I am rarely surprised anymore by the things people say to me on the subject of wine. However, during a trip to Brooklyn a couple months ago for my friend’s wedding, I stopped into a small, and what I determined to be quite reputable, wine shop. I struck up a conversation with one of the employees. Upon asking him if they had any small grower Champagne, I was met with a somewhat astonished facial expression followed by “you guys know about grower Champagne out in California?!” I had to stop myself from laughing hysterically lest I come off as a phony (psst, I’m not really from California) AND offensive.
That said, I know we can be a bit Californicentric with our wine selections on the west coast, but when it comes to bubbles, well…. in the words of one of our favorite Californian winemakers when I asked him what he’s drinking these days… “Champagne. Especially from growers. That’s pretty exciting to me.” So yes world, we know all about Champagne!!! It is delicious; It is festive; It is one of the most diverse and versatile wines on the planet; It is exciting. Oh, and it’s available in California!
Grower Champagne – Champagne made from vines grown on and bottled by a single estate – is not necessarily inherently superior (or inferior for that matter) to one made by a négociant or co-op, but many small grower Champagnes today offer a distinct type of drinking experience that diverges from the larger producers. Not to mention the fact that it’s nice to know where the grapes for your wine come from. TWH carries both categories proudly and with discerning standards. All of our Champagnes represent the absolute best of the various sub-regions, styles, and producers from a region renowned for its pivotal role in history as the place for royal inaugurations and celebrations. Oh, and did we mention that our Champagnes are celebrity-endorsed?
Last night before we closed up shop, TWH staff was treated to a bottle of the 1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil (That’s Pascal in the pic above, btw). The freshness, the vibrancy, and the complexity of this wine, after all these years, was mind-blowing. It’s nowhere close to retiring. And even after a long day of work, in the back of our warehouse, with no cause for celebration per se, we had a sense that the moment was special. THIS is why we drink Champagne. Happy New Year! ~ Emily Crichton
** Here are a few of our favorite bubbles in stock **
Arlaux is a tiny Champagne house run by Christine Marechal. A recoltant-manipulant, Marechal is based in Vrigny, and owns just 7 hectares of Premier Cru vines, predominantly Chardonnay but with both Pinots planted alongside, on the north-western edge of the Petite Montagne de Reims. All of the Arlaux wines are made from the first pressing only and following both fermentations, are aged in the Arlaux cellars before release, with up to three years for the basic non-vintage cuvees, and up to five years for the reserve non-vintage and vintage wines. The entry level non-vintage is the Brut NV, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and just 10% Chardonnay.-
1998 Arlaux Brut Millesime
This has a lovely character on the nose, which is evolving and interesting. There is elegant but rich tropical fruit with a lemon twist, and a nutty element coming in behind. The palate is impressive, defined and linear, but also creamy and harmonious. There is great fruit texture, fine acidity and perfect balance. A delicious wine which is very approachable now. –, March 2009
NV Pascal Doquet Brut Blanc de Blancs
92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008
Pascal and his wife Laure own and operate this fabulous small grower Champagne domaine in the town of Vertus, located near Avize. The Doquet’s Champagnes are made entirely from their 15 hectares (2.5 Grand Cru / 12.5 Premier Cru) which are all farmed organically and hand harvested.
In the Cellar the wines ferment in both tank and cask before being bottled to under go secondary fermentation where they are allowed to rest on their lees for a minimum of 2 years but often up to 3 before disgorgement; much longer than the law requires. This technique and patience allows for the wines to develop richness and depth.
This Brut Blanc de Blancs cuvee was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 2 vintages: 67% of 2004 and 33% of 2002, and was bottled in April 2005.
NV Pascal Doquet Brut Rose 1er Cru
91 Points– Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
This Rose Brut Premier Cru cuvee comes from the Southern Cote des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, Bergeres-les-Vertus. The wine was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. A Chardonnay base is used along with some Pinot Noir from Vertus. This is a blend of 2005, 2004 and 2003 vintages, which was bottled in April 2006.
NV Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil
92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008
This Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs cuvee (100% Chardonnay) comes from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 4 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 3 vintages: 73% of 1999, 7% of 1998 and 20% of 1996, and was bottled in April 2000.
*2000 Pascal Doquet Brut 1er Cru Mont Aime
*1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil
NV Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs