Champagne barrels, Vilmart ChampagneImporter Terry Theise introduced us to the glory of grower-producer Champagnes, which are designated by an RM on the label.  RM stands for récoltant manipulants who are vignerons and winemakers that own their vineyards, producing artisanal Champagne from their own fruit which reflects a sense of place and harvest.  (The well-known large Champagne houses indisputably make some amazing Champagne, albeit with purchased grapes and a house style that doesn’t change much from year to year).  This week we have an opportunity to place an order for the following grower Champagnes which arrive in mid-November, at greatly discounted prices.   Orders must be received by noon on Sunday, October 11 to qualify for these prices.  To place an order, simply reply to this e-mail or call the shop (206.682.0679) with the quantities and which bottles you’d like, with credit card information to guarantee the purchase. The credit card will be charged upon the Champagne’s arrival and we will let you know when they are here.  As these are deeply discounted prices, no further discounts apply.

Aubry BrutL. Aubry Fils Philippe and Pierre Aubry run their family estate in the Premier Cru village of Jouy-lès-Reims, located in the western part of the Montagne de Reims. The family traces winegrowing to 1790 and are well known for growing ancient grape varieties still permitted in the Champagne A.O.C.  Pressing is done in traditional Coquard basket presses and vinification here is mostly in stainless steel, apart from Chardonnay, which is vinified in wood for some cuvées. Due to the estate’s naturally high acidity, full malolactic fermentation is allowed in all cuvées. The Aubry brothers also grow all seven of the legal varieties for Champagne, something that they are well known for. The brothers Aubry are iconoclastic, experimental and produce strikingly singular wines.
L. Aubry Fils Brut, NV, 1er 750 ml $50.00 regular price, $37.00 preorder price.  35% Chardonnay, 30% Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir, 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromenteau.  50% of the blend is the 2017 base vintage and 50% is from the perpetual reserve going back to 1998. The fruit comes from four Premier Cru villages – Jouy-lès-Reims, Villedommange, Pargny-lès-Reims, and Coulommes-la-Montagne.  Undergoes malolactic fermentation.  The Chardonnay is aged in used barrique, and the remainder in stainless steel, then the blend is aged on the lees for 24+ months.    “A creamy viscosity complements the texture of this harmonious version. An accessible crowd-pleaser, with lightly juicy acidity and delicate flavors of chopped almond, baked pear, saline and citrus.”   91 points Wine Spectator

Tasting champagne with Laurent Champs of VilmartVilmart & Cie  Established in 1890, Vilmart has been family owned and a récoltant-manipulant from the beginning, making champagne exclusively from estate-owned vines.  Fifth-generation family member Laurent Champs now runs the estate and crafts impeccable, elegant Champagnes. The farming is certified organic; Champs is adamantly a vintner first, before he is a maker of Champagne.   “Vilmart & Cie. is not only one of the greatest grower-estates in Champagne, but one of the finest champagne producers of  any type in the region.” − Peter Liem,
Vilmart champagneVilmart “Grand Cellier” Brut 1er, NV, 750 ml  $95.00 regular price, $72.00 preorder price.  70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, from Premier Cru village Rilly-la-Montagne (Hautes Grèves vineyard.)  Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Aged 10 months in large foudre, then 30+ months on the lees.  Elegant and precise, a Champagne to celebrate with.  “Fresh and focused, with spring blossom and smoke-tinged mineral aromas and flavors of plum, lemon curd and toast. A harmonious Champagne, with the racy spine of acidity and a delicate mousse carrying the lasting finish of spice, citrus and mineral.”  92 points Wine Spectator 

Pierre Peters Cuvee de ReservePierre Péters  Established in 1919 under the name Camille Péters, Rodolphe Péters took the reins of this venerable estate in 2007, becoming the fourth generation to lead.  Today, Rodolphe owns 20 hectares of vineyards, predominantly Côte des Blancs.  Rodolphe’s wines have taken the Domaine to a new level and his systematic improvement of the Brut Réserve and introduction of several new specialty cuvées have made this address among the most sought-after in the region. “These are sleek, racy Champagnes, expressing a classic character of Côte des Blancs Chardonnay. They are marked by their fine acidity and prominent minerality, yet while they are always brisk and chalky, they are rarely austere.” -Peter Liem,
Pierre Péters Cuvee de Reserve Brut Grand Cru NV 750 ml  $73.00 regular price, $55.00 pre-order price. 100% Chardonnay; a blend of the 2017 vintage base with 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1995 through 2016, except 1999 and 2003 (22 vintages!)  from four Grand Cru villages: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cramant, Avize, and Oger. 75% undergoes malolactic fermentation.  Aged in stainless steel, oak cask and concrete on fine lees for 24+ months.  “…the latest rendition of Péters’ NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Cuvée de Réserve offers up a lovely bouquet of citrus oil, pear, pastry cream, dried white flowers, hazelnuts and crushed chalk. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, fine-boned and elegant, with ripe but racy acids, a delicate pinpoint mousse and a long, saline finish. As usual, this is an immensely refined Champagne that exemplifies the timeless style of this Mesnil-based Chardonnay specialist.”  91 points Wine Advocate

gaston Chiquet blanc de Blancs d'ay champagneGaston Chiquet An estate with a very long tradition, the Chiquet family is known in the Marne for very high-quality Champagnes and their superb holdings.  In 1919 Gaston and Ferdinand Chiquet started estate bottling their wines under the Chiquet Frères label. Today, the great-grandsons of Gaston Chiquet manage this estate – Antoine and Nicolas, with the help of Antoine’s daughter Marion, who is responsible for the cellar. The average age of the vines at the Domaine are over 45 years, a rarity in the region. The philosophy at the estate focuses on careful vineyard management; parcels are harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel. There is no wood at the estate as the holdings in mainly south-facing crus, with older, sélection massale vines, provide enough body and depth.  Malolactic fermentation is allowed as Nicolas notes “we never have a problem with acidity in the final wines.” “This is one of the finest grower-estates in the Grande Vallée de la Marne. Chiquet’s wines combine a generous depth of fruit with a pronounced character of place — if you want to know what the wines of the Grande Vallée should feel like, these are an excellent introduction.” – Peter Liem,
Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc d’Ay Brut Grand Cru NV $60.00 regular price, $46.00 preorder price.  100% Chardonnay; all 2015 vintage from Grand Cru village Aÿ with clay and limestone over chalk soils.  Undergoes malolactic fermentation, ages in stainless steel then on the lees for 40+ months.  “…the latest release of Gaston Chiquet’s NV Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ is showing beautifully, opening in the glass with scents of crisp yellow orchard fruit, white flowers, blanched almonds and fresh peach. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, bright and charming, with a succulent core of fruit, a delicate pinpoint mousse and a nicely defined finish. Elegant and expressive, this is a beautifully balanced Blanc de Blancs that would make for a perfect aperitif.”  92 points Wine Advocate