Vinopolis June 21 Newsletter

June 21, 2014
Champagne Trio
Just in time for the beautiful summer weather, we are featuring three “grower” Champagne producers.  These are winemakers that produce their own Champagne from vineyards they own and operate, rather than as negociants who buy grapes and wine from growers.

L. Aubry Fils

One of the most original estates in Champagne.” -Peter Liem,
In Jouy-les-Reims in the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne, twin brothers run the unique Champagne estate of Aubry.  The brothers, Pierre and Philippe Aubry, worked in winemaking under their father and Pierre studied winemaking in Montpelier.   They are passionate about careful attention to their vines, tradition and historical research.  In 1986, they decided to create a special wine for their family’s bicentennial celebration in Champagne.  They were interested in using the “lost” grape varieties to reproduce the classical flavors of Champagne from the 18th century.  These rare varieties, Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Fromenteau and L’Enfume, were becoming endangered.  The brothers believed that after the devastation caused by phylloxera, most growers replanted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier because the varieties were easier to grow.  In 1989, they began regrafting vines with the ancient varietals and in 1993, they vinified their first harvest from these varietals.  Today, they grow these and the standard three grapes of Champagne over 37 acres of vineyard land in Premier Cru vineyards.
The ancient varietals impart unique flavors and textures to the different blends.  Terry Thiese describes their still Arbanne base wine as full of green aromas, much like Gruner Veltliner, and their Petit Meslier as redolent in exotic aromas with bracingly high acidity.  The Ivoire et Ebene is a blend of 65% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier, and 5% Pinot Noir from Jouy-les-Reims.  The two vineyards, L’Auditeur and Les Bonnes Fontaines, line a single hilltop and have limestone and clay soils.  Only the Chardonnay sees oak.  The 2008 Le Nombre d’Or Campanau Veteres Vites (“the old vines of the countryside”) is a fascinating blend of 25% Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, 15% Arbanne, 20% Petit Meslier, and 5% Pinot Meunier mostly done in stainless steel.  The NV is a blend of 2010 and a reserve wine partially from a solera system started in 1998.  It is mostly a blend of the three main varieties, with Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau adding spice and texture.  

L. Aubry Fils Champagnes Arriving June 26th:

L. Aubry Fils Premier Cru Brut NV ($41.95) $36 special, 36 bottles available

L. Aubry Fils Premier Cru Brut NV 1.5L ($109.95) $89 special, 16 magnums available

L. Aubry Fils Premier Cru Brut NV 3L ($319.95) $279 special, 3 double-magnums available
Wine Advocate 92 points
“The NV Brut Premier Cru is a gorgeous wine, and a great introduction to the house style. Lemon, white flowers, mint, crushed rocks are some of the many notes that take shape in the glass as this refined Champagne shows off its impeccable class and total pedigree. The Premier Cru is 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromenteau. The high percentage of red grapes is felt in the wine’s breadth, while the aromas and flavors remain fresh, vibrant and beautifully nuanced throughout. This is a fabulous entry-level offering. Disgorgement date: June 2012.” Stephen Tanzer 91 points “Bright straw. Pungent aromas of Meyer lemon, pear and fig, with a gingery accent adding lift. Sappy, penetrating citrus fruit and floral flavors are given a refreshingly bitter character by notes of pear skin and peach pit, with a waxy note coming up on the back half. A smoky nuance lingers on the finish, which shows very good clarity and length.”

L. Aubry Fils Le Nombre d’Or Sable Blanc de Blancs Campanae Veteres Vites Brut 2008 ($79.95) $59 special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“The 2008 Brut Le Nombre d’Or Campanae Veteres Vites is beautifully open, expressive and resonant today. Here the aromas show gorgeous breadth and volume. Pastry, brioche, dried flowers and mint all jump from the glass. The style is boisterous and intense, yet all the elements are in the right place. Nombre d’Or Campanae Veteres Vites incorporates all six of the grape varieties allowed in Champagne. The blend is 25% Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Petit Meslier, 15% Chardonnay, 15% Arbanne and 5% Pinot Meunier. The Chardonnay was done in oak while all the other grapes were fermented in tank. This bottle was disgorged in March 2013. Dosage was 3 grams/liter.”

L. Aubry Fils Le Nombre d’Or Sable Blanc des Blancs 2008 ($79.95) $69 special, 24 bottles available

L. Aubry Fils Le Nombre d’Or Sable Blanc des Blancs 2007 ($89.95) $79 special, 12 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “Made from 30% chardonnay, 30% petit meslier, 20% arbanne and 20% pinot blanc, with a very low dosage of 2 g/l; disgorged June, 2012):  Light yellow.  Intensely perfumed bouquet of orchard fruits, tangerine, chamomile and anise, along with a suggestion of ginger and a mounting floral element.  Firm and dry in the mouth, with chewy pear skin and citrus flavors giving way to deeper peach and nectarine on the back half.  Shows a suave blend of richness and energy, finishing very long, with lingering spiciness and minerality.”

L. Aubry Fils Nicolas Francois Sable Rose Brut 2008 ($89.95) $77 special, 24 bottles available
Pungently fragrant. Relatively delicate in body. Pure, silky flavors of strawberry and red cherry are vinous and energetic.

Aubry Wine Available Here Now

L. Aubry Fils Ivoire et Ebene Brut 2008 ($79.95) $69 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2008 Brut Premier Cru Ivoire et Ebene wraps around the palate with serious depth. A cool, introspective wine, the 2008 is marked by serious vintage character. The Ivoire et Ebene is 60% Chardonnay (vinified in oak), 20% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. All the elements are beautifully balanced from start to finish. The oak adds volume and richness, but is better integrated than in the Aubry de Humbert. A vibrant, tense finish rounds things out very nicely. This is another fabulous wine from Aubry. Disgorgement date: March 2012. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2018.”

