John Charles Ricciuti, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru $56
John Charles Ricciuti’s grandfather, an American immigrant from Italy, was in the trenches of the Marne, near Avenay-Val-d’Or, in 1917.
He met and married a French woman from the area and they moved back to the U.S. Their son, Albert, returned to France in 1944 as part of Patton’s First Army and participated in the liberation of Avenay-Val-d’Or. While there he met also met a French woman named Paulette. But it wasn’t until 1963 that he returned to Avenay, married Paulette, and, having developed a passion for Champagne, became the first American wine grower in the region. In time, their son, John Charles (named in honor of John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle), began working with his father and eventually became the first American grower producer at a Grand Cru Champagne house. Today, while still based in Avenay-Val-d’Or in the Marne Valley, he also has vineyards in other areas, including the Grand Cru village of Chouilly, in the Côte des Blancs.
This Champagne is 100% Chardonnay from Chouilly. It is fermented in stainless steel, goes through malolactic fermentation, and gets seven grams dosage. The result is an expressive and elegant Champagne with fine bubbles, notes of brioche, and fresh citrus acidity, all in balance with its soft richness. There is a nice chalky minerality on the long finish. The winery suggests pairing it with scallops or a halibut fillet with white butter froth and saffron reduction.