October 29, 2018
Francois Bedel Champagne Dis Vin Secret

FRANCOISE BEDEL Champagne “Dis. Vin Secret”

Friendly, perfumed, intense and bold aromas of peaches, dried apricots and pears, roasted almonds and marzipan. And it keeps on going straight through its 25 second finish – fresh and dried orchard fruits, toasted pastries, wild red cherry peaking through now & then. Aged 5+ years en tirage. Mostly Pinot Meunier with a small amount of Chardonnay. A low 5.5 Grams/Liter dosage on the Francoise Bedel Champagne dis vin secret. More Information I’ve found a new favorite Champagne producer. Francoise Bedel is on the western edge of Champagne, just 60 miles from Paris. Their wines are predominantly Pinot Meunier. Farming is […]
October 29, 2018
Francoise Bedel Champagne Origin'elle

FRANCOISE BEDEL Champagne Origin’elle

Friendly aromas of ripe peach & apple plus cooked cream and pie crust. The taste is more crisp and dry than the nose suggests. Get red plums, citrus and quince. Then on the finish it gets rich again! Round texture, wheat toast, dry herbs come to mind. I like how this $50 Champagne is an adventure as well as a delicious drink! The comment below re. letting it breathe may change the crisp palate into something richer. Blend is 75% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. Aged 3 years en tirage. A very low 3.6 G/Liter dosage. Francoise Bedel […]
October 28, 2018
H Goutorbe Champagne Special Club 2006

H GOUTORBE Champagne Special Club 2006

One of my top picks for special drinking Champagne for a great, under $100/bottle price. Facts are this: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, all Grand Cru fruit, has gone through full malo, aged over 7 years on its lees. Get dried orchard fruits, both fresh and dried citrus zest, Gravenstein apples, sweet cream, etc. I really like the round, creamy texture and all the flavors I get in the 30 second finish. the H Goutorbe Champagne Special Club is great stuff. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

H GOUTORBE Blanc de Blancs Champagne

A total winner, especially for the price. All Chardonnay, all 2012 (a fantastic Champagne vintage). Went through full Malo, aged over 4 years on its lees before disgorgement. Super tasty, full of ripe lemon, green apple and crisp peach flavors. Great balance and delicious flavors start to finish. I want some Goutorbe Blanc de Blancs! Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

DUC de ROMET Champagne Cuvee Prestige

We all need as much high quality, under $40 Champagne as we can possible get, right? Duc de Romet is made by Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy of R. Geoffroy. It’s Blanc de Noirs: ¾ Pinot Meunier, ¼ Pinot Noir, 70% from 2013, a good vintage for the area, and the rest “reserve wine” from earlier vintages. 4 years on the lees, which is impressively long for a $35 Champagne. Sports ripe, bright fruit, a ying/yang of tart & sweet, a clean rocky finish and a juicy friendliness. Don’t think too hard about this wine as you enjoy. Just enjoy.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

R GEOFFROY Champagne Cuvee Volupte

Mark this down as a special Champagne to drink, which means for under $100 it really is an excellent value. It is 69% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir from what Geoffroy considers their best plots in Cumieres, Vallee de la Marne. No malo…8 years on the lees before disgorgement. Solid vintage 2009: “Plump and approachable,” writes Jancis Robinson. I love how the Geoffroy Champagne Cuvee Volupte hits all my sensation spots. Jolt of acidity, fresh fruit basket, doughy frame. And long as a winter night. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 27, 2018
Varnier Fanniere Champagne

VARNIER-FANNIERE Champagne Brut

Delicious Grand Cru, Cotes des Blancs Champagne. However, it’s delicious in a different way than you may expect. Instead of crisp, chalky and “racy,” this is more lush, round and what I call friendly. Could be the lower pressure of the wine, equating to less bubbly. Could be the vintages, 2014 and 2015, in this cuvée. In any event, you’ll like the ripe apple, citrus, pear, fig and peach flavors along with some tarragon, basil and sweet cream sensations in the Varnier Fanniere Champagne. Consider this to be more like a (still) Burgundy than the other Champagnes I recommend. Here […]
October 27, 2018
Jean Lallement Champagne

JEAN LALLEMENT Champagne Brut Grand Cru

Always one of my favorite richer, rounder Champagnes, the Jean Lallement Champagne Brut is 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay from their multiple holdings on the Montagne de Reims. This is mostly 2014 vintage with 2013 making up the rest. Steel tank ferment and aged, full malo, 36 months on its lees after 2nd fermentation. The Lallement is lush, quite creamy and rich. With the richness there’s baked apples and pears, lemon custard, peaches and melons. You truly get the full package here, from fresh fruits to toasty/doughy from winemaking and aging. This is a relative bargain in the Champagne world. […]
October 26, 2018
H Billiot Champagne Brut

