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Buena Vista Champagne Brut La Victoire NV
Say what? Isn’t Buena Vista a California wine and therefore unable to call itself Champagne? Well the story here is anything but ordinary. It starts with Agoston Haraszthy, most recognized as being the Father of California viticulture. He was also the father of six children and his third son, Arpad, spent over two years studying in Champagne to learn the craft of sparkling wine. He later became the first to introduce Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wine into California winemaking. Arpad’s sparkling wine, Eclipse, was one of the most celebrated in the nineteenth century.
The wine itself is made up of 70% Pinot Noir, from Premier Cru vineyards from the Montagne de Reims, and 30% Chardonnay, mostly from Grand Cru Mesnil sur Oger and Chouilly. The wine received a dosage of 8.7 g/L and was aged for more than three years (the law in Champagne requires aging 15 months minimum for non-vintage wines). The nose here is fresh apple, stone fruits, and pear with a touch of honey and a whiff of brioche though far from ‘doughy’. In the mouth, it is the freshness that impresses, all of the flavors bright and lively without being the least bit shrill.
This is, as one might expect from Buena Vista, something true to type but made to appeal to a broader audience. If we were making a slogan, here it would be ‘you don’t have to think, you can just drink’. Most of the new things we see coming out these days are zero or near-zero dosage focused on esoteric elements of terroir. They are often angry and aggressive, the small dosage a clear attempt to avoid ‘masking’ those terroir notes. Mean-spirited wine ‘gurus’ aside, Jean-Claude Boisset, like us, sees Champagne as a beverage of pleasure. He tailored this bubbly with that in mind.
As you can probably imagine, it wasn’t easy for an American company (albeit one owned by a French dude!) to be able market something as Champagne. French ‘authorities’ weren’t particularly receptive at first even though it came from the appropriate dirt and was made in Champagne. In the end, the bottle is here, Boisset won. We imagine that’s what the term ‘la Victoire’ (the victory) on the label refers to. It’s a fine choice for under $40.
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WARNING: Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol.