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Artisanal Champagnes' Holiday Sparkle Part 1

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Tis the season to pop the corks, pour the bubbly, and toast the holidays! Champagne is the seasonal splurge and familiar names such as Veuve Cliquot, Taittinger, and Moët & Chandon dominate the market. These large Champagne houses blend their wine for a consistent style every year, coming from several vineyards and years, for their non-vintage (NV) cuvée. While it’s nice to count on a sparkler’s same flavor profile year in and year out, artisanal champagnes are gaining ground in the US. These small production, Grower/Producer Champagnes reflect “terroir”, a sense of place, since they are grown in estate vineyards, have low sugar levels (dosage), and are excellent value for the money. At a recent Silverlake Wine Sundays at 3 tasting, four artisanal champagnes were explored, and paired with Heirloom LA’s small plates.

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The Guy Charlemagne Brut Reserve Grand Cru Mesnil Champagne NV is a 100% estate grown Grand Cru Chardonnay, a beautiful Blanc de Blancs. It’s elegant, pale yellow, with a fine bubble stream, bursting upon the nose with bright citrus (lime and pink grapefruit) and flowers, followed by a creamy palate of apple, citrus, yeasty brioche, mineral effervescence, and a long finish. Wow, finesse with fizz! This is an exceptional, affordable Champagne that pairs well with food. Heirloom LA served a beet crostini, with beet purée atop a toasted slice of ciabatta, adorned with house made goat cheese, English peas, sliced grapes, pomegranate seeds, basil, and sliced baby beets. The simple sweet notes of beet matched the weight of the Champagne, a good “outside the box” match for this sparkler.

The Jean Milan “Grande Reserve 1864” Grand Cru Brut Oger NV is another 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay. Poured from a handsome bottle adorned with twine and a wax seal, it’s tiny bubbles and tart apple nose yield a chalk-laced apple and citrus palate which comes across as a mineral, tangy treat. Heirloom LA served a Corvina sea bass crudo, harpooned off the coast of Santa Barbara the day before. The fresh fish was dressed with a yuzu paste of yuzu, chili, and lime, with apples and yuzu leaf. Quite delicious! The citrus dressed raw fish was a good pairing with this dry, more tart sparkling wine, and enhanced its quality.

Continued in Part 2

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