(Champagne Charlie, 1944, Cavalcanti)

Grower Champagne 3-Packs

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“The discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true could always go on . . . I wouldn’t have it any other way.”  Christopher Hitchens

This is a time of year for gatherings, for conversations about the things left unsaid during the rest of the year. It’s a time to debate the ideas most often on our minds and closest to our hearts. Unsurprisingly, at our gatherings, those conversations are about wine, about our appreciations of wine and how shared appreciations can bind or divide us.

Exploring and tasting through the world of wine can be a passage to finding a stylistic tribe, a group to reaffirm our perceptions and preferences.  Perhaps more than any other wine, Champagne can lift us above the local, above the tribal, towards the hope of a common, shared experience.

This was made possible, in part, because of the vision and efforts of people who believed in Champagne and traveled the world to share the story of the region and its wines. To have done so in the mid-19th century, represented a willingness to overcome challenges, to face the unknown. In a metaphorical sense, those journeys paralleled the journey of a bubble in a glass of Champagne, from formation to flight.

Courtesy : Prof. Gérard Liger-Belair

Although the push towards equilibrium begins the moment the cork is popped, the surface tension of the wine still needs to be broken before the droplet of CO2 and wine can become airborne. This is a final stage in the life of bottle of bubbly.  However, Champagne is a wine that has many stages of development and before the bubbles there are the vins clairs (pictured below), which even for the most complex blends, represent a connection of this most universal of wines back to the particular, back to the vineyards.

 

Over the past year, we’ve presented a number of small growers, their terroirs and their wines. This is a final collection of 3-Packs from some of our favorites.

Our first 3-Pack comes from the brothers Bérêche and their powerfully structured, but impeccably balanced wines. The aromatically nuanced and vibrant Champagnes of Jacques Beaufort make up our next 3-Pack. The concentrated and juicy wines of Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy are collected in the third pack. The final pack is a collection of the earthy, powerful, and delicious Champagnes of the Aube from Cedric Bouchard, Marie-Courtin, and Brigandat. Santé!

- David Salinas

 

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Bereche 3-Pack

We begin with a Blanc de Blancs, which comes closer in character to an upper-tier Chablis than a Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, the Beaux Regards does not disappoint in this 2011 base vintage. Bright straw yellow in color and shimmering with a super-fine bead, the initial nose is delicate and subtle with aromas of spearmint, spiced apple, oleander and nutmeg before transitioning to peach blossom, coriander and Golden Delicious. A high-toned palate begins with a rush of minty herbs followed by candied lime and ginger that crest to a sour lemon drop finish. Next, a Champagne of a blend of vintages, based on a perpetual cuvée started in the 1980s, this Reflet is 2/3rds reserve wine and 1/3rd from the 2010 vintage. Deep golden yellow in color and boasting a super-fine bead, the aromas reveal themselves in stages of Braeburn apples, fresh mint, and laurel, followed by honeysuckle, orange zest, and candied ginger. The palate is round, broad, and electric with notes of peppermint, black tea, cardamom, and verbena that continues through to a anise, lemongrass, and tart green apple finish. Complex, to be sure, but lighter on the palate than the previous release. Finally, a supremely elegant rosé, the Campania Remensis is born of the blending of 94% of a base white wine (60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier) and 6% of a base red wine (95% Pinot Noir and 5% Meunier). While most rosés are blended in pursuit of a particular shade of pink, the Campania base wines are blended in dark glasses, with a nod towards aromatic and palate balance The rewards are ethereal and numinous for this pale, strawberry, silver-lined Champagne, which evokes aromas of fresh raspberries, vanilla bean, dark chocolate, lemon zest, hazelnuts, and cumin. Sustained by a crackling acidity, the palate remains zen-like in its balance, enough to be lithe and restrained through to a finely pointed finish of sour cherries and ginger. This is refined and delicious! 

- David Salinas

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  • $237.99

Beaufort 3-Pack

Our Pack begins with the 1998 Ambonnay Brut, a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brüléee transition to notes of Jongagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! We move on to the 1996 Polisy Brut Nature, most striking for the presence and persistence of primary fruit aromas, particularly on the palate. Like so many of Beaufort's late-vintage Champagnes, it is barely punctuated by a discrete mousse, set against a light, burnished golden color. More developed aromas of nutmeg, coriander, and butterscotch are present on the nose, but these are offset by herbal and floral tones of spearmint, peppermint, and poppies. The palate surprises with a striking minerality and aromas of Golden Delicious apples, and yellow plums that glide to a smoky, grapefruit and lemon pith finish. The aromatic range and vibrant minerality leave a lasting impression. Finally, for its striking Blood Orange/Copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mullberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date!

- David Salinas

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  • $265.99

Aube 3-Pack

Our Aube 3-Pack starts with the 2012 Val de Vilaine, formerly known as l'Inflorescence, this blanc de noirs comes from a south-facing 1.49ha plot of vines in Polisy planted in 1974 owned by Cédric's father. If there's such a thing as an 'entry level' Champagne in Bouchard's lineup, this is it. Historically more approachable when young than Bouchard's other wines, Val de Vilaine, is now more tightly wound and concentrated as the already small yields were nearly halved to 26hl/ha bringing it in line with the other cuvées of Roses de Jeanne. Here you'll find a classic expression of Polisy terroir.  Marie-Courtin's l'Indulgence is one of our most lithely elegant Champagnes, rosé or otherwise. Four days of maceration must have been masterfully handled to come away with such a pristine and effortlessly ephemeral wine. It is 100% Pinot Noir and another prime example of how there are fine Champagnes to be found and enjoyed in the 2011 vintage. Brilliantly violet pink in the glass with a discrete mousse, the nose offers aromas of brambleberries, wild strawberries, Rainier cherries, and verbena. The palate is harmonious, complex, yet so very drinkable with notes of    ripe raspberries, ripe strawberries, and sage before a zippy, deliciously tart finish. Combining aspects of Biodynamic and organic agriculture, Brigandat uses natural yeasts for the primary fermentation which takes place in cement lined cuvees. This Champagne has a creaminess imparted by 8-10 weeks of lees contact that is accentuated by a racy mineral component from limestone soils. The NV Brut is made from 100% Pinot Noir. This is a ripe, expressive Champagne that is delightful to drink – full of character and with a pleasant savory undertone. 

- John McIlwain, David Salinas, MSB

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  • $205.99