Pop the Champagne – J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” Premier Cru Brut Champagne

Life is too short to not celebrate the little things!  However, when most bottles of Champagne come with hefty price tags, it’s often hard to justify popping a bottle.  Thankfully, Brandon and I took on the tough job of sipping Champagne priced under $40 and I think we have found a winner; J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” Premier Cru Brut.  Imported by Kermit Lynch, the Cachet d’Or is a blend of equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier aged for 36 months on the lees before disgorgement.

J. Lassalle "Cachet d'Or" Premier Cru Brut Champagne
J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” Premier Cru Brut Champagne

Cachet d’Or has a lovely, creamy texture that romances your palate as you sip the wine.  Harmonious flavors of lemon curd, toast, and green apple are surrounded by minerality and followed with a dry, crisp finish.  It’s definitely sophisticated yet very approachable with an incredible showing of vibrance and complexity for $35.  Grab a bottle, a few friends, and celebrate!

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Wines from Champagne Jacquart – Brut Mosaique and Brut Rosé

Champagne Jacquart has a rich history dating back to 1964.  For over 50 years, they have worked with winegrowers throughout the region to produce excellent wines.  Today, Champagne Jacquart is home to 1,800 vineyards in the Champagne region with 60% of the vines located in Cru sites.  Their current winemaker, Floriane Eznack, joined the winery in 2011 and she is the force behind Champagne Jacquart’s signature blends.

I recently had the chance to try both the Brut Mosaique and Brut Rosé.  I was not familiar with the brand before and can honestly say I am really impressed with both Champagnes.  Both are terrific wines and incredible values.

Champagne Jacquart
Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique and Brut Rose

NV Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique 

The Brut Mosaique, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, begins with aromas of almond and citrus with hints of yeast.  The palate is refined with delicate bubbles and bright acidity.  There are tastes of orange blossom and grapefruit entwined with nuttiness and minerals.  A delightful Champagne that is hard to beat for under $40.

($39.99. 12.5% alcohol)

NV Champagne Jacquart Brut Rosé 

The Brut Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir vinified as red wine grapes.  The wine opens with bright aromas of red berries.  The vibrant palate offers tastes of strawberries, red currants, freshly baked bread, and minerals followed with a dry, lengthy finish.  We paired it with goat cheese and it went together wonderfully.

($49.99, 12.5% alcohol)

*Media Samples

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Burger and Wine Pairings!

It is finally spring and the weather is getting warmer.  This only means one thing…time to light up the grill and throw on the burgers!  While a lot of people tend to pair burgers with Cabernet, I want to give a few other options for your BBQ.  Keep in mind, the toppings you put on your burger also play a big part in which wine will pair the best.  Here are some awesome burger, topping, and wine pairings that I think you will enjoy!

Burgers and Syrah

A cool-climate Syrah is one of my go-to pairings for a simply dressed burger or a burger with sautéed mushrooms and onions.  The wine really elevates the meaty flavors and even works well if your burger is made from something other than beef (think lamb or pork).   Try Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah.  Notes of earth, spice, smoke, dark fruit, and tobacco make it a great pairing!

Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah
Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah

Burgers and Champagne

I love pairing burgers with Champagne.  The acid and fresh flavors in the wine really enliven the palate when paired with a rich, fatty burger.  This pairing is especially nice when your burger is topped with cheese or a runny egg.  I like J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” 1er Cru Brut Champagne.  It is rich yet bright so it stands up to the burger while elevating the flavors with its acidity.

J. Lassalle "Cachet d'Or" 1er Cru Brut Champagne
J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” 1er Cru Brut Champagne

Burgers and Malbec

Another burger and wine pairing I have recently fallen in love with is Malbec from Cahors.  I definitely suggest exploring what Cahors has to offer because the Malbec tends to have a bit more acidity than those found in Argentina.  It works really well with pungent cheese along with most other savory toppings. Try Clos La Coutale Cahors.  Rustic, rich, and spicy…a match made in heaven!

Clos La Coutale Cahors
Clos La Coutale Cahors
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A Few Highlights From the Return to Terroir LA Tasting!

Yesterday, I attended the Return to Terroir Annual Portfolio Tasting at Republique in Los Angeles.  The tasting featured wines from Return to Terroir’s producers in France, Italy, and the US.  Overall, I thought the tasting was pretty impressive.  The wines were unique, terroir-driven, and largely naturally produced.  Here are a few of my favorite bottles from the tasting:

Charles Dufour Bulle de Comptoir #2 Champagne Extra Brut NV

Charles Dufour "Bulle de Comptoir #2" Champagne Extra Brut  NV
Charles Dufour “Bulle de Comptoir #2” Champagne Extra Brut NV

Clean flavors of apple and pear with hints of yeast and minerals.  Bright acidity and fine bubbles made this one of the best bottles of the day.  If only I had a dozen oysters to pair with it!

55% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Blanc. Sulfur-free. $45

Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc “Akmenine”

Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc "Akmenine"
Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc “Akmenine”

Sancerre with a little age on it…I was all over it and it was so darn good!  Citrus, apples, golden raisins, and pears with herbs and minerals woven in between.  Rich yet still lively!  The tasting was self-serve so I just may have gone back for seconds (and perhaps thirds).

