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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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Entries in Moet & Chandon (6)

Friday
Feb082013

Champagne Friday: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose 

2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose paired with mushroom risotto.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One bottle: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose

Cinnamon and I do not drink a lot of tete de cuvee Champagne from the grand marques at home. They don’t suit our tastes as much as the more human-scaled, terroir-specific grower wines, not to mention the fact that they are very expensive! This past Saturday night was an exception; we wanted to make the most of it and enjoy this bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon Rose in the spirit that it was intended. Cinnamon came up with the idea of making a mushroom risotto to pair, and her instinct for pairing was right on.

I cannot think of another producer that has such a huge difference in production scale and wine quality between their rose and regular blanc bottling than Moet with their Dom Perignon. While Moet has released 38 vintages of the Dom Perignon blanc, they have only released 22 vintage of rose skipping widely declared vintages such as 1976 and 1999. While no producer guards their production figures as closely as Moet guards their Dom Perignon figures, it is easy to see how much less of the rose is made. Every Costco stocks big stacks of DP blanc, you will find it on nearly every nice restaurants wine list and available at hotels from Norway to Chile, while the rose is rarely seen. It is always allocated to K&L and we can never get enough to satisfy demand.

Details on the composition of Dom Perignon wines are almost as difficult to come up with as the production figures. The two websites of Dom Perignon, http://www.creatingdomperignon.com/dom-perignon-rose-2002/ and http://www.domperignon.com/rose2002/ have lots of descriptive notes, and in case of the second some very fancy flash graphics, but no objective facts on the wine. This approach is frustrating to me, since real information on the wine itself allows the wine fan to make an informed purchasing decision and give us a deeper appreciation for the bottles that we drink.

Richard Juhlin in his book 4000 Champagnes describes Dom Perignon as a blend of approximately 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and notes the source of the red wine as Ay when he notes it at all. Since I can’t think of any writer that has spent more time at Moet or tasted more bottles of Dom Perignon (all of them, multiple times) we’ll use that as a reasonable approximation of the composition of the 2002. I wish I could do better, and will endeavor to!

While researching the background of this bottle was frustrating, drinking the wine could not have been easier. The 2002 Dom Perignon Rose is among the most elegant Champagnes that I have ever drunk. While past bottles of DP rose have been full of Vosne-Romannee savor, this 2002 has a much more pure strawberry like fruit at its core. The mushroom risotto that Cinnamon and I prepared to go with it coaxed out the Burgundian elements, but this wine could easily have made a great partner for wild salmon, or just a sunset. The wine is also very, very dry for grand marque Champagne, especially Dom Perignon, which has always leaned to the richer side. The cleanliness of the finish, with nice hints of chalk is not austere. Nothing sticks out 11 years from the harvest, and I can only imagine how much depth and complexity this wine will have with another 10, 20, 30 or more years in the cellar. If I could buy a case and follow its evolution over the years, I would.

I am certainly lucky to have had a chance to drink this wine once - certainly a better thing than getting to taste it twice! Wines of complexity do not reveal their secrets quickly; they give me the most pleasure with charming company and a thoughtful food pairing. Cinnamon provided both to me, as well as the recipe that follows for the risotto that we enjoyed.

Porcini, Chanterelle, and King Trumpet mushrooms.

Cinnamon Westby's Mushroom Risotto

Using a wide shallow pan, soften 1 diced shallot in a generous glug of olive oil on medium heat, add aprox 1 cup Arborio rice to coat with oil and stir around for about 4 minutes. Pour in a glass of dry white wine. (Don’t forget a glass for the chef!)

Begin adding hot chicken stock (homemade is best) one ladleful at a time, and stir until fully absorbed before adding the next. (It’s useful to have a second person in charge of adding the stock, and stirring the risotto)  While this is happening, soak approximately ¼ cup dried porcinis in hot water to reconstitute them, and coarsely chop your other mushrooms. (We used chanterelles and king trumpets). 

