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K&L Monthly Newsletter - Featuring Champagne - 02/12/2018 - Monthly Newsletter

At K&L, we’ve long held that Champagne isn’t solely for celebrations. A food-friendly wine if there ever was one, it is the ideal accompaniment for a staggeringly wide range of dishes. Given this, for this month’s newsletter, we’ve had our Champagne team delve into the myriad of food pairings Champagne lends itself too.

Having one of the largest and most diverse Champagne departments in the country, means that we have a bubbly that will suit every style and taste (and recipe!). Central to our Champagne program is, of course, our direct imports. Our intrepid Champagne buyer, Gary Westby, has traveled to every corner of this historic region, sourcing Champagnes that are not only a delight to drink, but also are easy on the pocketbook. Baron-Fuenté, Ariston Aspasie, Michel Arnould, and Fallet-Dart are just a few of the many producers with whom we work directly. The bubblies from these houses are impeccably well made and will delight the newbie and seasoned collector alike.

Speaking of collectors, 2018 has already proven to be a banner year for fans Krug. Not only has the brilliant 2004 vintage hit the market, but so has the highly collectible 164 and 165 editions. If you are after the very best Champagne has to offer, this trio is the perfect place to start.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. A bottle of bubbly always brings the romance, so we’ve queued up some of our favorites that never fail to impress.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
2010 Louise Brison Brut Champagne 91 $29.99 View
Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 91 $34.99 View
Baron-Fuenté "Esprit" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 92 $39.99
Wine Club Price: $34.99.
Charles Ellner "Qualite" Extra Brut Champagne $39.99
Wine Club Price: $34.99.
Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne $39.99 View
Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne 93 $59.99 View
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne 94 $74.99 View
Krug "Grande Cuvée" 164 Ème Édition Brut Champagne 97 $159.99 View
2009 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne 97 $199.99 View
2004 Krug Brut Champagne 97 $269.00 View

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2010 Louise Brison Brut Champagne ($29.99)

91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Fermented in oak, this wine with its crisp apple aroma is ripe and spicy. It has great citrus and white fruit plus a dry character that gives it both a tang and a mineral texture. (RV)" (12/2017)

K&L Notes: Floral, citrus-y, and with a touch of salinity, this Champagne is a blend of 50 % Pinot Noir & 50 % Chardonnay, vinified and aged in oak barrels. Pair this beauty with savory appetizers & seafood.

Staff ImageMorgan Laurie | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 28, 2017

Part of what I love about about working in the wine industry is changing people's preconceived notions about wine; what it should be, what it should taste like, and most importantly, what a good bottle should cost. I can shout it from the rooftops! A good bottle of Champagne does not have to cost over $60! Sure, there are fantastic bottles at that price point (and higher), but if I can find Champagne that I can afford to drink on a regular basis, I'm all about it. This is one such bottle. It's got a rich apple-y nose with a yeasty baguette note and fresh lemon to boot. The palate mirrors the nose and feels vibrant yet rich at the same time with a great balance of texture and acidity. If you love Champagne, this is one to pick up on your next visit.

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 27, 2017

Bright with golden apple and leaner citrus fruit, plus more lift here than the easygoing 2009, 2010 Louise Brison Brut Champagne feels aligned with the crisp 2008, pairing vivid acid with accessibility. This showed beautifully at our Champagne Tent Event, where we were charmed by the story of the familys matriarch and brand namesake, and impressed by the quality of this DI release. This is bargain-priced Champagne, and in stock just in time for a season full of celebrations cheers!

Staff ImageRachel Vogel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 25, 2017

Year to year the Louise Brison vintage Brut is one of the best deals in the store! The family takes no short cuts in production- all estate grapes, barrel fermented and aged, and giving the wine a few months to rest after disgorgement. It is the perfect recipe for a textured, complex champagne filled to the brim with notes of ripe apples, gentle spice and fresh acidity that keeps it long on the finish.

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 23, 2017

One of the first grower-producers I ever tasted, Louise Brisons vintage Champagnes hold a special place in my heart. The 2010 continues the legacy of vintage greatness with vibrant pear, lemon and toasted brioche flavors alongside a stellar acidity for length and structure.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 17, 2017

The vintage wines from Louise Brison are an incredible deal in fine wine. Delphine Brulez is one of the few grower-producers that we work with to have a diploma in oenology, and she works her vines in Noe-les-Mallets organically before fermenting her juice entirely in small oak barrels. The results in 2010 are electric and refreshing, but still round enough to have alone as the aperitif. This blend of half each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will fool even the most discerning connoisseur for Champagne that costs no less than 50% more. We recently had a bottle of the 1992, and I am here to tell you that if you can keep your hands off of it, it will age very well too! If you like your Champagne clean, refreshing, dry and long, this is one to load up on.

Staff ImageCliff Spinola | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 11, 2017

Right away my curiousity was peeked while sticking my nose into the glass. Distinctive floral and mineral characteristics develop into a long lasting, toasty finish with bright fruit and acidity. A steal of a deal at this price point!

Staff ImageJoe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 10, 2017

Vintage Champagne for under $30 is an anomaly to be sure. Thanks to our DI Champagne program, though, we have a Champagne here that is not only vintage dated and carefully aged (for a good bit longer than the AOC dictated minimums) but also stylish and much more expensive/serious tasting than the price would suggest. There are two very good reasons for this: very expensive Chardonnay from Kimmeridgian soils and barrel ageing. I love Louise Brison's vintage Champagnes not only for their fair pricing, but also the inherent quality, craft and style in each one that I've had. These are always incredibly popular Champagnes here - don't miss out on the 2010!

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2017

If you liked the 2009 Louise Brison, you'll probably enjoy the 2010 as well, albeit for completely different reasons. 2009 was a ripe vintage for Champagne and that richness of fruit came through immediately in the Brison expression, but 2010 was back to traditional temperature levels so the 2010 has a laser beam of acidity that was definitely not there in the 2009 and for me that was a welcome addition. What is consistent between the wines is the brown apple flavors and the texture from the barrel fermentation that adds weight. However, whereas I would have recommended drinking the 2009's immediately, the 10's can age forever. That note of citrus and minerality is a total palate cleanser if you choose to drink the 2010 as an aperitif wine now, but it's also what will help the wine maintain its composure as it continues to evolve in your cellar. It's a can't lose proposition: you can drink it tomorrow, or twenty years from now! And you get a wine of that quality for just under thirty bucks. Hard to beat, right?

