Champagne for the Holidays

by Russ Anderson on December 29, 2017

In the northeast corner of France, and at its closest, only 100 miles from Paris, is one of the best known wine regions in the world – Champagne. Originally a home for still wines, it is now known almost solely for its sparkling wines, certainly they are the most celebrated.

For much of the production in this region, over 95% comes from four or five ‘houses,’ each producing millions or tens of millions of bottles a year. But in recent years, more offerings from grower producers or “farmer fizz” is making its way to the market. These wines are more wine-like, exciting, unique, and delicious in that they each reflect the personality and style of the individual producers. We are proud to represent many of these producers in the store.

For ease of drinkability and enjoyment, this wine is hard to beat. 60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. It is one of the rare Champagnes that has been allowed to finish its malolactic fermentation, just like the great whites from the Côte d’Or. Every bottle is riddled by hand, and all cuvées are aged extensively once in bottle. This is a Champagne of great finesse. Light yellow in color with a faint golden hue, it has a gorgeous perfume with floral, vanilla, citrus nuances and a faint spiciness. Creamy, rounded, and elegant, the flavors have floral, vanilla and spice tinges and the finish is long and crisp. Lasalle Preference – $44

2Pierre Peters Blanc de Blanc
Peters’ 2010-dominated NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Reserve, Disgorged 3/2013 – representing the cuvee that makes up more than 60% of his annual production – features juicy apple and white peach, lime and honeydew tinged with the piquancy of their pip and pit; wreathed in gentian and hyacinth; and supplemented by yeast autolysis that shades into notes of roasted peanut and toasted almond. Silken-textured and expansive, yet buoyant and refreshing, this finishes with a predictable underlying sense of oyster shell chalkiness and saliva-liberating salinity as well as a hint of iodine. Pierre Peters – $58

3Boulard “Les Murgiers”
Montagne de Reims – 70% Pinot Meunier and 30% Pinot Noir, reinforced with older wine aged in barrel. Francis Boulard owns three hectares of vines; he’s the son of Raymond Boulard, a widely respected grower in the northernmost part of the region, who recently inherited part of his father’s domaine. “Les Murgiers” comes from a one hectare parcel of chalk and clay soil in the Vallee de la Marne. This is a blend of 70% Pinot Meunier and 30% Pinot Noir. The wine comprises of three vintages. Boulard makes a vinous and savory style of Champagne that is raised in barrel and shows some of the enticing nutty, mushroom-y character of Pinot Meunier. This is a broad, yet quite dry style of Champagne that is a perfect choice for the table. Boulard “Les Murgiers” – $53

4Billiot Rosé
The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is a deeply colored, powerful wine that showcases the richness of Ambonnay at its finest. The Rose needs some time in the glass to find its inner balance, but when it does the fruit gains delineation and intensity through to the dramatic, sweeping finish. The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is predominantly Pinot Noir (including 6% still Pinot) with a dash of Chardonnay from the estate’s oldest vineyards. An undercurrent of minerality supports ripe black cherry and black raspberry flavors, with hints of pastry, cream and candied grapefruit peel. Finely meshed and focused by vibrant acidity. Billiot Rose – $56

5Aubry Le Nombre d’Or
And now, something for the true champagne connoisseur. The golden number, “le nombre d’or,” is a mystical Champagne made with all the grapes available in the region. A party trivia question you can pose to your guests – how many grape varietals can be used in Champagne, and what are they? They are all present in this true jewel of a bottle: 25% Fromenteau and Pinot Blanc, 20% Petit Meslier, 20% Arbanne, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir Wonderful chalky nose of minerality. Not much of yeast bread but quite some pineapple and coconut and ripe pears, Aubry Le Nombre d’Or – $64

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