Yesterday K&L Wine Merchants held our annual holiday Champagne tasting in our SF, Redwood City and Hollywood stores. Here in San Francisco, about 30 committed bubble heads braved the cold and seriously rainy weather to taste a killer lineup of vintage and non-vintage Champagnes. I’ve re-created the lineup below, listed in the order in which they were poured. Scott Beckerley, who conducted the SF tasting, re-counted that amongst those customers who attended, both the 2000 Marguet “Cuvee Maxime” and the DeMeric emerged as heavy favorites.
1-2004 Philippe Gonet Cuvee Belemnita Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Mesnil-$129.00
2-1999 Claude Cazals Clos Cazals Brut, Mesnil-sur-Oger-$99.00
3-2000 Marguet Pere et Fils Cuvee Maxime Brut, Ambonnay-$99.00 (1.5L)
4-1996 Baron Fuente Grand Millesime, Aisne-$44.99
5-NV Krug “Grande Cuvee” Brut, Reims-$124.99
6-2002 DeMeric Cuvee Rene Millesime, Crouttes-sur-Marne-$49.99 (Sale! Usually $99.00)
7-NV Ariston Aspasie Cepages d’Antan, Brouillet-$99.00
After we closed up shop for the day, it was time for our staff to taste through the wines (in the interest of educating our palates). My absolute hands down favorite was the NV Ariston Aspasie “Cepages d’Antan”. In an earlier post I mentioned L. Aubry Fils for their rare interest in working with Champagnes’ “other” varietals. Well, here is another gorgeous example of such a wine, selected by K&L Champagne buyer Gary Westby. To think that it was right under my nose the whole time! I have included Garys’ spot on notes below.
This super rare bottling is made with some of the nearly extinct, native varietals of Champagne. It is composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc. I think it is the best of the excellent Ariston portfolio, and it was my favorite Champagne from my 2009 trip. The nose has only hints of exoticism, the over all impression is of rich cream and toast, but underneath is a hint of pine and exotic white fruit from the old varieties. On the palate the Champagne makes for a double take: it is very rich and textural, but finishes with a laser beam of chalky acidity that just goes on and on. It is fantastic first course Champagne, and pairs well with a wide variety of foods, we tried it with both foie and oysters to equal delight! -Gary Westby, K&L