Staff ImageStephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 02, 2017

This is one of our best Champagne deals at K&L! For right under $30, you get all 2010 fruit that was vinified and aged in French oak barrels and has a perfect balance of toast and freshness. On the forefront there are floral, yellow apple and citrus notes followed by bright acidity and minerality. This is a fantastic bottle of bubbly to enjoy before dinner with appetizers!

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 02, 2017

All of the elements you would expect in a complex and pricey bottle of Champagne come in this wine at a truly unbelievable price. A vintage Champagne that is fully aged in oak barrels from such a well-respected producer almost always costs twice this much. This vintage of Brison is made by a phenomenal female winemaker, Delphine Brulez, with an extensive background in both the science and art of great Champagne making and it really is a labor of love for her. A wonderful balance of soft fruit and richness without being heavy, this wine is drinking fantastically now. The Pinot Noir adds a great depth and the Chardonnay keeps it bright and energetic. A great choice for the hot days of Summer, but will also lead you right through the Fall.

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Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($34.99)

91 points Wine Enthusiast: "From the heartland of Chardonnay in Champagne comes this rich, creamy, apple-flavored wine. It has lively acidity, balanced with some sweetness from the dosage. It has weight and a crisp aftertaste. (RV)" (12/2012)

Jancis Robinson: "100% Chardonnay from Oger, Cramant and Avize. From a 50-ha estate. Olivier Bonville is the third generation to make wine here. Super-clean fresh nose, smells like a health scrub. Vigorous mousse. Crisp edges and a creamy middle, streaked with verbena. More green than lemon, and just slightly sour. Quite weighty and substantial yet with a cutting edge, like prow of a ship. *Good Value* (TC)" (12/2014)

K&L Notes: All Champagne producers should be judged on their entry-level wine, and Olivier's is as good as they get. This is always the fastest non-vintage Champagne to sell out--so get it while we have it! The nose is effusive, with baguette, white flowers, and a nice salinity, while the flavors have a fine balance of white fruit, cream, and precise Avize chalk. Don't miss this. The Underground Wine Letter also rates this wine Outstanding Plus: "This is a terrific Champagne with great balance, flavor, and style, and it is a real value. Pale yellow in color, the wine has a lovely perfume with hints of peach and citrus and faint floral nuances accented by a kiss of vanilla. Creamy and very flavorful, this is a Champagne that is very harmonious showing subtle hints of peach, citrus, and spice. Elegant and long on the finish this is gorgeous to drink now or keep for many years." Our current release has a primary blend from 2013 and 2014 and is dosed at a very low 5g/L.

Staff ImageChristina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 09, 2018

This wine is made from 100% Grand Cru fruit from Avize, Cramant and Oger. The palate is clean and subtly floral, but is fairly robust and has hints of under-ripe tropical fruit, a testament to the warmer vintage. With a dry, soft finish, this is an elegant wine sure to please the most discerning.

Staff ImageJordan Stone | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 08, 2018

Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne for just $ 34.99! Lively and rich with flavors of apples some bready notes with a touch of saline and vanilla. Crisp and clean with persistent bubbles. This is a favorite at my house

Staff ImageCliff Spinola | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 06, 2018

During our staff Champagne tasting today, this one stood out for me. Based on the 2015 vintage and using their estate-grown Grand Cru Chardonnay (50% of which are reserve), this wine is supple, refreshing, and refined. It checks all the boxes of what Champagne is supposed to be and leaves you wanting for more.

Staff ImageRachel Vogel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 06, 2018

The Franck Bonville Blanc de Blanc was the first Champagne I bought on the first night I worked at K&L, and it will always have a special spot in my heart. What makes it so special is the care and quality Olivier Bonville pours into his wines. Based on 2015, the Blanc de Blanc is half reserve wine from all estate fruit. Some time in barrel gives this Chardonnay a creamy, sweet citrus character, like that of a Meyer lemon or pink grapefruit. The chalky soil is not lost in this wine, either. A soft structure of dry white chalk elongates the palate and adds an extra level of complexity. It is a wine that never disappoints.

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 11, 2018

Olivier Bonville carries on the tradition of his grandfather, Franck, producing wines of incredible richness and complexity from his estate vines in the Grand Cru villages of Avize and Mesnil on the picaresque Cote de Blancs. It has the rich flavors of Anjou pear, Meyer lemon, white apricots and a touch of delicate spice. The real magic is in the chalky minerality and zippy acidity that the Cote de Blancs is famous for. When you consider that similar offerings from the Big Houses cost three to four times more, this becomes a must-buy for anyone calling themselves Champagne enthusiasts.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 20, 2017

This is one of K&L's best selling Champagnes for a very good reason. The Bonville family has some of the best terroir imaginable for growing Chardonnay--every acre that they own is super chalky, east-facing Grand Cru on the Cote des Blancs. They have been making their own Champagne here since the 1920s, and growing here for many generations before that. This is their entry level bottling, and what a way to start! It is made of at least half reserve wines, giving it not only the dry, chalky drive that makes this area famous, but also giving the wine toasty, creamy, delicious drinkability. A must-try for any Champagne lover.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 27, 2016

This is basically the non-vintage champagne that everybody wants, everybody needs, and everybody can have! It checks every box. It suits any occasion. It fits nearly any budget. It delivers in every single way. Perfect blanc de blancs nose, vibrant soft white fruit, fresh crisp apples and citrus, slight saline, and that grand cru chalkiness that you can't miss. Lively, pointed and open - it slips from the glass like a slithering snake, just disappears. Where did it go? I don't know. Buy another.

Staff ImageMari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 18, 2016

The Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs is crisp, refreshing and vibrant with just the perfect balance of green apple and lime on the nose and palate. This cuvee sets itself apart from other Blanc de Blancs with how the Bonville family is able to create a creamy, full-bodied palate in conjunction with the bright and zesty flavor profile. They were able to achieve the harmonious balance between the acidity, the elegance, finesse and balance in this entry level cuvee.

Staff ImageSteve Bearden | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 07, 2011

When it comes to Champagne this is probably our all time staff favorite. The fact that it is a direct import and sells for less than half what it would if it went through the same distribution system as the big name brands doesn't hurt either. Fresh and ripe Chardonnay flavors, intense mineral notes and hints of earth leap from this vibrant and full-textured bubbly.

