The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Page 83 of 119

84 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { carte blanche } OUR GROUP OUR GROUP IT WAS JUST LIKE WHEN WE WERE KIDS: We met in semi- secrecy (in the gorgeous upstairs tasting room at Terroni in down- town Los Angeles), except unlike all those years ago, there was no secr et knock—and we got to drink Champagne. Today's "club gath- ering" was to sip, savor and discuss Special Club Champagnes. Cr eated in 1971 as an answer to the large Champagne house's tête-de-cuvées—and as a way for RM producers (récoltant manip - ulants, or grower producers) to showcase the unique characteris- tics of the many terroirs in Champagne—The Special Club or Club Trésors de Champagne has grown from its initial 12 members to 28 over the past four decades. I was delighted to learn about these Special Club Champagnes a few years back through friend and fellow somm Eduardo Bolaños—who was of course, present for our "club" meeting. What was puzzling to me when I first discovered these wines, and con - tinues to puzzle me to this day, is why Special Club Champagnes don't get more fanfare. I asked our intrepid group, for their opinion on the matter. "The public knows about Moët's Dom Pérignon, or Roederer's Cristal, but the vintage offerings of grower producers often go unnoticed and unmarketed," explains Bolaños. "Somms know about these wines either through study or because they've tasted them with a distributor through a geeky Champagne friend." Augustus Miller, Wine Director of Charlie Palmer at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA, echoed this observation. "When I had my first grower Champagne, I was blown away by their distinc - tiveness. Suddenly the notion of all Champagnes tasting the same had been broken; it was was my 'Aha!' moment with Champagne." Miller continues, "The Special Club, in my opinion, represents the very best of grower producer Champagnes. Because they are only Sarah Clarke, Beverage Director, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles. Paul Coker, Sommelier, Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA. Eduardo Bolaños, Sommelier, Terroni, Los Angeles. Karen Moneymaker, Senior Editor, The SOMM Journal. Augustus Miller, Wine Director, Charlie Palmer South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA. Elizabeth Huettinger, Wine Director, Addison at the Grand Del Mar, San Diego. Getting into the Club SPECIAL CLUB CHAMPAGNE IS THE SAVVY SOMM'S SECRET by Karen Moneymaker / photos by Adam James

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