The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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{ }  85 made in the very best vintages, these under-the-radar wines are a rare treat, and their stringent and exceptional classification makes them even more intriguing." In addition to giving this group of RM producers brand identity, the Special Club has become a pretty powerful tool for sommeliers with an eye towards education and advancement of the Champagne category. Paul Coker, Sommelier of Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, where he pours the Pierre Gimonnet et Fils 2005 Special Club by the glass, explains that "there is a movement toward truth in product sourcing, from the ingredients of our dishes to the wines and spirits we enjoy with them. The Special Club wines are a wonderful example of this and repre - sent a paradigm we want to support." While alwa ys circling around the wines on the table in front of us, conversation expanded into other topics in the sommelier shop-talk spectrum, from the thought - ful construction of a wine list—Huettinger notes the emergence of "lean, focused wine lists that echo where they are from. The Special Club parallels this beautifully; each of these Champagnes represents a unique voice of where they are from and how they are made."—to attitudes towards tasting menus and food pairings: "I really like the idea of one good bottle of Champagne to carry through a tasting menu or a meal," explains Sarah Clarke of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. "It gives the guests the chance to spend more time with the wine, to see how it changes against each dish and over time." By the end of the tasting, no one said it, but we all gave each other silent know - ing looks: With only 2,000-some bottles made by each producer for each submitted vintage, and at pricing that ranges from $60 to $80 dollars retail, perhaps it's just as well that these wine are still somewhat of a secret The Champagnes Champagne Henri Goutorbe 2004 Special Club, Aÿ 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, disgorged May 2012 There is a vibrant energy in this wine that lifts the yeasty, honeysuckle and cut hay aromas up and onto the palate. A chalky minerality and richness of fruit (lemon zest and orchard fruit) lingers and lasts on the back end. IMPORTED BY TERRY THEISE Champagne Pierre Gimonnet et Fils 2005 Special Club, Cuis 100% Chardonnay, disgorged December 2010 Racy and bright, this wine sings through layers of lemon curd and honeysuckle, finishing with a haunting note of sea-salt and crushed oyster shell. IMPORTED BY TERRY THEISE Champagne Paul Bara 2002 Special Club, Bouzy 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, disgorged January 2008 Subtle minerality undercuts a full, rich mouthful of fruit (Gravenstein apple, poached pear and a touch of lime blossom). IMPORTED BY KERMIT LYNCH Champagne J. Lassalle 2002 Special Club, Chigny-les-Roses 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, disgorged 2010 Pale yellow gold to the eye, creamy and generous on the palate. Confection flavors (caramelized sugar and delicate baking spice) playfully con - trast the fruit notes (Meyer lemon, peach skin, baked golden apple). IMPORTED BY KERMIT LYNCH Champagne Launois Père et Fils 2005 Special Club, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay Opulent and rich, this Champagne has a cidery nose, with notes steamed rice, foamed milk tumbling around an expressive minerality, with a suave and structured palate. IMPORTED BY K&L WINE MERCHANTS • Producers must be legally qualified as récoltant manipulants—or simply RM. The term "grower producer Champagnes" refers to RM Champagnes. Every step in the grape-growing and winemaking process—including pressing, vinifica - tion, racking, riddling, disgorging and so on—must be done on the estate. • Once annually, the Special Club members meet and blind-taste the vin claire, or still base wine, from the members who submitted for that vintage. Members are not required to submit wine every year, only when they think they have the potential for something outstanding. If the vin claire receives unanimous member approval, the wine is bottled for secondary fermentation. • After a minimum of three years of aging, the Champagne goes before the members again and is tasted blind for approval. Once all the members agree—again unanimously— and approve the finished product, the Champagne may be labeled as Special Club. Special Club by the Numbers 12 – The original number of members. 28 – The current number of members. 2,000 –The average number of bottles produced by each house, for each submitted vintage. 6 – The number of properties with women winemakers. 1971 – The year in which a dozen winegrowers, representing Champagne's traditional crus ,formed what would become the Club Trésors de Champagne, or Special Club. 1988 – The year in which the Special Club members designed an original bottle to be used for all Special Club wines. For a complete list of the Special Club Champagnes and more information visit www.clubtresorsde - To Be Special Club Every good club has a set of rules.

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