Staff ImageJim Boyce | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 30, 2011

This is another outstanding, easy to like champagne from Bonville. 100% estate chardonnay from three vintages, this bottle intertwines clean citrus and crisp apple with solid, chalky minerality to create some seriously great bubbles. Refreshing alone on a warm summer day or paired with some of your favorite seafood appetizers, this champagne is sure to please.

Staff ImageJason Marwedel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 26, 2010

Made from all estate fruit from Bonvilles Grand Cru vineyards in Avize, this champagne displays ripe citrus and apple fruit on the nose, followed by a rich mid palate and a snappy mineral finish. The Bonville Prestige has everything I am looking for in a Blanc De Blancs at an extremely reasonable price!

Staff ImageIllya Haase | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 29, 2010

For me, one of the best finds at our recent Champagne tasting! It's off-dry, with beautiful fruit and a nice toasty nose. All this from third generation winemaking family whose holdings consist of 15 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards. The winemaking here is all about elegance and finesse and allowing the terroir to speak for itself and it shows.

Staff ImageJeff Garneau | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 09, 2010

This may be the best deal in Champagne that K&L offers. 100% Chardonnay. 100% Grand Cru fruit from some of the best vineyards in the Côte des Blancs. Don't write this wine off because you didn't pay more for it! This is an outstanding Champagne at an unbelievable price. It will delight you with its rich, creamy texture. Ripe pear and chalky mineral notes give way to toasty, fresh baked apple tart on the mid palate. The wine finishes with a crisp, zingy citrus note of Meyer lemon. Enjoy this wine alone, as a refreshing aperitif or together with chilled, cracked Dungeness crab.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 02, 2009

What a great producer Franck Bonville is! This excellence shows in the Brut Selection Blanc de Blanc. When one opens the bottle and pours some of this Champagne into a glass, beautiful aromas are the first teasing impression. The Champagne is dry and crisp with clean delicate flavors. Great alone or with lighter foods.

Staff ImageJacques Moreira | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 20, 2009

If there is such a thing as a Champagne for everyday use, well this has to be it. Not because of the price, but for its quality and poise. Very crispy, citrousy end elegant. Perfect for hors d'oeuvres, seafood, egg dishes, guacamole, goat cheeses, and "fantastic" with caviar!

Staff ImageJoe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 06, 2009

Very easy to like - soft textured, citrus and cream flavors. Plump, round and delicious. For someone who usually goes for a bit lean and austere, I'm always surprised I like this as much as I do. It's just delicious stuff.

Staff ImageScott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 27, 2008

There is simply no better Blanc de Blanc in the store at this price! Classic Avize minerality with crisp apple-y fruit, lemons, limes and wet stone aspects. A wonderful Chamnpagne with caviar or baked Brie. Too good of a value to pass up. We can also go for months without having this sparkler in stock. Also available in 375ml and magnum. It also comes in a gorgeous 2002 vintage as well!

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Baron-Fuenté "Esprit" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($39.99) Wine Club Price: $34.99.

92 points Wine Enthusiast: "From the warmer Aube vineyards in the south of Champagne, this wine is rich and full of creamy fruit. There's a touch of chalky minerality to its texture, giving it a tight edge. Aged in bottle to bring out a toasty aftertaste, it's ready to drink now. (RV)" (06/2017)

92 points Wine Spectator: "Creamy in texture, with mouthwatering acidity enlivening rich notes of bread dough, black currant, lemon curd, pastry cream and blanched almonds. Shows fine balance and length. Drink now through 2020. (AN)" (12/2012)

K&L Notes: This unique, all Chardonnay Champagne comes from a nine-and-a-half acre single vineyard in Saacy-sur-Marne called the Chantemanche. It might be the most western vineyard site in all of Champagne, and is actually so far west that it is in the Paris district, on the very edge of Champagne. It is aged for three years on the lees with reserve wines from three previous harvests. This creamy, nutty Blanc de Blancs is seamless, integrated and has good, refreshing lift on the finish. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne buyer)

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 08, 2017

The Esprit Blanc de Blancs is made from the very last vineyard in the farthest west part of Champagnethe Chantemanche in Saacy-sur-Marne. This site is one of the very few so far west that they are actually in the Paris district, Ile-de-France. The current release is based on 2009 with 5% barrel fermented reserves from 2008. It is a very creamy style of Blanc de Blancs, with an excellent Chablis like earth character and a bright finish to contrast the richness of the mid-palate.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 07, 2016

Another highlight of a recent Blanc De Blanc tasting...The Baron Fuente Esprit BdB doesn't come from where you typically find Chardonnay planted in Champagne (Cote de Blanc)...in fact this property actually lies so far west it's within the Paris district! Nevertheless it is loaded with all the freshness and minerality I expect from BdB plus Baron Fuente's signature richness of texture. Ummmm good stuff.

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 07, 2016

This is a tremendous wine and one that I think fully conveys the thought and the effort that goes into our direct import Champagne program. For the price of a standard grade big house-blended cuvee, you're getting a single vineyard, single varietal expression of incredible beauty and depth. There's a nuttiness on the palate from the extended lees aging (keeping the spent yeast in the bottle) and a crispness that comes from the cool weather in this particular vineyard site. All in all, it's a fascinating bottle with unique spice and character for a price that still comes in less than the entry-level Veuve Clicquot!

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Charles Ellner "Qualite" Extra Brut Champagne ($39.99) Wine Club Price: $34.99.

Wine Enthusiast: "Ripe and immediately attractive, this is an apple and lime flavored wine. Weight from the Pinots in the blend gives a rich, full-bodied backdrop. There is just a hint of toast in this bottling, showing it is very ready to drink. (RV)" (09/2015)

Staff ImageCliff Spinola | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 04, 2018

As I tasted through our February club selections I came back to this Champagne a couple of times. The best way to describe this is as, "a perfect start to any occasion." Whether it's after a long day of work and starting a quiet night at home, or before an intimate dinner with a loved one, or to kick off a social gathering... this is a great wine to have in your glass to get things going! It's refreshing and uplifting with superb balance and a great mouthfeel. Absolutely delicious!

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 30, 2017

Champagne Charles Ellner is one of the largest vineyard holders in Epernay, and wine comes exclusively from these vines. It is composed of 50% Pinot Noir, 30%Chardonnay and 20% Meunier, is aged for almost five years on the lees and is treated to an addition of 1/3 reserve wines. This has great red cherry Pinot Noir fruit framed by baguette toast from the long ageing, as well as surprising snap and length. This is an ideal aperitif, and will go fantastically well with gougers, parmesan crisps and all manner of finger foods.

