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What's an Alsace section without a Gewurztraminer! This one has the perfect level of sweetness. It's not cloying or sticky, but is instead balanced and fresh, with white flowers and other classic Gewurz aromatics, a rich and textured palate, and great underlying acidity which lends well to the dreamy and majestic finish. Laurent is very careful about sulfur use, with minimal amounts added, so this may not be a wine to age (due to the residual sugar), but why wait? Drink on it's own or with any of your favorite spicy dishes. Eben Lillie
Comparing the grand crus at Albert Boxler (not even taking into account the lieu-dits/letter designates) has one grasping for descriptors or analogies. Both are deeply mineral, but Sommerberg is perhaps the prettier, more supple of the two; Brand is powerful, structured, even a bit angular. Tasting both crus from single vintage is always an interesting (and delicious) exercise. The 2009 Sommerberg is dense, rich, and more subtly mineral that the leaner Brand. Floral on the nose with aromas of apple blossom, honeysuckle, and pear skin. The fruit is more generous, with pretty notes of baked pear, acacia honey, and lemon curd giving way to a dusty stoniness on the supple, textured finish. This is quite lovely, if less punchy than the Brand in 2009. That said, this was delicious with steamed fish with ginger and scallions and superlative with lobster chow fun. John McIlwain
During the 19th century, the Dirlers, along with the Dopff de Riquewihr family, were the pioneers of 'vin mousseux' in Alsace. Production lulled in post-War years, but they're back in the game now and we're happy to present this delicious Brut Nature Cremant from the undisputed OG's of Alsatian sparkling wine! Mostly Pinot Gris and Pinot Auxerrois, with a small amount of Pinot Noir. There's subtle hint of fresh bread on the nose, and a touch of orchard fruit on the palate, but the wine is dominated by a stony, mineral backbone. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged for less than a year before being kept sur latte under capsule for around a year and a half. This is Methode Champenois, no dosage. Refreshing, crisp, and a must for fans of great bubbles. Eben Lillie
Textbook Alsace Riesling from 60 year old vines. The nose is all white stone fruit and a hint of petrol. A very pleasant and palatable acidity frames the wine from beginning to end, and the finish is remarkably long, my guess due to the beautiful minerality of the wine and to the Beuchers' old vines. Residual sugar is only 2.7 grams, and the wine is given a 0/5 on the 2 Lunes sweetness scale. This is dry Riesling through and through, but with enough fruit and density to charm. Eben Lillie
A delicious, very pale Jura-esque red from the Barossa Valley in Australia, of all places! Tom Shobbrook has crafted a luminous, almost transparent direct-press Syrah that drinks more like Poulsard than any Shiraz you’ve ever had: crunchy bright berries, juicy watermelon, and sweet meyer lemon fruit, and a lithe, energetic palate with just the barest hint of tannin. We love the whimsy of naming this mid-winter release after summertime poolside drinking almost as much as the drinking itself. Served with a slight chill, this is the most cheerful (and cheering) glass of wine you’ll raise all season. Karina Mackow
Jutta Ambrositsch did her quarter-life crisis right, making the jump from a career in graphic design to biodynamically farming some of the finest plots of old vines in the 19th District Vienna DAC along with a satellite plot, from which this wine takes its name. This wine comes partly from the Bisamberg vineyard in the 21st district, north of the Danube with predominately sandy loess soils and calcarious subsoil. A blend of co-harvested and stainless steel fermented Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc the nose is both floral and soft, with just a hint of flint. The wine is juicy and bright, medium in body with notes of white cherries and white peach, tarragon, and orange zest. Cari Bernard
Fuchs und Hase is a collaboration between Alwin & Stefanie Jurtschitsch and Martin & Anna Arndorfer in the Kamptal. Each vintage they make a series of "Volumes", always Pét Nats, with no filtering or fining. The grapes are picked together and co-ferment as well. Each Volume is a different blend: 2015's Volume 1 is mostly Müller-Thurgau, with some Grüner Veltliner and Muskateller. The nose is delicate with notes of apple blossom and anise. Savory tones of oxidized apple core balance out the tropical tang of starfruit and green strawberry, making for a wine that is a touch more fruit forward than Volume 2. Cari Bernard
Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe are making a 'family' of wines in Burgenland, Austria. Emmeram is 100% Gewurtztraminer grown biodynamically on a mix of limestone and sand. Grapes are hand harvested and ferment in large, used oak barrels. The élevage is also in used oak (500 L barrels), and like their other wines, there is no batonnage, no fining or filtration, and no added sulfur. This vintage of Emmeram finished fermenting with a touch of residual sugar, which lends a balance and textural richness to the piquant, young ginger and white pepper spice along with flavors of ripe pineapple and juicy pears. Cari Bernard
Sourced from vineyards that are currently awaiting organic certification, the wine is aged in stainless steel and clocks in at a whopping 11.5% alcohol. Incredibly crisp without feeling austere, the white blossom and young ginger notes are present on both the nose and palate, along with a green apple skin, grapefruit zest, fresh radish, and a hint of pea shoots on the finish. An inspired choice for pairing with everything from a simple salad to softer, zesty goat cheeses, and kohlrabi schnitzel (I've had it, it's a thing). Cari Bernard
Weingut Jurtschitsch is the oldest winery (est. 16th century) in the Kamptal region of Austria and has been in the family since 1868. Vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2006 and all 60 hectares have been certified organic since 2009. The Brut Sekt Rosé is mostly Zweigelt with the balance made up of Pinot Noir and Sankt Laurent, from cooler vineyard sites with calcareous soils. The wine spends 2 1/2 years on the lees and receives 7 g/L dosage. Light, antique pink in the glass, the nose is fragrant with roses, blueberries, and raspberries. On the palate juicy red berries mingle with stony and salty minerality. Cari Bernard
Steiner Hund is a renowned site in the Kremstal, with loess and loam soils and a southern aspect. The wine is spontaneously fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness and vibrancy. The nose hints at a touch of botrytis and white blosssom; there is a richness to the mouthfeel coupled with notes of white peaches, apricots, and a soft, framing acidity. Cari Bernard
Julien Guillot's 2014 Les Pierres Bleues is a gorgeous Beaujolais-Villages combining elegance and structure with beautiful fruit, for current drinking and medium-term cellaring. The vines are more than 100 years-old located in the commune of Bully on an ancient volcanic rift. The subsoil is limestone with sandy clay and dark blue metamophic rocks, giving a strong salinity to the wine. The vineyard is in organic/biodynamic farming and the wine is produced in the Vignes du Maynes carbonic method with zero sulfur added. The wine shows deep red/black color, with aromas of spicy blackberry, black cherry, ripe strqwberry and violet with hints of blood orange, graphite and chocolate. The palate is well-structured with chalky acidity supporting dense, earthy red and black fruits and a nice mineral core. The finish is long with ripe fruits, earth and bright acidity. This is a lovely natural wine that should be decanted or opened in advance and will benefit from 3 to 5 years of aging. David Lillie
1986 Haut Bages Liberal — From the plateau de Bages, next to Ch Latour and Ch. Lynch bages and both Pichon Baron and Pichon Lalande, 5th Growth Haut Bages Liberal always delivers classic Pauillac cigar box rich bouquet and deep black fruit flavors at a fraction of the price of its esteemed neighbors.
