“The Fancy One”: Champagne Lombard, 1er Cru Extra Brut, Epernay, Champagne, France, NV
– Maison Lombard is one of the newer additions to Thomas’ portfolio, but their arrival has been met with a rave review. Helmed by the very young, hard-working, and innovative Thomas Lombard, the estate has chosen to focus on the drier, more “terroir transparent” Extra Brut style in an effort to let the voice of their beautiful parcels speak their clearest and loudest. At only 4g/L of dosage (compared to 7-13g/L for traditional Brut recipes) this Champagne, composed from all Premier Cru vineyard sites in the Côte de Blanc and Montagne de Reims (40% Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay), offers laser-like cut and precision to your holiday table. Bright candied lemon and crisp green apple notes give way to toasted brioche and mineral complexity and a long, mouth-watering finish.
“The Seafood-y/Salty One”: Vigneron Jo Landron (Dom. de la Louvetrie), “Atmosphères” Méthode Traditionnelle Extra Brut, Loire Valley, France, NV
– A house-favorite and By-The-Glass-and-Bottle option here a Kitchen for years, “Atmosphères” is among the best values in French Sparkling wine. The wine is made by “the man, the myth, the moustache”, Jo Landron, a long-time friend of the restaurant. Composed of 80% old-vine Folle Blanche (a grape usually reserved for Brandy distillation, but particularly well-suited to the soils of the Muscadet region) and 20% Pinot Noir, “Atmo” as we call it, offers a pure expression of maritime influence in the microclimate and vineyard soils. Refermented in bottle and bottled Methode Champenoise/Traditionnelle, this wine has the fine bead and delicate carbonation of Champagne at a fraction of the cost. Incredibly crisp and bright, with an almost saline/salty edge to the aftertaste, this wine is about as perfect a pairing for oysters or other deep seafood flavors as ever existed.
“The Everyday One”: Château de la Durandière, Saumur Brut, Montreuil-Bellay, Loire Valley, France, NV
– This little everyday gem comes from a small family-owned-and-operated estate right in Thomas’ (French) back yard! Okay, well…maybe not in his backyard, but if you had a good arm, you could absolutely whip a baseball into the vineyard. The Bodet and Meunier families have been fast friends for generations, and it was a point of great pride for Thomas to add their wines to his selections. Composed of 100% old-vine (35+ year old) Chenin Blanc, from all sustainably farmed vineyards, and bottled Méthode Traditionnelle, this Saumur Brut, much like the “Atmosphères” above, offers about as good a value in Sparkling wine as we have access to in the Authentique Vin portfolio. Notes of white peach, pear and honeysuckle are supported by just enough “toasty/biscuit-y” complexity, and an ultra-refreshing, effervescent finish.
“The After Dinner One”: Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Rosé Frizant” Sparkling Rosé, IGP Pays d’Herault, Languedoc, France, 2019
– There are few better ways in the world to end a meal than Mas de Daumas Gassac Rosé Frizant! Originally created to celebrate Guibert family (Daumas Gassac ownership) milestones and celebrations, once the rest of the wine world got their hands on this tipple, there was no turning back and they had to make it a yearly offering. This “fun-in-a-bottle” is composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, bled from the fermenting Cabernet tanks bound for their flagship “Mas” Red Blend, and rounded out with the inclusion of some Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, and dry Muscat (for aromatics). The wine is then bottled with nothing more than the trapped gasses from a live fermentation, for a light and delicate spritz, and then the happiness is on its way to you. Juuuuuuust faintly sweet on the finish, but supported with lovely, refreshing acidity that balances the sugar perfectly, this wine is ready-made for berry (cranberry/cherry/raspberry) desserts or one heck of an after-dinner cheese plate.
“The Apple One”: Domaines Eric Bordelet, “Sidre Brut” Dry Apple Cider, Normandy, France, 2018
“The Pear One”: Domaines Eric Bordelet, “Poiré Authentique” Off-Dry Pear Cider, Normandy, France, 2018
– It would really be a shame to overlook world-class Cider/Sidre/Poiré in the discussion of the great French Sparking “options”, so we won’t subject you to that shame! Eric Bordelet is, for those in the know, arguably the world’s finest producer of dry and off-dry, artisanal Normandy Cider. After spending decades as one of the most in-demand and big-deal Sommeliers in Paris (most famously putting the beverage program at Alain Passard’s 3-Michelin Starred “L’Arpège” on the map), Eric decided that he had tired of the Michelin spotlight, and wanted to “retire” to his family home in Charchigne, just over the border into Normandy from the Loire Valley, and begin the process of making true “gastronomic” ciders and poiré (cider from pears). By traveling around the countryside, and sourcing heritage, heirloom-breed apples and pears from small stands of 150–300-year-old trees (frequently spotted dropping their fruit to the ground, unused, in people’s backyards), Eric began to build a palate of sources for some of the finest, most complex fruit on the planet. Once he’s spotted those trees (and once the owners agree to sell him the fruit), he insists that they are tended using only organic and biodynamic principles while under his care. Choosing different varietals for different reasons (some sweetness, some tannin/bitterness, some acidity/tartness), Eric composes blends, sometimes using up to 15-20 different varietals, and ferments them completely naturally, without the addition of any sulfites, stabilizers, or preservatives. They are then naturally re-fermented in bottle for carbonation following strict adherence to the Mèthode Ancestral (no added or “dosing” sugar). As natural as it gets and as pure and unadulterated apple and pear flavor as we’ve tasted, these ciders are truly something to behold. You’ll be back for more….we promise.