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Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne ($39.99)

Exclusively from the 2009 harvest, although not labeled as such, this Champagne is composed of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The Champagne has a graceful, delicate balance that Verzenay wines sometimes lack but with the signature hazelnut Pinot core. I found it to have creaminess to complement its racy cherry fruit on the palate and an extraordinarily long, dry finish. It is dosed at 9 grams per liter: very dry! It will age very well. The Arnoulds own 27 acres in the village of Verzenay, a quite sizable holding in this high-rent area. It is planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, which is average for the village. The Arnoulds have quite a few plots of vines that are very old and positioned in the golden band mid-slope where the sun exposure is best. They have 40- and 45-year-old vines in the lieux-diets of Corret, Perthos, and Coutures and 50-plus-year vines in the red wine vineyard Carreaux. All of the wines made by the Arnoulds undergo complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and enamel vats. If you have enjoyed the wines of Lallement, Bollinger, and Krug in the past, I think you will very much enjoy Michel Arnould. They are bold, masculine Champagnes with plenty of toasty flavor. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne Buyer)

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 26, 2018

The decadent, complex Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut is the creamiest of their lineup, featuring a toasty hazelnut note and a crisp finish, which balances well with the richness and bright cherry fruit of the palate. Although not technically a vintage release, this is from the warmer 2009 harvest, making it instantly accessible, with weighty texture and just the right amount of lift. North-facing slopes in Verzenay ripen Pinot Noir beautifully but maintain a snap of acidity that pairs well with sushi, and the raciness here cuts through anything with ponzu sauce. This is easily one of my favorite Pinot-based Champagnes in the store, and a killer value.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 24, 2018

This is one of my very favorite non-vintage Champagnes! Cinnamon and I shipped this to Costanoa, a resort by the beach (better than carrying it on our bicycle!) and enjoyed it alfresco after a day in the saddle. We carried Riedel "O" stemless glasses in our jersey pockets (don't try this at home kids!) because we forgot to ship them... We were glad we did. This wine has so much complexity and subtlety it would have been a shame to drink it out of substandard glassware. The Grand Cuvee is very powerful Pinot-based stuff, with a hint of smoke on the nose, a very supple texture and a bone dry, persistent finish. A great reward after a long ride.

Staff ImageMorgan Laurie | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 23, 2017

I tried this for the first time recently and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of this sub-$40 Champagne. Located in Verzenay, a historical Grand Cru rich in calcareous soil, this Champagne is full of ripe white cherries and hazelnuts with a touch of toasty croissant. It's balanced beautifully between richness and brightness with a bracing vein of acidity running through. Pick up a bottle for your next dinner date or party.

Blake Conklin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 10, 2017

Well balanced, rich, but not overbearingly so. Who knew we'd have so many fantastic Grand Cru champagnes at such a fantastic price, and this here is no exception. This champagne finishes off with a nice toasted hazelnut finish, that simply makes this grand cru irresistible!

Staff ImageJim Boyce | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 05, 2017

One of the true staff favorites, this Champagne comes off as rich and ripe, but the acidity cuts right through leaving an extremely well balanced, wonderfully complex and driving wine in your glass. Black cherry, brioche, and hazelnut complement. Think Krug at almost a quarter of the price!

Staff ImageMari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 27, 2011

Rich, yet exquisitely balanced, the Michel Arnould Grand Cuvée Brut has a subtle minerality on the nose, the classic bright cherry fruit in the mouth and an elegant, seamless hazelnut finish. Try with some seared sea scallops in a citrus cream reduction.

Staff ImageJeff Garneau | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 26, 2009

Lovely toast on the nose. Classic pain grille, bright cherry, and hazelnut in the mouth. The ripeness of the fruit is offset by bracing acidity and an intense mineral character. A big, bold wine, this champagne will be the center of attention at any party.

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Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne ($59.99)

93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "There is lovely complexity to the distinctly yeasty nose that combines high-toned green apple, pear, white flowers and gentle citrus nuances. The clean and sleek flavors are supported by a crisply firm but fine mousse where the finish is medium dry and lingering. It's not all that often that I suggest that readers cellar NV Brut but this is an example that absolutely cries out for it. I suspect that the texture will materially change for the better (i.e. become creamier) and better depth will be in the offing as well. Put it this way: this is a perfectly good Champagne right now but with 4 to 7 years of bottle age it could be first-rate and I would suggest buying it only if you're going to cellar it for at least a few years first. Note further that my rating assumes that the wine will be cellared. *Outstanding*" (01/2015)

93 points Jeb Dunnuck: "Bollingers NV Special Cuvée knocks it out of the park. Made from 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Meunier, with 30% of the blend brought up in barrels, it boasts a rich, deep, medium to full-bodied style as well as terrific notes of lemon curd, crème brûlée, caramelized stone fruits, and hints of toasty nuttiness that develop with time in the glass. Its a big, rich Champagne that stays balanced and pure. Beautiful stuff. 2018-2028." (03/2018)

93 points Wine Spectator: "Lovely aromas and flavors of ripe black cherry and currant fruit, graphite, toast and candied Meyer lemon zest are set in this racy Champagne, with a refined, finely detailed mousse. The mouthwatering finish is long and spicy. (AN)" (08/2017)

92 points James Suckling: "Looking the part with a keenly struck trade-off between freshness and complexity, there's plenty of pinot-derived red fruit on the nose, as well as biscuity, mellow, sweet spices and fragrance. The palate takes a similar path, with some grilled cashews and citrus, too. Nicely crafted texture, with cherry and peach fruits. Drink now." (10/2017)

90 points Vinous: "Pale yellow. Toasty aromas of apple and pear nectar are complemented by hints of toffee, honey and orange zest. Full and expansive on the palate, offering ripe orchard and pit fruit flavors and an undercurrent of smoky minerals and buttered toast. Smooth and gently spicy on the clinging, nicely focused finish. (JR)" (01/2015)

Wine & Spirits: "Generously enriched by reserve wines, Bollingers current release of Special Cuvée is broad and earthy, with a mushroomy undertone to its flavors. A structured, pinot noirdominant Champagne to serve with steak tartare." (12/2016)

K&L Notes: A Pinot Noir-dominated blend that always includes a generous proportion of reserve wines. The biggest and boldest of the big house non-vintages, this is still made from mostly estate fruit. All of the reserve wines are aged in magnums under natural cork, and a large percentage of the fruit is still barrel fermented. In an age where a lot of the big houses are concentrating more on marketing and less on the product, Bollinger continues their tradition of quality. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne buyer)

Staff ImageRachel Vogel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 17, 2017

One of the best priced Grand Marque Champagnes we have on the shelf, especially when taking account the quality of the wine. More than one third of the wine is barrel fermented and more than one third is reserve wine aged for a minimum of 10 years in magnums before blending creating possibly one of the most complex champagnes I have tasted yet. Some cracker or fresh brioche aromas mixed with fresh yellow apples draw you into a textured yet lively palate that doesn't stand still!

