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    CNBC Taps Fat Cork Best Wine Club

    We are honored to be featured by CNBC as one of their “must-have” wine clubs! Champagne for everyone! Check out the full article here. 

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    Getting Into Grower Champagne with Wine Folly

    Fat Cork Club – Join Now!

    We worked with expert, Bryan Maletis, who runs to help create a guide to grower Champagne. Learn some interesting details about Champagne that will surprise you and find out how to select small-producer Champagne.

    What is Grower Champagne?
    Grower Champagne is sparkling wine crafted by grape growers and their families. It embodies those who grow grapes in their own vineyards and produce cuvées (aka sparkling wine blends) that reflect their distinct vineyards and style.

    INFO: Only 5% of the Champagne imported into the USA is grower Champagne.
    Do you like the unique character of farm fresh eggs or single origin coffee and chocolate? Well, Grower Champagne is similar in that it rarely tastes the same every year and each producer is different. Of course, this is part of what makes it so compelling.

    What does Grower Champagne taste like?

    Grower Champagnes come in a very wide range of styles. What’s been noted about these bubbly wines is that the individual work of the growers really comes through in the finished cuvée. See below for details of several common styles of Champagne.

    3 Types of Producers in Champagne

    There are three general classifications of Champagne producers imported into the USA: Maisons, Cooperatives and Vignerons.

    Maisons (Large Champagne Houses)

    Maisons (aka ‘Houses’) make up 87% of the Champagnes imported into the USA. Champagne houses buy their grapes from lots of grape growers from all over the region. The Maisons focus on blending grapes from different regions and vintages to produce a consistent taste every year.

    How to recognize: Maisons are the large Champagne brands or ‘negotiants’ (neg-gosse-see-yont) that may have familiar names such as Moët, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier, Bollinger, etc. Maison Champagnes are widely available and are famous for making appearances at fancy events. Chances are, if you’re at an Oscars afterparty, you’re probably sipping a Maisons de Champagne!

    INFO: On the label ‘NV’ stands for ‘Non Vintage’ which is a blend of several vintages.

    Cooperatives (Co-op Champagne Facilities)

    Co-ops are typically wines from a specific village in Champagne and from grapes grown around that village. Growers who don’t have all the sparkling wine making equipment can opt into a village co-op. There are many different ways in which co-ops function, but usually, the growers supply their grapes to the co-op and the chief winemaker makes the final cuvées. The Champagnes can be labeled individually for the growers and they can be labeled as the co-op brand.

    How to recognize: Cooperative Champagnes are typically labeled with the letters ‘CM’ for ‘Coopérative Manipulant’ in small print on the bottom of the front label. However, there are a few other types of producer who use co-ops (see below).

    Vignerons (Grower Champagne)

    These are the grower-producers. The word ‘vigneron’ roughly translates to winegrower or more specifically, someone who cultivates a vineyard for winemaking. Growers typically own small parcels of vineyards in very specific places within the Champagne region. They tend to their vines all year and harvest their grapes on their own. Because their sparkling wines are crafted with grapes from specific parcels of land and blended in small lots, they tend to taste very distinct and different every year.

    How to recognize: A good tip is to look for hyphenated names. Growers often label their sparkling wines using their last name, along with a hyphenated maiden name (or two) that typically comes from the grower’s mother or spouse. This is done to honor the heritage of the land. Also, see the official producer types below for more tips.

    Hints on the Champagne Label:

    In total, there are 7 official producer types that are identifiable by two letters small print at the bottom of the front label. Use these letter as a hint to the producer type, but remember, there are occasionally exceptions to these regulatory classifications:

    ‘Négociant Manipulant’ A producer who buys all or some of their grapes from other growers. Anything less than 94% estate fruit must be labeled NM. Maison Champagne is labeled with this producer class, but it’s not entirely uncommon to see grower Champagne under this classification as well.
    ‘Coopérative Manipulant’ A grower’s co-op that pools resources and produces wine under a single brand.
    ‘Récoltant Manipulant’ A grower-producer who uses a minimum of 95% estate fruit. This is classically considered the grower Champagne producer type, although, it’s possible for a Maison to use this classification on a sub-label or brand.
    ‘Société de Récoltants’ A union of growers who shares resources and collectively markets their own brands.
    ‘Marque d’Acheteur’ aka ‘Buyer’s Own Brand’ A large retail or restaurant that buys a finished wine and sells it under their own private label.
    ‘Négociant Distributeur’ A buyer who labels and distributes Champagne that they didn’t grow nor produce.
    ‘Récoltant Coopérateur’ A grower-producer who has their own Champagne brand made at a co-op facility.

