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.
Brewing long and deep at its center before radiating out to the rest of Europe, Vienna boasts an illustrious history and lasting intellectual impact. The Austrian capital dates back to Celtic and Romen rule, the latter inhabitants using the center city as a military hub among many other employments.
Whether taking a COVID-19 test before boarding a flight or looking up different travel restrictions before planning your trip, travel has looked a little bit different this past year. With all the extra steps for traveling, American Airlines is committed to finding ways to provide ease and more flexibility and choices for passengers when traveling.
Even in “normal” times, folks gravitate to wellness resorts to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, destress and be nurtured. In this COVID-19-era state of elevated anxiety, people seek even more natural beauty and caring hospitality, healthy food, fitness activities and beauty and body treatments. Canyon Ranch Lenox also provides an extensive staff of experts offering a multitude of health, wellness and spiritual well-being modalities that alleviate personal issues.
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.
The lights of the aurora borealis appear frequently in the Fairbanks region of Alaska, with a growing number of Aurora Trackers in the area. A new video from Explore Fairbanks features five Fairbanks Aurora Trackers sharing their thoughts and photography on the northern lights.
Remote workers looking for an upgrade from their home offices might want to consider Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ Workcation offer. Those booking an extended stay of 10-plus nights are eligible for discounts of up to 15 percent off best available rates; those booking 20-plus nights enjoy up to 25 percent off. The offer is available at Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ diverse portfolio of properties.