Staff ImageChristina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 09, 2017

The Bollinger Special Cuvee is a Champagne for the connoisseur, as it is created painstakingly from up to forty percent reserve wines, which are stored in Magnums, under half pressure, and hand disgorged before bottling! This is a Champagne of exceptional quality and small production, created from grapes grown on Chalky, south facing soil. Aromas of lightly toasted nuts lead to a broad, very dry palate, with a dominant, chalky minerality and a slightly creamy roundness.

Staff ImageSteve Bearden | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 08, 2017

This family owned and independent House still makes one of the best and most reliable oak aged Champagnes on the market. 3 to 4 years ageing on the lees has filled this with notes of caramel, toast, ripe apricot and touches of oak in a bold and chalky style. This is big, full bodied bubbly that is filled with richness and tension.

Staff ImageAndrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 08, 2017

Bollinger is one of my immediate go to houses for people looking for a known name that delivers stunning wine for the price. The special cuvee from them is the perfect place to start with this all family owned estate. Lovely fruit notes of early plum, red fruit, and green apple with a little wood and spice are all firmly in balance here. The level of complexity is impressive and the finish is soft but does not fall flat in any way. There is also a beautiful tartness to the wine from the acid that serves to enhance the overall experience.

Staff ImageJoe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 07, 2017

Oh man, is this good, soooo good! We have to be careful around here about picking favorites in the Champagne category, because the fact is that we all love Champagne and our current favorite may be bested by yet another delicious bottling before long. That said, for many of us, Bollinger is a long-time favorite amongst the grande marques, a true original and - without going into detail - a process that is ridiculously labor intensive, manual and expensive even for their Special Cuvee. With aromas of loquat, and a slightly savory, Beurre Blanc like note, the current bottling immediately drew me in in. It may be the 1/3 barrel fermented aspect of the base wine, the presence of 10-20 year old reserve wine, or my experience with the other great chalky soil based wine region of Europe, but I detected just a passing resemblance to Manzanilla here! A bright, delicious, complete and complex palate seals the deal and Bollinger continues to be one of my absolute faves.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 07, 2017

I find this to be one of the most interesting Champagnes we have on the shelves right now because of how many different notes and tastes it possesses. While Bollinger is one of the larger houses in Champagne, they are absolutely one of the best. The amount of care and work they put into their Champagne is unreal and the dedication to quality is beyond almost all others. The average age of the wine in this bottle is ten years old and one third of it is barrel fermented, which is far less common in Champagne. Topping wine in this house is kept in magnum bottles, separated by cru and vintage, which means they have to pop every single one when it comes time to add dosage to the bottles. This painstaking work results in an unbelievable wine and one I would be happy to have anytime.

Staff ImageScott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 06, 2017

This Champagne is crazy good! Crazy because its primary fermentation is 1/2 done in barrel and crazy because the 1/2 of the wine is aged in magnum at 1/2 pressure (3 fathoms) and then disgorged and blended in. Two hundred and fifty-thousand magnums hand-disgorged and tested for cork taint as the mags are aged on the cork, not crown cap. Who does this?! The Special Cuvée is bright and lively on the initial taste but, fleshes out and the trademark Bollinger golden fruits and caramel come into play. Super, super long finish! Still a family-owned Champagne house!

Staff ImageSal Rodriguez | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 06, 2017

You don't get this fine of a wine without putting in a lot of effort! If I had to give a gift and it needed name recognition, and it had to be epic, and it had to be less than 100 dollars - This is it!! Intense, spicy musk, with a serious presence. Lots of weight and complexity to explore. Great minerality and plenty of apple flavors to enjoy. A perfect bottle of bubbly!

Staff ImageShaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: June 06, 2017

Who doesn't love Bolli! 007, The gals from Ab Fab, and us! Seriously this has always been a favorite, likely due to its generous use of reserve wines and meticulous winemaking, the bold rich and nutty presence and light zesty lemon peel highlights are truly hard to resist.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 18, 2015

Beyond the fact that this is 007 prefered glass of fizz...I must admit I love Bollinger. It is unashamedly a rich style, barrel fermented, round, toasty, packed full of Pinot Noirs red fruited richness. The wine contains 40% older reserve wines and it shows in the wines depth and persistence on the palate. 3-4 years on the lees gives a lovely autolytic presence to the wine along with a lick of oak barrel spice that lingers long in the finish. I can see why Mr. Bond is partial to this...it's powerful and sophisticated.

Staff ImageGreg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 15, 2015

Do I really have to encourage you to buy this? Wow... one of the few barrel fermented Champagnes left. So good, focus, texture, etc., etc. Damn, that's good.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 02, 2015

Bollinger has a sterling reputation in Champagne for stalwart quality for a great reason. They do the hard work to make great Champagne, and there Special Cuvee is the standard barer for their range. Along with Krug, Bollinger is the only grand marque to refuse to give up their barrels, which they still ferment the wine in to this day. They are located in the village of Ay, famous for being the chalkiest terroir for Pinot Noir in all of Champagne, and Ay is the soul of this blend. It is one of the fullest, most powerful non-vintages from the grand marques, and also one of the driest. If you are a fan of Champagne and haven't tried this classic, you should!

Staff ImageMari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 20, 2008

A pinot noir-dominated blend that immediately after opening, has a distinctive leesy, slightly oxidated nose. This is no doubt from the reserve wines that are fermented in oak barrel and then aged in magnums under low pressure. This also lends to the full-bodied, richness of the wine. After several minutes of aeration, the sweet smell of ripe, sun-soaked apples begin to emerge. The predominance of estate fruit (approximately 70% of the assemblage) lends to the broad, rich and intense flavors. Fresh and toasty on the palate with a slight touch of hazelnut, the Special Cuvee has a long finish with a hint of exotic spice at the very end.

