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250 Ogle Street
Costa Mesa, CA. 92627

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The hamlet of Vertus, situated at the southern end of the Côtes des Blancs, boasts the most extensive vineyard plantings of all the grands or premier cru villages. The town is also famed for being the headquarters of Larmandier-Brenier one of Champagne's most esteemed grower-producers. Proprietor Pierre Larmandier has been affectionately nicknamed 'le moine de Vertus' (The Monk of Vertus) because of his quiet monk-like demeanor and his unwavering zeal to create Champagnes of great purity with an expressive sense of place. Having used biodynamic methods for more than 20 years, Larmandier harvests his fruit with an usually high degree of ripeness. He ferments with indigenous yeasts employing a quiver of vessels: stainless steel tanks, barriques, oak foudres and, in the case of his Rosé Saignée, 600-liter concrete eggs. While most producers rack and filter their vins clairs, Pierre prefers to age his for an extended period (eight to twelve months) on their natural sediments. These and a myriad of other quality measures are used to showcase some of the Côte des Blancs' best terroirs resulting in some of the region's most transparent and transcendent Champagnes. Proving the adage: "All good things come to those who wait," we have finally received our long delayed Larmandier-Bernier shipment containing three of Pierre's finest bottlings.

WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The 2011 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Chemins d'Avize is superb, unfurling in the glass with a classy bouquet of warm biscuits, waxy citrus rind, buttered yellow apples and hints of gingerbread. On the palate, the wine is broad, full-bodied and powerful, with an ample core of fruit, ripe acids, superb concentration and a delicate mousse, concluding with a long finish. From the southeast-facing Chemin de Plivot and Chemin de Flavigny lieux-dits, this is the most generous, sun-kissed wine in the range. It's fermented in old barrels and sees four years sur lattes, followed by disgorgement with two grams per liter dosage. This Champagne displays some of the textural qualities of an excellent white Burgundy, and its glorious bouquet shows that ripe grapes and minimal dosage can deliver all the aromatic plenitude that some commentators contend only derives from added sugar and bottle age." - William Kelly

William Kelly Background Notes - "In the 1990s, Pierre Larmandier and his wife Sophie began to work the soils of their vineyards and abandoned the use of herbicides, moving toward organic and then biodynamic farming. They have had few imitators: "I thought I could be five years ahead of the others in giving up on chemical farming," Pierre observed to me, "but I never imagined that I might be fifty years ahead!" Pierre's father had always advocated picking mature fruit, and with the new farming methods, the wines became almost too concentrated and tightly wound, he relates. So, changes in the winery followed suit: fermentation in wood—foudres, demi-muids and barrels (today, mainly from Stockinger)—instead of stainless steel, and the use of ambient instead of selected yeasts. Today, Larmandier-Bernier numbers among the Côte de Blanc's—and Champagne's—finest estates, and with some 19 hectares of vines, their wines are happily not as hard to find as those released by the region's smallest micro-producers. All these recent and forthcoming releases are warmly recommended, and I'll be writing more about the estate in a future issue."
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