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A Tasting of Grower Champagnes

Christine Graham • 10/27/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

The Vienna Wine Company and WineWise Oakland, California presented a tasting of 86 Grower-Producer Champagnes from Terry Theise Estate Selections and WineWise in October at Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles.

The Champagnes are delicious, hand-crafted and estate-bottled, grown and produced by a vintner or by a family.  Theise calls these Grower Champagnes “Farmer Fizz” because the wines are made by a farmer and offer the individually distinctive flavors of terroir-driven wines.  Generally, the Champagnes imported by Terry Theise sell for about $40-100 for non-vintage and $55-140 for vintage.  The prices given for the individual wines here are just suggested retail as there is considerable variation in pricing in different parts of the country.

Côte des Blancs


Pierre Gimonnet et Fils comprises 28 hectares of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir in Cuis, Chouilly and Cramant, producing 21,000 cases annually.  The Gimonnet family has been growing grapes in Cuis since 1750, selling the fruit until in the early 20th century, Pierre began to vinify the fruit himself.  Recently parcels have been added in Oger and down to Vertus.  The majority of the vineyards are over 40 years old, with the oldest parcel in Cramant almost 100.  The wines are well-made, showing the classical character of the northern Côte des Blancs.  The high standard has been maintained from generation to generation, passing first to Pierre’s son Michel and now to his grandsons, Olivier and Didier.  Didier prizes concentration, balance, elegance and harmony.  The wines are polished, elegant and sophisticated, suave, creamy and silky, with a soft minerality, rating from highly recommended to extraordinary.

gimonnet fleuron

The Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Fleuron Blanc de Blancs Brut 1er Cru, (disgorged early 2010), is rich, fresh, chalky, dry and minerally, showing hay, spice, quince, citrus, honey, toast and biscuit — Extraordinary.  $60  4-yellow-stars

The Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Oenophile Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, a light color, exhibits lovely fruit, chalk, herbs and mineral in a very dry, yet flowery framework – Outstanding Plus.  $55  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Pierre Gimonnet 2002 Millésimé de Collection Special Club Blanc de Blancs Brut, (disgorged 2/10), pale yellow in color, is imbued with chalk, nuts, spice, red berry fruit and citrus.  It is balanced, elegant and vibrant – Outstanding Plus.  $95  3-n-half-yellow-stars

gimonnet 2002

The Pierre Gimonnet 2000 Special Club Blanc de Blancs Brut, (made primarily from old vines up to 89 years), yellow color, has a lovely perfume of herbs, quince, pear, chalk and spice.  It is full, balanced and long – Outstanding.  $72  3-yellow-stars

The Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Paradoxe Brut is firm and full-bodied, with bright fruit, spice, yeast, apple and chalk – Highly Recommended. $55  2-yellow-stars

 

Jean Milan has 5.5 hectares in Oger, in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, producing 7,100 cases annually of 100% Chardonnay, using 100% oak barrels.  Established in 1864 by Henry Milan, it is a family operation with father and brother involved in the vineyards and cellar, mother in the office and Caroline doing sales and marketing.  The wines have good body, with a graphite and mineral quality, well-balanced and concentrated, with nuances of grass, fruit and honey.  The eight wines tasted range from highly  recommended to outstanding plus.

jean milan

The Jean Milan 2004 Sélection Terres de Noël Vieilles Vignes Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, (made from vines over 70 years old), light yellow, is rich and creamy, redolent of grapefruit, honey, chalk, apple, yeast and citrus.  It is balanced and long — Outstanding Plus.  $85  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan NV Spéciale Blanc de Blancs Brut (a blend of 2006 and 2007, disgorged in early 2010), pale yellow, is dry and fresh, revealing apple, citrus, flint, toast, nuts and brioche – Outstanding.  $52  3-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan NV Grande Reserve 1864, (1864 is the date the estate was established), gold color, with lovely fruit, nuts, orange peel, ginger,  yeast and toast, is rich, creamy and lush yet firmly structured — Outstanding Plus.  $75  3-n-half-yellow-stars

jean milan 1864

The Jean Milan NV Cuvée Millénaire Blanc de Blancs Brut (a blend of 2005 and 2006 vintages, disgorged early 2010) is dry, creamy and lush, with good fruit, nuances of pastry, peach, grapefruit, spice, mineral and chalk, with a long, full, toasty finish – Highly Recommended.  $55  2-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan 2004 Cuvée Symphorine Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru is racy, with apple, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $55  2-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan NV Glamour Brut Rosé, (2007 vintage, disgorged end of 2009), a lovely pink color, imbued with rhubarb and other sweet red fruit, is silky and delicate – Highly Recommended.  $58  2-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan NV Cuvée de Réserve Blanc de Blancs Brut has ripe fruit with hints of caramel, spice, vanilla and oak – Highly Recommended.   $62  2-yellow-stars