After soaking for about 10 minutes, the porcinis can be chopped and added to the risotto as you continue to incorporate the hot chicken stock. 

Sautee the other mushrooms on medium high heat with a pat of butter, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and giving them plenty of time to brown. You could also add another glug of wine to the mushrooms and some chopped fresh thyme to the mushrooms for extra flavor.

Preparing the risotto.

When the risotto is done to your liking and still a little runny (about 25 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste and stir in ¾ cup whipped cream. (To make things easier, whip the cream and stick it in the fridge before you start the risotto. 1/3 cup cream becomes aprox ¾ cup, when whipped).

Dish up the risotto into warm bowls and top with the sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

If you can afford a splurge, you will not be disappointed in the 2002 Dom Perginon Rose. Drink your bottles when the occasions come- this is spectacular Champagne now, and will continue to evolve and improve for decades. We are expecting ours to arrive at the end of the month, and it is available as special order here.

Cheers!

A toast to you,

-Gary

Friday
Jan252013

Champagne Friday: Epernay and the Cote des Blancs

Cinnamon Westby explores the Launois museum.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Itinerary #1, Epernay and the Cote des Blancs

Travelling to Champagne is a lot of fun. Last week I started off a mini-series of posts on destinations in the area at the top with Chateau Les Crayeres. This week I have set up an itinerary that could be covered in one or two days, depending on how ambitious (one) or leisurely (two) you want to be: Epernay and the Cote des Blancs. The Hotel Ibis in the center of Epernay will be our home base; this is where I always stay when on business in Champagne. All of the recommended wineries will require an appointment well in advance, and only Moet is open on the weekends. Note: trips to Champagne are best done mid-week - quite the opposite of Napa!

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, the friendly, professional, accommodating staff is there around the clock and 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 website

La Cloche à Fromage, Epernay

Start your day out by picking up some cheese from La Cloche à Fromage for your lunch. Lunch takes a lot of time in France, so if you want to visit a lot of producers it is impossible to fit a 'real' French lunch in the schedule. And frankly, two sit-down meals a day in France are simply too much for my delicate Californian constitution! La Cloche is the best cheese shop in the whole Champagne region and the envy of many Parisians. Conveniently, it is located on the same square as the Hotel Ibis! Ask the cheese monger for a piece to eat today, they will be happy to cut it to the right size for the number of people you have. 

19 rue St Thibault :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 30 18

Au Pain Délice

On the same street, three doors down from La Cloche, is the best baker in Epernay, Au Pain Delice. Here you can grab a sandwich for later (remember, in France the bakers sell the sandwiches, but they are CLOSED at lunch!!!!) and some bread to go with your cheese. You are now set for lunch in the vineyard later on in the day! You will find a little spot with a bench just at the entrance of about every one of the villages that you visit. While the producers are often horrified at my jambon (French ham sandwich) lunches,  your palate will thank you. This regular French food is not to be missed- it is every bit as good as the high end, especially when you visit the best baker in town.

3 rue St Thibault :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 25 75

Champagne Bruno Michel, Pierry

Try: Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) Just south of Epernay, the suburb of Pierry is where the town gives way to vines. It is home to one of the most careful producers that K&L has every carried: Champagne Bruno Michel. Bruno is obsessed with every detail of his wines, making every vine selection and grafting every rootstock himself. He is completely organic and Ecocert and Demeter certified in the vineyard, and works with small barrels for his vintage dated wines. His microclimate in Pierry and Moussy (the neighboring village, where he also has vines) is known as sud-Epernay, and is one of the coolest in all of Champagne. As such, Pinot Noir does not ripen well here, and he has almost all Chardonnay and Meunier vines. A visit and tasting here will teach you more about Champagne than visiting every single big house!

It will take less than 10 minutes to get to Bruno Michel, but allow a half hour- the parking garage in Epernay takes some getting used to and the city is definitely not on a grid!

