2014 L. Aubry Fils, Le Nombre D’Or, Champagne, France, 12.5% ABV, $80

After the recent snow and cold, how does “a hundred days of sunshine in a bottle” sound? Sounds great to me…and that quote from LUSH owner Mitch Einhorn perfectly describes this truly special champagne from L. Aubry Fils.

Champagne evokes smiles, happiness, and celebration. This sentiment has grown over centuries of tradition, terroir, and detail. The name Champagne comes from the Latin word ‘campania’ (fertile countryside) which was used by Romans to describe how this region of northeast France reminded them of the rolling Italian region of Campania. Winemaking in Champagne dates to these Roman times. The eponymous wine as we know it today came to be in the 1500s, historically originating with Benedictine monks. Records show the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire in southwestern French Basque country was the first to refine sparkling techniques (1531) and the Abbey of St. Peter in the northeast Marne commune of Hautvillers is where the process was greatly studied and improved. To keep the record straight, the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine but contributed greatly to its production process and quality improvement.

Due to the climate in this part of the country, wine fermentation would stop prematurely with the onset of colder winter weather. When the warmer weather would return in spring, the dormant yeast cells would awaken to renew their consumption of remaining sugars and the fermentation process would restart. The byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide released in the wine storage vessels, making them quite unstable with the buildup of pressure. This instability would lead to massive explosions in the racks of bottles and earned the wine the ominous and religiously ironic moniker of “le vin du diable” – the devil’s wine. The fizz was initially considered a flaw, but, in 1662 the English scientist Christopher Merret experimented with the controlled addition of sugar to create a secondary fermentation which he called méthode champenoise. Six years later, Dom Pérignon started his quality refinement efforts in France. With the final invention of the muselet – the wire cage around the top of the cork – in 1844, the modern style of Champagne wines was complete!

Descendants of winegrowers since 1790, brothers Pierre and Philippe Aubry wanted to create a special sparkling wine to celebrate the 200-year history of their family business. While most Champagnes are blends or varietally specific to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, there are four more approved fruits: Fromenteau Pinot gris, Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot blanc. As these last four varietals were rare, the brothers undertook the process of growing entirely new crops from these nearly forgotten ancestral grapes. After years of cultivation, the literal fruits of their labors are found in this incredible Le Nombre D’Or – an extremely rare blend of all seven historic grapes.

The blend is 25% Chardonnay, 25% Arbanne, 25% Petit Meslier, 25% Pinot Blanc. All add complex acidity, aromas, flavors, rich mouthfeel, and stunning bioluminescence in the mousse. The tiny bubbles show no rush in the glass, simply strolling through the straw-colored liquid like a walk in the park. On the nose, there’s classic yeast, toasted brioche, the smell of a Polish grandma’s buttery kolaczki dough (thanks to the malo transformation of the Chardonnay), fresh spring grass, and dandelions. With flavors of dominant lemon curd, slight green apple, and out-of-the-oven pastry, this wine is sure to help anyone break out of a winter funk. Dibs!

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