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne ($74.99)

94 points James Suckling: "An subtle nose with plenty of fine autolysis aromas of fresh bread and sweetly fragrant yeasty notes, plus some gentle spice and chalky notes. The palate unleashes beautiful wild strawberry fruit flavors, super fresh, fleshy and pure. Great balance and depth." (07/2015)

93 points Wine Spectator: "A lovely rosé in an almost vinous style, with mouthwatering acidity and a fine, lacy mousse carrying appealing flavors of ripe raspberry, white cherry fruit, star anise, mandarin orange peel and honeysuckle. Lightly chalky on the lasting finish. Enjoy with food. Drink now through 2020. (AN)" (11/2016)

92 points Vinous: "Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity. (JR)" (01/2015)

91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This pale-pink wine is stylish, crisp and relatively dry. Full of wild strawberry and citrus, it is lively, bright and lightly perfumed. The texture shows a touch of tannin as well as delicate minerality. Drink this well-balanced wine now. (RV)" (12/2016)

K&L Notes: What could be more civilized than treating your special someone to an aperitif of rosé Champagne? Elegant and focused with a fine bead, light salmon color, creamy texture and lingering finish.

Staff ImageSal Rodriguez | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 07, 2018

The wine that Billecart is probably most well-known for is their rose and it's done very well. I usually choose blanc de blanc, or blanc de noir when I'm getting my bubbles on. Mostly because I tend to feel that rose' sparklers need a bit more time, after popping that top, to open up, and I just really don't have time to wait when I'm trying to celebrate! Get in my glass, and "get in mah belleh", to quote a favorite actor of mine. This needs no extra time to blow off the funk that can sit in the glass for a bit. It's pretty, fresh, and crisp, right from the start. High toned bright fruit really make this a fresh, lifted, wine to toast to any great occasion. Although it's quite dry, it still shines through with a nice measure of sweetness from the fruit. This is the sparkling rose to beat!

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 17, 2017

This sets the bar for spectacular brut rosé! Its hard to gush about Billecart-Salmon without feeling like youre piggybacking on critical accolades or following popular opinion, but this best-selling Champagne is worth the hype. Gorgeous rose petal and delicate white peach on the nose, followed by pure strawberry fruit gleaming through the palate, this showcases Billecart-Salmons bright style while adding the sophistication of mousse texture and a minerally finish. Theres freshness throughout, plus substance this would be a great wine to pair with heartier meals like fried chicken, although its elegance makes a glass equally at home with caviar. Tiny creamy bubbles and lovely color only enhance the drinking experience, and cooler, longer fermentation in stainless steel (3-5 weeks!) keeps everything crisp. Billecart-Salmon uses all three big Champagne varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and curiously, more Pinot Meunier than most houses. They have traditionally championed Meunier and the result is a delicate, nuanced wine with depth. Perfect for any occasion, even if that occasion is a weeknight spent on an apartment balcony, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne is reliably special.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 03, 2015

This is the benchmark in rose Champagne, and it deserves every bit of its fame. I find it elegant and balanced every time that I have it, and the blushing pink color is always perfect. If you are looking for a famous producer that delivers the goods, the Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne is a great choice. I like the wine best as an aperitif, the only thing it need to pair with is a good glass.

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Krug "Grande Cuvée" 164 Ème Édition Brut Champagne ($159.99)

97 points Vinous: "Krug's NV Grand Cuvée 164 Edition is a total knockout. Based on the 2008 vintage, the 164th Edition shows all the crystalline tension and energy that is such a signature of the year. At times, the 164 reminds me of the 2008 vins clairs I tasted after harvest. The flavors are brisk, delineated and pulsing with energy, while the more oxidative notes that are such a signature of Krug Champagnes are not especially evident. A wine of total pedigree and class, the 164 reminds me of some of the great Grand Cuvées of the 1960s and 1970s I have been lucky to taste over the years. No Champagne lover will want to be without this spectacular, captivating wine. All that said, readers should be patient, as the 164 is painfully young, austere and in need of serious cellaring. (AG)" (07/2017)

96 points Wine Spectator: "A seamless Champagne, with vibrant acidity and flavors of toasted almond, baked currant and golden raisin. Long and mouthwatering, with a finely detailed bead carrying the flavors to the lasting finish, with accents of spice, pastry cream and coffee. Disgorged spring 2016. Drink now through 2027. (AN)" (11/2017)

95 points John Gilman: "The 164th Edition of Krug Grande Cuvée is absolutely brilliant and one of the bestiterations of this iconic wine that I have ever had the pleasure to taste. This is not surprising, as itis from the base year of 2008, though the team at Krug utilized reserve wines all the way back to1990 in this version. The final cépages is forty-eight percent pinot noir, thirty-five percentchardonnay and seventeen percent pinot meunier, with the wine spending eight years in the Krugcellars sur latte. The beautiful bouquet wafts from the glass in a blend of apple, white peach,fresh-baked bread, very complex soil tones, white flowers, incipient smokiness and just a hint ofthe caraway seed to come with bottle age. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied andseamlessly balanced, with a great core, utterly refined mousse, superb focus and grip and a very,very long, complex and zesty finish. The vibrancy of the exceptional base year of 2008 is verymuch in evidence here and this is destined to be one of the all-time great Grande Cuvées. 2017-2065+" (07/2017)

90 points Decanter: "By Krug's endlessly patient precepts, this is still a baby. The base is 2008, a great year that needs a lot more time for the assembled reserve wines to bring balance and maturity. Today, the wine is very linear, brisk, fresh and invigorating, but some way from its peak. Worth keeping for at least another decade.Drinking Window 2017 - 2030. (ME)" (09/2017)

Jancis Robinson: "Based on 2008. Very dense mouthful with a significantly dry finish. Decidedly intellectual rather than a wine for glugging. 18/20 points" (08/2017)

K&L Notes: This long awaitied edition of Krug Grande Cuvée is based on the 2008 vintage and composed of 48% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 17% Meunier.

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 10, 2017

Krug never fails to impress, and the racy 164 Ème release based on the cooler, dazzling 2008 vintage is destined for greatness, although right now is just a baby. Upon first sip, it lacks the rounded, easy accessibility of the 163rd, instead presenting sharp minerality that showcases the special chalky soil of Krugs vineyard sites. This is a bottle to cellar, and I have no doubt will reward you with the classic Krug brioche, pear fruit and almond complexity after a few more years of age. Drink the 163 Ème for your next celebration, and save this gorgeous 164th edition for the future.