The Jean Milan NV Cuvée Tendresse Blanc de Blancs Sec, (a blend of 2006 and 2007, disgorged in early 2010), is dry, tinged with grass, flowers, herbs, brioche, honey and spice, resembling Riesling.  It is delicate and finesseful – Highly Recommended.  $56  2-yellow-stars

Pierre Peters has 19 hectares of 100% Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs, producing 13,300 cases.  The firm was established in 1940 but the family has been growing grapes here in Le-Mesnil-Sur-Oger over 100 years.  François is stepping back and son Rodolph is taking over.  The wines produced are elegant, finesseful and textured, yet somewhat crisp, packed with exotic fruit, laced with butterscotch, honey and nuts.  Made from Grand Cru fruit, they display a Krug-like profile.  The two wines tasted are terrific and one is extraordinary.

pierre peters

The Pierre Peters 2002 Cuvée Spéciale Les Chetillons Grand Cru Le Mesnil, (over 70-year-old vines, disgorged end of 2009), pale yellow in color, this rich, aromatic,  exotic, toasty, buttery, floral wine showcases a lovely mandarin orange character, laced with herbs and mineral — Extraordinary. $90  4-yellow-stars

pierre peters bdb

The Pierre Peters NV Cuvée Réserve Blanc de Blancs Brut, (2006 vintage, disgorged mid 2009) light yellow, is rich, with earth, orange blossom, spice and chalk – Outstanding Plus.  $46  3-n-half-yellow-stars

Varnier-Fannière, located in Avize,  grows 100% Chardonnay on four hectares of exclusively Grand Cru land in the Côte des Blancs, with an annual production of 2,500 cases.  Denis Varnier produces wines from 55-year-old vines that are prized for their lovely and intense fruit and flavors, elegance and finesse.  The five wines tasted, mostly non-vintage, disgorged in late 2008, range from highly recommended to outstanding plus.

varnier fanniere 2004

The Varnier-Fannière 2004 Grand Vintage Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, (disgorged 10/09), a pale color, delivers ripe, exotic fruit, hinting of smoke, forest, hay, graphite, truffles and a chalky finish — Outstanding Plus. $80 3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Varnier-Fannière NV Cuvée Saint-Denis Blanc de Blancs Brut, (a blend of grapes from 2005 and 2004, disgorged end 2009,  made from 71-year-old vines), pale yellow, is very distinctive, laced with apples, chalk, exotic spice, nuts and a panoply of fruit that permeate the nose and mouth, ending in a long, tasty finish — Outstanding. $60    3-yellow-stars

varnier

The Varnier-Fannière NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, (a blend of 2006, 2007, disgorged in early 2010), is aromatic, graceful, charming, very fruity and long – Highly Recommended.  $50  2-yellow-stars

The Varnier-Fannière NV Cuvée de Jean Fannière Origine Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, (a blend of 2004 and 2005, disgorged early 2010)  is full, refined, silky and dry – Highly Recommended. $60 2-yellow-stars

The Varnier-Fannière NV Rosé Brut Grand Cru, (disgorged 10/09) is delicate, offering lovely berries, melon, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $55   2-yellow-stars

Vallée de la Marne


Marc Hébrart, located in Mareuil-sur-Ay, has a 14.5-hectare domain, growing 75% Pinot Noir grapes in the Vallée de la Marne and 25% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, with an annual production of 8,700 cases.  The estate was founded by Marc in 1963 but in 1983, son Jean-Paul began to expand it.   The wines are charming, packed with hand-selected, mineral-etched, juicy fruit.  All five wines are highly recommended.

