The Bruno Michel comes from a very cold site in Pierry, and although not an extra brut, it is still one of the driest blanc de blancs that we have. It went fantastically well with the oysters, cutting the richness and highlighting their saline, savory quality. The Belles Voyes richer side was brought out by the crab, and showed how much weight palate weight that wine hides over its long impression on the mouth.

2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne ($59.99) Spicier foods show better with more open knit Champagne. I love to pair Pinot Noir based Champagne with dishes that pop with spice and tang. At the Fish Market we had saffron prawns in a tomato based sauce with the 2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne ($59.99). This richer wine has time on its side at 10 years old, and really opened to show the black cherry chalk that only the village of Bouzy has to offer. A few of the staff commented on how much brighter this bottle shined than the one in the staff tasting… Nothing beats a great dish as a foil. We were then treated to a bottle of 1995 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut Champagne from Keith, our Burgundy buyers cellar, which also had the Pinot punch for the savory sauce. What a treat!

For the main course, Dijon crusted tilapia, we went with an older Champagne from the cellar. Although tilapia itself is quite delicate, the panko and mustard crust offered up quite a bit of flavor. The 1996 Leclerc Briant "Cuvée Divine" Brut Champagne is a blend of half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Pascal Leclerc’s entirely bio-dynamic vineyards that are now owned by Roederer. This wine showed a touch of the truffle and butter flavors that really seemed to baste and add richness to the dish. It was the favorite pairing of the night for a few of my colleagues.

2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) One category of Champagne that we did not pair on this occasion is the Meunier based wines of the Western Valley of the Marne. I love the ripe pear fruit and often mushroom-like flavors of these wines with pates of all sorts, especially then now illegal in California Foie Gras. These Champagnes also go very well with savory tarts, caramelized onion and of course mushroom. The 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) is unbelievable with Parmigiano-Reggiano and trying that pairing with the Loriot family is only the second time that I have ever had a non-French cheese in France.

Another category that is often overlooked is sweeter styles of Champagne. These have fallen out of favor with most Champagne producers and because of that are very difficult to buy. Demi-Sec is often a clearing house for the worst of what producers make, so buy with care. The best of them, which are blended specially ahead of time to make good sweeter Champagne like the Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99) go very well with all manner of lighter desserts, especially strawberry shortcake!

I hope that I can inspire a few Champagne fans to play with some pairings. Like I said, please send me a picture or recipe if you find something that works!

A toast to you!

-Gary

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

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
Jun152012

Champagne Friday: Champagne & Foie Gras… 15 days left!

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne & Foie Gras… 15 days left!

Foie Gras is one of my favorite pairings with Champagne, and sadly here in California, we only have 15 days left to enjoy it. After that, it will be illegal to sell in this state and fans of the noble liver will have to travel to enjoy it. The incredible richness of foie gras is the perfect partner for the refreshing high acidity of Champagne. Traveling to the Champagne region, it is a pairing that every restaurant and host suggests, and I have been lucky enough to have it prepared and paired in many different ways over the years. In the today's video, I visit with Jean-Baptiste Su of Fabrique Délice artisanal charcuterie and later share my favorite preparation, which is very simple: thick slices on toasted brioche, with fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel.

My favorite Champagnes with foie gras are rich and powerful wines. The indigenous grape Meunier, with its hint of exotic fruit has a particular affinity for it. Older Champagne, with its developed, often chanterelle like bouquet is also a spectacular partner for it. The best pairings I have ever had are when all three of these elements come together. If you have any old Rene Collard in your cellar, nothing tops it with foie gras!

Here are my favorite foie gras partners from our current stock:

Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99): This bottle is the best foie gras pairing if you like to serve the liver with compote. This is composed of 80% Meunier and 20% Chardonnay and aged for four years before being released.  The liqueur that is used for the dosage is made in house and based on pure cane sugar. It has a nose that reminds me of tarte tatin, a pastry smell that carries through onto the palate. It has such a nice, lazy bead and polished texture and the sweetness does not seem at all out of place.

 

Baron Fuente "Esprit" Brut Champagne ($39.99): This mature Champagne will go perfectly with seared foie gras. It is super well balanced and gets an astoundingly luxurious seven years of aging on the lees. It is very rare to find something so reasonably priced that is kept for so long. Composed of even parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier it is fermented in stainless steel. The "Esprit" has a very high quality sourdough toastiness arrived at honestly from the long aging on the lees. It is round and easy to drink, with flavors of hazelnuts contrasting its nice citrus zip.

Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne ($49.99): I have a bottle of this in my refrigerator right now to go with foie gras prepared exactly like I did it in the video. Like the Loriot above, this Champagne is a tribute to the old methods, and in this case also one of the ancient grape varieties of Champagne. It is a barrel-fermented blend of one-third each Chardonnay, Pinot Banc and Pinot Noir. Pinot Blanc is a real rarity in Champagne, and only exists in a few spots in the Aube.

 

Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne ($139.99): Eating foie gras and drinking Krug makes me feel like king for the day. This great house is the outspoken champion of Meunier among the grand marques. Based on 2004 with six years on the lees and reserve wines dating back to 1990, this decadent treat will go perfectly with all manner of preparations.

Cheers!

–Gary Westby

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