As much as a rich meal such a Thanksgiving makes one think of richer, more powerful reds, one should never be afraid to use this occasion to embrace the idea of WWWP (white wine whenever possible). Bright acid and minerality will cleanse the palate and can lift the spirits. Organic Burgundy grower Henri and Gilles Buisson produce one of our favorites from their beautiful vines in St. Romain overlooking the Côte de Beaune. The cooler vineyard sites produce nervy white Burgundy which has a great tension between effusive citrus peel and floral perfume and a distinctly mineral palate. The Absolu bottling is made completely without SO2 which lends even more aromatic purity, and greater clarity to the fruit. John McIlwainThe Buisson family is constantly experimenting in the vineyard and the cellar, pushing ever closer towards the goal of not using any chemicals or additives (pesticides, herbicides, sulfur, etc.) during any part of the winemaking process. Obtaining organic certification by ECOCERT in 2009 was a big step in the right direction, and their addition of the two Absolu cuvées to their current lineup of wines is a marked commitment to their efforts. The Absolu Saint-Romain Blanc is vinified the same way as their other cuvées but forgoes the addition of sulfur at bottling. This truly adds another dimension to an already thoughtful and delicious wine giving it an energy and texture that only comes from naturally made wines. Vivid fruit and nut aromas mingle with a delicate spiciness on the nose and the palate is sharp, a touch salty, and very fresh. It’s not often you are able to taste a sulfured wine alongside its sans soufre companion so that makes for a fantastic experiment! Tim Gagnon
From a 1/2 hectare parcel of 35 year-old vines in Rully on clay/limestone soils. Aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus and stone with lime flower and new oak. Intense stone and mineral flavors typical to Rully on the palate with citrus and white fruits. Fabulous stony finish. This is an austere and elegant white Burgundy to drink now in its scintillating youth with oysters, grilled seafod, chicken and goat cheeses. Hold 5 to 10 years for a mature experience.
Comprised of fruit from Bressandes (2/3) which per Claude de Nicolay lends richness and Chaumes, located beneath Les Pougets (1/3) which lends a degree of “saltiness.” The 2014 Corton Blanc shows a lovely balance between power and elegance. Aromatically it shows yellow flowers, orange peel and hints of sea spray and wet stone. The palate displays pretty flavors of stone fruit, Meyer lemon, and apple overlying an overt, if not overwhelming minerality on a medium weight (for Corton) palate. This shows plenty of energy and drive, if not mass, on a long, detailed, and mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Macon-Villages from certified organic parcels in Chardonnay, Montbellet and Viré-Clessé on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. Incredibly aromatic, with wildflower, lime blossom, green apple peel, beeswax and spiced poached apple and pear. Supple and ripe in this rather warm vintage with 13.5% alcohol, it’s balanced by excellent acidity and minerality with more orchard fruit, apricot, and salted peach. Remarkably textured and long with succulent fruit, toasted almond, citrus, and saline minerals and pear on the finish. Totally unlike the usual Macon Villages, this is a delightful wine that will accompany grilled fish, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses - and it's delicious to enjoy by itself. TG & DL
As easy as it is to forget the quality of Auxey-Duresses Blanc, it's just as easy to overlook the sensational quality of Domaine Lafouge. The Auxey-Duresses Blanc Les Hautés (from the lieu dit situated next to Les Vireuils in Meursault) displays a fine balance of white floral aromas (acacia and honeysuckle) with white orchard fruits on the nose. The palate is racy and mineral with pear and nectarine fruit vying for attention with a good degree of mineral cut. This is pretty and a fine value in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
Another cracking 2014, Rapet's Combottes has bright aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, citrus pith. The mid-weight palate offers layers of stone fruit, chalk, lemon peel, and quinine, which persist on the long, lithe finish. This is great Combottes and a bargain in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
Jean-Marie Chaland owns two estates in Viré (Macon), Domaine Sainte Barbe and Domaine des Chazelles, both certified organic since 2006. The Sainte Barbe "la Perriere" is made from 35 year-old grapes from a half-hectare parcel near Viré on clay/limestone soils, never treated with herbicides. The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified with wild yeasts, the wine ages for 18 months, half in barrel, have in cuve inox. The 2014 shows elegant, subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, stone, melon, pineapple and honeysuckle. The palate is very mineral, with stone and citrusy acids, dense pear and herbal flavors and terrific length. This should be decanted or opened in advance, or cellar for five to ten years. A lovely white Burgundy at a reasonable price! Serve with asparagus, terrines, scallops, monkfish, halibut. D Lillie
Also made from 100% Chardonnay with zero dosage, this wine spends a full 27 months on the lees before disgorgement. The result is a broad and powerful wine with tropical fruit, green apple, pineapple stalk, orange peel, and a hint of spearmint and lime blossom on the nose. The palate is rich and lush with mango, mandarin orange, and a hint of spicy green walnut coming forward, balanced by a dense mineral core. In fact, it actually reminds me of some of my favorite Champagnes (but for half the price). Céline and Laurent don’t make much of this wine and we are thrilled to have it in magnum size! An elegant but no-fuss wine that should always have a place on your dinner table or at your New Year's Eve party, it would pair well with creamy poultry dishes, whole-roasted fish, or soft, tangy cheeses. Tim Gagnon
This is a superb, subtle and very mineral Chardonnay from a replanted parcel at the very top of the Clos, abandoned since 1896, with thin clay soils rich in iron over limestone. A great terroir, never chemically treated and worked in biodynamic farming by Alain and Julien Guillot. The 2014 "les Chassagnes" is a beautiful wine! Yields of 18 hl/ha, giving a racy, stony wine with hints of white fruits, spice and honey, the palate is silky and crystalline - all mineral with subtle citrus and white fruits, very long and elegant. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Sourced from a small plot withing La Fosse, planted in 1959, Venus is named after the draft horse that plowed the vines. The soils are exceptionally chalky relative to the soils of other parts of Avize which have more clay, per Peter Liem. Aged under cork rather than crown cap and bottled without dosage, Venus is profoundly mineral and a study in chalk, with the old vines' deep roots preserving that sense of terroir even in warmer or 'off' vintages.
Mineral is a vintage-dated blend of Chardonnay from two particularly chalky lieux dits within the grand cru villages of Cramant and Avize, with the grapes from Bionnes (Cramant) vinified in demi-muid and Le Champ Bouton (Avize) vinified in tank and blended in equal parts.
