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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 sparkling wine (37)

Friday
Oct122012

Champagne Friday: The “New” Charles Reserve

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

The “New” Charles Reserve

It is not often that I get as excited as this by "big house" Champagne. Comparing the "new" Charles Heidsieck Reserve (which premiers today) to the "old" Charles Heidsieck Reserve made a huge impression on me. These are great wines- both of them- and the new Charles is the most exciting new release from a big house in many years. The new Charles is a must try, and it is a great opportunity to compare the new to the old while we still have the last batch in stock.

On August 27th I had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of Charles and Piper Heidsick. Cecile is not new to running Champagne houses- she ran Veuve Clicquot for eight years before moving over to Charles and Piper Heidsieck. Her first great piece of work is the release of a new Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne. It has gone up in price, but instead of citing “increased global demand” or “increasing grape prices from greedy growers” or “a weak dollar” this Champagne has costly improvements to the wine itself. First of all, the number of vineyard sites for the Reserve has been cut in half, leaving only what they feel is the very best going into the blend. Also, the average age of the reserve wines has gone up significantly. You can hear Cecile explain it in her own words here in this clip from the interview.

The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some in stock at the "old" price of $34.99! The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some left. This is a fantastic opportunity for any Champagne lover to compare the two cuvee’s side by side and see the difference that this great house has made. Once the old cuvee that we have is gone, it is gone for good.

Charles Heidsieck NEW "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($44.99) It is funny to call this the “new” Charles when it actually has more old wine in it! The first difference between this wine and the old label is that is made from just 60 vineyard sites in Champagne rather than the previous 120. It is still composed of a third each Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir and includes 40% reserve wines that average 10 years of age, up from the 8 year average previously. This Charles has more of the depth and power that fans of the Charles have come to love, but also much more freshness and elegance- a coup for a wine that is actually older. This is a great bottle multi-vintage Champagne for the price and a testament to the blenders art.

Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($34.99) Warning- this is the last of the old cuvee of Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne . This bottle is made 40% of reserve wine and these reserve wines are what really sets Charles Heidsieck apart, they average 8 years old and have elements going back as far as 15 years. The patience to curate this solera of old wines gives the wine texture and complexity rarely encountered in grand marque Champagne, especially at this price. The wine is composed of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier and is all vinified in stainless steel tanks with full malolactic fermentation. When I visited we tasted vin clair from all over Champagne- they own 150 acres and contract many more. If you love a toasty, rich style of Champagne with lots of complexity this is a very good choice. I expect it will sell for just under $50 when this batch runs out.

A toast to you,

Gary 

 To watch the rest of the interview click here.

Friday
Aug032012

Champagne Friday: Pinot Power

Patrick Arnould at his forklift during bottling

By: Gary Westby| K&L Champagne Buyer

Michel Arnould: Pinot Power Champagne

Champagne Michel Arnould is our top producers of dry, powerful Pinot based Champagnes. Located on the Mountain of Reims, Verzenay is one of the most exciting and unique terroirs in all of Champagne. The furthest north of all of the Grand Crus, it faces north away from the sun and still manages to produce some of the most powerful Pinot Noir in the region. Some of the locals say that a mysterious warm air current is the explanation for this ripening anomaly; others will say that it is impossible to explain, like the flight of the bumblebee. I love the distinct, hazelnut quality that this special village stamps on its wines, and I feel very lucky to have convinced Mr. Patrick Arnould to sell us some of his great wines.

Patrick is the fifth generation of Champagne Michel Arnould. They own 27 acres in the village of Verzenay, a quite sizable holding in this high rent area. It is planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, which reflects the average plantation for the village. The black Pinot is king here. The Arnould’s have quite a few plots of vines that are very old and positioned in the golden band of the mid slope, where the sun exposure is best. They have a high proportion of old vines (40 to 50 years old) and all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and enamel vats.

