Launois and the New Kids!

As most of you are probably already aware, we do massive amounts of employee tastings and education. Each Tuesday, we have a morning hour-long tasting that revolves around a specific sector (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chile, you get it). In the afternoon, we do supplemental tastings that are a half-hour long and are meant to be more fun. I’ve been trying to sneak more and more Champagne tastings into the lineup because almost all of our (except one notable exception who shall not be mentioned) staff here in SF LOVE Champagne. I had planned on doing a look at soil and location on Tuesday, 4 June, but, one of our young “newbies,” Andrew Tobin, sommelier, came to me a few days previous and started asking all kinds of questions about our newly re-stocked Launois Champagne.” Where is this winery?” “What are the differences between the various bottlings?” “What do they taste like?”  So on, and so on.

As I began to answer his questions, I thought of all of our new hires up here who had absolutely no info about these wines. The “older” staff, myself included (those who have been here since 5 B.C.) adore the Launois Champagnes, and I was sure that they would be happy to revisit previous selections that they had tasted and to also taste new releases. So, with that inspiration, thanks to young Mr. Tobin, I went ahead with this idea. I brought out my battered map from the gas station, next to the potaine take away outside of Paris, and showed the staff where the winery and vineyards are located. This is particularly interesting because the Brut Rose Valentine fruit sourcing is located in Sezanne, far away from the Côtes du Blancs. So, I had two groups of mixed “oldies” and “newbies,” and I was really interested to see what they would end up voting their favorites of the entire lineup, which included NV Quartz, NV Brut Reserve, NV Clemence, NV Severine, NV Valentine Rose, 2012 vintage, and 2010 Special Club.  Such a hardship, yes? There was not one negative comment about any of the Champagnes. Truthfully, not a single one.

The final results were interesting! The first group was a little more heavily “newbie” and they voted the “Quartz” and the “Clemence” as their favorites. They loved the lower-pressure “Quartz” for its delicacy, creaminess, clean finish, and suitability as an aperitif. They loved the “Clemence” for its mid-palate depth, lingering finish, and complexity. Amazing what an extra year of aging on the lees does! Group two, which leaned more toward the “old farts” (like me!) preferred the 2012 vintage and the Severine. Exactly what my favorites were, though I have a great love of the “Special Club.” The 2012 has just the most beautiful, rich creaminess and a lingering lemon meringue finish. Don’t wait on this one, people! We did not get a lot of it. The “Severine” is a complete contrast, with evident oak and toastiness. I was seriously excited about this one once we started getting it. I originally had it at the winery and was blown away by it. The best thing about the entire tasting was just seeing the excitement and interest in these wines from our newbies. There really is nothing more fun than excited Millennials, now, is there? Even Chris DePaoli, who is Mr. Pinot Noir Champagne, liked all of these. If you ever need 2012 Michel Arnould “Memoires de Vignes” and we don’t seem to have any, ask him. I think that he bought it all. So, of course, did I! It is awesome stuff. Sorry, Severine, there IS some competition out there.  

-Scott Beckerley

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On the Trail