July 12, 2019
Sinor Lavallee Pet Nat Ancestrale

SINOR LAVALLEE Ancestrale 2018

Extremely crisp, high acid sparkling wine from this very small San Luis Obispo producer focusing on earth-driven wines. Pinot Noir’s rose petal and raspberry aromas tip-toe in. Tangy citrus, yellow cherry and plum flavors shine in the mouth along with smidge of jasmine or honeysuckle. There’s a suggestion of rocky earthiness on the finish if you’re looking for it. Very dry, very crisp…dryness not designated but stylistically I’d call it an Extra Brut. A unique, cool wine.
January 31, 2019
Bluet Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine

BLUET Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine

The first time you try the Bluet you will probably be surprised. I, for one, didn’t know what to expect and was still surprised. Very aromatic, but it doesn’t shout out blueberries. I get cranberries, violets, black pepper and dark plum smells as much as blueberry. Ditto on the taste and it’s high acid and very, very dry. (It is fermented dry and 7% alcohol, which translates to tangy wine regardless of the fruit used.) The sparkling softens the acidity just like in “normal” grape sparkling. This is not to drink solo (as in without food) as it’s too dry […]
January 7, 2019
Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose

Highly regarded winery Lucien Albrecht was a pioneer in the production and sale of Cremant d’Alsace (which is methode traditionalle sparkling, or bubbles-made-in-bottle as I like to say), making it in 1976 when the French AOC for Cremant d’Alsace was established. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. Nicely on the very dry side of Brut, showing bits of plum, cranberry and red melon flavors. It’s austere in a good way. On a personal note, in my house the Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose has usurped our long-beloved Allimant Laugner (also a Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose) as the house bubbles. The […]
December 10, 2018
Jean Diot Champagne Extra Brut

JEAN DIOT Champagne Extra Brut

Family vineyard and winery started in the 1960s, now made and run by the 2nd generation (the kids of Jean Diot). Vallee de la Marne, 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. I like the pop of citrus and then white peach and Fuji apple flavor in here. For an Extra Brut (meaning less than 6 Grams/Liter dosage), this has a good balance of ripe fruit. Big thumbs up, and a good value for around $50/bottle. More Information Jean Diot is a family-run Champagne house started in the 1960s and going strong today. These are all very well-made Champagnes […]
December 10, 2018
Jean Diot Champagne Blancs

JEAN DIOT Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Vallee de la Marne producer gets Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blancs for their Blanc de Blancs Champagne. I like Chardonnay’s crisp lemon/apple character and “zip” character, followed by a round, voluptuous mouth feel and lightly toasty flavor that comes from the lees aging in bottle. This has something for fans of all styles of Champagne. More Information Jean Diot is a family-run Champagne house started in the 1960s and going strong today. These are all very well-made Champagnes selling for very reasonable prices.
December 4, 2018
Subject to Change Sparkling

SUBJECT to CHANGE Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Here’s an original. Sauvignon Blanc (from near Hopland, southeast Mendocino County) made into a lightly sparkling wine. Method Ancestrale means the wine, not a dosage, makes the bubbles. In this case it is a second fermenation. Subject to Change uses Sauvignon Blanc must that was frozen at harvest, then thawed and added to wine in bottle. Very yellow-grapefruity, also generous on the green heirloom apple and lime. Kaffir lime and Meyer lemon gives the wine a little exotic-ness. Lightly sparkling, not nearly as much as Champagne. Exceptional intensity of citrus fruits, acidity and herbal character typical of Sauvignon Blanc. Probably […]
October 29, 2018
Henri Dosnon Champagne Brut Rose

HENRI DOSNON Champagne Brut Rose

Tiny producer in the Côte des Bars, southern end of Champagne. The Brut Rosé is 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Mid range on dosage for Brut at 10 Grams/Liter R.S. The dosage plus the Pinot Noir extraction makes for a red-berry heavy, fruity, off-dry sensation that is A) delicious and B) not everyone’s first choice of Champagne style. Get wild red cherries, raspberries, cranberry nut bread, blood oranges and then toasted pie crust, nutmeg and black licorice on the end. This soft, fleshy, lush style is quite different than the other Dosnon Champagnes. I love it, and it’s a fantastic […]
October 29, 2018
Dosnon Champagne Blanche

DOSNON Champagne Recolte Blanche

All Chardonnay from the Cote des Bar, southern end of Champagne. Unsweetened apple sauce, lemon zest and quince paste, classic for Blanc de Blancs Champagne, is here in spades. Less chalky than Blanc de Blancs from the Cotes des Blancs. The Henri Dosnon Champagne Blanche is rich, textured mouthfeel and a 25 second long soft, creamy finish. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
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
Dan Dawson's Wine Advisor

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
Dan Dawson's Wine Advisor

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
Dan Dawson's Wine Advisor

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
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 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 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.
August 24, 2018
J Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rose

J. LAURENS Crèmant de Limoux Rosé

Delicious, fruity, crisp and clean mèthode traditionelle sparkling from the Languedoc, southern France. The J Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rosé cuvée is Chardonnay, Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. Get red plums, raspberries, fresh violets, blood oranges. A little creaminess, medium acidity, crystal-clear flavors and a little floral/spicy flavor on the back end & finish. Throw this one back. It’s almost too easy to down!