marc hebrart rive

The Marc Hébrart 2004 Rive Gauche Rive Droit Brut Grand Cru, (vinified in oak) a yellow colored wine, which is silky, with lovely chalk-toned fruit, tinged with nuts, green tea and mushroom – Highly Recommended.  $100   2-yellow-stars

The Marc Hébrart NV Rosé Brut, (blend of 2007 and 2006 vintages, disgorged 12/09), reddish-pink in color, is elegant, sensual, expressive and aromatic, with silky, red berry fruit, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $48  2-yellow-stars

marc hebrart

The Marc Hébrart NV Cuvée de Réserve Brut, (blend of 2005, 2006, 2007 vintages, disgorged end 2009), light yellow in color, is silky, aromatic, rich and spicy with sweet, ripe fruit – Highly Recommended. $41   2-yellow-stars

The Marc Hébrart NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, (blend of 2006, 2005 vintages, disgorged 12/09),  is aromatic, bright, clean, crisp and fresh, with very nice, ripe fruit – Highly Recommended.  $46  2-yellow-stars

The Marc Hébrart NV Sélection Brut, (blend of vintages of 2004, 2005 and 2006, disgorged 12/09), is vibrant, with citrus, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended. $47 2-yellow-stars


René Geoffroy, situated in Cumières,has 14 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne growing grape varieties of 42% Pinot Noir, 39% Pinot Meunier and 19% Chardonnay, with an annual production of 10,800 cases.  They are lovely, vibrant, fruity, red-grape dominated wines.  The Geoffroy family has been winemakers as long ago as the 17th century.  Recently Geoffroy planted a field-blend in one parcel, consisting of all five grape varieties allowed to be planted in Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Arbanne and Petit Meslier.  Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy produced these vibrant, fruity highly recommended to outstanding plus wines.

rene geoffroy 2000

The René Geoffroy 2002 Millésimé Extra Brut is wood-aged, dry and smoky, with good fruit, brioche and spice – Outstanding.  $120  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy 2000 Millésimé Extra Brut is dry, with fresh fruit and sweet brioche notes – Outstanding Plus.  $115  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy NV Cuvée Volupté Brut, (100% Chardonnay from 2005, disgorged late 2009), light yellow, shows mineral, flowers, chalk, earth, brioche, apple, pear and citrus, is balanced, clean, fresh, vibrant and rich – Highly Recommended.  $75  2-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy NV Cuvée Empreinte Brut, (all 2005 vintage, 69% Pinot Noir, 19% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Meunier, disgorged 11/09), light in color, is bright, soft, spicy and elegant, with lovely, ripe apple and cherry fruit and woodsy notes – Highly Recommended.  $60  2-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy NV Rosé de Saignée Brut, (2007 vintage, disgorged 1/10), is a big, full, fruity wine, with blackberry, blueberry and spice, silky and classy – Highly Recommended.  $60  2-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy NV Cuvée Expression Brut, (blend of 2007 and 2006, disgorged 2/10), pale yellow in color, is aromatic, silky, and stylish, showing spicy red fruit with notes of hay and is dry and tasty – Highly recommended.  $50   2-yellow-stars

The René Geoffroy NV Blanc de Rosé Brut, (2008 vintage, disgorged 2/10), is dry, complex and long, offering citrus , flowers, herbs and spice – Highly Recommended.  $98  2-yellow-stars

rene  geoffroy


Gaston Chiquet, located in Dizy in the Vallée de la Marne, has 22 hectares, growing 20% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay, annually producing 16,700 cases.  Nicolas Chiquet planted his first vines in 1746 and since then eight generations have farmed the property, with Gaston establishing the firm in 1935.  Claude took over the operation and now it is run by his son Nicolas.  The six wines tasted ranging from highly recommended to outstanding plus, are rich, creamy and delicious, with good fruit definition and depth.

gaston chiquet 2000

The Gaston Chiquet 2002 Millésimé Brut, (disgorged 7/09), gold color, displays seductive red fruit, blueberry, flowers, brioche and exotic spice, full, balanced  and long – Outstanding Plus.  $58  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Gaston Chiquet 2000 Blanc de Blancs d’Ay Brut, light in color, has aromas and flavors of quince, apple, bread, toast, nuts and lime – Highly Recommended.  $55  2-yellow-stars

The Gaston Chiquet NV Blanc de Blancs d’Ay Brut, (2006 vintage, disgorged 8/09), light yellow in color, showcases quince, spice and herbs in a firm structure – Highly Recommended.  $49  2-yellow-stars