    “Champagne is on the verge of a profound change… The era of great growers and great vineyards is just beginning.” -Andrew Jefford, The New France

    Is Grower Champagne Better than Cooperative and Maison Champagne?

    No. While Grower Champagne is certainly more artisanal, it’s not necessarily better than Maison Champagnes; this a matter of personal preference, taste and occasion.

    Recent Top/Best Champagne Vintages to Seek Out

    1996, 2002, 2004, 2008
    The best vintages in Champagne over the last 20 years are debatable and have a lot to do with the individual producer, but, 1996, 2002, 2004, and 2008 are pretty great across the spectrum. Find out more about cool climate wine regions

    Quick Breakdown: 5 Primary Styles of Champagne

    If you’re just getting into the different styles of Champagne, here are some useful tips on where to find the style you like:

    Look for Brut Nature from Montagne de Reims and Côtes des Blancs

    Bone Dry & Minerally
    Expect to spend: $50–60

    Very dry with keen acidity backed up with citrus and floral notes. Because these are dry with high acidity, they aren’t for the timid and probably shouldn’t be tasted immediately after brushing your teeth! Brut Nature is a great wine to pair with a wide range of foods for its palate cleansing effects.
    Look for Blanc des Blancs from Côtes des Blancs

    The 100% Chardonnay Champagne
    Expect to spend: $40–50

    Chardonnay is full of white flower and citrus aromas and depending on where it’s grown, it can also have flavors of chalk and minerality. As Blanc de Blancs age, they develop aromas of fresh baked bread, butter, and roasted nuts.

    Look for Blanc des Noirs from Vallée de la Marne

    Fruity & Funky
    Expect to spend: $30–40

    Blanc de Noirs have rich aromas of white raspberry and apple and sometimes a subtle funky note that is often described as Parmesan cheese. A Pinot Meunier dominant Blanc de Noirs tends to be more funky and is meant to be drunk relatively young to preserve acidity.

    Rose Champagne

    From Minerals to White Cherry Cream
    Expect to spend: $55–65

    Rosé Champagnes come in a wide variety of tastes and colors. Some are almost orange, some are deep red, some are totally dry and tart, and some are full of ripe, red berry flavors. These wines differ based on the producer, where they are from, the Champagne sweetness level and the vintage.
    Look for Vintage Champagne from Montagne de Reims and Côtes des Blancs

    Creamy & Nutty
    Expect to spend: $55+

    Marzipan, honeycomb and hazelnut are often noted on vintage Champagne as well as baked apple, white cherry and lemon curd. Vintage Champagne must be aged for a minimum of three years and, the longer it ages before release, the more creamy and nutty it becomes. Therefore, the older the vintage, the more developed it will be with nuttiness. num.

    How to find great Vintage Champagne?
    Look for ‘recently disgorged’ vintage Champagnes where the producers have done extended aging on the lees in their caves. Many growers label disgorgement dates on their bottles so you know when it left their cellar; this is useful in determining how long the wine has been sitting on a shelf getting UV damage!

    So, begin drinking and educating! And if you need support, we’re here to help!

    Join our mailing list!

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    We Are A Seattle Hidden Gem!

    Seattle Rain or Shine Guides came to the Cave this weekend to talk to us about Fat Cork! We are featured in their Hidden Gems section. Check out the full article here. 

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    Big Bottles for Bigger Celebrations

    We prefer large format bottles of Champagne for obvious reasons (welcome to the party!), but did you know that…

    • -Each large format bottle is handled individually; the entire production must be done by hand (from bottling to disgorgement).
    • -Big bottles are better for aging Champagne because there is less oxygen contact per ounce over time.
    • -A Jeroboam contains 32 glasses of Champagne; perfect for a party of 12, sublime for a party of 8.
    • -A magnum contains 16 glasses of Champagne; perfect for a party of 6, sublime for a party of 4.

    “Great Champagne and wine just tastes better out of magnums!” – Bryan


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    Grower Champagne Guide from Fat Cork & Wine Folly

    Our very own Bryan Maletis was recently featured as a guest contributor on Wine Folly, a blog devoted to decoding the wide world of wine. Bryan was honored to work with Madeline, the creator of Wine Folly, to create a Guide to Grower Champagne. The article covers all the basics of grower-produced bubbly and features great infographics created by Wine Folly.

    Be sure to check out the article and Wine Folly here. Cheers!


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    Fat Cork featured on Sur La Table’s Blog!

