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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 ssparkling wine (4)

Friday
Aug162013

Champagne Friday: Magnums!

Launois Special Club magnum.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Anytime I can fabricate the occasion I like to open a magnum of Champagne. If there are four or more people, it is the right size for the aperitif; I can't remember the last time I had to stopper one up and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. Whenever I do a customer tasting, anything that is available in magnum gets poured from magnum, and when I tell the customers that I am cheating by doing this, they usually just laugh...but I am serious.

Magnums have many advantages over single bottles of Champagne. The most obvious one is that you get half the amount of oxidative ageing in this format, since the opening at the top of the bottle is the same as a 750, but the volume of the wine is doubled. Because of the slope of the bottle, you also get more contact with the lees while the bottle is ageing. But the biggest advantage of all is in the attitude of the producers to this great format, since they feel that they benefit from more ageing, they almost always keep them on the lees longer.

2002 Dom Perignon 1.5L ($449)One can see this trend in vintage Champagne easily. While we are offering the 2003 & 2004 Dom Perignon in 750, we still have the 2002 Dom Perignon in magnum. They are just starting to release the 2003 now, more than a year after the release of the 750s. We have moved to 2004 with Pierre Paillard in 750s, but have 2002 Pierre Paillard in magnum. With Champagne Bonville it is 2008 in 750 and 2007 in the big bottle. Louis Roederer’s Brut Rose is the same story, 2008 in 750, 2007 Rose  in magnum. Pol Roger’s excellent Winston Churchill is 2000 vintage in 750 and 1999 in magnum.

2002 Pierre Paillard 1.5L ($119) On my last visit to Champagne I started asking producers about the base age of their non-vintage magnums after doing an accidental vertical of the non-vintage Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne with Paul Vincent Ariston. We started with the 2008 in 750, which is what we have on the shelf currently, moved on to the 2009 base which is now on the water, and when we gathered for dinner he offered a magnum as the aperitif, based on 2007. This--the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut 1.5L ($79.99)--is what we have on the shelf and what is coming in the next shipment...with a full year of extra ageing than what we have in 750, soon to be more when the new shipment arrives!

Pouring Marguet Brut Rose Champagne from Magnum.

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L ($84.99)We have Bruno Michel Rose on the way that is two years older than the 750s. The Marguet Brut Rose ($79.99) that I am pouring in the picture above received more than an extra year on the lees than the 750s from the same shipment. Jacquesson released their excellent "Cuvée 736" Brut Champagne in 750 in early spring, but it is only just now shipping in magnum. Checking the IDs on Krug Brut Rose ($699), the 750 (Krug ID 212020) has a youngest element from 2006, while the magnum (Krug ID 212024) is aged a full two more years with a youngest element from 2004. Both were disgorged in spring of 2012. Additional ageing happens at almost every Champagne house.

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 1.5L ($79.99)This translates into more depth, nuance and complexity in the Champagne served from magnum, without any sacrifice in freshness. In fact, I find the magnums to show more freshness. I hope that you’ll join me in drinking more from this most ideal of Champagne formats! Here is what we have in magnum:

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L (89.99)Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $49.99

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $99.99

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $169

Bruno Michel "Blanche Brut" Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Collard-Picard "Dom Picard" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $129

Collard-Picard "Prestige" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $109

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $139

Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $84.99

Krug "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $399

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $699

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

2007 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $149

Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne 1.5L $89.99

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $64.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $65.99

2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $449

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

1999 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill Brut Champagne 1.5L $499

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $129

Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne Magnum 1.5L $149

1990 Veuve Clicquot "Cave Privée" Brut Vintage Champagne (1.5L) $425

Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne (1.5L) $119

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $149

 

You are invited to click this link to browse all Champagne Magnums on KLWines.com.

A toast to you,

Gary

 

Friday
Jun142013

Champagne Friday: Collecting Champagne Capsules

By: Jim Westby (Gary's Dad!)

Champagne Friday: Collecting Champagne Capsules

Champagne drinkers receive an attractive memento with every bottle they open—the metal capsule that covers the cork. These usually feature bright colors, strong design, and the maker's brand identity. They aren't easy to throw away, and I'm sure that many of you have some capsules in your drawer that contains corkscrews, foil cutters, decanting funnels, miscellaneous corks, or other wine paraphernalia.

Maybe you have 10 or 20 capsules in that drawer, and in this case you have a collection even if you don't realize it. In France you would be called a "placomusophile", perhaps a compelling reason to conceal the fact that you collect these things.

There is plenty of material to collect. Capsules have been used for over 150 years and there are now more than 10,000 Champagne brands. Most brands have several capsule designs in current use, and old houses may have used hundreds of different ones in the past. These designs may themselves vary not only by color, but also by typographic style and sizing of the elements.

