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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 Oger (2)

Friday
Dec212012

Champagne Friday: Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes"

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One of the Greats- Regardless of Price!

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne The Saturday after having dinner with Krug’s CEO, Cinnamon and I decided to stay home and have some excellent Dungeness Crab from The Fish Market in Palo Alto. We kept it simple, with Littleneck clams in garlic, aligote and butter as a starter, and shallot bread and arugula salad with the crustacean. Since we were still in the mood for good Champagne, we opened one of the wines I have long regarded as one of our best at any price, the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99). With the Clos de Mesnil so fresh in our minds, this was a great opportunity for us to compare.

The Belles Voyes is a very nicely situated vineyard in the mid-slope of the Grand Cru of Oger. The Bonville’s share it with many other growers, including Launois, who use it in their vintage. Their plot is only one and three quarters acres and was planted either in the late 20’s or early 30’s, no one really remembers. You can see it here on the Larmat Atlas of Champagne:

Larmat Atlas of Champagne

The vineyard gets its name from the excellent view that one has of the village of Oger from its slopes. Making a single vineyard wine out of this site was the idea of Olivier Bonville, who wanted to make a wine in the style of his grandfather after taking over the winery from his father Gilles. To this end, he took this old, massal selected plot and made a barrel aged tete de cuvee from one marc, or single press load of Chardonnay. This adds up to just 3000 bottles. Luckily for us, Olivier’s father didn’t think a “high priced”, barrel aged, single vineyard Champagne would be of interest to their customers, so when I offered to by nearly all of it the first time Olivier showed it to me, he let me!

Over the years, our allocation of this wine has dropped, but luckily we always get more than anyone else. The current batch is based on 2004 and is simply magnificent. You can check out more about this wine and my own impressions of it in today's video segment.

It is a very rich blanc de blancs that still finishes with the persistent length and chalkiness of the top Champagne in the world. It has layer upon layer of white fruit and subtle brioche, and will grow in your memory after having drunk it. I hope that you grab a bottle and treat yourself to one of our best.

A toast to you!

-Gary

 

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!