Broadbent: “It tastes like an old Bollinger”
“It tastes like an old Bollinger,” said eminent critic Michael Broadbent MW as he savored the lingering taste of Don Baumhefner’s 1992 Chateau Beaux Hauts En Tirage — one of the most unique California wines in existence. That this golden-hued elixir caused Broadbent to invoke such a legendary Champagne should catch your attention. It caught ours. Broadbent has authored more than 90,000 tasting notes in his life, and his next comment, that it reminded him of “A Bollinger R. D.!” — (recently disgorged) — was all we needed to seek out as much as we could get our hands on of Don’s current release bubbly. That brings us to this 2010 Chateau Beaux Hauts En Tirage Blanc de Noirs — a TRULY SPECIAL California sparkler. Crafted from 100% Pinot Noir from Carneros, more than six years on the lees puts it in the same age bracket as Bollinger’s prestigious La Grande Année Champagne, and imbues it with the same nutty, complex, baking-bread character. Absolutely not to be missed. We have 50 cases of the 207 cases produced up for grabs.
The story of winemaker Don Baumhefner’s convoluted career exudes the wild, improvisational vibe of the California wine industry’s early days: In his various roles, the seasoned winemaker’s path has crossed those of Alice Waters, Merry Edwards, Kermit Lynch, as well as Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. Baumhefner also helped plant the famous Gap’s Crown vineyard in Sonoma’s brand-new Petaluma Gap AVA.
Baumhefner’s newest release — the 2010 En Tirage Blanc de Noirs — was hand-disgorged after being bottle-aged on the lees for over six years. Baumhefner’s penchant for extended lees-aging explains Michael Broadbent’s likening the 1992 “En Tirage” to Bollinger’s sweeping, famously-toasty Récemment Dégorgé (recently disgorged) Champagne. California winemakers who claim French influences are a dime a dozen. Wines that make critics like Michael Broadbent stand up and take notice are few and far between.