To make sense of this, you need the standard reference book for Champagne capsule collectors, "Repertoire des Placques de Muselets du Champagne," by Claude Lambert (generally called simply "Lambert"). It includes over 5,000 capsule photos and lists tens of thousands of different capsules, but is only available in France in French. Don't miss the chance to buy a copy if you are in the Champagne region or Paris. The book gives prices you might expect to pay for capsules were you to buy them in a specialty shop in France. Most are listed at 1 or 2 Euros, but old, rare examples can fetch up to several hundred Euros.

Here are some suggestions for Champagnes with interesting capsules that will start or add to a collection:

Loriot capsules feature the Loriot family's namesake bird, the oriole. Vivid colors and a strong, simple design make them exceptionally attractive.

Michel Loriot "Cuvee Reserve" Brut Champagne ($29.99) This all-estate grown Champagne is 100% Pinot Meunier from the village of Festigny. Unlike many "reserve" designation Champagnes, this lives up to its name with half of the wine coming from old reserves. It is quite round, with a wonderful pie crust and spice nose, with some hints of exotic fruit in the flavor. This is medium- to full-bodied Champagne and makes great drinking on its own as well as being fantastic with patés of all sorts. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne buyer)

2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) Rated *Outstanding Plus* by the Underground Wine Letter. This stunning, single-vineyard Champagne is one of the best we carry at K&L. It comes from the l'Arpent vineyard, which is slightly less than one acre in the village of Festigny. The vines were planted in 1942 and come from an old massal selection of Meunier. Michel Loriot makes only 3,000 or 4,000 bottles of this, his top wine, in vintages that he considers good enough. Otherwise this juice goes into the other blends. This light gold color wine has the kind of streamers that I could watch all day, they seem slowed in their travel up from the bottom of the glass by the richness of the wine. The exotic spice on the nose leads to a surprisingly creamy flavor. The Meunier Vieilles Vignes is very full-bodied and powerful Champagne, yet finishes with great minerality. The Loriots like to serve it with parmesan, a cheese that is very much like it in flavor and bite! When I tasted this with the Loriots, Michel decanted it 1/2 hour ahead of time! This has a great finish, and is another must try for any real fan of Champagne. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne buyer)

Krug has dated the capsules of their vintage bottlings since 1988. Nobody is going to forget a bottle of vintage Krug, but having the dated capsule should bring back fond memories. Maybe somebody will give me the 2000 Krug for my birthday so I can add it's capsule to my collection. 

2000 Krug Brut Champagne ($219) When toast and raciness meet, you have a great bottle of vintage Champagne. This has been my favorite vintage release from Krug for current drinking since the 1989, and it has the legs to age for decades. The wine has a bright, white gold color and a nose that is open and full of buttered sourdough aromas. The initial palate impression is tense, but this is one of those rare wines with a "peacocks tail" finish... The impression grows after you swallow it. It has a near endless finish, and seems dryer than past releases. After checking the new code on the back, this bottle was disgorged in spring of 2010, giving it about 9 years on the lees. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne Buyer)

The Barnaut capsule has an impressionistic image of the church at Bouzy and the vineyards surrounding it that are the source of the wine. Bright and very pretty, it tells the story of the terrior of Barnaut Champagne very well.

Barnaut Blanc de Noirs Bouzy Grand Cru Brut Champagne ($42.99/$39.99 Wine Club) 90 points Tanzer: "(all Bouzy pinot noir): Vivid gold. Ripe pear and nectarine on the nose, but complicated by floral and musky herb nuances. A pliant, smooth texture, with deep, hefty orchard and pit fruit flavors and slow-building smokiness. The persistent finish repeats the pear note and leaves notes of redcurrant and floral honey behind. This Champagne would stand up to rich, buttery dishes or even strong cheeses." (12/ 2010)

Finally, let me tell you a way to get your capsules out of that drawer and displayed so that you can enjoy them. All you need is some 3/4 inch x 6 wood screws, glue, and a piece of foam core display board (from a craft or framing store). I use a drop of "super glue" on the inside of the capsule. The bond is strong enough that you can mount the capsule on wood, but it does leave residue if the screw is pulled off. Ordinary white glue leaves no residue, but it's only strong enough to hold a screw turned into soft material such as foam core board.

  

    Display with capsules glued to wood screws and mounted on foam core board. -Jim Westby

 

 

Friday
May182012

Champagne Friday: Visiting the Vineyard at Champagne Aspasie

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Visiting the Vineyard: Champagne Aspasie

On my trip to Champagne, I had a chance to join Paul-Vincent Ariston in the tiny vineyard where he grows three grape varieties that almost went extinct in Champagne - Meslier, Arbanne, and Pinot Blanc. He shows us the vineyard and explains a little bit of the history & challenges of these rarities.

The wine that comes from this vineyard is my personal favorite special occasion Champagne, the Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99). I often feel guilty that my own consumption has impacted the global supply- they only made 3000 bottles!  

Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) Composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc, on the palate the Champagne makes for a double take: it is very rich and textural, but finishes with a laser beam of chalky acidity that just goes on and on. It is fantastic first course Champagne, and pairs well with a wide variety of foods, we tried it with both foie and oysters to equal delight! 

 

 

 

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