4 de la Vieille Ferme, 51530 Pierry :: 03 26 55 10 54 :: champagnebrunomuchel@orange.fr 

Olivier Bonville pulls a sample of vin clair before it is bottled and transformed into Champagne.

Champagne Franck Bonville, Avize

Try: Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne - only a few left in Magnum! ($139)No Champagne that we carry sells as fast as the all-estate, all grand cru Franck Bonville. If you are reading this right now, you have probably already tried their electric yet still rich all chardonnay Champagne. This is a great visit, and you can see here the difference between the stainless steel elevage of that majority of their wines and the oak aged elevage of their single vineyard Belles Voyes, which is handled in a different cellar across the street. Olivier, Isabelle and the whole crew here could not be nicer, and they all speak excellent English.

9 Rue Pasteur, 51190 Avize :: 03 26 57 52 30 :: franck-bonville@wanadoo.fr :: website 

 

Champagne Launois Pere et Fils, Mesnil

Try: 2004 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($59.99) No trip to Champagne would be complete without a stop in Mesnil, the most famous and sought after terroir for the most sought after varietal in Champagne: Chardonnay. In this village you have Salon, Krug’s Clos du Mesnil, and Launois' incomparable wine museum (see picture at top). Bernard Launois does things differently, harvesting 10 days after everyone else in the village and choosing old enamel lined tanks (think Le Creuset) instead of wood or stainless for his elevage. He is also a collector of everything Champagne, and a trip down to his cellar museum is a must for any trip to the region. Here you will find fantastic exhibits on everything from growing and making cork to the glass making process for the bottles, complete with historical shapes. He has pumps from every century, and an incredible collection of old presses and stills. Don’t miss this!

2 Avenue Eugène Guillaume, 51190 Les Mesnil-Sur-Oger :: 03 26 57 50 15 :: info@champagne-launois.fr  website 

Champagne Moet & Chandon, Epernay

After visiting a few small houses, one should also so see the biggest: Moet & Chandon. Located right on the Avenue of Champagne, this is the Disneyland of the region, and spectacular in its scale. They will show you the cellars, where you will see more Dom Perignon bottles than you can shake a stick at!

20 Avenue de Champagne, 51200 :: only for visit +33 (0)3 2651 2020 :: visites@moet.fr :: website

La Grillade, Epernay

La Grillade is one of my favorite places to eat in France, and definitely the best value in the entire Champagne region. Chef Christophe Bernard is a dropout of the Michelin system, and is now feeding people delicious food in his simple restaurant in Epernay. Hopefully, you took my advice for lunch and went for a light picnic among the vines, because you won’t make it to the second course here if you didn’t bring an appetite. Since you are walking from the Ibis, feel free to order plenty of wine off of his very reasonable wine list. Why not start with Bonville and drink something from your visit earlier in the day? My favorite option here is the Traditional Champagne Menu, which includes a big slab of foie gras and the Champagne Pigeon en Croutte, a dish that I can’t leave Champagne without eating. He has a nice selection of well priced Burgundy that goes very well with this rich dish. You will waddle back to the hotel, but you’ll never forget the meal!

16 rue Reims, 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 44 22 :: website

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

Monday
Oct112010

Champagne Extravaganza Comes to Hollywood

Forty-plus-year-old bottles of Champagne Philippe Gonet resting in the cellar. Photo courtesy of Champagne Philippe Gonet.If you go to just one wine event all year, it should be the upcoming Champagne Tent Event at K&L Hollywood. A more lounge-y version of our already-sold-out event in San Francisco, this year's Champagne extravaganza will undoubtedly be our best yet. This year's line-up includes nearly 100 exceptional bubblies, from non-vintage Bollinger to 2002 Dom Perignon and Cristal to 1988 Veuve-Clicquot "Rare" Vintage Champagne, plus tasty treats from Cube Marketplace. But what really makes this tasting extraordinary is that, in addition to the dozens of Grand Marque Champagnes being poured, a number of the artisanal grower/producers exclusive to K&L will be flying in to pour and talk about their own wines

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