The Gaston Chiquet 2000 Special Club Brut, (disgorged 7/09), light yellow, is very flavorful, packed with herbs, bright fruit, apple, dough, mint, nuts, green tea and spice, with a chalky finish – Highly Recommended.  $64  2-yellow-stars

gaston chiquet

The Gaston Chiquet NV Tradition Brut, (2006 and 2005 vintages) is very aromatic, exhibiting nuts, dough and ripe red fruit that is vinous and silky – Highly Recommended.  $43  2-yellow-stars

The Gaston Chiquet NV Cuvée de Reserve Brut, (vintages of 2000-2002, disgorged 11/08), is bright, fresh, dry and silky, with lovely, ripe fruit, a bit steely yet buttery, showing toast, herbs, flowers and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $58  2-yellow-stars

Henri Goutorbe and his son René, located in Ay, grow 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier on 22 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne, with an annual production of 10,000 cases.  The family recently opened Hotel Castel Jeanson in Ay, near the winery.  They are making big, rich, ripe, fruity, yet refined wines, with floral nuances.  The three wines are highly recommended to outstanding Plus.

The Henri Goutorbe 2002 Special Club Brut, gold color, is rich and voluptuous, with blueberry, chalk, spice, buttery croissant, flowers and truffles – Outstanding Plus.  $76  3-n-half-yellow-stars

goutorbe 2002

The Henri Goutorbe NV Rosé Brut, (2006 vintage, disgorged 9/09), a lovely pink color is rich, with plum, rhubarb and silky red fruit.  Give it time and it will be even better – Highly Recommended.  $55  2-yellow-stars

goutorbe

The Henri Goutorbe NV Cuvée Prestige Brut, (mostly 2005 vintage, disgorged 8/09), yellow in color, offers generous rich fruit, toast, hay, herbs, spice and truffles in a firm structure – Highly Recommended.  $44  2-yellow-stars

Montagne de Reims


A. Margaine, located in Villers-Marmery, has 6.5 hectares in Montagne de Reims growing 10% Pinot Noir and 90% Chardonnay, with annual production of 4,600 cases.  They are big wines with lovely tropical fruit and mineral and floral notes.  The five wines of Arnaud Margaine  are highly recommended to outstanding plus.

margaine

The A. Margaine 2002 Special Club Blanc de Blancs Brut, (disgorged 1/10), pale yellow, has a lovely perfume, exhibiting ginger, baking spices, mint, light oak and chalk, translating beautifully to the palate, full, rich, balanced and very flavorful, ending in a long finish – Outstanding Plus.  $67  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The A. Margaine 2004 Special Club Blanc de Blancs Brut, shows aromas and flavors of flowers, flint, mineral, fruit and spice, that is firmly structured and long – Highly Recommended.  $68   2-yellow-stars

The A. Margaine NV Cuvée Traditionelle Brut, (a blend of 07, 06, 05, 99 and 1% 94, disgorged 1/10), offers lovely tropical fruit, spice, mineral and chalk and is balanced, dry, flavorful and long – Highly Recommended.  $40 2-yellow-stars

The A. Margaine NV Rosé Brut, (mostly 07, disgorged 12/09), a lovely pink color, is richly fruity and flavorful, charming and refined – Highly Recommended.  $53  2-yellow-stars

margaine rose

The A. Margaine NV Traditionelle Demi-Sec, (blend of 07, 06, 05, 99, disgorged 12/09),  is delicately sweet, with flowers, melon,  exotic fruit, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $43  2-yellow-stars

Henri Billiot, situated in Ambonnay, grows 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay on 5 hectares in the Montagne de Reims, annually producing 3,750 cases.  The wines offer bright, fresh, ripe, deep red-grape fruit.  Serge Billiot makes wines with a racy mineral acidity and a savory yeastiness.  The five wines tasted range from highly recommended to extraordinary.

billiot

The Henri Billiot NV Cuvée Laetitia Brut, (Tête de Cuvée named after his daughter who is set to take over eventually, disgorged 1/10, contains every vintage between 1983-2005), pale gold, is concentrated, balanced and rich, with notes of green plum, exotic spice, toast, saffron, scallop, butter, citrus and light herb.  It is gorgeous, silky and racy, showing power, brilliance and great length – Extraordinary.  $94  4-yellow-stars

The Henri Billiot 2004 Millésimé Brut, (disgorged 1/10), light yellow, it has a lovely perfume and is bright, silky and vibrant, with ripe, expressive fruit, flowers, straw, spice and chalk — Outstanding Plus.  $62  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Henri Billiot NV Réserve Brut, (2007, 2006, 2005 vintages, disgorged 1/10), light in color, is aromatic, with lovely fruit, good body and length, rich and flavorful — Outstanding Plus.  $50  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Henri Billiot NV Rosé Brut, reddish pink color, bright and refreshing, offers lovely red fruit and spice, distinctive, rich, long and very flavorful — Outstanding Plus. $52  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Henri Billiot NV Cuvée Julie Brut (Tête de Cuvée named after Serge’s granddaughter, 2005 vintage, disgorged 1/10)), pale gold, shows generous fruit, and is mouthfilling, rich,  integrated and smooth, hinting of toast, smoke, coffee and caramel – Highly Recommended.  $88  2-yellow-stars

Jean Lallement et Fils has 4.5 hectares in Verzenay in the Montagne de Reims, growing grape varieties of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, with an annual production of 1,700 cases.  Jean-Luc and his parents, Jean and Louisette Lallement produce intense Pinot Noir-based Champagnes, which are rich, straightforward, dry and focused, showing distinctive terroir.  Only 1,700 cases are produced from close to 30-year-old vines.  The three wines tasted are highly recommended to outstanding plus.

lallement

The Jean Lallement NV Réserve Brut, (2006 and 2007 vintages, disgorged 12/09) gold-colored, is bright, rich and spicy, yet quite zippy, crisp and clean, with berry, flowers, light herb, fresh pastry, caramel and red currant, firmly structured, ending in a long finish.  This wine should appeal to fans of Krug and Bollinger – Outstanding Plus.  $60  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Jean Lallement NV Brut, (2006 and 2007 vintages, disgorged 12/09), gold in color, offers aromas and flavors of nuts, herbs, grain, apple, butter and mineral that are rich, clean, full and lovely – Highly Recommended.  $48  2-yellow-stars

lallement rose

The Jean Lallement NV Rosé Brut, (all 2007, all Pinot Noir, disgorged 12/09), a pinkish-plum color, is rich and creamy yet dry, hinting of blackberry, strawberry, mint, flowers, green tea and spice, charming, with good concentration and a lingering aftertaste – Highly Recommended. $60  2-yellow-stars

Pehu-Simonet, a 9-hectare estate in Verzenay in the Montagne de Reims, was founded by Julia Pehu and is now run by David Pehu and his wife, growing grape varieties of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay, annually producing 3,750 cases.  The five wines, which are generous, big, a bit fleshy, yet fresh and polished, are highly recommended.

The Pehu-Simonet NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, (2007 vintage, all Mesnil, disgorged 10/09) pale in color, has a subdued nose, and a palate of earth, mint, mineral, meat, flowers and chalk, finishing long – Highly Recommended. $64  2-yellow-stars

The Pehu-Simonet NV Transparence Extra Brut, (2006, 2005 vintages, disgorged 11/09), bone dry, medium-light color, rich, thick and full, laced with fruit, flowers, spice and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $47  2-yellow-stars

pehu simonet

The Pehu-Simonet NV Sélection Brut, (2007, 2006, 2005 vintages, disgorged 11/09), pale gold color, has a perfume of straw and exotic spice, that carries through to the palate, with added notes of nuts, citrus, peach, spice, mineral and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $49  2-yellow-stars

The Pehu-Simonet NV Rosé Brut, (2007 vintage, disgorged 1/10), pinkish-red in color,  fruit-forward, balanced and very attractive, laced with rhubarb, berries, tomatoes, cherries, spice, popcorn, biscuit and chalk – Highly Recommended.  $68  2-yellow-stars

pehu simonet rose

The Pehu-Simonet NV Blanc de Noirs, (2006 vintage, old vines, 60% vinified in wood, disgorged 6/09), offers lovely scents and tastes of plum, saffron, floral and spice nuances, very nice – Highly Recommended.  $59  2-yellow-stars

André Clouet, a 9-hectare estate in Bouzy and Ambonnay, is operated by Pierre and Françoise Santz-Clouet and their son Jean-François, growing mostly Pinot Noir and some Chardonnay, aiming for a Bollinger style.  The family estate dates back to 1751.  The village of Bouzy is renowned for Pinot Noir.

