Hello and Happy New Year!
Let’s just get this over with.
Congratulations on your new diet, we’re supportive.
Working out is also a good thing, just keep drinking wine in moderation, because we all know it’s good for you!
Now that we got that out of the way we can begin our first newsletter of the year.
Many of you have been asking about upcoming tastings, and in January, we typically give them a break.
We are in planning mode for tastings in February and beyond, so stay tuned!
Just because things have quieted down in our lives, doesn’t mean that they have in the wine world. In the coming months we will see plenty of exciting new releases from some of the top wineries in the world.
We begin the new year with one such arrival from Champagne George Laval.
For those that have shopped at the store for a while, this will be a familiar name. Which is ironic because this is one of the smallest superstar producers in all of Champagne producing roughly 10,000 bottles in total per year.
We’ve had a personal connection to the winery for many years, something that we are honored to have. As such we get a great allocation and even have access to one of his wines exclusively in the Midwest.
Champagne is experiencing a renaissance, with many great producers to choose from. Laval is at the top of the game, producing Champagne of the same complexity as any of the top wines of the world. Don’t miss these.
Have a great weekend,
Craig & Jamie
Champagne Georges Laval
We’ve written about the great Champagne of Vincent Laval of Champagne Georges Laval many times in our newsletters. It’s a story worth repeating.
As I mentioned in the introduction, Georges Laval is a small grower Champagne house based in the village of Cumières in the Vallée de la Marne. They only produce 10,000 bottles in total production, with the bulk of the production coming from the NV Cumières Brut Nature.
One of the things that sets Laval apart from most producers is their meticulous farming. This is not a trend thing, the Laval family has been farming their vineyards organically for over 40 years! Even a decade ago in Champagne that was relatively unheard of.
Up until recently, Laval produced grapes only from Cumières, in upcoming vintages he will produce a wine from a vineyard in a nearby village.
The excitement of grower Champagne today is that we can really get even more in depth with the terroir of Champagne. The wines being offered below are all from Cumières, and show the identity of the vineyards.
The same care in the vineyard is given in the winery. Vincent uses a traditional old Coquart vertical press to extract the juice. His press is small by Champagne standards, but it gives him even more control over this very important process.
Laval picks his grapes at a higher degree of ripeness, and he never chapitilizes, and allows the wines to go through malolactic fermentation.
Speaking of which, all the wines are fermented in neutral oak barrels with indigenous yeasts in Laval’s cold and small underground cellar.
The wines are never fined or filtered. Disgorgement is by hand.
These are truly complex Champagnes, and as such, you can drink them now, but those with patience will be greatly rewarded. Each of the Champagnes below age and get better with time.
For years I’ve been wanting to say something with the preface that it is not meant to be controversial or an attack on anyone’s preferences.
In my personal opinion, these offerings are far more complex Champagnes than anything being produced by the Grand Marques (i.e. Dom Pérignon, Krug, Pol Roger, Taittinger, etc.). That’s not based on salesmanship, that is based on taste and experience, and my personal belief. The reason why many of you shop here is to receive advice, to cut through the marketing, and get wines that are made by people with a point of view that isn’t so influenced by the business side, but rather by passion for place.
So if you are a Champagne fan, or even a fanatic, these are wines you should buy each and every year. Making sure you buy enough to drink some now, and put some away.
We love Champagne Georges Laval!
Champagne Georges Laval Brut Nature NV
From his beautifully farmed vines in the village of Cumières, this is a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 25% each of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The base of this NV is from the 2014 vintage, with 10% of Reserve wine from the 2013 vintage. It was just disgorged on September 9th, 2016.
Vincent used to produce two NV’s, one dosed as a Brut and the other without any dosage, a Brut Nature. He now is only producing a Brut Nature. There are very few producers that can pull this off, as it requires a lot of detail in the farming of the grapes. With Laval, and in particular with this wine, it is perfectly balanced, and it seems even a little silly worrying about the dosage.
Champagne is so complex that we often recommend certain producers and styles based on a customers palate. In this case, we believe that every single one of our customers must try this. It may change your life and your understanding of Champagne like it did ours!
$76.99 BTL. / LIMITED
Champagne Georges Laval Rosé Brut Nature NV
Around the end of the year you see a lot of “best of” lists written by various people. With so many great wines tasted in 2016 it is pretty difficult for me to come up with such a list.
One thing I do know for sure is that the best wine I tasted in 2016 was a bottle of Laval Rosé, an older disgorgement that blended 2010 and 2009. It was like drinking Musigny with bubbles. I still dream of it.
The new disgorgement just arrived, and like the Cumières just disgorged in September. This Rosé is entirely produced from the 2014 vintage.
The Rosé is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier all from Cumières. The majority of the fruit comes from three of his top vineyards, old-vines in Les Chênes, Les Hautes Chèvres and Longues Violes. It is foot-tread before being pressed, and fermented like the others in used barrel.
This is not your simple, light, fruity style of Rosé. It is concentrated, yet fresh, multi-layered with notes of wild strawberry and rhubarb. The finish is never ending, and while I will have a hard time resisting drinking my stash of it now, as I mentioned this benefits from some time in bottle.
An amazing Champagne Rosé!
$109.99 BTL. / VERY LIMITED
2012 Champagne Georges Laval “Les Chênes”
Les Chênes was first bottled as a separate wine in 1994.
This is a cuvée made purely from Chardonnay. This is a highly regarded vineyard spot, just east of the village of Cumières, with very little topsoil that barely covers the bedrock of chalk. This wine is always produced in the Brut Nature style (zero dosage) and he usually makes just under 1700 bottles.
The 2012 “Les Chênes” is one of the best I’ve ever had.
It still has that textbook combination of citrus and stone fruit, big-time minerality, and a finish that goes on and on.
Try a bottle now, pouring it into big stems for aeration. It is a must that this is drunk at a temperature closer to how you would serve White Burgundy, around 52 or 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure you hold some in your cellar, drinking over the next 15 years. Optimally I’d drink from 2020-2030.
$159.99/BTL. / VERY LIMITED
2012 Champagne Georges Laval “Les Hautes- Chèvres”
Easily one of the greatest and most rare Blanc de Noirs in existence.
This is only made in great vintages. 2009 was the last vintage we received, which was made from Pinot Noir vines in the Les Hautes Chèvres vineyard.
The release of the 2012 marks the first time that this is made entirely of Pinot Meunier, from vines planted between 1930 and 1959 in Les Hautes Chèvres.
The vineyard is on the Western side of Cumières and the top soils here are a bit more fertile, and the chalk bedrock is deeper. Perfect for Meunier.
The 2012 Les Hautes Chèvres is mind-blowing. It is a baby, but don’t hesitate to open a bottle now to experience it in its youth.
Beautiful red fruit aromas of wild strawberry and cassis. The fruit is intense and rich, but also with balance and nuanced mineral and spice notes. The finish doesn’t seem to end.
Again, try a bottle in its youth, but then save some to drink from 2020 – 2035+.
$229.99/BTL – EXTRAORDINARLY LIMITED