Bottle of J. Lassalle champagne - on behalf of Ryan Tatsumoto and the Hawaii Herald

Ryan Tatsumoto
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Now that we are officially into the holiday season, I decided to highlight some beverages that are sure to add to your holiday merriment.

For starters, nothing says cheer like champagne or sparkling wine. After winning their second championship in three years, the Golden State Warriors are said to have popped 150 magnums (1.5L bottles) of Moet Chandon Imperial Golden Luminous — although the bottles they sprayed their locker room with were closer in price to $120 per magnum. Even at $120 each, what a waste that it showered the lockers and wasn’t instead consumed. But I guess bubbly does say CELEBRATION!

Bottle of S Salon Le Mesmail champagne - on behalf of Ryan Tatsumoto and the Hawaii Herald

Bubbly for All Budgets

The holidays are the one time of the year when most people splurge on everything, including adult beverages. You can spend upwards of $200 to $250 for Dom Perignon, Crystal or Krug. For half (or even less) that amount, you can also enjoy champagnes made from start to finish in a single house. These Récoltant-Manipulant, or grower-producer champagnes, are houses in which the owner plants the grape vines, tills the field, picks the fruit, and performs the primary and secondary fermentation. They also do the final blending of the finished bottle of champagne. In other words, they are as involved in the final product as an artisanal-created Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

Most of the large champagne houses (Négociant-Manipulant, or NM) purchase fruit from a variety of growers and do the fermentation and blending end of the production. It’s not that buying fruit is a bad thing — after all, it allows the large houses to release non-vintage champagne that tastes the same every year. As local master sommelier Roberto Viernes once stated, “Krug may not be your favorite champagne, but you know it’s Krug when you sip it.”

Grower-producer houses are limited to their own vineyards, so the taste can vary from year to year. Personally, I find that appealing. The grower-producer houses are much smaller than corporate houses such as Moet Chandon, Louis Roederer or Veuve Cliquot, so they aren’t as well known and do not command the same price, which is even more appealing.

One of my favorite grower-producers is the house of J. Lassalle. Jules Lassalle got his start in 1942 growing grapes. His wife Olga started making wine in the mid-1950s. Their daughter, Chantal Decelle-Lassalle, eventually took over the reins as the second-generation winemaker, and, since 2005, granddaughter Angéline Templier has been crafting the champagne.

Templier brought three of the J. Lassalle champagnes to the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival — and all three were exquisite! If the Halekulani, where the tasting was held, offered any of these for retail sale, I would have purchased a case of each!

Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet.”

To view Ryan’s short list of his ‘favorite bubbles’ shared in the article, please subscribe to The Herald!

Bottle of Egly-Ouriet champagne - on behalf of Ryan Tatsumoto and the Hawaii Herald

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