Staff ImageIvan Diaz | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 07, 2017

What a treat it is to work in the wine industry and taste new bottles of Krug on a random Thursday. After tasting at work where it showed crisp, clean flavors of crunchy red apples and fresh minerality, I was lucky enough to take the bottle home where it continued to reveal all the depth and complexity expected of this legendary producer (and then some). With some air time, this wine offers ripe pears and white peaches, honeyed almonds, toasted brioche, subtly funky beeswax, and a pretty floral tone giving the impression of lithe elegance for such a full-bodied, voluptuous Champagne.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 31, 2017

The 164th edition of Krug is only the second comercial release with the edition on the front label- and what an addition it is! Based on the fantastic 2008 vintage, this spectacular Champagne is composed of 11 different vintages going all the way back to 1990. While the 163rd edition drinks better today, this great bottle of Champagne will eclipse nearly anything that a collector could buy at this price after a few years in a good cellar. Not only does this have the breadth and depth of power that we all love in Krug, it has the chalky electric energy of the 2008 vintage. This is already becoming a legend in its own time... But in a few years, look out!

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 31, 2017

Krug Grand Cuvee has long been a go-to for me when it comes to a luxury Champagne. It has the magic combination of brand recognition (aka "bling factor") but also consistently maintains exceptional quality (something that can't be said for some of it's peers). Krug is the benchmark for richer styles of Champagne. It has a crowd pleasing nutty, toasty character but also a beautiful acid line and lingering minerality. This house is also undoubtedly THE master of blending. They have a staggering amount of reserve wines from different villages, single parcels and past vintages. You might think that the mastery of this blending technique would be kept close to the chest as a proprietary secret...and yet the opposite is true! Krug has embraced full transparency when it comes to what components make up their Grand Cuvee placing an ID number on each and every bottle that details its composition. They have now started noting what "Edition" the wine comes from front and center on the label. My take is that when you do everything with the true diligence and commitment to detail that Krug does then I guess you don't have anything to hide! Finally (talk about burying the lead...) this 164th Edition of the Grand Cuvee is largely based on 2008 with reserve wines back to 1990! The focus, tension and linear nature of the legendary 2008 vintage is clear to see in this bottling. This is a seriously good and very distinctive bottling of Grand Cuvee and I believe

Staff ImageRachel Vogel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 14, 2017

While this wine is based on 2008, the oldest of the 11 vintage blend is 1990- my birth year, so I find this wine lucky from the start! 8+ years on the lees and almost half Pinot Noir, the Grand Cuvee 164 has undeniable earth undertones intermingling with a mix of tart lemon zest and sweet meyer lemon.Angular but complex, allowing this wine come into its own will be rewarding for all.

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 09, 2017

Not at all a surprise, this edition of the Grande Cuvée based on the now legendary 2008 vintage is stunning. Saffron, pears and brioche, thrilling acidity and precision rarely seen in lesser champagnes make this a must-buy for collectors and connoisseurs.

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2009 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne ($199.99)

97 points Decanter: "Long lingering finish. A great and supremely elegant Champagne. (ME)" (10/2016)

97 points Jeb Dunnuck: "The 2009 Cristal is a beauty, with incredible richness as well as elegance, which are the hallmarks of this cuvée. Always a rough blend of 60/40 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from estate vineyards, it has a toasty, yet pure bouquet of stone fruits, rising bread, white flowers, and toasted bread, as well as a terrific sense of chalky minerality. While its not built around sheer richness and power (à la Krug), its perfectly balanced, has a fine, fine mousse, and shines for its class and purity. Bravo! Its going to keep for another two decades." (02/2018)

97 points James Suckling: "A very rich and full-bodied Cristal that harks back to 2006 or 1989 in style. It's round and rich, which underlies the ripeness of the vintage. Lots of dried-apple and pineapple character with bread dough and flan flavors. The bubbles are so fine you almost don't notice them. Very vinous style." (10/2016)

97 points Wine Enthusiast: "The latest incarnation of this famous Champagne now comes from Roderer's own vineyards, a good portion of which are run on biodynamic lines. This still-young wine has great depth and richness, a beautiful balance between ripe fruit and crisp texture that make it alive, crisp and bright. As it matures, it will deepen and become even more intense. *Cellar Selection* (RV)" (12/2016)

96 points Vinous: "Rich, creamy and radiant, the 2009 Cristal captures all of the natural generosity of the vintage while also retaining a good bit of freshness and aromatic intensity. Immediate and totally sensual in its allure, the 2009 will drink well with minimal cellaring. All things considered, at this stage, the 2009 comes across as relatively restrained for a wine from a warm year. (AG)" (07/2017)

96 points Wine & Spirits: "Cristal 2009 is supple and lovely, the vintage adding richness to the clarity and precision of its fruit, heightening the sense of purity from a wine exclusively made from chalk terroirs. Its a straight line of flavor widened by fruit notes of just-ripe white peach and deeper tones of red currant. What ornate charm this offers may be clarified by the details (60 percent pinot noir, 40 percent chardonnay, from seven grand cru villages, plus Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, where Roederer owns exceptional parcels of pinot noir, a portion of the lots fermented in barrel, none of it allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation). But this is not the kind of symphonic blend that other houses strive to produce. Young Cristal offers resonance rather than complexity, a long, gentle reverberation that lasts. Its future lies in its perfect shape, something time will address with a patina on the surface and in layers below." (12/2016)

95 points Wine Spectator: "White peach and acacia blossom aromas accent the flavors of poached apple, gingersnap biscuit, pastry cream and spun honey in this harmonious Champagne. The satiny mousse caresses the palate, while firm, focused acidity drives the lasting finish. *Collectibles* (AN)" (11/2016)

K&L Notes: For the second time in history, Champagne house Louis Roederer has chosen to release their famous Cristal out of vintage order, since the 2008 needs more time on the lees.

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 07, 2017

Theres a real purity of fruit to Cristals 2009: apple shines through, with lovely sweetness tempered by bright acid and a delicate finish. This is an easygoing vintage, so much so that Roederer pushed it ahead of the more structured 2008, and theres a lot to love about this layered release: creamy roundness, subtle leesy character, and for the first time, all organic, Grand Cru vineyard sources! 40% Chardonnay from chalky soil adds freshness, while the remaining 60% Pinot Noir lends accessibility. Cristal is always a treat, but the complex, age-worthy 2009 overdelivers.

