Champagnes seem to have been getting drier in recent years. What’s driving the trend? I put the question of declining Champagne dosage levels to Peter Wasserman today. Wasserman, along with his mother Becky, exports several grower champagnes including Godmé Pere et fils, José D’hondt, Camille Savès, and Vazart-Coquart.
Wasserman said there are three main reasons. First, climate change. As harvest gets longer, the pick dates get later meaning that the fruit is riper, as he put it being harvested at “optimum maturity. So there’s less searing acidity that needs balancing with the addition of the liqueur d’expedition.
Second, the wines are seeing more time on the lees. A decade ago, it was common for grower champagnes to give the wines two and a half years on the lees, spent yeast cells that imbue the wine with more flavor as it remains in contact with them. Now, three or four years is not uncommon. This depth of flavor also reduces the need to add sugar.
Third, the global sommelier culture is driving dosage levels lower. Sommeliers, he said, taste a lot of wines and especially value light and bright champagnes. They wield an outside influence today.
On that last point, I asked him if people talk dry and drink sweet? Absolutely, he said, modifying it to “drink rounder.” Even if somms like the drier style, not all of their customers do.
“Our three best selling champagnes all have 8 or 9 grams of residual sugar,” he said.
Steering away from an outright amount residual sugar, he said, “The Holy Grail is balance.”
As the name “et Filles” indicates, this Champagne house was inherited by a daughter. Cynthia Perrot has proudly led and progressed the family operation over the last 10 years.
Coming from the southernmost region of the Côte des Blancs, her soil is composed of pure chalk. This terroir undoubtedly cultivates the freshest and purest Chardonnay in all of Champagne. All of the cuvées in Perrot-Batteux’s collection are clean and bright; they’re delicious in youth or with many years of age and they clearly showcase the greatness of Chardonnay.
Watch the video above for a quick look at harvest with Cynthia and Champagne Perrot-Batteux et Filles (from Fat Cork on Vimeo).
Big news! Cornerstone Cellars is moving! We’re moving from our current address of 6505 Washington Street to our new address of 6505 Washington Street. Okay, that’s not very dramatic news as we are moving all of about twenty feet across the parking lot, but it’s big news for us and good news for you. We’re moving into the space right behind our current Yountville tasting room and will be closed from March 23rd to April 1st (no kidding) as we prepare an exciting new tasting experience for you in our beautiful new space.
On top of this there is truly exciting news for our old space as soon a dynamic new culinary partner will occupy our old tasting room featuring charcuterie, cheeses, bubbly and exclusive designer fashions and jewelry that you won’t be able to resist.
In addition to our exciting new neighbor, Cornerstone Cellars will be expanding our offerings from Yount Street Glass. Their handcrafted jewelry and gifts from recycled wine bottles could not be more fun or beautiful and we are excited that our new spacious tasting room will allow us to expand our offerings of their selections. With our new neighbors, more Yount Street Glass and an ever more exciting selection of wines from Cornerstone Cellars we are sure you won’t be able to resist visiting all of us in Yountville ever more than you do now.
While it’s true that you’ll have to walk a few more steps to get to Cornerstone Cellars, we know you’d find those few steps so entertaining you’ll never know you took them.
We can’t wait to welcome you to the new Cornerstone Cellars!
Thurs. June 18th, 2015
6049 Seaview Ave NW
6 – 9 pm ~ $35 *Special VIP early entry at 5 pm for $50
What could be more summer than sipping tasty rose’ and white wines on the beautiful deck of at Ray’s Boathouse watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound? Be part of this Seattle summer tradition by joining us at the 13th Annual Rose’ Revival and Other Cool Whites Wine Event on Thurs. June 18th!
This event features a wide array of dry Washington Rose’ and interesting white wines…NO reds! Attendees will meet a variety of Northwest winemakers and taste their Rosé made in very small lots from Sangiovese, Syrah, Cab Franc, Tempranillo, Grenache, Pinot Noir! The event will also feature a wide array of delicious whites for summer, including varietals such as Semillon, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Albarino, Gruner, & Pinot Blanc, as well as wines from France, Argentina, Australia, and more. Ray’s Boathouse will provide some tasty treats to accompany.
Proceeds from this Seattle Uncorked event go to support Save Our Wild Salmon, a nationwide coalition of conservation organizations, commercial and sportsfishing associations, businesses, river groups, and taxpayer advocates working collectively to restore self-sustaining, abundant, and harvestable populations of wild salmon and steelhead to rivers, streams and oceans of the Pacific Salmon states.
2013 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Merlot, Oakville Station Vineyard, Oakville AVA, White Label
Wine growing is an unending evolutionary process if you want to make great wine. You need to experience a vineyard over a number of harvests and then taste the wine as it develops over the years to really understand its true character. Only time can show you what a vineyard can deliver then you can decide if it merits the status of a single vineyard bottling. I've always felt the vineyard should convince me instead of me convincing the vineyard.
