A Special Bastille Day Champagne Tasting!

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I wasn’t always so crazy about Champagne, but now I love it. My former take-it-or-leave-it attitude was probably due to not having had much good Champagne. Aside from a rare glass of Dom Perignon, Krug, or Salon, I thought Veuve was about as good as it could get. Then two things changed: “grower Champagne” – small production, artisan wines - started to come to New York, and I discovered that good Champagne was a great drink. It didn’t have to be saved for New Year’s, or some other rare occasion, but instead was a super wine to have with a meal – and not just that, but was incredibly versatile at the table, pairing well with a wide range of foods, including those that don’t flatter most still wines. Now we have Champagne very often ( last Tuesday night, for instance, with homemade Mexican food ), which is nice because even frequent indulgence doesn’t diminish the festive character of bubbly wine – every dinner is, or should be, a celebration, after all. You don’t have to worry about not finishing the bottle, because with a proper stopper (some plastic wrap and a rubber band does fine too), Champagne will keep very well for a few days; the fizz may diminish a little, but that’s more than made up for because good Champagne will often gain complexity with some time open.

There is a lot of money behind Champagne – big, fashion-biz-type money – and still every year the marketing geniuses of the world try to get you to change your thinking about Champagne to embrace it as a year-round beverage, more than just for New Year’s celebrations.  We now throw our modest hat in the ring by declaring this to be “The Summer of Champagne”.  Please consider celebrating today by having a glass of delicious, refreshing, cooling, thrilling, chilling, intense, fascinating, interesting, and complex wine from Champagne. We have, of course, a great selection, which we begin to share with you below, and in the store on Saturday, July 14 – Bastille Day! – with a free tasting from 4-6pm. The first of a series with which we hope to educated as well as to taste, on Bastille Day, we’ll take an in depth look at Chardonnay (one of the three grape varieties most commonly planted in Champagne) as it expresses various terroirs in the region. See you there! 

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Agrapart NV Champagne Blanc de Blanc "7 Crus"

The fruit for this by no means "entry level" yet extremely well-priced Agrapart bottling comes from parcels in each of the seven villages in the Cotes des Blancs. The wine stays on the lees for three years with some stirring; its primary fermentation occurs with native yeast, the second with a pied de cuve. Offers very pretty white fruit and flower character with an appealing creamy lemon curd note. This is a delightful and easy going Champagne that is also a super value. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $37.99

Laherte Frères NV Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut

I had to make a special request with the importer for this wine and I'm very excited it has finally arrived. From 30 year old vines, the Chardonnay that goes into this wine is grown on chalk and clay. Aurélian Laherte is fortunate to make wine in Chavot, south of Épernay, where the Côte des Blancs, the Montagne de Reims, and the Vallée de la Marne run together. Each of his wines is an exercise in Champagne terroir. This wine is aged in 3-15 year old barrels, uses indigenous yeast for the first fermentation, and does not go through malo-lactic fermentation. The result? A very dry, and super minerally Champagne with fine, lacy bubbles. Bring on the oysters! MSB

A staff favorite, this is the go-to Blanc de Blancs for a lean and food friendly Champagne. The nose is understated with notes of Meyer lemon, sage, and orange blossom. The palate offers a rush of freshness that carries aromas of white peaches, apricots through to a McIntosh apple finish.

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $49.99

  • Organic

Marguet Père and Fils 2004 Champagne Brut Grand Cru

Unusually (because Marguet is located in Ambonnay, a village known for Pinot Noir based Champagnes), this vintage 2004 comprises 70% Chardonnay from Chouilly, Cramant, and Le Mesnil, and 30% Pinot Noir from Bouzy. There is a lot of richness and earth to the wine; this is perhaps a bit surprising given that 2004 is often associated with steely, high acid Champagnes. Still, the wine is expressive, compelling, and drinking really well right now. There is superb length and a resonating sense of mineral and vinosity. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $49.99

Diebolt Vallois NV Champagne Brut Prestige Blanc de Blancs

This edition of Diebolt Cuvée Prestige is 30% 2009 and 70% 2010, vinified in barrel. The fruit comes from Cramant, Chouilly, and Mesnil. Upon first opening, the wine is creamy-textured, lemony and almost lemon curd-y. When the bottle had been open for several hours it truly begins to sing. The dosage recedes to the background and the wine’s chalkiness, which shows most on the palate, really shines through. This is a fantastic effort, an age-worthy wine that also drinks just beautifully now; it's a Champagne that is both classy and powerful. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $56.99

Collin, Ulysses NV Champagne Blancs de Blancs Extra Brut

Inspired by a stage with Selosse, Olivier Collin made his first wine in 2004. Winemaking is natural and non-interventionist with long fermentation times carried out in used barriques. With little top-soil and very exposed chalk this wine is mineral driven, without being brisk and lends to the fullness of its Chardonnay fruit — pear, apple, white flowers. It did go through malolactic providing it with a generosity of flavors. rsg

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

Laval, Georges 2005 Champagne Cumières Premier Cru Les Chênes

In all honesty, Vincent Laval's single vineyard Champagnes are some of the finest, most complex wines I've tasted. Yes they are expensive, but the price is justified. The drinker will be well rewarded either now or down the road. I don't know what else to say except that, if the budget allows, buy these wines. "Les Chènes" is a very good, mid-slope vineyard with chalky soil... perfect for the Chardonnay that goes into this wine. Shell-y, steel-y, and very chalky, the French have a perfect word to describe the way this wine presents itself: "droit." And the wine is especially laser-like for 2005, a ripe vintage. The wine is bottled "Brut Nature," meaning no added sugar, and the aromas reflect the lack of dosage, offering fresh, green fruits, herbs, and rocks. The finish is very long and mineral-driven, the effect of long-term organic farming, which forces the vine roots to descend deep into the soil in search of nutrients. Stunning stuff. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $159.99

Doquet, Pascal 1990 Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Mature Champagne at a very reasonable price, this Doquet offers intense, savory, and nutty notes on the nose: cashew, bouillon, licorice. Golden in the glass with fine bubbles that have mellowed with time, the palate is broad, somewhat sweet toned, and lush. Rich in style, the wine is opulent with a spine of chalk that adds complexity. We recommend decanting the wine, or at least giving it some air in your glass for best results. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

Dufour, Yves 1989 Champagne Brut Nature Ligne 42

Here is an excellent opportunity to taste mature Champagne. Disgorged in 2008, the wine rested on its lees for... well... quite awhile. Possessed of intense savory, umami character, the wine is made from 100% Chardonnay, unusual given that it is from the Cotes de Bars, a region more known for Pinot Noir. Truly, the minerality here is quite incredible, rounding out the fascinating experience of drinking a mature Champagne. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $114.99