A. Margaine

The second grower/ producer we are highlighting also hails from the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne in the village of Villers-Marmery.  This village is a small bastion of Chardonnay in a region of Pinot Noir.  Arnaud Margaine has 16 acres of Premier cru sites that are 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir.  The Chardonnay is a clone only found in his village.  The Pinot Noir is from a small plot in the village of Verzy.

Arnaud took over the family estate from his father in 1989.  He is the fourth generation of the family to run the estate.  It was founded in the 1920s, and his father expanded their vineyard holdings in the 1950s.  The vines now average 32 years old and grow in chalky, limestone-rich soil.

In 1977, his father joined the Special Club (Club Trésors de Champagne).  This is a select group of 26 grower-producers in Champagne.  All members must produce their Champagne from their own vineyards as Récoltant-Manipulants.  Special Club wines are all bottled in the same bottle with the producer’s name and vintage.  The Special Club wines are only made in better vintages and are what the producer considers his best wine.

His style is strikingly elegant with sheer acidity and great beauty.  Most of the base wines do not undergo malolactic fermentation to preserve more fresh fruit aromas, which also preserves a brighter acidity.

A. Margaine Wines Available Here Now

A. Margaine Blanc de Blancs 2006 1.5L ($159.95) $137 special, 11 magnums available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
“ Light gold.  White peach, pear, smoky minerals and buttered toast on the sexy, highly perfumed nose.  At once rich and lithe, with crackling minerality giving lift and verve to the wine’s intense pit and orchard fruit flavors.  Sappy, fine-grained and pure, finishing long and precise, with hints of licorice and iodine.”

A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle Premier Cru Brut NV ($49.95) $36 special, 3 bottles available

A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle Premier Cru Brut NV 375ML ($27.95) $24 special, 9 half-bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 points “Refined, with aromatic anise, almond and raisin notes that are finely layered with berry, cassis, candied lemon peel and smoke flavors. Lip-smacking acidity keeps this fresh and lively through to the mineral-tinged finish.”

A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle Premier Cru Demi-Sec NV 375ML ($27.95) $24 special, 9 half-bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points
“The NV Demi-Sec offers lively richness from the additional dosage (31 grams/liter) yet never loses its essential minerality and sheer brilliance. White flowers, spices, pears and citrus notes are layered into the generous, inviting finish. This is another strong showing from Margaine. The Demi-Sec is the same blend as the Cuvee Traditionelle, which is to say 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, 52% 2008 juice plus reserves spanning 2007 (20%), 2005 (8%), 2004 (12%), and 2000 (8%), the only difference is the dosage.”

A. Margaine Premier Cru Extra Brut NV ($59.95) $49 special, 24 bottles available
Wine Spectator & Stephen Tanzer 91 points
“A sleek style, with racy acidity and flavors of crunchy white peach, persimmon, toasted brioche and lemon curd. Chalk and smoke notes hint at an underlying minerality and linger on the finish.”

A. Margaine Special Club Blanc de Blancs Brut 2008 ($79.95) $69 special, 12 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
“(aged for four years on its lees and disgorged in July of 2013): Green-tinged yellow. Sexy aromas of candied lemon and orange, white flowers and ginger. Mineral and white pepper notes add lift and bite to ripe, deep citrus and orchard fruit flavors. The mineral note drives the delineated, long finish.”

Andre Clouet


Andre Clouet is based in Bouzy, a village where Pinot Noir speaks with great eloquence, as is evident in these superb, pedigreed Champagnes.”  Antonio GalloniThe Andre Clouet estate is managed by the energetic Jean-Francois Clouet, who took over the estate from his mother.  His family has grown grapes in the Bouzy region of Champagne for generations.  Today, the estate is composed of just less than 20 acres of Grand Cru vineyards in Bouzy.  In the mid-1700s, the family founded the vineyards and built a village house that today serves as the winery and cellar.  Bouzy is famous for its Pinot Noir, and Clouet is one of the region’s benchmark producers at the Grand Cru level.  His wines are rich in style with an elegant, crisp acidity.  Professional reviewers are quick to compare his wines to Bollinger or Selosse since they offer a similar weight and richness.

Andre Clouet Wines Arriving June 24

Andre Clouet Brut Millesime 2000 ($61.95) $51.90 special, 6 bottles available

Andre Clouet Brut Millesime 2007 ($69.95) $59 special, 6 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 91 points

Andre Clouet Un Jour de 1911… Brut NV ($99.95) $79 special, 12 bottles available
Antoni Galloni 93+ points “The NV Grand Cru Cuvee 1911 emerges from the glass with the most haunting of perfumes. Sweet rose petal and jasmine are some of the nuances that emerge over time. Despite recent disgorgement, the purity of the fruit and the extraordinary elegance of the mousse are hard to miss. This is an exceptional, elegant version of the 1911 that should drink beautifully for years to come. The bottle I tasted needed quite a bit of air to open up, so readers should be patient with the wine at this stage.”

Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut NV($39.95) $33 special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 90 points
“The NV Brut Grande Reserve emerges from the glass with layers of hazelnut, pear, spice and dried flower aromas. This rich, creamy wine impresses for its balance and sheer richness. I loved it.”

Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature NV ($39.95) $33 special, 24 bottles available
100% Grand Cru, 100% Pinot Noir, no dosage
Antonio Galloni 91 points
“The NV Brut Nature Silver is naturally a very focused, driven wine given the no-dosage style. This shows wonderful nuance and depth all the way through to the long finish, with bright aromas and flavors but less of the toastiness than some of the house’s other wines. The mousse and finish are both utterly impeccable in their elegance.”



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