    Photo by Sur La Table

    Last week, Sur La Table’s A Sharp Knife & Salt blog featured Fat Cork in their roundup of New Year’s Champagne! Author Jay Campbell tasted three Fat Cork cuvées:

    1)Pascal Redon Brut Tradition, an 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir blend noted for floral and fruity notes throughout with a crisp finish.

    2) Grongnet Special Club 2008, hailing from the Côte des Blancs region, this bottle is made by a producer that qualifies for the “Special Club,” meaning it comes from an exclusive club of Champagne houses selected by its peers.

    3)Didier-Ducos Rosé, a classic and aromatic rosé featuring hints of strawberries and cherries.

    We are honored to have been included! Check out the article here.

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    Fat Cork’s FC Club Featured in Seattle Met!

    Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or belated Christmas present, we believe that a Fantastic Champagne Club Membership is the best gift you can give. From novices to experienced Champagne drinkers, an FC Club membership delivers two, three, or six, exclusive, hand-selected bottles every other month right to your recipient’s door. The selections are tailored every other month based on customers’ feedback, creating a satisfying, bubble-filled experience and a reason to celebrate everyday!

    Our friends over at Seattle Met agree that an FC Club Membership makes a great gift! This holiday season the FC Club was featured in Seattle Met’s Nosh Pit on their “7 Holiday Gift Memberships of the Liquid Variety“. Check it out!

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    Introducing Our Newest Grower, Adrien Redon

    Adrien Redon is the eldest son of Pascal and Pascale Redon. Like his father, Adrien doesn’t speak English, has spent his entire life crafting Champagne, and is hesitant to travel too fat away from the family vines in Trepail. Like his mother, he is an artist. Adrien has been part of the Fat Cork family since the beginning. We knew his dad already appointed him to the lead role of Champagne Pascal Redon, but it wasn’t until visiting the Redon family cellar in the fall of 2014, when Adrien called us over to open a box containing four perfectly chilled Adrien Redon cuvées, that we learned a new master had truly arrived. Like any great artist, Adrien didn’t want to reveal his works of art until they were ready, and we are so excited to reveal them to the USA! All of Adrien Redon’s cuvées come from the same family vines in Trepail, but they are painted with a different brush than he used for Champagne Pascal Redon. They are clear, fresh and precisely driven by bright fruit and very high acid. To the best of our translation, Adrien said, “These are for only professionals.” We love our growers!

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    Fat Cork Champagne Holiday Gift Guide 2014

    The 2014 Fat Cork Holiday Champagne Gift Guide is here! If you need a suggestion or two on what to gifts to get this holiday season, simply call us at 206-257-1730. We’re happy to assist you in deciding on the perfect cuvée for any person (and palate) on your list!

    1. The Fantastic Champagne Club / $99, $159 or $298 per shipment
    The gift that keeps on giving! FC Club Members receive exclusive, hand-selected Champagnes delivered to their doorstep every other month. Gift an ongoing, 1 year, or 6 month membership.

    2. Grower Champagne Sampler / $89
    An introduction to diverse flavors of farm-to-table fizz, this package includes 3 petite bottles with Grande Flavors (and would even fit in stocking!).

    3. Fat Cork Gift Certificate / $100, $150, $200, $250 or $300
    Left your gift recipient choose from over 70 Grower Champagnes imported exclusively by Fat Cork.

    4. Joyeux Nöel / $98
    2 classic Champagnes that pair perfectly with Christmas! Both Cuvées will please novices and aficionados alike.

    5. Gift bigger with Giftstarter
    We’ve partnered with Giftstarter, the easiest online group gifting experience, to help you gift bigger this holiday season. Choose a Fat Cork gift package, split it with your friends, and let us take care of the rest!

    6. Champagne Flute / $59
    Luxury stemware by Zalto Denk’Art. This Chmapgane flute is mouth-blown and designed in accordance to the tilt angles of the Earth. Only 12 available.

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    Fat Cork Champagne featured in Imbibe Magazine!


    Fat Cork was featured in the most recent issue of Imbibe Magazine! Imbibe highlighted both our Intro to Grower Champagne package and the delicious Gronget Carpe Diem Extra Brut Rosé de Saignée. Be sure to check out Imbibe Magazine’s November/December Holiday Drinks, Gifts and Entertaining Guide here!

    Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for your Champagne-loving spouse, friend or family member? Don’t miss our selection of Champagne Gift Packages, featuring everything from the Intro to Grower Champagne package to our Rosé All Day package. These multiple-bottle packages are perfect to keep your holiday celebrations going all season long!



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