H BILLIOT Champagne Brut Reserve

All from Billiot’s Grand Cru vineyards in Ambonnay. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. While the wine wants to be rich, Billiot keeps the rich character in check with tank ferment and aging, no malo and more current vintages in the cuvee (this is 2013, 14 and 15). The H Billiot Champagne Brut Reserve comes out like a champ. Crisp green apples, Meyer lemons, a squeeze of lime and then tangy plums and a whiff of cranberry hit the palate. Tarragon and red rose show up near the end and on the generous finish. Gotta like acidity to thoroughly enjoy this […]
October 26, 2018
Aubry Champ Brut

Aubry Champagne Brut

A front-row recommendation for sub-$50, grower Champagne, this “entry level” wine from Aubry is full of pleasure. For the location (Montagne de Reims) and cuvée (55% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir) you’d expect a darker, denser style of bubbles. Actually, what you get is crisp, cool Granny Smith apples, myriad citrus flavors, a little pear and THEN some pie crust, spice and Fino Sherry notes (coming from the reserve wine, a perpetual stash started in 1998). If you, like me, like variety in your non-vintage Champagne selection, put the Aubry Champagne Brut in your “CRISPER” section. Here are […]
October 26, 2018
Chiquet Champagne Tradition

GASTON CHIQUET Champagne Tradition

Always one of the best sub $50 non-vintage Champagnes on the market, the current release of Gaston Chiquet Champagne Tradition is as good as ever. It’s made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir from Chiquet’s vineyards in the Vallee de la Marne. With tank ferment and aging, going through malo then at 2nd fermentation aging on its lees for 4 ½ years, the style is half green apple/citrus/pear, half creamy/doughy. The quality is very consistent, but I think this bottling raises its already lofty bar. Could be because the base wine is the fantastic 2012 vintage. Definitely […]
October 26, 2018
Mousse Champagne L'or d'Eugene

MOUSSE Champagne L’Or d’Eugene

If you don’t already, get to know the wines of Moussé from the Vallée de la Marne. The Mousse Champagne “L’Or de Eugene” (The gold of Eugene) is 95% Pinot Meunier and 5% Pinot Noir. Primary fermentation and aging is in steel tank. This release is half 2015 vintage and half a reserve cuvée of 2003 to 2014. There’s a dark side to this wine. Smoky cherry, cherry pit, dried persimmon, green tea…honestly it’s hard to put my finger on it, but it’s really good. The fruit hits more base notes, there’s more weight and texture here than most Champagnes, […]
October 26, 2018
Pierre Callot Champagne

PIERRE CALLOT Champagne Brut, Grand Cru

95% of the Chardonnay comes from Callot’s Avize vineyards. 2014 base wine with 30% from a Solera-like reserve stash Callot started in 1985. This is more fruity, fleshy and easy-going than most Cotes des Blancs Champagnes I know. Orchard & stone fruits are more prevalent than lemony citrus (that said, the lemon is there).  The region’s rocky/lemon zest character peaks through on the 20 second finish. The Pierre Callot Champagne Brut Grand Cru is very enjoyable and a good one to pour for a group with a broad range of tastes. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 24, 2018
Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut

Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut

The Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut is, like most of their wines, 100% Chardonnay from the chalky vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs. First time they’ve released an Extra Brut/lower dosage. Really good balance, particularly impressive to me for an Extra Brut. Ripe fruit, high acid and faint sweetness work as a team with no one part dominating. That’s a good thing. All the typical flavors of Cotes des Blancs are here. Dryness nibbles the palate on the finish as the fruit lingers. At $40 this is a fantastic value for Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 24, 2018
Vilmart Champagne Rubis

VILMART Champagne Cuvee Rubis

This is a Rose Champagne to pay attention to. Smell and taste wild cherry, plums, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, rose petals, touch of peppery spice. A jolt of acidity is quickly followed by fresh raspberries and pie crust. More mouth-watering acidity than you may expect at first, but then fruit and richness make the Vilmart Cuvee Rubis sing. Highly recommended as a special occasion Champagne. The facts: 90% Pinot Noir (small % of it still wine), 10% Chardonnay. 2013/2014 vintages (good vintages to marry: 2013 higher acid, 2014 riper). No malo, barrel aged, a low 9 G/L dosage.
October 24, 2018
Marc Hebrart Champagne

MARC HEBRART Champagne Brut

85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay from Champagne’s Vallee de la Marne. 2012 through 2015 vintages in this cuvee. Spent 2 years on its lees prior to disgorgement. Showing more austerity and earthiness at my tasting. The soil qualities will always be the star I suspect, but the citrus and orchard fruits, part dried/part fresh, will show themselves by early 2019. Marc Hebrart is recommended for Champagne lovers who prefer more earth-driven and less fruity Champagnes.
October 23, 2018
Gaston Chiquet Champagne Reserve

GASTON CHIQUET Champagne Cuvee de Reserve

40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. Base wine is 2010. Aged 7 years on its lees. The Gaston Chiquet Cuvee de Reserve elicious Champagne, combining a friendliness of fruit and a creamy, doughy side from the longer aging. Easy to understand and totally enjoy while still being definitively Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 23, 2018
Soter Brut Rose

SOTER Brut Rose “Mineral Springs” 2014

Unquestionably one of the best American sparkling wines made. This is 91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay from their Estate vineyard in Willamette’s Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA. Barrel fermented and aged 8 months before 2nd fermentation in bottle. 2 years on its lees before disgorgement in spring 2017. The Soter Brut Rose comes out of the gate like a lightning bolt with fruit-forwardness (blood orange, wild cherry, raspberries) plus fresh pie crust, roast almonds and chamomile tea. You’ll really notice this wine – shy it is not. And with all its flavor, the acidity is running right alongside. Pour this next to […]
October 23, 2018
Ferdinand Albarino 2016

FERDINAND Albarino 2016

The Spanish grape Albariño has found if not a home then a vacation getaway in California. Napa producer Ferdinand acquires Albariño from Lodi’s “Vista Luna Vineyard” to make this crisp, aromatic, texturally pleasing white. I love its fresh floral, citrus basket and Granny Smith apple smells and flavors plus the crunchy-ness and mouth-watering acidity. Still, the tang is pulled back just enough with barrel fermentation (neutral barrel) and full malo. Think of it as sanding the sharp edges of a table. I’ve had my fair share of California Albariños, and the Ferdinand is one of the best. And for $20, […]
October 19, 2018
Besson Givry Petit Pretan

BESSON Givry “Petit Pretans” 16

I really like the delineation of flavors and richness of the Besson Givry Petit Pretans 2016. From a 30+ year old, Premier Cru vineyard in the Cote Chalonnaise, south of the Cote d’Or, in clay/limestone soil. Sports a deep, dark red, faint liqueur and plum sauce smell and flavor plus tarragon, truffle and black tea. This has plenty of structure and, more importantly, more stuffing than most Givry, especially from an ethereal vintage like 2016. Really nice now, but best drinking won’t start until 2022 I estimate. Here are all my Red Burgundy reviews (Red, White & Sparkling)
October 19, 2018
Frantz Chagnoleau Pouilly Fuisse

FRANTZ CHAGNOLEAU Pouilly-Fuisse “Madrigal” 2016

Single vineyard, rocky, higher altitude vineyard in the Vergisson commune of Pouilly-Fuisse. Very much on the racy and “fit” side of Chardonnay with its rocky/mineral-y and crisp citrus rind & blossom character. That said, I’m very critical of the “thin is in” style, finding most to be too much bones and not enough flesh. The Frantz Chagnoleau Pouilly Fuisse Madrigal 2016 gets my recommendation because there’s lots of goodness going on in this structured White Burgundy. Reductive start (smoke, roast nut skins, meat stock, dried sweat) quickly disappears, moving to preserved lemons, caramel, crunchy pears and crushed river rocks. It’s […]
October 18, 2018
Victorine de Chastenay Cremant de Bourgogne

VICTORINE de CHASTENAY Cremant du Bourgogne

This bottle of bubbles from the Hautes Cotes of the Cote d’Or really delivers for the price. The blend is 75% Pinot Noir, 10% Gamay, 10% Aligote and 5% Chardonnay. Steel tank ferment and aged before 2nd fermentation in bottle for 20 months. Get smoky fresh green apples, melon, fresh pie crust and lemon yogurt. I don’t know the dosage but I’d say it’s fairly low, like 8 Grams/Liter R.S. Can’t go wrong with the Victorine de Chastenay Cremant de Bourgogne, either at a party or an opener wine at a nice dinner. See all sparkling wines I’ve reviewed here.
October 17, 2018
The Withers In Hand

The Withers In Hand Red Wine 2016

69% Mourvedre, 31% Syrah, from El Dorado County vineyards in the Sierra Foothills (1800-2800 feet elevation, granite & volcanic-heavy soils.) This has a fruity, ripe, juicy berry character, complemented by the two grapes’ natural spicy/earthy character. The spice: black pepper, anise, cinnamon stick. Earth comes across as black olive and forest floor. Medium bodied, soft tannins, medium acidity. This is ready to enjoy anytime and goes particularly well with pork and stronger fish dishes as well as dishes with mushrooms, olives and lots of herbs. Winegrowing notes from The Withers: The Withers In Hand was fermented with 30% whole clusters and […]
October 17, 2018
The Withers Pinot English Hill

The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill 2016

“English Hill Vineyard” is under ten miles from the Pacific, outside Occidental. Cool-climate and windy. The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill reminds me of a Santa Lucia Highlands style with its exceptional concentration and richness for a cool climate Pinot. Could be the thick skins from the wind. I get ripe, slightly liqueur-ish red cherry and raspberry flavors with bits of black tea, allspice, vanilla, rosewater, violets and pomegranate. Surprising for a 13% alcohol Pinot. Medium-bodied, creamy texture, soft tannins. Delicious to drink anytime. Winegrowing Notes from The Withers: The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill was aged in 15% new […]