The Somm Set by Benchmark Wine Group






Garth Hodgdon

Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!


This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Garth Hodgdon, Sommelier. Join us as we explore everything from his passion for wine, favorite wine and food pairing, and his newest endeavors.


Off The Beaten Path Whites
Versatility of Chardonnay
Garth's Love For Champagne
Read Our Interview With Garth Hodgdon
The Somm Set Home
 

This week from Garth Hodgdon:

There are two regions that have really been a huge part of my life: Champagne and Napa Valley. I was born in Napa, I have worked in some of Napa Valley's finest restaurants, and it is where I live currently. Champagne stole my heart long ago, and it is a place I return to over and over again in mind and body. I wanted to take some time to introduce (or possibly re-introduce) some of my absolute favorite wines from the Napa Valley. 

I have focused on wines that have moved me, winemakers I count as some of my best friends, and people who deserve a bit more cellar space than they are currently getting. There is much to explore in Benchmark Wine Group's offerings, and this is the tip of the iceberg for most of these producers. Click through, try a few different wines. 
 
Krug, for me, is the pinnacle Champagne. I have been lucky enough to work at a restaurant that poured it by the glass for three and a half years, and then I was the US Ambassador for Krug for five years. Since then, not a week goes by that I don't drink Krug. Of all the things in the world of wine, it is the one I am most intimately acquainted with. I have had Krug very old and very young and most places in between. It is a house that never disappoints. This week's offer includes the life-altering 1990. These bottles have become increasingly rare, and when you do get an opportunity to buy them, you should. It is one of the best vintages of the last 40 years. 1995 and 1998 have both suffered in reputation only due to their proximity to the superb 1996 releases. The wines are classic with enough age now to really see what they are made of. 2000 is the vintage I am drinking the most of these days as it is in that phase where it's not old, but it's not young. What is it then, you ask? It's delicious. 2003 got a bad rap. It was a very hot year. Harvest was early, earlier than it had been since 1822. There were big spring storms, and some producers (and critics) wrote it off as a total loss. Krug, however, made a vintage in 2003. It was smaller production than normal and came out to a bit less fanfare. In my opinion, it was more ready to drink upon release than most vintages, and there may have even been whispers about it not aging as well as other vintages. I was able in the early days of the release, check in on it many times a week. Lately, I have a bottle every few months but have been blown away by the quality. Like most vintage Krug wines, it continues to get better year after year with seemingly no end in sight. 
 
Clos du Mesnil debuted in 1979, long before it was popular or even widely accepted that Champagne could produce single-vineyard wines. There were some people already doing it at the time, but not many. Clos du Mesnil is 100% Chardonnay from an exceedingly small plot fully enclosed by a wall and the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. It has its own micro-climate, its own press house, and its own winemaking team on site. It is not made every year, and when it is, there are never enough bottles to go around. The 1989 Clos du Mesnil is a triumph. I have been lucky enough to have it on multiple occasions and as recently as two weeks ago. I have to tell you it is as good as any vintage I have ever had. 

Clos d’Ambonnay is even more rare. It has only been made since 1995, and only five vintages have been released. There are never more than 10,000 bottles (and usually way less) released in any given vintage. This means that there are less than 50,000 bottles of Clos d'Ambonnay ever made. I know I have helped deplete that number over the years, so these may be some of the rarest bottles in all of Champagne. Clos d’Ambonnay is 100% Pinot Noir from a .86 hectare plot in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay. It is surrounded by famous neighbors, but year in and year out, it is head and shoulders above—a true masterpiece without question. If you have the means and the luck, you can grab one of the three bottles of 1995 Clos d'Ambonnay available. There will never be more of the first vintage, and it won't ever be this good a deal!


Check out all the wines mentioned below!


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Casa Piena
2012
23 In Stock
750ml
WA94
V93
CT92
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Fantesca
2014
3 In Stock
750ml
CT93
This product is a part of California All-Star
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2014
6 In Stock
750ml
CT93
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Krug
2000
6 In Stock
750ml
GG100
WSM96
WS95
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2003
6 In Stock
750ml
GG99
WS95
JS95
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2003
24 Pre-Arrival
750ml
GG99
WS95
JS95

Due to arrive Jun-Jul 2024

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Staglin Family
2017
2 In Stock
750ml
CT96
V94
JS94
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