100% Sauvignon Blanc. Organic. $35

Domaine de la Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon “Les Charmes”

Domaine de Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon "Les Charmes"
Domaine de Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon “Les Charmes”

This bottle showed well at a price point of under $20.  A bright, earthy palate with smooth tastes of cherries and spice.  Straight-forward and very enjoyable!

100% Gamay. Organic. $17

 *Media Samples

Return to Terroir

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NV Bereche et Fils Brut Reserve Champagne

My favorite wine shop is featuring Champagne this month (lucky me :)).  Among the bottles they are highlighting is NV Bereche et Fils Brut Reserve.  Bereche et Fils makes all of their wines as naturally as possible – no chemical pesticides and minimal intervention in the wine making process (native yeasts and no maloactic fermentation).  The result, at least as reflected in the Brut Reserve NV Champagne, is a beautiful, vibrant wine!

 Bereche et Fils 2

Tasting Notes

This Champange pours a golden-yellow in the glass and begins with aromas of citrus, minerals, fresh-baked bread and a hint of spice.  The palate is quite complex for the price point.  There are tastes of lemon, green apple, talc, yeast, and spice surrounded with vibrant acidity.  Extremely dry, sophisticated and delicious! (12% alcohol, $40)

My Wine Rating – A-

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with oysters, a wide variety of cheeses or salmon topped with caviar and creme fraiche.

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Sparkling Wine and Oysters!!!

There are many things I love about fall…football, cooler weather, and harvest are among them.  Another part of the fall that I always look forward to is entering into prime oyster season.  Oysters have been a quintessential part of the cooler months for me since I was a child.  Growing up by the coast in South Carolina, my family would have oyster roasts and also visit our favorite restaurant where we would go and order entire bushels and eat until our fingers couldn’t shuck oysters any longer (I can’t wait to go home for Christmas for this reason alone!). 

Pairing wine with oysters can be challenging but there is one pairing you can’t go wrong with…Sparkling Wine.  It is also a festive pairing for holiday parties.  Here are a couple of suggestions at different price points:

Saint-Hilaire Brut Blanquette De Limoux

2010 Saint-Hilaire Brut Blanquette De Limoux is an incredible value as it retails for around $12.  The nose has notes of baked bread and citrus.  There are tastes of lemon, lime, and honeysuckle with mineral undertones.  A perfect pairing with oysters! (B+, $12)

 2005 Agrapart Mineral Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut

If you want to splurge on a nice bottle of Champagne to pair with your oysters, I highly recommend 2005 Agrapart Mineral Blanc de Blancs.  Amazing tastes of citrus, peach, and racing minerality.  Lively acidity and a lengthy, complex finish make this one of my favorite recent finds for a special occassion…especially if oysters are involved!  (A, $68)



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Mini-Review – Bernard Tornay “Carte d’Or” Brut Champagne

Since we are heading into the holiday season (I can’t believe it is already November!), I want to start featuring some wines that are perfect for your holiday gatherings.  I had a Champagne over the last week that really stood out as a great find for the price.  Bernard Tornay “Carte d’Or” Brut Champagne is a fabulous buy if you are looking for a delicious sparkler and don’t want to drain your wallet.

This bubbly has aromas of red berries, hazelnuts, and fresh-baked bread.  The creamy palate features tastes of cherries and citrus with notes of bread and lively acidity.  A solid Champagne that pairs well with soft cheeses, oysters, or as an aperitif!  (B+, $35)


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Two Sparkling Wines To Help Ring in the New Year!

I really can’t think of a better time of year then New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a nice bottle of sparkling wine.  Here is one of my favorite bargain picks and a “splurge” pick that are sure to help usher in a wonderful 2012:

Bargain Pick- Cavit Prosecco Lunetta (NV)

This Prosecco is my pick for a great value sparkling wine.  I love Prosecco and appreciate when I can find a good bottle under $20.  This bottle can be picked up for around $12-14 and really gives you a wonderful bottle of wine for the price.  Refreshing flavors of green apple, peach, and pear are followed by a clean finish.  It’s easy to drink and sure to be a crowd pleaser. (B+)

Splurge Pick- Bollinger NV Brut Cuvee

I have shared this Champagne on my blog before but I wanted to mention it again because it is one of my favorites for the price.  The nose has smokey notes of apple and citrus. The palate has tastes of toasted nuts, ginger, and apple with hints of spice. A beautiful Champagne with fresh acidity and layers of intense flavor.  It’s one of the better Champagnes that I have found for around $50.  A great way to celebrate new beginnings! (A-/A)

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Toasting to Thanksgiving- Bollinger NV Brut Special Cuvee

I want to end my Thanksgiving wine recommendations with a Champagne that I recently tried.  I picked it up at the suggestion of a very helpful clerk at a local wine store was thoroughly impressed.  I think it’s a perfect bottle for a Thanksgiving splurge.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Bollinger NV Brut Special Cuvee is a non-vintage Champagne from Champagne, France.  It is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier and retails for $50.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee pours a sparkling golden-yellow in the glass.  The nose has smokey notes of apple and citrus.  This rich Champagne has tastes of toasted nuts, ginger, and apple with hints of spice.  A beautiful Champagne with fresh acidity and layers of intense flavor.  The perfect way to start a Thanksgiving Feast!

My Wine Rating- A-/A

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Champagne is the perfect aperitif for a Thanksgiving meal and is extremely food friendly so it could be sipped throughout the night.


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