Over the last years we have been working with an elite set of Napa Valley vineyards that have clearly established themselves as worthy of that distinction:
Kairos Vineyard on the edge of Oak Knoll and Coombsville
Grigsby Vineyard in the Yountville AVA
Oakville Station Vineyard in To Kalon
Red Lake Vineyard on Howell Mountain
We are now confident enough in these vineyards to to begin the presentation of an exceptional group of single vineyard wines under the Cornerstone Cellars White Label. Our White Label will become synonymous with this group of distinctive vineyards, which will be introduced over the releases of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages. Only a few hundred cases will be produced of each wine. Those wines will be:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Kairos Vineyard, Napa Valley AVA $90 SRP
Cabernet Sauvignon, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville AVA $90 SRP
Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville Station Vineyard, Oakville AVA $100 SRP
Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Lake Vineyard, Howell Mountain AVA $100 SRP
Merlot, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $75 SRP
Cabernet Franc, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $80 SRP
Syrah, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville AVA $60 SRP
The Cornerstone, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $150 SRP
As a passionate believer in terroir and wines with a sense of place it has always been my vision to evolve our Napa Valley wines at Cornerstone Cellars and arrive at this point in time. While place has always been an obsession to those who love pinot noir (including me and why we are making wine in Oregon) there is an equally compelling argument that those with a passion for the classic Bordeaux varieties should also cling to that connection to the soil in their wines. For some reason terroir seems to be the property of Burgundy, Rhône and Piemontese varieties, but what is true for them is just as true for those who were born in Bordeaux. It matters where the fruit is grown.
I get why cabernet and merlot suffer from this prejudice. The world is covered with hundreds of thousands of acres of these varieties simply because they are famous and have shown easy adaptability to many climates and soils. Unlike varieties like pinot noir, nebbiolo and viognier they have proved able to produce vast oceans of industrial wines under their names as they are more forgiving in the vineyard and capable of producing massive crops of grapes.
It is my goal with these new wines to show there is a sense of place in the Napa Valley as compelling as any, anywhere. Many of the most expensive wines in the Napa Valley are totally devoid of terroir and I think that is wrong and a waste of some of the finest cabernet sauvignon dirt on the planet. It my own very small way I want to show that great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards deserve as much respect as great vineyards everywhere. However as you would expect from Cornerstone Cellars these new wines are not boiled down concentrates that masquerade as wines, but elegant wines that allow the nuances and shades that these unique vineyards bestow on these wines to show themselves in all their glory.
Each of these new wines will have a reason to exist. That reason will be the vineyard itself. It will be my pleasure to introduce you to them. You will see the first release of these new single vineyard wines this September with the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Merlot, Oakville Station. This will be followed by a complete rollout of the new wines in 2016 with the releases of the excellent 2013 vintage.
In addition to these limited production single vineyard wines we will continue to offer extraordinary values in our Black Label series, which will grow to include a merlot. We will also be introducing a new luxury cuvée with the 2012 vintage. I have named this new wine Michael's Cuvée in honor of our founder Dr. Michael Dragutsky, who launched Cornerstone Cellars in 1991. This wine will be exclusively selected from the same vineyards that give us our single vineyard wines and will combine the best characteristics of each vineyard to a whole that is truly the sum of all its parts.
So we continue to evolve at Cornerstone Cellars. Evolution is slow in the world of wine, unlike the tech world where iterations are a daily occurrence, in the world of agriculture we only get one harvest a year. With each vintage we take another step. We may progress one step at a time, but we know where we’re going.
Fat Cork is growing, in more ways than one. We’ve added new Champagnes, new interns, and even a new baby boy (congratulations, Bryan and Abby!).
We’re proud of our hard-working team and want to introduce you to all the people that make Fat Cork a great small business.
Cheers and thank you so much for your support. It’s because of you that we continue to grow.
Abigail & Bryan Maletis Fat Cork Founders Hometown: Seattle, WA and Portland, OR Proudest Accomplishment: Our children! And creating a business that encourages others to Celebrate Everyday. Favorite Family Activity: Walks through our neighborhood.
Lucas & Myers Maletis Boss Juniors Years at FC: Birth-Present Hometown: Seattle, Washington Hobbies: Lucas – trains, eating french fries with ketchup, and swimming with Daddy. Myers – sleeping and learning from big brother.
Chloe Hanson Operations Director and Lead Designer Years at FC: June 2012-Present Hometown: Nampa, Idaho Hobbies: Knitting, hiking, party hosting!
Amanda Jones Number Cruncher Years at FC: November 2014 – Present Hometown: Hermiston, Oregon Life Goal: To leave footprints on all the sandy beaches of the world.
Alex Petrovich Part-time Warehouse Manager Years at FC: August 2012-Present Hometown: Puyallup, Washington Hobbies: Basketball, drawing, and video games.
Marco Vertucci Intern: All Things Design Years at FC: June 2014-Present Hometown: Rome, Italy Hobbies: Sleeping in + brunch, and good (inexpensive) wine.
Marc Lotorto Intern: Anything & Everything Years at FC: June 2014-Present Hometown: Bothell, Washington Hobbies: Drinking coffee, fraternity recruitment, and going to the gym.
Kaui Brito Intern: Order Specialist & Tasting Room Years at FC: February 2015-Present Hometown:Aiea, Hawaii Future Plans: Graduate from Seattle Pacific University in June –> CEO of Nike.
Ben Reidy Intern: Anything & Everything Years at FC: February 2015-Present Hometown: Edmonds, Washington Hobbies: Golfing, coaching baseball, scout team member for UW Women’s Basketball team.