The André Clouet NV Grande Réserve Brut Grand Cru, a faint yellow color, is dry, vibrant yet delicate, creamy, balanced and elegant, hinting of candied berry fruit, flowers and mineral, with good length – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars

Vilmart & Cie, situated in Rilly-la-Montagne in Montagne de Reims, has 11 hectares growing 60% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 4% Pinot Meunier, with an annual production of 8,750 cases.  The estate was established in 1890 and is now run by Laurent Champs.  The wines all show a purity of fruit, with a high acidity, from no malolactic fermentation.  The Coeur de Cuvée, made from vines over 70 years old is 100% barrique aged, 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.  Since the base wines are aged in wood, they resemble Krug, with Burgundian flavors.  The wines are creamy, packed with flavor, have a Muscat aroma, a structure of fine fruit, and a note of biscuitiness.  The six wines range from highly recommended to extraordinary.

vilmart 2001

The Vilmart 2001 Coeur de Cuvée Brut, (disgorged 12/08), yellow-colored, is rich, immensely fruity and flavorful, offering gorgeous aromas and flavors of caramel, nuts, tropical fruit, brioche, spice, mint and oak, with crisp acidity.  It is elegant, finesseful and absolutely delicious – Extraordinary.  $124  4-yellow-stars

The Vilmart 1997 Coeur de Cuvée Brut, yellow in color, offering a perfume of caramel that carries through to the creamy palate, with a spectrum of orange, nuts, lemon, toast, butter, coconut and vanilla.  It is very rich and concentrated — a gorgeous Champagne – Outstanding Plus. $100  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Vilmart 2004 Grand Cellier d’Or Brut, (10 months in barrique, disgorged 11/09), yellow in color, has a lovely perfume of apples, oak and spice, on the palate, flowers, passion fruit, herbs, mineral, smoke, oak, apple, spice and vanilla.  It is elegant, refined and luxurious – Outstanding Plus.  $77  3-yellow-stars

The Vilmart NV Cuvée Rubis Brut, (2007, 2006, disgorged 11/09), a lovely pink color, hints of cherries, strawberries, vanilla and spice, with a Burgundian richness that is  sweet and creamy – Highly Recommended.  $71  2-yellow-stars

vilmart

The Vilmart NV Grand Cellier Brut, (blend of 07, 06, 05, disgorged 5/09), is creamy, with notes of spice, citrus, herbs and brioche, and is a bit dry, and has a slight saltiness – Highly Recommended.  $60  2-yellow-stars

The Vilmart 1999 Cuvée Creation Brut, is bright and vibrant, with scents and tastes of fresh pastry, tropical fruit, spice and vanilla, and is complex, rich, full and long – Highly Recommended.  $115  2-yellow-stars

The Vilmart 2004 Grand Cellier Rubis Brut is pink-colored, with a lovely perfume of cherries, strawberries, spice, citrus and vanilla.  The similar flavors are rich, fruity, sweet and creamy – Highly Recommended.   $120  2-yellow-stars

aubry rose

L. Aubry Fils, located in Jouy-les-Reims in Montagne de Reims, has 17 hectares, growing grape varieties of 30% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay, with a wine-growing legacy from 1790.  Annual production is 11,700 cases.  The twin brothers of Pierre and Philippe Aubry make wines that are flowery and graceful, with some sweetness.  Until 2001, Aubry sold a third of their grapes to Veuve Clicquot.  All the wines here were disgorged in February 2010.  The wines range from recommended to outstanding plus.