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 07, 2017

Among the prestige cuvées in Champagne, Louis Roederers Cristal stands out for its delicacy, purity and precision. It is made entirely from mid-slope Grand Cru vines, with no malolactic fermentation and seven years of lees aging. Even in its relative youth, the 2009 displays a meticulous nature: mouth watering, fresh citrus fruit and white flower flavors with subtle underlying pastry notes that meld seamlessly with the richness from the long lees aging. This impressive vintage will last at least 30 years, so set a couple aside!

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 15, 2016

For many years now, Champagne Louis Roederer has been leading the way in progressive practices in the vineyard in the region. This approach showed in the wines at this years staff summit, and in a quite spectacular way. The wines of Roederer really have a shine to them, and the soon to be released 2009 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne exemplifies this luminescent style. Roederer has been the largest organic vineyard owner in Champagne for many years, and this is the first year that Critstal has been made exclusively from these organic, mid slope, pure chalk sites. The ripe vintage of 2009 has made for a precocious wine that is already showing much more aroma and giving much more pleasure than Cristal normally does when first released. That being said, this is a chalky, complex, detailed Champagne that has decades and decades of time to shine!

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2004 Krug Brut Champagne ($269.00)

97 points John Gilman: "The new release of 2004 Krug is absolutely beautiful and is already quite elegant andopen on both the nose and palate and is drinking with great finesse. I had expected this wine tobe a bit more steely in structure out of the blocks, but the refinement of the blend this year hasproduced a wine that is already a joy to drink at age thirteen, though it will continue agegracefully for many, many decades to come. The cépages in 2004 is thirty-nine percentchardonnay, thirty-seven percent pinot noir and twenty-four percent pinot meunier, with the winehaving been disgorged in the winter of 2016. The bouquet jumps from the glass in a refined mixof apple, a touch of walnut, warm bread, lavender, a superb base of soil tones and a topnote ofsmokiness. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and utterly seamless, with vibrant acids, great focus and grip, a lovely core, refined mousse and a very long, complex, racy and energeticfinish. There is marvelous precision here on both the nose and palate, not to mention a sense ofharmony and grace that is fairly rare in the 2004 vintage. Chapeau! 2017-2060." (11/2017)

97 points Vinous: "Krug's 2004 Vintage is absolutely mesmerizing. Layers of bright, chiseled fruit open up effortlessly as the wine fleshes out with time in the glass. Persistent and beautifully focused, with a translucent sense of energy, the 2004 captures all the best qualities of the year. Moreover, the 2004 is clearly superior to the consistently underwhelming 2002 and the best Krug Vintage since 1996. Readers who can find it should not hesitate, as it is a magical bottle. (AG) 97+" (12/2017)

95 points Decanter: "Fresh, zesty spiced lemon and citrus notes of top Meunier and elegantly built Chardonnay, with a hint of honeysuckle and spice. Supremely subtle mouthfeel, showing textural quince and plum flavours.Optimally ripe, not heavy, with magical, very Krug-like acidity. It's so fresh. From a fine Chardonnay year, it has the ideal blend of 39% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier. Great potential. (ME)" (09/2017)

Jancis Robinson: "ID 216022. 39% Chardonnay, 24% Meunier, 37% Pinot Noir. They thought this would be ready before the 2002, so they had some bottles disgorged in 2014. The 2004 growing season benefited from 2003 when there was such a small yield post frost that the vines built up reserves, meaning that 2004 was a very generous crop and selection was permitted. Very pure and greenish straw. Savoury nose. Very dense but flyaway linseed nose. Quite rich on the palate. Tight knit. Very solid with baked-apple flavours. Lots of density. Called luminous freshness by the Krug team. Masses of energy. (JR) 18+/20 points" (09/2017)

K&L Notes: The much-anticipated 2004 vintage release from Krug is composed of 39% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 24% Meunier. It was first disgorged after 12 years of ageing on the lees, and held for another year in the cellar before release. As the Maison articulates, "The wines of the year [2004] were at once highly expressive, bright and undeniably elegant. The vivacity, tension and citrus notes of the Meuniers and the shining Chardonnays combined with the backbone of the Pinot Noir gave rise to a very balanced year. Combining generosity and precision, elegance and character, Krug 2004 tells the vibrant story of a fresh year."

Staff ImageScott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 16, 2017

Next to the legendary 2002 vintage Krug, this 2004 is also a star. Very, very, bright with generous acidity that combines with white stone fruit and almond flavors. It still retains the elegant mousse and brioche of classic vintage Krug, but, the acidity is the star player here. Super fresh, and clean, and bracing. This bottling has the potential of being the star of your cellar and may even overshadow the 2002 eventually. If you prefer to drink it without cellar time, give it a few minutes to air in your glass so that the glorious texture has a chance to come out and say "hi". The 2004 is a classic and will be remembered as being one of Krug's best!

Staff ImageCindy Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 15, 2017

I was lucky enough to taste the Krug 2004 Vintage right next to the Krug Grand Cuvee Edition 160 - which has 2004 as its foundation. It was a joy to contemplate the artistry of both approaches. The Grand Cuvee featuring the expert blending of reserve wines back to 1990 to create the top expression of this house. Contrasted with the purity of the 2004 Vintage. A glimpse into that particular growing season, like a portrait representing a moment in time that will be referred back-to again and again. The 2004 Vintage is exquisite, vibrant and fresh - a prime candidate for cellar ageing. And when compared to some of its peers from other regions like Burgundy or Bordeaux, a supreme value!

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 04, 2017

The latest vintage release from Krug since the legendary 2002 release is a different animal altogether. It comes from a vintage that fully benefited from the poor crop output of 2003, using the unspent energy for amazing crop yields across Champagne in 2004. It offers fineness, intensity, complexity and real aging power. Upon its release, some 13 years after production, it is vibrantly youthful and fresh, with nuanced notes of citrus, yeasty toast, saffron and dried apricots. This will go for many more years.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 23, 2017

Tasting the new 2004 Krug next to the 2002 was a revelation for me. This has the power and mid-palate presence that we all love from this great house, but it is married to the extraordinary freshness, minerality and purity of the 2004 vintage. As soon as I touched my lips to the glass I was transported back to the moment over a decade ago when I tasted the 1988 on release. The 2004s and 1988s are like peas in a pod, and I think this will be a vintage that collectors will be kicking themselves for not paying enough attention to. The finish on this bright, lively Krug is still with me the morning after drinking it. It is a Champagne for the ages.