A Tasting of Pinot Meunier

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We are perennially obsessed with Champagne. We love it in all styles and from all sub-regions, and we constantly find ourselves wondering how we can further provoke a similar love amongst our customers. Of course we acknowledge that a bottle of Champagne is a commitment; this is a category in which “intro” level wines begin in the mid-$30 range. We suspect that it is not merely price that makes Champagne a bit daunting; the region’s geography isn’t as straightforward and linear as some – take the Cote d’Or, for example, where villages run contiguously from north to South. Champagne is, rather, a mass of vineyard land with a few isolated outcroppings, where subtle terroir distinctions prompt growers to plant a majority of one grape variety or another. In contrast to many of our other favorites, Champagne is, on some level, a “made” wine in the sense that the vigneron cannot simply let the wine ferment, nothing added, nothing taken away. The addition of bubbles through a second fermentation in bottle, instigated by yeast and often a small quantity of sugar (the “dosage”), further changes the tasting equation. For some, bubbles can feel like a distraction from the pure earth and mineral flavors of the base wine (known as “vin clair”). For us, bubbles add lift, creaminess, complexity, and food friendliness. An often repeated maxim amongst Champagne lovers is that “Champagne pairs with everything.” We couldn’t agree more. In the interest of education, we are presenting a second summer Champagne tasting designed to help us as well as our customers better understand these wonderful wines. At this tasting, we’ll be showing Champagnes based on the lesser known Pinot Meunier grape variety. Many of our favorite Champagne growers will be featured: Laherte, Laval, Jose Michel, Pascal, as well new selections. This special tasting will take place from 4-6pm on Saturday, August 4th. We hope to see you there! -Sophie 

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Laherte Frères NV Champagne Brut Ultradition

60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay that doesn't go through malolactic fermentation, along with 10% Pinot Noir. There is a delicate red fruit quality — pale plums — but otherwise the high-toned Chardonnay comes through with a delightful lemon tone. Earthy salinity and minerals lead to a dry, mouth-watering finish. A large percentage of Meunier gives this Champagne a broad, rich, earthy character that matches very well with Beau Soleil oysters and Caviar. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $45.99

  • Organic

Laherte Frères 2006 Les Vignes d'Autrefois Pinot Meunier Extra Brut

We are compelled by everything we've read and learned about Laherte Freres, from the attention they pay to their individual parcels to their desire to farm without herbicides and pesticides to the incredibly reasonable prices of the wines. From a distinct terroir south of Épernay that combines the chalk of the Cotes des Blancs with the clay of the Vallee de la Marne, the wines have have both lightness and richness. Autrefois is based on 40-60 year old Pinot Meunier vines; it is delicate, chalky, and quite dry at 2 grams/liter of dosage. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $66.99

Laherte Frères NV Champagne Saignée Rosé Les Beaudiers Vieilles Vignes

Entirely Pinot Meunier, this is a notably unique rosé. It's incredibly vinous and is wine — serious wine — before it's rosé or Champagne. But as a saignée Champagne it has delicacy and poise, and yet is serious and structured. It's most curiously savory — our flavor associates included soft cheese, herbs, ferns, sausage, and spices. It is wonderfully dry with chalky minerality on the finish. Not a party Champagne, but one for serious consideration and engagement. Worth contemplation by any serious wine or Champagne lover. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $65.99

  • Organic

Michel, Jose NV Champagne Brut (Moussy)

Over the course of time, Jose Michel's NV Brut has become one of our favorite affordable Champagnes. It's a wine that has something for everyone: accessibility for those who like easy-going bubbles, savory-ness for those who drink Champagne at the table, complexity for those who value it... Some Champagne is rich, some is elegant, but this bottle is explosive and animated. Packed with fruit — peach, raspberry, and strawberry — but held in balance with creamy straw and cashew-y notes, and a strong backbone of acidity. This is an epicurean, food-friendly Champagne that is simply delicious and perfect for toasting. (The price is simply unbeatable.) MSB

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

Laval, Georges NV Champagne Cumières Premier Cru Brut Meuniers de la Butte

It deserves to be asked why this wine is so expensive. The answer is probably "because it will never be made again." The Meunier vines here were planted in 1930 and 1965; Vincent Laval had to uproot them and replant the vineyard, which means the 800 bottles he made of 2006 Meunier de la Butte are all there are... ever. As usual for Laval's wines, this bottle is absolutely incredible. The base wine is fermented in barrel with native yeast; no dosage is added, and none is needed because the grapes were harvested very ripe. Creamy textured and seamless, this bottle offers a level of finesse, delicacy, and elegance that is almost never found in Pinot Meunier. Rich, tightly coiled, energetic, this wine has notes of apple and fresh, green leaves on the nose as well as smoky, dusty minerals. The contrast between tangy fruits and creamy texture makes the wine feel layered and very complex. An extraordinarily special wine. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $239.99

Bedel NV Champagne Dis Vin Secret

What can we say? At a recent tasting of exclusively biodynamic wines, the Champagnes from Bedel blew us away yet again. Certified biodynamic since 1998, the third generation is about to enter the fold of winemakers at Bedel. In the village of Crouttes-sur-Marne, Bedel's eight hectares are planted mostly to Pinot Meunier. "Dis, In Secret" is from limestone soil and the wine has broad, vinous, Pinot Meunier character, a sweet tone to the nose, and a long finish full of mouth-watering acidity. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $64.99

Pascal, Franck NV Coteau Champenois Rouge Confiance

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A STILL RED WINE. Perhaps my favorite wine from the current Pascal lineup, Confiance is blend of Pinot Meunier (80%) and Pinot Noir (20%) from the 2007 and 2008 vintages. Tightly coiled upon opening, a couple of hours of oxygen exposure reveal intense Nebbiolo-like florality, smoke and chalky minerality.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $61.99

Pascal, Franck NV Champagne Brut Nature Sagesse

Franck Pascal farms four hectares of vineyards in the Vallee de la Marne; he works biodynamically, which is extremely unusual in Champagne. His vineyards are mostly planted to Pinot Meunier on clay soil with small portions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. "Sagesse" is almost 60% Meunier and is fermented in stainless steel with 20% wood. This is an earthy, slightly rustic style of Champagne that offers fennel seeds and rocks on the nose. The wine is made without dosage and is, therefore, quite dry, but showing a nice richness once it has been open for a spell. With its tangy, mineral-driven finish, this is a geek's Champagne without doubt. -msb

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