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Though the temperature may have fluctuated a bit in the last few days, it's clear that summer is upon us. My summer plans this year are uncomplicated. I intend to overstay my welcome in the backyards of those friends who possess them, to fall asleep on the lawns of various local parks, and most crucially, I am going to consume as many oysters as I am physically capable.
All these tasks require the correct wines and there are some parameters to consider. They should be wines of substance and excellent material, but not so grand as to distract from the company or so delicate that an unfinished bottle won't survive a night left open and forgotten on the kitchen counter. They should be incisive and focused; something rich and oaky will leave one tired cranky long before the party is over. Oysters demand a wine that is saline - anything else will seem wan and sad. Lastly, these must be affordable wines, as I intend to drink them in great quantity.
There are certainly plenty of wines that fit this basic profile. But what we REALLY want is Burgundy, especially in 2019. The outstanding ripeness and brisk acidity of the vintage produced wines both quenching and substantial. Today we are very pleased to offer two wines that should provide great satisfaction all summer.
Julien Brocard has been a staff favorite in Chablis since the wines first arrived in New York a few years ago. The recipe is uncomplicated: rigorous biodynamic farming, natural yeast, careful winemaking, aging in very large older oak casks. He uses very little sulfur for most of the wines and has experimented with no-sulfur bottlings, as well. The wines are archetypal Chablis, with bright lemon-y acidity, racy texture and generally excellent concentration and balance. The wine on offer today comes from a single parcel of eleven hectares known as La Boissoneuse. The vines average about thirty years of age, planted on overlapping layers of limestone and clay that are full of ancient sea fossils. It is absolutely delicious and a terrific value.
Julien Cruchandeau's Aligoté de Bouzeron was one of my favorite wines of 2020 and we are excited to be able to offer it again this year. White Burgundy in a very warm vintage like '18 is always tricky—maintaining freshness can be challenging. But Julien had no such issues - his Aligoté was beautifully aromatic, full of classic honeysuckle and lemon pith notes and great mineral spine. In the crackling 2019 vintage, this promises to be memorable. Cruchandeau is a meticulous farmer and winemker. The wine comes from vines nearly seventy years old, planted in white marl and aged in barrel—one may want to consider putting a few bottles aside for the future, as mature Bouzeron can be truly magnificent.
So call your most gracious and understanding friend, and inform them in the kindest way possible that you are headed their way this weekend to ensconce yourself comfortably in a deck chair or hammock. Explain that you intend to repay their hospitality by arriving with several cold bottles of Chablis and Aligoté and I expect you will get no arguments and even a warm welcome. Sam Ehrlich
Julien Cruchandeau's stock is rising fast among Burgundy insiders. He has developed a reputation for thoughtful and careful work, in the vines and in the cellar, making wines that ultimately drink far above what one might expect from humble appellations.The vines are massale selections from the vineyards of Domaine de Villaine and average more than 60 years old. He vinifies a small percentage in barrel and leaves the rest in tank.
La Boissonneuse vineyard makes up the bulk of Julien Brocard's holdings, at 11 of his 18 total hectares. This cuvée is sourced from 30-year-old biodynamically farmed vines, fermented with native yeasts, and aged in large foudre. This is bright and snappy right from opening, with crisp lemon, green pear and sea spray aromatics. On the palate, the wine is juicy and fresh, with lovely racy texture. Beautifully mineral and precise, I like this very much and am looking forward to drinking it regularly this summer and probably saving a couple for mid-term aging. Sam Ehrlich