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  • Monthly Archives: March 2014

    Pupitres, Vin Clair and Brut Nature

    Traveling to France is a wonderful necessity for our business. It’s not as glamorous as you might think and it’s always exhausting, but every time the wheels touch down at Charles de Gaulle Airport, a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation rushes through my body. I’m always excited to experience a different culture in a foreign land, to meet new producers and to connect with old friends.

    On this trip, my business partner Jean-Pierre and his wife, Cristina, picked me up from the train station in Champagne and within two hours of landing in France I was visiting a pupitre factory. Pupitres are the wooden A-frame racks used for riddling Champagne by hand, and I’ve been looking to import the authentic racks for Fat Cork and for my own basement!

    Champagne Pupitres

    I was also excited to have my friend, Dave Paige, the winemaker for Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon, join us for the tasting days ahead. Dave is not only an astute taster, but he also asks great questions. Questions about grape clones and different types of rootstock. Questions that I never think to ask because I don’t actually make wine, I just get to taste and evaluate! Dave was a great addition to our trip and all of us were very happy to have him along.

    Champgne Rootstock

    Besides the usual business and vineyard visits, the focus of this trip was tasting the Vin Clair (still wine, prior to secondary fermentation) that our producers are getting ready to blend, bottle and age until at least 2017, when it’s ready for us to import as finished Champagne!

    Now, Vin Clair isn’t the easiest thing to taste as it is super high in acid. It can be similar to biting into a lemon or eating a whole pineapple. It literally strips the enamel off of your teeth at times, especially after tasting it for days in a row. But this high acid base wine is why Champagne is so fresh and delicious and it’s important for us to taste before it becomes Champagne.

    The highlight Vin Clair for me was the Rosé Saignée by Jean Baillette-Prudhomme. 100% Premier Cru Pinot Noir, this was delicious wine by itself! So delicious that we will continue the trend of asking certain producers to create versions of specific no dosage cuvées just for Fat Cork. It won’t be the faint of heart (or tongue) but it’s sure to please high acid lovers! So, Laureen Baillette, will you create a non-dosage (brut nature) version of you Rosé Saignée just for us?

    Pascal Redon Vin Clair

    In short, we had great visits with our current producers and a number of new producers. But in the end, none of the new producers we met on this trip have what it takes to become part of the Fat Cork Portfolio. This was a bummer to me until I realized that our current portfolio of producers is incredible. There is plenty of well-made, very delicious Champagne available but if a producer isn’t unique and amazing, they’re not for us.

    The trip ended with one of best dinners I have ever had. Pascal and Pascale Redon welcomed us into their home and served a traditional harvest feast. We started with Champagne, of course, and some oh-my-gosh-these-are-amazing cheese biscuit appetizers. Then we moved into more Champagne, roasted root vegetables and a pork and sausage dish. We continued to drink still more Champagnes throughout the meal, even after red wines were brought to the table. Dave broke out his very own Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir which inspired Pascal to open some of his Pinot Noir, including a bottle of his 1982 vintage!

    I was fortunate to experience such hospitality and friendship. A business trip to Champagne might not always be glamorous, but my final dinner in Champagne certainly was! Merci Beaucoup.

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    Fat Cork featured in Puget Sound Business Journal

    Above: Fat Cork founder, Bryan Maletis, and his business partner, Jean-Pierre Willemsen

    Last week Glenn Drosendahl of Puget Sound Business Journal stopped by Fat Cork to learn about the grower Champagne industry from our own Bryan Maletis. Glenn’s visit resulted in a great article about the history of Fat Cork and the growing trend of “farm to table” bubbles.

    Click here to read the article. Thanks for the feature, Puget Sound Business Journal!

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    Champagne Party Tips: How many glasses in a Champagne bottle?

    Fat Cork Club – Join Now!

    Serving Champagne at your next gathering? Make sure you have enough Champagne for all of your guests! On average, 1 standard bottle of Champagne (750 ml) will equal 5 full pours, or up to 12 tasting-sized pours. A Magnum (1.5 L) provides double the Champagne—10 full pours or 24 tasting pours. Cheers!

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