Sunday, May 31, 2020

Champagne Labruyere

A couple months ago we wrote about Champagne Palmer & Company.  We were excited to get Palmer because it was new to Georgia.  Champagne Labruyere is likewise new to us here at the store and it shares a pedigree with Palmer.  Both own Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyards in the Montagne de Reims district of Champagne.  The difference for us is that we actually have the Labruyere Grand Cru Page Blanche in the store.  Our Palmer is a non-vintage brut which may indicate purchased fruit. 

There are 33,500 hectares (76,000 acres) in vines in the Champagne region and they are spread over 319 villages.  Only seventeen of those villages have Grand Cr vineyards.  For Labruyere their sixty-five year old vineyards lie in the village of Verzenay.  That highly esteemed fruit has been destined for Roederer Crystal and Dom Perignon in the past.

Edouard Labruyere owns 6 hectares (15 acres) in Verzenay which he named Chantravesen.  He also has holdings in the nearby village of Verzy.  Labruyere purchased his Champagne properties because of their similarity to his holdings in Burgundy.  Specifically he wanted vineyards that had Burgundian-style vine spacing, density and pruning for the traditional Burgundian vinification.

The Labruyere family hails from the Moulin a Vent region where they have owned Clos du Moulin a Vent since 1868.  They also own vineyards in the Cotes d'Or of Burgundy and Chateau Rouget which lies adjacent to Chateau Petrus in Pomerol, Bordeaux.

The taster's description for traditional French Champagne may include complex flavors of buttery brioche, baked apple toast, hazelnut, vanilla and yeast.  Two descriptions we found for our Labruyere included "fruity, powerful, smokey and feral" and "perfectly focused, rapier-like in intensity, exuberant and driven."  Apparently they have nailed it.

We are restarting our store wine tastings after a two month respite.  Because of the need for social distancing, we are asking for Saturday afternoon appointments.  If you want more information or want to schedule a time slot please call us at 770-287-WINE(9463) or email us at

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


...reverence for the land - the idea that we are not "making" something from it, but rather mirroring all that is already there.   - from the DAOU Vineyards website.

Recently our supplier directed us away from a case purchase of Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon.  Pricing was the issue and he said we should consider DAOU as an alternative.  Now we have three reds from DAOU in the store including the Cabernet, which according to the salesman, is what several Atlanta wine accounts are doing.

So what do we know about DAOU?

Established in 2007 DAOU Vineyards began as a 600 acre purchase atop Hoffman Mountain in the Adelaida District on the northwestern side of the Paso Robles AVA (American Viticultural Area).  Adelaida is one of eleven AVA's in Paso Robles but produces 25% of the wines of the region.  At 2,200' elevation, what is now known as DAOU Mountain, is the highest elevation in Paso Robles.  

Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou sold their Daou Systems hospital software company after going public in 2007.  The two had spent their early youth in Lebanon before moving to France.  Ultimately they were educated at UC San Diego as Systems Engineers but shared a dream of making world class wine.  The sale of their company provided their seed money for the winery.

What they purchased atop Hoffman Mountain was a derelict and dilapidated winery with 212 acres of fallow vineyards, the remnants of a once great estate.  Hoffman Mountain Ranch was one of the great wineries of forty years ago when I was getting my feet wet in this industry.  For me their Zinfandel in particular was memorable.  Stanley Hoffman was a Beverly Hills cardiologist who hired the great "Father of California Winemaking," Andre Tchelistcheff to design his vineyards.  That was back in 1964. 

Hoffman Mountain is now officially DAOU Mountain.  That was not the only change.  Systems Engineers apparently analyse everything.  Because the brothers aspired to produce world class wine, all grape types were replanted with varietal clones more suitable for their purposes.  Their yeasts are proprietary and sourced from the region.  The old Hoffman winery, itself, was purposely retained in honor of the patriarch.

DAOU now has 400 acres in vines.  47% of their production is varietal Cabernet Sauvignon; 23% is destined for a proprietary Zin/Syrah-type blend; 12%, a Bordeaux blend and 9% is Chardonnay.  The remaining 10%, one would assume, are blending grapes.  The typical DAOU varietal Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 75% Cabernet, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot,  The "Bodyguard" red blend is typically Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Tannat.

DAOU wines are marketed in three quality level: The Paso Robles Collection is all sourced from the region but not estate-grown.  The Reserve Collection is some combination of sourced and estate fruit.  The Estate Collection is just as it sounds.  

If you have read this article and have an interest in DAOU, stop in and lets talk.

Next Wednesday, May 27th, Albert Bichot, one of the great French Burgundy companies, will be conducting a virtual wine tasting for anyone interested.  This should be considered an educational event about the finest wine region in the world.  Call us at 770-287-WINE (9463) or email us at for details.