If you have enjoyed the wines of Lallement, Bollinger and Krug in the past, I think you will very much enjoy Michel Arnould. Here is what we have from Arnould:

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Reserve Champagne $32.99 750ml/ $64.99 magnum: This is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, entirely from estate vineyards in the grand cru of Verzenay. This is a great party Champagne, since it is full of flavor yet refreshing and moreish. The hazelnut Pinot character so unique to the village of Verzenay is pronounced in this wine, and many good tasters have mistaken it for barrel fermented (it is actually all stainless and enamel fermented) when presented the wine blinds. The texture is full and the bead is refined- a Champagne that you will be proud to serve to your guests, or perhaps not too proud to save for yourself!

 

Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne $34.99: Exclusively from the 2002 harvest, although not labeled as such, this Champagne is composed of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The color is gorgeous gold studded with tiny bubbles. The aroma is amazing. The Champagne has a graceful, delicate balance that Verzenay wines sometimes lack but with the signature hazelnut Pinot core. I found it to have creaminess to complement its racy cherry fruit on the palate, and an extraordinarily long, dry finish. It is dosed at 9 grams per liter: very dry! It will age very well.

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $34.99 750ml/ $74.99 magnum:  100% Pinot Noir Grand Cru, acquired by assembling different vintages and red Coteaux Champenoises coming from old vines. This lovely Rosé Champagne offers hints of raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant. Very refined on the palate where more berries and finally grenadine notes emerge.

 

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Extra Brut Champagne $39.99: Although not labeled as a vintage, this is based entirely on 2005 juice. It is 100% pinot noir from Verzenay, the northernmost of all the Grand Crus in this northernmost of French wine regions. The whole village faces north, the wrong way, away from the sun, and yet miraculously ripens pinot noir, the most difficult Champagne variety to ripen perfectly. Some say it’s because of a meteor that in prehistoric times hit the area that is now the village, creating the faux de Verzenay, a forest where the trees bend and fold in on themselves like a dark wood in The Lord of the Rings. Pair this wine with salmon, smoked as an appetizer or even served as sashimi.

Happy Champagne Friday!

-Gary

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 Shop our complete Champagne selection on KLWines.com!

Friday
Jun012012

Champagne Friday: Visiting Champagne Louis Roederer & Cellar Master Interview

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Louis Roederer Visit & Cellar Master Interview

I met with Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon the cellar master of Champagne Louis Roederer (makers of the celebrated Cristal) last month in Reims. I had been hearing from many growers in the area about the serious work this house was doing in their vineyards, but unaware of the scope of their projects.

The quality of this great house has long been established, but if you haven't tasted the wines in a while, get ready to be impressed. They have not been resting on their laurels and the Champagne is better than ever. I was very surprised to learn that the only wine with purchased fruit in it that we carry from Roederer is the excellent Brut Premier. Every other wine is estate- and starts off as a selection of vineyards- not tanks. It is better to let Jean-Baptiste tell the story in today's video.

We currently have a range of Roederer Champagnes in stock. Shop and learn more about them by clicking the links:

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne ($39.99)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The NV Brut Premier is a gorgeous wine that stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of wines in its price range. Apparently, it is quite possible to make great Champagne that doesn’t cost a small fortune. Ripe pears, smoke, spices, dried flowers and herbs are some of the many nuances that emerge from the glass. The Brut Premier shows lovely mid-palate depth and fabulous overall balance. Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon has done it again. This is a fabulous Brut Premier...Anticipated maturity: 2011-2015." (11/11)

2004 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne ($189.00)

97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 97 points Wine & Spirits, and 97 points and a *Cellar Selection* Wine Enthusiast: "Exceptionally rich and dense, an exceptional wine that reveals itself in layers, from the first fruit attack to the mineral texture and the way it gradually fills the mouth. Selected from old vines, there is a great flavor in this wine, with the promise of many years' aging." (12/12)

2004 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne Limited Edition Gift Box ($189.00)

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne ($64.99)

2005 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne ($64.99)

2006 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne ($59.99)

2004 Louis Roederer Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($64.99)

2005 Louis Roederer Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($64.99)

 

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