The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 68 of 124

68 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 { score on sparkling } ALFRED GRATIEN IS one of Champagne's great names. In an era where many Champagne houses have scaled to immense proportions, Gratien carries on much as it did 150 years ago. Fourth-generation winemaker Nicolas Jaeger continues the rigorous tradition of barrel-fermenting each lot in 128-liter neutral barrels that once held fine Chablis, producing Champagnes that Antonio Galloni, founder of the wine publication Vinous, says are "built on grace." The same can be said of Alfred Gratien's Loire Valley sister label Gratien & Meyer, which produces terrifically complex Crémant sparklers fashioned with decades of knowledge gained since 1864, when Alfred Gratien bottled his first Champagne. Back in April, I sat down with Gratien & Meyer President Olivier Dupré at San Francisco's Mourad, a Moroccan restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Mourad Lahlou. There, rising-star sommelier Tara Patrick has curated an impressive list of global wines—most notably a carefully curated selection of Champagnes and sparkling wines—to pair with Mourad's innovative dishes. Patrick currently carries the NV Alfred Gratien Classic Brut ($110 on Mou - rad's list) and will soon offer the Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut. Though he sits among the pantheon of great Champagne producers, Alfred Gratien was a man of the Loire Valley: specifically, the hamlet of Richelieu some 30 miles southeast of Saumur (the Castle of Saumur is visible from the crush pad at Gratien & Meyer). The Art Deco–styled winery and its deep caves are dug into the mid-slopes of a steep hill on the south bank of the Loire River; from their perch, they overlook other production houses located along the river, while rows and rows of pristine, manicured World-Class Gratien & Meyer President Olivier Dupré at Mourad in San Francisco. Pedigree THE SISTER LABEL OF CHAMPAGNE ALFRED GRATIEN, GRATIEN & MEYER, PRODUCES LOIRE VALLEY CRÉMANTS OF IMMENSE COMPLEXITY, GRACE, AND POWER by Jonathan Cristaldi photos by Hardy Wilson

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