Champagne houses come in all sizes, from those with well-known brands whose bubbly splashes out of millions of bottles each year to small producers whose quality far outpaces their quantity. A special group of these small producers is known as Independents, and this is why: Unlike large houses that buy all or most of their grapes, Independents must own or lease at least 90 percent of their vineyards; they make wines that reflect the individual character of those vineyards; they count their production in thousands, not millions, of bottles; and they often do much of their winery work by hand.
One of the finest Independents is José Dhondt. His Blanc de Blancs Brut Non-Vintage ($56) is a wine of tiny, intense bubbles, minerally, crisp and nicely nuanced. His vintaged Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Mes Vielles Vignes ($82), the product of 65-year-old vines, is a magnificent Champagne, a mélange of melon and apples in aroma, a blend of satin and lace in texture.
Bernard Girardin made Champagne for about 50 years before asking his daughter Sandrine to take over. Today, she and her husband are Girardin’s only full-time employees, doing every winery task through to the final steps, three years after a harvest when the Champagne is released. Among their Champagnes are Bernard Girardin Brut Cuvée 2002 ($75), smooth yet feisty, delicate yet round and full; and Brut BG Cru Non-Vintage ($53), a particularly lively wine with miniscule bubbles that seem to go on forever.
Laherte Frères, founded in 1889, offers its Brut Tradition Non-Vintage ($44), piquant, delicate and lemony with a hint of green apple. Its Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($53) from a single vineyard, La Pierre de la Justice, is rich, aromatic, elegant and complex.
And there are the Laherte Frères’ two Rosés. Rosé Non-Vintage ($50) is a bright, fruity wine with an aroma that reminds me of fresh, ripe raspberries and with mouth-filling texture. Its Rosé de Saignée-Les Beaudiers Non-Vintage ($88) is a rarity, a Rosé Champagne made entirely from the Pinot Meunier grape. It is a refreshing, golden pale pink, full, luscious and firm-bodied Champagne.
Other Independent producers of fine Champagne include Vazart-Coquart, Marcel Moineaux, Bernard Brémont and Jacques Picard — all of them well worth the search.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
United Airlines teamed with Timeshifter, a sleep help app, to assist travelers battling jet lag. Timeshifter outlines the best times to see and avoid light, sleep and either enjoy or pass on caffeine to best avoid jet lag when traveling through time zones. The app is specifically targeted to those traveling across three or more time zones and customizes advice for each passenger based on his or her own sleep preferences and normal sleep pattern, as well as their particular flight.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Make sure you catch the new pop-up cocktail lounge at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in Carlsbad before it’s gone. Starry Nights, located on the Seasons Restaurant veranda, is open through Jan. 31, 2020.
The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.