Raise A Glass Of Champagne To Celebrate Life

It’s not just for the Holidays

Toasting with Champagne

For some reason Champagne seems to be enjoyed primarily at special occasions such as ushering in the New Year, weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations.  There is no doubt that the inclusion of Champagne or Sparkling wines enhances the mood of any celebration and provides for some memorable moments in our lives.  But it is our contention that Champagne and sparkling wines can elevate the spirits throughout the year.

Read all the way to the bottom to get a copy of FINE Champagne Magazine (double issue).

“Sparklers” Worth Seeking Out!

Gonet-Médeville NV Brut Tradition 1er Cru Champagne

Gonet Medeville NV BrutThe Médeville family has lived in the beautiful family mansion in the center of Preignac since 1710!  Today, Julie and her husband Xavier Gonet carry on the tradition.  Xavier is a young oenologist from an old family of Champagne vignerons from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, home of many of Champagne’s original communes.   Together, Julie and Xavier utilize their energy and talent to create gorgeous, stylized Champagne.

The Brut Tradition is a brilliant straw color, with wonderful spicy lemon, strawberry and floral honey aromas.  On the palate, it’s quite toasty, with very small enthusiastic bubbles, and rich yeasty flavors of orchard fruits, juicy red berries and spicy minerals.  Would definintely be a great apéritif, but frankly Scarlett, one could easily drink it with the meal.

91 points from Wine Spectator:  “This rich bubbly shows good definition, thanks to its firm, lively acidity, providing a fine frame on which to showcase the wine’s lightly honeyed apple, quince, floral and spice flavors. The smoke-tinged finish is long and lingering. Drink now through 2014.” Also received 90 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.  ($50)

Nicolas Feuillatte NV Champagne Brut Extrem’

Nicholas Feuillatte Brut ExtremThis is one of the rare Champagne houses that goes back decades rather than centuries.  In 1986, Nicolas Feuillatte created a partnership with the Centre Vinicole de la Champagne, the largest association of growers in Champagne.  Situated in the heart of the vineyards, near the small Grand Cru village of Chouilly on the outskirts of Épernay, they release exclusively Premier Cru and Grand Cru champagnes.

Here’s some interesting info: the process of Dosage is involved in the creation of a Champagne.  Before release, a plug of fermented yeast has to be removed from the bottle a process known as disgorgement.  The neck of the bottle is stuck into a special apparatus which freezes it, and then kicks the frozen plug out.   A Dosage of Champagne is added to fill in the space in the bottle, and then it’s corked for distribution.   The Dosage is a house secret for each Champagne house, a blend of Champagne, sugar, and sometimes even brandy.

Feuillatte recently introduced a zero dosage wine, the Brut Extrem’, which distinguishes it by the rich full expression of Champagne’s unique pedigree.  92 points from the Wine Spectator:  “There’s an enticing combination of freshness and mature elements in this complex Champagne.  Candied berry, citrus, mushroom and woodsy notes prevail.  Balanced and weighty, the long finish is infused with toast and coffee.” -Bruce Sanderson ($33.25)

Stéphane Coquillette NV Carte d’Or Brut 1er Cru Champagne

Stephane Coquillette Carte d'Or BrutThe story of Stéphane Coquillette is very common in Champagne.  The family’s premium grapes were sold for a long time to the bigger Champagne houses.  They now hold back micro lots of their finest for their own ultra-limited releases.  In fact only 200 cases of the Brut are imported each year!  Stéphane is a fourth-generation winemaker in Champagne, and they’re a tough bunch (you history buffs know it was in Champagne that Genghis Kahn was finally defeated…perhaps from drinking too much bubbly??).  His grandparents, Pierre and Hélène Coquillette, established the classic Champagne Saint-Chamant in 1930.  In 1950, Stéphane’s father Christian took over the Estate, which he still runs today, and when Stéphane came of age, Christian sent him off on his own to run his own Estate.

His vineyards are all hand-harvested, and herbicides and pesticides are never used.  This delicious Brut is created from 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay.   It’s elegant yet very powerful and expressive, with great yeasty bubbles, ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit, citrus and a wonderful creamy toastiness with hints of smoky vanilla on the finish.  A gorgeous Champagne!  ($56)

And Finally, A Sparkler That Is Fun,
Delicious and Very Affordable!

Bodegas Pinord NV Dibon Cava Brut Reserve

Dibon CavaWhat a terrific surprise this was!  This Spanish sparkler may be the Best Bubbly Buy (ok, now say that 5 times fast…) we’ve tasted this year.  Not to mention how fun it is to try and pronounce the varietals in it… 40% Xarel·lo (char-rel-lyo), 30% Macabeu (mah-KAH-bee-oh) and 30% Parellada (par-ey-YAH-dah).  OK, are we having fun yet?!?!

Dibon Cellars is a third-generation family run operation.   Their magnificent organically-farmed vineyards sit over 1,000 feet above the Mediterranean, and their caves and cellars are located in Vilafranca del Penedès, a small town founded in the middle of the 12th century.  And I would be remiss in also mentioning that Vilafranca is also the birth-place of the Penedesenca fowl, famous for their chocolate-colored eggs.

This Brut is not only a terrific value at just $15 but it’s got a wonderful palate to it:  plenty of crisp, energetic bubbles and fresh flavors of pears, golden delicious apples, lemon zest, and nice touches of toasty floral fruits on the finish.  (Only $15!)

To find these sparklers, send an email to admin@wineriff.com

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FINE Champagne Magazine

FNE Champagne Issue

Get Your Copy of FINE Champagne Issue Here

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The second anniversary of FINE Champagne Magazine is celebrated with a festive double issue. Explore champagne in the sky, pondering what altitude does to the taste of champagne and also discover the airlines that serve the best bubbles. Join Champagne Lanson at the house’s 250th anniversary at Versailles, and accompany Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 in a journey back through history to the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. The producer profiles include Jacquesson, Barons de Rothschild and Cédric Bouchard. Also discover the selection of the 100 Best Champagnes of 2011!

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