aubry

The L.Aubry Fils 2003 Le Nombre d’Or Campanae Veteres Vites Brut is a cuvée of both forgotten and regular grape varieties: 15% Arbanne (herbs and honey flavors), 20% Petit Meslier (orange and lemon flavors), 25% Fromenteau (Pinot Gris flavors), 20% Pinot Meunier (maple and pumpernickel), 10% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, hence the name which translates as “the old vines of the countryside.”  This remarkable composition of grapes has produced an exotic, distinctive, unique wine that shows a lovely perfume and similar flavors that are smoky and richly fruity and flavorful, redolent of quince, herbs, spice, pumpernickel, syrup, honey and citrus — Outstanding Plus.  $59  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The L. Aubry Fils NV Rosé Brut (all 2007), reddish-pink in color, has a lovely perfume of strawberry, anise, fresh pastry and lime.  Flavors are similar with added apple notes, blackberry and spice.  It is silky, dry and graceful – Highly Recommended.  $53  2-yellow-stars

aubry rose

The L. Aubry Fils 2004 Ivoire et Ebene Brut is pale yellow, with light oak, flowers, pink peppercorns and spice and is silky and delicate yet a bit chewy – Recommended.  $58  1-yellow-star

The L. Aubry Fils 2004 Aubry d’Humbert Brut, is light in color, offering pear, peach, citrus and mineral, with a slight salty note – Recommended.  $79  1-yellow-star

The L. Aubry Fils 2005 Nicolas Francois Aubry Sablé Rosé is creamy yet dry, with notes of saline, seashell, berry and spice – Recommended.  $73  1-yellow-star

The L. Aubry Fils NV Brut, (2007 and 2007), is slightly sweet and a bit salty, with mineral tones, good concentration, and is clean and fresh — Recommended.  $40 1-yellow-star

 

Chartogne-Taillet, located in Merfy in Montagne de Reims, grows grape varieties of 50% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay on 12 hectares of very old vines, producing 6,700 cases annually.  Fiacre Taillet was a wine grower here in the 16th century.  Still a family business, today it is run by Philippe and Elisabeth Chartogne and their son Alexander.  The wines are fresh, silky and rich with tart, spicy  concentrated fruit.  The five wines range from recommended to outstanding plus.

chartogne taillet

The Chartogne-Taillet 2002 Cuvée Fiacre Brut, (disgorged 1/10), yellow in color, is perfumed with flowers, tea, ginger, mint and spice that carries over to the palate, with added notes of apple and brioche.  It is refreshing, racy, charming and long – Outstanding Plus.  $62  3-n-half-yellow-stars

The Chartogne-Taillet 2002 Millésimé Brut, (disgorged 2/09), yellow colored, a generous, concentrated wine of spice and apples, is round and balanced – Highly Recommended.  $55  2-yellow-stars

The Chartogne-Taillet NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, (2004 based, disgorged 1/10), has aromas and flavors of flowers, tea, dough, apple and chalk and is bright and refined – Highly Recommended.  $49  2-yellow-stars

The Chartogne-Taillet NV Cuvée Sainte Anne Brut, (2006, 2005, 2004, disgorged 1/10), very dry and has a very nice perfume and flavors of chalk, ginger, flowers and spice, with hints of apple, butter and pear – Highly Recommended.  $40  2-yellow-stars

chartogne taillet st anne

The Chartogne-Taillet 2000 Millésimé Brut is rounded, generously fruity, hinting of apples and spice – Highly Recommended.  $58  2-yellow-stars

The Chartogne-Taillet NV Rosé Brut is fruity and flavorful, with strawberries, cherries, apples and spice — Recommended. $47  1-yellow-star

Forest-Marie, located in the village of Trigny, grows Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.  Owner Thierry Forest makes wines of soft, subtle, fresh fruit.  His wines are highly recommended.

The Forest-Marie NV Rosé Brut, a pink-colored wine, is soft, with fresh fruit, herbs, spice, apple and subtle berry and is elegant, bright and fresh – Highly Recommended.  $52  2-yellow-stars

The Forest-Marie NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, (2005 and 2004 vintages), pale yellow, is soft, with ripe apple, brioche, spice and chalk.  It is complex, with good acidity and long – Highly Recommended. $42  2-yellow-stars

The Forest-Marie NV Cuvée St. Crespin 1er Cru, pale color, has aromas and flavors of spice, ginger, flowers and herbs and is fruity and flavorful, clean, fresh and crisp – Highly Recommended.  $45  2-yellow-stars

The Forest-Marie NV Tradition Brut, light yellow, offers scents and tastes that are fruity and flavorful, balanced, clean, vibrant and refreshing, with good acidity and a tasty finish – Highly Recommended. $40  2-yellow-stars

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