Comprised of grapes from all seven villages in the Côte des Blancs, where Agrapart has vines, 7 Crus is a blend of two vintages, aged partially in barrel, partially in tank, disgorged 3/16.
Terroirs is a blend of Chardonnay from multiple parcels like the 7 Crus cuvée, but from older vines planted in mid-slope chalk and clay soils and aged longer on the lees, with some barrel-aged reserve wine lending another layer of complexity.
This is classic Beaufort, balanced, rounded and finely filigreed with a judicious dosage. In truth, the 2009 Ambonnay Grand Cru tastes very dry for a Brut, closer to an Extra Brut in style. It shows a burnished golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a finely beaded and generous mousse. The nose offers notes of brioche, cardamom, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, white flowers, and honeysuckle. The palate is powerful and broad, accented with aromas of Cortland apples, apple pie, and nutmeg that lead to a lingering, herbal finish. The 2009 Brut shows the pedigree of its Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit. It's delicious now, but it also has real aging potential. (Lot #09A. Disgorged 9/2015.) David Salinas
A 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Beaufort's Grand Cru vineyards in Ambonnay, this is weighty and complex Champagne. The nose begins with aromas of lime zest, red peppercorns, Doyenne du Comice pears, lavender, and red currants that develop into notes of brown sugar, Damask roses, turmeric, and wild flowers. The palate is feathery light and carried by a zing of acidity that parades lime sorbet, freshly minced ginger, quince, lemon icing, and elderflowers through to a McIntosh apple finish. Although clearly ready to drink now, this wine will reach its full potential with a few years in the cellar. (Disgorged 10/16, Lot # 08A). David Salinas
This full-bodied and robust Rosé Champagne is expressive of Pinot Noir character as well as natural and chemical-free winemaking, a rare combination, especially in Champagne. The nose offers ripe sour cherry, cherry pit, quinine, almost Burgundian earthiness, and an ever so slight note of bitter herbs reminiscent of amaro. Cherry fruit carries through the mid-palate to the finish, which is downright tannic, in the best possible way. There is some dosage here, giving the wine a compelling balance of acid and sweetness. It's a fairly serious Rosé Champagne, one that could accompany a meal, but it doesn't present itself as austere in any way. Unique within our selection of Rosé Champagnes and well-worth trying. (Lot 11A. Disgorged 10/2016.)
Bérêche's Campania Remensis is a consistently fascinating rosé Champagne, in a category fraught with uninspiring wines. The 2012 base is 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 5% still red wine from Ormes on the western side of the Montagne de Reims. This year the robe is more of a salmon pink rather than copper color of previous vintages. The nose is redolent of wild strawberry, blood orange zest, vanilla bean, raspberry, and ginger. The palate balances whip-crack acidity with layers of ripe fruit flavors and savory undertones. The balance here is impeccable and the finish textured and nuanced. This is a beautiful and deft rosé! John McIlwain
A blanc de blancs with luxurious weight and depth from "Les Monts Fournois," a parcel with the premier cru of Ludes in the Montagne de Reims. With an extremely fine bead, there are intensely rich flavors of lemon drop meringue and candied red fruits (strawberry, cherry) that finish with subtle wisps of dried ginger and dried tarragon. Disgorged 11/15. Jonas Mendoza 2012 is the inaugural vintage of Les Monts Fournois from Bérêche. Sourced from a lieu-dit on the northern end of Ludes with particularly thin soils over pure chalk, and a southern exposure planted with massale-selected Chardonnay in 1961. Fermented in barrel with native yeast and aged under cork, Les Monts Fournois deftly combines power and precision in this blanc de blancs. The nose displays citrus peel, white flowers and wet stone, while the old vines, sunny exposure, and chalky soils lend a distinctly mineral core to the wine on the vigorous, verging on sinewy, palate while not sacrificing elegance. For lovers of chalky, powerful Champagnes, Les Monts Fournois is a delight. Bottled with 3g/L dosage. John McIlwain
Les Beaux Regards is a blend of two parcels of Chardonnay in Ludes on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims planted in 1964 and 1970. The loamy clay soils produce a Champagne more vinous in character, rather than exclusively taut and chalky. The 2012 displays floral and orchard fruit aromas, with delicate notes of spice and Meyer lemon following. The palate is distinctly mineral and racy, with overtly stony notes, cool notes of mint and lemon balm and a long tangy, expressive finish. Great energy and volume here. (Dosage 3g/l.) John McIlwain
100% old-vine Pinot Meunier sourced from the lieu-dit Le Misy, located in Port à Binson on the southern bank of the Marne river. Fermented with native yeasts in barrel and aged under cork, Bérêche's 2012 base edition of Rive Gauche makes a convincing case for Champagnes made from the oft-underestimated Pinot Meunier grape. The old vines restrict the sometimes overly exuberant quality of the variety, and while the wine shows lovely ripeness, there is a fine, almost briny minerality framing the generous fruit. The nose shows lovely aromas of stone and orchard fruits: white peaches, Rainier cherry, and golden apple, along with baking spice and dried orange peel. Similar fruit notes appear on the medium-bodied palate, with a layered mineral complexity lending structure and energy, not to mention a fine umami quality to the long driving finish. With some time in the cellar, the effusiveness of the fruit should integrate with the structure and make for even more compelling drinking. (disgorged 11/2015, 4g/l dosage) John McIlwain
For holiday celebrations, Champagne is a must. Not just for the festive association of bubbles, but also because it is truly one of the most versatile wines to grace one's table. The inherent acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the foods, while the bubbles and moderate alcohol invigorate the palate rather than tire it. One of my favorite Champagnes for the table (not just Thanksgiving or Christmas) is Bérêche's Reflets d'Antan. Based on a perpetual cuvée dating from the 1980's, the wine combines the vivid, nervy fruit of a recent vintage with the burnished, textural and aromatic complexity of the aged wines which make up the 'solera.' The secondary fermentation under cork rather than crown cap adds an additional layer of finesse with a delicate bead and soft mousse. This will pair beautifully with most of the foods on your holiday table (skip the marshmallows, please). Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. John McIlwain
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) John McIlwain
Emmanuel Brochet, produces Champagnes of particularly mineral character from the clay and limestone soils of a single lieu-dit called Le Mont Benoit located in the northern part of the Montagne de Reims. The vines are date from 1962 and 1984 and have been farmed organically since 2005 and certified since 2008. The current disgorgement of Le Mont Benoit Extra Brut is based on the the 2013 vintage with reserve wine from the 2012 vintage. The cepage is 39% Pinot Noir 37% Pinot Meunier, and 24% Chardonnay fermented in barrel with native yeasts and bottled with a dosage of 4 grams/L. Newly arrived, the wine is a bit aromatically reticent, though with air reveals pear skin and stony notes. The palate is quite chiseled and vinous, high-lighting a denser rather than chalky minerality or overt fruit. And while powerful, this is quite elegant, if coiled and shows quite long and dry, though not quite austere. Within this structure are lovely notes of blood orange peel, salt, and apricot with hints of autolyse. This is quite young, but has great energy within and will reward mid to longer term aging. John McIlwain
Besides Bérêche NV Brut Reserve, Chartogne-Taillet’s “Cuvée Saint Anne” has consistently outperformed for non-vintage, grower-producer Champagne. The grapes come Merfy in the Montagne de Reims, and consist of a blend of 2013 (60%) and 2012 (40%) vintages with nearly identical proportions of Pinot Noir (65%) and Chardonnay (35%). On the nose, there’s bright lemon zest and dusty, chalky aromatics; on the palate, lemon and yellow cherry fruit that transition into golden apple and sun-baked Bartlett pear flavors. The chalky minerality persists through the finish. An entry-level Champagne suitable for a wine connoisseur, but one that won’t break the bank either. Disgorged 2/16. Jonas Mendoza
Made from 100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vineyards in Vertus, Le Mesnil, Orger, Avize, and Cramant, the 2009 base Cuvée Vendémiaire is a must for fans of chiseled, chalky Champagnes from the Côte des Blancs. With long lees aging (60 months, partially in oak), low sulfur, and bottling under lower pressure, this shows a more vinous side of Blanc de Blancs, while offering tremendous value. -John McIlwain
Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Montagne de Reims over looking the Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms the without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2012 and 2011 vintages and balances nicely the classic richness Damery with undertones of minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. John McIlwain
Les Houtrantes Complantés is Geoffroy's most viticulturally ambitious and complex Champagne. Sourced from a field blend of old vines of all the allowed Champagne cultivars, there is not enough juice to make a cuvée each year, so JB stores reserve wine from previous vintages in magnums. This first release is a blend of 25% 2008, 35% 2009, and 40% 2010. Quite simply this is one of our most fascinatingly elegant and aromatically beguiling Champagnes. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass, adorned with a minutely beaded mousse. The nose unpacks an aroma box of linden flowers, sage, hyacinths, fresh mint, followed by Doyenne pears, Reine Claude plums, and a hint of smoky tones. The palate is refreshing stream of minerality, impeccably balanced and ripe for a Brut Nature, that glides and shifts to a saline and savory finish. One can't help but thinking of Rieslings from the great vineyards of Saar Valley. Simply stunning Champagne! (Disgorged 6/2015). - David Salinas
In the sometimes treacherous passage from grapes to wine, Geoffroy's flagship cuvée has been gifted every advantage. 50-year-old vines, on average, from JB's finest plots are used in the 2004's final blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. At pressing, only the "tête de cuvée" juices, the best juice from the first press, are used. The prise de mousse occurs under cork, not capsule, and the 2004 has aged for almost ten years on it lees to delicious results. It shines a medium golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a discrete mousse. Initial smoky tones, on the nose, give way to aromas of Cortland apples, honeysuckle, Mirabelle plums, and tamarinds. The palate is rich, round, and weighty with notes of green apples, greengages, and vanilla before a tart and smoky finish. (Disgorged 5/2014). - David Salinas
Based on a solera, or perpetual cuvée, started in 1982, the Mémoire Extra Brut is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay, aged in foudre and bottled with 3 g/ dosage. The grapes come from all of the various Huré vineyard parcels and the cuvée is considered to be a broad "snapshot" of the domain's terroir and vinification aesthetic. Pale golden yellow in color and with an ultra-fine bead, Mémoire offers soft aromas of Mirabelle plum, dried orange peel, lemon verbena, brown butter, with notes of honey. The palate is creamy, broad, round, and burnished with complex flavors of wild cherry, damson, heather honey, candied ginger, with a pleasing hint of nuttiness on the finish. There are a multiple layers to this Champagne as befits its solera origins and it is better served by enjoying from a wine glass, rather than flute to allow the bouquet to develop fully. - John McIlwain
This is one of the best Champagnes I've ever had. No joke. From old vines grown on very dry chalky soil between Bouzy and Tauxières, the wine is equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made without dosage or sulfur, all from 2009 fruit. There are very few producers in Champagne who make a bottling totally without added sulfur. It's a risky thing to do, however in this case the results are absolutely breath-taking. Super aromatic with rich, mouth-filling and very sensuous fruit, the wine shows fully as much intense, taught minerality as it does succulent and voluptuous fruit. It's a wine that will change constantly as it's open, and deserves attention as it unfolds. Peter Liem has descrived the 2008 Violaine (the first vintage of this wine) as "one that speaks to the emotions as much as it does to the intellect." I'd say that's an apt assessment. (disgorged 1/13) -msb
Entirely Pinot Meunier, this is a notably unique rosé. It's incredibly vinous and is wine — serious wine — before it's rosé or Champagne. But as a saignée Champagne it has delicacy and poise, and yet is serious and structured. It's most curiously savory — our flavor associates included soft cheese, herbs, ferns, sausage, and spices. It is wonderfully dry with chalky minerality on the finish. Not a party Champagne, but one for serious consideration and engagement. Worth contemplation by any serious wine or Champagne lover. MSB
A long time Chambers Street favorite for both value and sheer deliciousness, Lahete's Rose Ultradition displays pretty red fruits, sour cherry, wild strawberry, lemon balm, tangerine peel. Fresh, and lively with a fine bead, brisk acidity, and a long, sapid finish. This has the panache to make a fine aperitif, but also the mineral core and ripe fruit to grace the table with somewhat richer dishes. Roasted salmon, tuna steak, or even duck confit. (Disgorged January, 2015) John McIlwain
60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay that doesn't go through malolactic fermentation, along with 10% Pinot Noir. There is a delicate red fruit quality — pale plums — but otherwise the high-toned Chardonnay comes through with a delightful lemon tone. Earthy salinity and minerals lead to a dry, mouth-watering finish. A large percentage of Meunier gives this Champagne a broad, rich, earthy character that matches very well with Beau Soleil oysters and Caviar. MSB
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village down by the river where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village, this is particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes, lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Another impressive bottling from Raphaël Bérêche's Crus Sélectionnés, the 2004 Montagne Grand Cru, from Verzenay on the north slope of the Montagne de Reims displays the characteristic richness of the Pinot Noir-dominated wines of the village. With a golden robe and fine mousse, the Champagne is beginning to hit a fine point of maturity. The nose balances aromas of red fruits, beurre noisette, shortbread, and stone. The palate is supple with fine flavors of dried cherry, apricots, brioche, and dried mint, leading to a detailed, persistent, mineral finish. This shows grand cru volume and length while maintaining plenty of complexity and finesse. (disgorged 01/2016, 5g/l dosage) John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs, La Cote Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
Someday soon the Ambonnay Grand Cru lieu-dit of Les Crayères will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Hermitage’s Les Bessards or Alsace’s Clos Sainte Hune. Similarly, Benoît Marguet will be heralded for having preserved and defended the health of his soils and his vineyard workers. These valuations form a positive feedback loop, where greater care and attention to finely delimited vineyards will help these great terroirs shine. Marguet’s Les Crayères is a blend of 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir from an airy, mid-slope vineyard. Light golden in color and starred by a finely beaded mousse, the aromas begin with acacia, ripe raspberries, and honeysuckle before transitioning to Red Delicious and violets. The zero-dosage palate is broad and gripping with notes of dark chocolate, Meyer lemon, and fresh peppermint with a vanilla macaroon and ripe cantaloupe finish. An expressive and uncompromising Champagne of terroir! Disgorged 3/2014. David Salinas
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentations are with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. While the 2011 vintage was difficult for most producers, Marguet's wines were lovely. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is chalky and mineral, showing the power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. This shows citrus blossom and chalky on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. This will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
A rich and effervescent rosé (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir) with all the fruit sourced from the Grand Cru of Ambonnay. There are delicate notes of wild red cherry and fresh strawberry tops, which sharply unfurls with richly concentrated flavors of ripe Tri-Star strawberries and candied cherry. Bold and powerful enough to have with a rare steak! Jonas Mendoza
There are no two ways about it. This is a natural Champagne made from biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and then vinified with native yeasts for both the alcoholic fermentation and the prise de mousse. Finally, the Concordance is free of any added sulfur. The Aube's warmer climate and Dominique's great farming have resulted in a Blanc de Noirs that will settle any doubts about the quality of the 2011 base vintage. Pale golden yellow in the glass and sporting a finely beaded mousse, the aromas of the Concordance are strikingly pure and vibrant with notes of ripe Cortland apples, red currants, fresh raspberries and a hint of brioche. The palate is pure with a fine minerality that carries aromas of cranberries and red plums through to a lengthy and savory finish. Beautiful Champagne! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 1/2015). - David Salinas
Sourced from less than a hectare parcel of old-vine Pinot Noir, the Come des Tallants is the jewel of Roland's range. Beginning with a crystalline clear and brilliant golden yellow in the glass and very finely beaded mousse, the nose shows aromas of Greengage, lillies, spearmint, toffee, guava, and some musky tones. The palate is finely chiseled with a nervy minerality, buoyed by a weighty concentration and a full aromatic range of wild flowers, which continues through to a finely pointed finish. A fantastic effort and Champagne from Roland Piollot! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 7/2015). This beautiful Champagne is a superb value and a great way to start, or enjoy during your holiday feast!
An organically-farmed Blanc de Noirs from the eponymous lieu-dit in the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The wine is a notable expression of this terroir, as Fabrice Pouillon reveals by vinifying with only the natural sugars from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir, in addition to only utilizing the indigenous yeasts present in the must. He accomplishes this by chilling unsulfured grape must in tank to a temperature low enough to prevent spoilage or fermentation. This must is then used for the secondary fermentation, as well as the dosage after disgorgement, rather than cane sugars or MCR. The resulting wine is layered and supple with a fine bead, displaying red fruits, blood orange peel, and spices, expressing the vinous character of Pinot Noir grown in the clays of the Grande Vallee de la Marne. John McIlwain
From an organically farmed, single-vineyard parcel at the top of the slope on the western side of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. 50% Pinot Noir fermented in tank, 50% Chardonnay fermented in used barrels. Disgorged in Spring 2016, zero dosage. Though from a premier cru village rather than its grand cru neighbor, Aÿ, the 2008 Les Blanchiens is no less an articulate expression of the calcareous clay soils that make up its terroir. The nose offers toasty brioche, dried orange peel, and bergamot aromas. The palate shows ripe dense fruit on the attack, with an incisive minerality dominating a rich and complex mid-palate. This is manifested by pungent soil notes, which give way to distinctly savory, sapid, and powerful finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means austere. John McIlwain
100% Chardonnay from the well-situated Les Valnons Froid Cul lieu-dit on the upper slope of the Grand Cru village of Aÿ. Fermented with native yeasts in 80% used barrels, the balance in tank. Disgorged in Spring 2016, Dosage 5g/l. Les Valnons is a lovely, albeit somewhat atypical Blanc de Blancs from a village better known for its Pinot Noir. The robe on the 2008 has a pale gold color with a fine bead. This nervy Chardonnay offers aromas of chalk, lemon oil, quinine, and crushed herbs the palate is broad and powerful offering citrus, spice, and mineral notes on a taut, complex, and detailed finish. John McIlwain
Located in the hills above Essoyes, Ruppert-Leroy's vines are a study of polyculture, in contrast to most of the vineyards of Champagne. All are adjacent to forest, with dozens of herbs, wildflowers, grasses growing between the rows. In the Spring, there is a riot of color between the vines. Martin-Fontaine is 100% Chardonnay, fermented with native yeasts, bottled without dosage as of the 2013 vintage sees no addition of sulfur. We are lucky to be able to revisit the 2011, which is in a beautiful place at the moment, with a nose redolent of shortbread, lemon curd, and wet stone. The palate is stony, saline, and quite savory with umami notes vying for attention with pure flavors of ripe white orchard fruits. Quite pretty and detailed, this shows the potential of the terroir in this part of the Aube. John McIlwain
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Bénédicte Ruppert of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard. One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.)The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The 2013 Les Cognaux shows red fruit, peach skin, orange peel, and see spray aromas with notes of daishi and fond. The palate balances lush, ripe flavors of apricot, peach, and Rainier cherry with crunchy acidity, compelling umami character and a pungent sense of minerality. The finish is vibrant and luminous. As of 2013 Ruppert-Leroy vinifies and bottles without SO2. John McIlwain
Hubert Soreau is is a vigneron whose wine exemplifies the dedication of small growers to producing distinctive Champagnes of terroir. Farming .49 ha near Epernay without chemicals, he produces tiny amounts of wine which ages in wood, sees long less aging under cork, and extended time in the cellar before release. The current Release of Le Clos l'Abee (base 2008 with this bottling) is vinous, waxy, layered, and burnished with plenty of savory and umami notes complementing the incisive minerality from the terroir. The aromatics balance yellow fruit and citrus peel with brioche and soil notes. This is a treat for fans of leesy, chalky Champagnes. There is a fine bead and a long, broad, elegant finish. (Dosage 5g/l; Disgorged Fall 2015) John McIlwain
There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic of Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit with a frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009), deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Aurelien's inaugural village releases display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly mineral. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant is richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. The nose offers an intoxicating blend of lemon blossom, sea spray, and apricot aromas, while the palate is incisively chalky, pungently stony, and taut. This is not to say this is austere, rather brisk and punchy with great persistence on the long, sapid finish. John McIlwain
The 2013 vintage is the inaugural release of Aurelien Suenen's Grand Cru Oiry Blanc de Blancs. Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees, and are bottled with 1 g/l dosage. The 2013 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of citrus peel, quinine, and chalk dominating. The palate is chiseled, taut and very dry with racy acidity and an energetic driving finish. Suenen continues to grow with each vintage and this new line up of village designated Champagnes are particularly exciting. John McIlwain
Aurélien Suenen originally trained in the US to become a professional basketball player, but returned to France to take over the estate in 2009 when his father passed away. "MBDA" is one of his first cuvées; besides a longing tribute to four generations of Suenen (Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, Aurélien) that have farmed in Champagne since 1898, it represents a precocious and stunning effort. MBDA is a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir (from Montigny-sur-Velse) and Chardonnay (from grand cru sites Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry). Enticing at first with golden apple, candied ginger, and brioche aromatics, this Champagne fills out the palate with bruised red apple skin, yellow plum, and toast flavors, and then finishes with shaded undertones of dried honey and roasted parsnip. Texturally, the soft mousse floats like a featherweight on the center of the tongue, but then broadly fills out across the palate. Jonas Mendoza
A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Pinot Meunier, the base wine comes from the classic 2008 vintage. For a Brut Nature (Dosage: 0 g/l), this Tarlant combines bracing acidity with remarkable fruit-forwardness. Lemon pith, preserved lemon, red apple flesh and red apple skin flavors sweep across the palate with broad brush strokes and a pleasing effervescence. With big flavors and deep cut, this Champagne definitely needs food to accompany it: caviar or smoked salmon anyone? (Disgorged: 09/14) - Jonas Mendoza
The cuvée Milliane Bourgonge rouge from grower Gabriel Billard offers everyday value in red Burgundy combining fruit with both substantial structure and complexity. Earthy rather than overtly fruity on the nose, it shows damp soil, red florals and a whiff of leather followed by faint cherries. Dark red fruit is dense on the palate and high-toned with fuji apples, bing cherries, and raspberry along with woody herbs. Quite tannic and aromatically tight when freshly opened, the structure softens and the fruit becomes more prominent with an hour or so in a decanter. I served it with braised chicken legs and mushrooms brightened with lemon and spring herbs but it would be excellent with cedar plank salmon or a burger right off the grill. Open early and enjoy! - Andy Paynter
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
While the jewel of the premier crus of Pernand-Vergelesses, like Les Lavières, the Ile de Vergelesses vineyard suffered substantially from the hail of 2013. Another in a series of what Claude de Nicolay refers to as “virtual vintages” only half the normal crop was harvested in the 2014 vintage. In light of the vintage character, fermentation was 40% whole cluster with a somewhat shorter elevage to emphasize the beautifully pure fruit. Here the nose shows a blend of black fruits, wood smoke, baking spices, and faint hints of anise. The mid-weight palate features blackberry, cassis, and blood orange flavors giving way to a pungent, nearly saline minerality, which carries thru on the persistent, sapid finish. This has impeccable balance, if not the power of more blockbuster vintages. This is attractive and has plenty of drive and detail to frame the pure, pretty fruit. John McIlwain
After serious devastation by hail in 2013 when Les Lavières was not bottled (but made into something akin to a vin doux naturel, which has yet to be bottled) 2014 produced a lovely, if substantially reduced crop from the cru. 20% whole cluster fermentation with no chaptalization and bottled at 12.3% abv. The 2014 Les Lavières is pretty and detailed, rather than powerful. The aromas are cool-toned and red-fruited, with hints of strawberry and wild cherry. The racy, supple palate has flavors of red raspberry, cherry, and pomegranate supported by fine, ripe tannins and bright acidity. And while this is no heavyweight, the purity of the fruit and the lively energy makes this a pleasure to taste and the structure certainly bodes well for mid-term ageability for this agréable à boire Burgundy. John McIlwain
Certified organic and farmed with biodynamic methods, Domaine Chevrot is one of the gems of Maranges. The lieu-dit Sur le Chêne is a south-facing plot on gravelly limestone on the eastern side of the appellation. The fruit from the 50-60 year old vines is hand-harvested, fermentation is 50% whole cluster, and the wine aged for 11 months in 15% new oak. The 2014 has aromas of red fruits, black tea, and orange peel with hints of smoke and spice. The medium weight palate balances red cherry and raspberry flavors with earthy notes and medium-grained tannins on a medium long finish. This offers a nice balance of fruit and Maranges minerality at an affordable price point. Decant now before serving or cellar for 5-9 years. -John McIlwain
La Chapelle is a "climat" within Les Breterins and Reugne, on the steep slope of la Montagne de Bourdon, facing south/southeast. The vines are well-placed in mid-slope and are mostly sixty years-old, giving the most "generous" of the three Lafouge premier crus. The 2014 "La Chapelle" shows a bright red/garnet color and lovely aromas of strawberry and tart cherry - very floral and bright with hints of citrus and earth. There is excellent ripeness on the palate with chalky raspberry and cherry fruit, citrus and mineral flavors - quite elegant and very long with firm acidity, bright red fruits and minerals in the finish. Delicious now served a bit cool with coq au vin, blanquette de veau or rabbit, probably best from 2020 to 2030 - kudos to Jean and Gilles Lafouge for another lovely "La Chapelle!" DL
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. From a small parcel of old vines, the Lafouge 2014 Chanlins shows beautiful aromas of bright red fruits - raspberry, tart cherry and wild strawberry - with earth, citrus, rose, brown spice and game. Lovely tart red fruits on the palate with firm acidity and intense chalky minerality that coats the palate on the long finish. This is a lovely, pure and elegant old-fashioned Burgundy - delicious now with its bright, youthful fruit, best probably 2022 to 2032. DL
"This is absoutely the heartland of Beaune, with the richest, most structured and longest-lived wines of the appellation" – Inside Burgundy. The Rapet's tiny parcel of Les Grèves is all old-vines on a steep section giving beautifully aromatic wines that have great tannic structure for aging. This is particularly outstanding in 2011, with deep, elegant strawberry, black cherry and earth aromas. The palate is medium-bodied, with superb red and black fruits, terrific intensity and length with stone and fruit lingering. Not a "big" wine but a real wine of terroir with great structure and balance. Hold for 6 to 8 years, drink until 2030.
(The 2014s have arrived - take advantage of this discounted price on the last of our 2013s! ) From 50-year-old vines in Sur-les-Grèves in the heart of the Beaune 1er crus. Like many of the 2013 Burgundies, the Rapet Beaune Grèves 1er cru is a wine of delicacy and purity of fruit, rather than power. But oh, what fruit! The nose shows dark-fruited with aromas of black cherry liqueur, blackberry, and notes of black tea, tree bark, and crushed herbs. The mid-weight palate displays more pure fruit flavors of black cherry, wild blackberry, and a pretty sense of ripeness which is balanced by a good deal of mineral cut and ripe tannins. Despite a somewhat lighter profile, this finish is quite persistent and builds, While this will improve in bottle, with air this is quite enjoyable at the moment and well-suited to lighter pork dishes, roast chicken, and even heartier fish dishes such as monkfish or skate and mushrooms in a red wine reduction which cry out for a visit to our friends at Blue Moon Fish. - John McIlwain
From old vines on fairly deep iron-rich soils south of the village in three different parcels, Les Boutieres, Les Citernes and Les Combes. Always a ripe, powerful wine, the 2014 Rapet Aloxe-Corton is well-structured for aging and beautifully balanced with firm acidity and the pretty fruit of this vintage that was saved by ample sunshine from mid-August into October. The wine shows elegant aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry with hints of violet and earth. On the palate there is an intense fusion of mineral flavors with ripe blackberry and red currant fruit, sappy and long, framed in firm acidity and ample tannin. This is a big, age-worthy Aloxe that will be quite beautiful when mature, best perhaps 2020 - 2030 and beyond. Quite enjoyable now in its intense youth, decant well in advance or open the night before... David Lillie
Upon opening Rapet's Grèves is a bit circumspect: initially showing a lot of hedge fruit, wood smoke, soil notes. Nose and palate open to reveal dark fruits, a bit of bramble, sous-bois, spice, cherry pit, and mineral spice. Some structure here, but with fine poise. There's a lovely sweetness within the tannins which bodes well for some time in the cellar to allow all the elements to knit. Near term patience should be well rewarded. Decant now or cellar for 3-5 years and enjoy over the next 10 years. Made a fine pairing with a salad of frisée, duck confit, toasted pecans, and a sherry vinaigrette. John McIlwain
Ile des Vergelesses is certainly one of the best premier cru vineyards in Burgundy - a perfectly exposed mid-slope vineyard on limestone and iron-rich soils, steep enough for ideal drainage, producing wines that age beautifully for 15 to 20 years - considered by many to be grand cru quality. The 2014s from Vincent Rapet are lovely, beautifully balanced wines. The 2014 Ile des Vergelesses shows very bright perfume of wild strawberry, black raspberry, rose, pepper and licorice. The palate is very dense with elegant, chalky red fruits that coat the palate. This should develop beautifully - it's perfectly balanced at 13% alcohol with firm acidity - well structured for aging. Fun to taste now, especially if decanted or opened the night before, probably best 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2014 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) shows beautiful aromas of cherry and berry fruits with rose, blood orange and brown spice. The palate is chalky, ripe and sapid while remaining light and fresh with berry fruits and tart citrusy acids. This develops nicely with aeration, becoming more supple and round, and finishes with stone, mineral and ripe fruits. Serve this delicious wine a bit cool with any mild chicken or white meat dish and goat cheeses, morbier, tomme de savoie. This should age nicely, best perhaps 2020 - 2026.
Located toward the bottom of the slope beneath Beaune Grèves and adjacent to Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Mariages is a mix of young and very old vines planted in clay and limestone soils. The 2015 expresses the prettier character of Beaune, with lovely wild strawberry, raspberry, and spice aromas giving way to notes of turned earth. The silky mid-weight palate shows sour cherry, wild raspberry, brambles, black tea, and chalky minerality on a long, supple, layered finish. There is a good sense of freshness, energy, and sap here. And while this is generous with its fruit at present, the balance is there for mid-term aging. Perfect for grilled pork medallions or braised chicken in mustard sauce. John McIlwain
From a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune, certified biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. Lovely light garnet color; subtle, delicate aromas of red fruits and flowers - quite complex and pretty with good ripeness in this excellent vintage - raspberry, tart cherry and blackberry. The palate is light but full-flavored and lovely with pure ripe red fruits, finishing with bright acidity and saline minerals. This is a subtle and delicious glass of Burgundy, at only 12% alcohol even in 2015 - enjoy now served cool or wait 5 to 8 years for a mature experience.
From vines averaging 40 years old from the lieux-dits Bussières, Chardannes, Les Herbues and Les Gamaires. Certified biodynamic. Domaine Arlaud's 2014 Chambolle-Musigny shows plenty of high-toned red fruit on the nose with aromas of pomegranate, wild cherry, and strawberry with hints of wood smoke and floral notes. On the sappy, mid-weight palate, pure red fruit flavors are underlain by a pungent chalky minerality which persists through on the long, fresh, tangy finish. This is classically Chambolle: stylish and pretty with good depth. Give this 3-5 years and enjoy for the next 10-15. John McIlwain
Maybe not a bruiser, but what a beauty! Wild strawberry, pomegranate, brown spices, super-pretty red fruits, herbal hints. Mid-weight palate, bright acid, luminous fruit, good volume and persistence on the finish-not just a little bit of that classic Burgundy peacock's tail. John McIlwain
When it comes to Marsannay, Domaine Bart's selection of crus is an embarrassment of riches. Au Champ Salomon, one of their best, is located in a prime spot on the mid-slope, producing wines which marry power with elegance and longevity. The grapes from 35-year-old plus vines are hand harvested, fermented with native yeasts, aged for 18 months in barrel of which only 30% are new. The 2014 is another lovely expression. The nose offers cool-toned aromas of red and black cherry, red plum, brambles, and hints of cedar evolving to show dark soil notes. On the full-bodied and structured (in terms of Marsannay) palate, flavors of red and black stone fruit dominate with wild cherry and plum, giving way to grilled meat and earthy notes on a long, succulent, and persistent finish. There is a deft interplay between the pure fruit, tangy acid, and tannins which should evolve to show greater complexity still with 5-7 years in the cellar and beyond. This is not only a splendid 2014, but a great value in Burgundy. John McIlwain
From 8 lieux-dits from across Gevrey-Chambertin. Considering the escalation in prices at all levels in Burgundy, Louis Boillot's Gevrey-Chambertin remains a fantastic value, brimming with Gevrey character, while remaining affordable. The 2014 is heady, fresh, and cool-toned on the nose offering black cherry, plum skin, raspberry, game and woodsmoke aromas. Dark-fruited and savory flavors intermingle on the medium-bodied palate, with ripe notes of black cherry, hedge fruit, cherry pit, and crushed herbs. There is good mineral detail to this lending a sapid counterpoint to the fruit. Nice freshness here with fine structure lending an earthy, masculine Gevrey character. This punches above its weight and should reward 4-5 years of cellaring and drink beautifully for the next 10. John McIlwain
From .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality. The 2012 Les Perrières is effusively floral with cherry blossoms and white flowers giving way to bright, pure cherry aromas and notes of spice. In the mouth it shows pretty black cherry, herb, and minerals on a medium bodied, but fine, palate with good sap and excellent energy following through on the lilting finish. John McIlwain
It's no secret that the Jean Chauvenet's 2012 Nuits St. Georges Les Perrières was one of my favorite red Burgundies of the vintage. The 2013 is another winner for the domaine. Chauvenet's Christope Drag farms a .23 hectare parcel of old vines high on the slope adjacent to Les Poulettes and Les Poirets between the holdings farmed by Henri Gouges and Regis Forey. The particularly stony soils retain heat and Christophe says this is typically the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Personally I find it the most effusively perfumed of his wines with his Vaucrains a close second. The bouquet of the 2013 leaps from the glass, with floral aromas, red fruits, and pretty wild berry aromas, giving way to spices and soil notes. The palate is equally fresh, with red berry, strawberry, Morello cherry, and pipe tobacco flavors giving way to a chalky minerality. There is fine energy and cut to this which carries through on a long, lingering, and building finish. This is certainly a pretty expression of Nuits St. Georges, but has the tannins and acidity to age with grace. John McIlwainFrom .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Always giving an earthy and mineral-infused wine, the 2014 is a bit more fruit-forward but is still primarily a Burgundy of terroir. There is reduction when first opened so please decant or open in advance. With aeration the wine shows subtle aromas of red currant, strawberry and tart cherry with violet, brown spice and earth - really quite complex and pretty. The palate is well-structured with chalky mineral flavors underlying the earthy raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is long with firm acidity and mineral notes. This is a lovely and beautifully balanced Burgundy for those who enjoy minerals as much as fruit! Note: The wine improves dramatically over 3 to 4 days, re-corked in the fridge, for those with enough patience - or cellar for five to fifteen years.
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny", high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Four barrels of 2014 Fonteny were produced, of which one was new. Tasted last February the wine showed dense, deep strawberry and black chery fruit with round supple tannins and a very long firm, palate coating finish. Re-tasted in November 2016, the round strawberry fruit is framed in chalky minerals, quite dense and palate-coating, balanced with soft tannins - a very young wine that will be delightful to drink now but best to wait five to ten years for the velvety complexity to come, best perhaps 2021 to 2035. David Lillie
From mixed limestone and clay soils in premier crus Clos Baulet and Les Gruenchers, which bracket Clos Sorbe beneath the village of Morey-Saint-Denis. Another lovely wine from Stephane Magnien. Ruby in color and medium-bodied. This is quite perfumed immediately upon opening; red fruits and flowers dominate. Wild strawberry, red plums, dried rose aromas are followed by hints of bergamot and spices. The energetic palate balances ripeness and structure. There is lovely rich fruit here with offsetting earthiness. The dry extract and ripeness buffer ripe tannins and there is a beautiful purity of fruit. The finish is long and complex with discreet oak. Enjoyable now, but should become lovely with a few years in the cellar. JCM
Les Sentiers premier cru is located on the north side of Chambolle-Musigny, beneath the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru and between the Les Baudes and Les Ruchots premier crus. Medium dark robe. The 2013 Les Sentiers shows a nice balance between fruit and earth. Raspberry, violet, spices, with hints of game and herb on the nose. Dark cherry, black tea, and blood orange peel on the sappy, yet chalky, mineral palate. As befits the cru's proximity to Bonnes Mares, this is a more masculine expression of Chambolle-Musiginy. There's good concentration of fruit here, in addition to distinct terroir delineation; with still more to be revealed as the structure resolves itself further. Decant now or better still, hold for 5 to 15 years. John McIlwain
This a wonderful expression of Les Sentiers, aromatically expressive and layered. There are bright aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violets, woody herbs, and game on the nose. The mid-weight palate initially shows brambly black fruits, and pungent soil flavors. With time in the glass notes of dark cherry and cherry pit appear along with a savory ferrous minerality and spice notes. The tension between fruit and earthiness is compelling and will gain in complexity with time in the cellar. More expressive on the second day. If enjoying now, decant for several hours or revisit in 7-10 years and enjoy for the decade following. John McIlwain
From very old vines planted by Stephane's grandfather, the Magnien Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes is a lovely combination of finesse and ripeness.The wine shows subtle, very complex aromas of violet, rose, wild strawberry and raspberry with hints of earth, licorice and spice, with truffle and black fruits emerging with time open. The palate is elegant and sappy with blackberry and ripe strawberry, citrus and spice, with terrific length on the very mineral finish. This is a beautiful and well-structured Chambolle that is delicious now, best 2020 to 2030. Lovely wine!
The young and very talented Stephane Magnien is producing delicious, old fashioned Burgundies from his beautifully tended vineyards in and around Morey-Saint-Denis. The estate has never used herbicides and uses a plowing regimen designed to force the roots deeper into the limestone bedrock. The "village" wine is always one of my favorite recommendations in Burgundy due to its elegance, balance, lovely fruit and great value. The 2014 is particularly beautiful, with lovely aromas of strawberry liqueur, black raspberry, violet, blood orange - very floral with hints of earth, brown spice and oak. Great balance of firm acidity and ripe fruit with a touch of oak on the palate showing strawberry, blackberry, citrus and spice over a core of mineral flavors that linger in the long finish. This delicious young Burgundy is lovely to drink now but has all the elements for great medium-term aging - wait a few years then drink until 2030...
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey St. Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2014 is truly lovely and perfumed, displaying floral and red fruit aromas of bright cherry, wild strawberry and violets, with a hint of game and wood smoke. Beautiful, pure red fruits carry over on the palate, with flavors of perfectly ripe Morello cherry, strawberry, and mineral spice, with lip-smacking acidity and a savory tannic spine. This shows layers of fruit with a mineral foundation beneath. This is a beautiful and harmonious Faconnières and while delicious now, will be marvelous from 2025 on. John McIlwainBurgundy at Thanksgiving - Of course! We have a wide variety of delicious Pinot Noirs from the ripe and lovely 2014 Burgundy vintage in stock that will also grace your Thanksgiving table, starting at around $20 - give us a call for assistance in your selection.
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawbwrry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocaolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035.
A touch of reduction on opening. An hour in the decanter reveals black cherry, black fruits, spices, and a kiss of anise on the nose. Not quite silken but softly textured, with ripe tannins and acid bringing up the finish. More blue-fruited on the palate with a good bit of earth just beneath the pretty fruit and spice. Soil notes become more prominent on second day as wine builds in weight and complexity. Very Vosne, if not flamboyantly so. This should be a compelling mid-weight Vosne with 5-6 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
Acquired in 2014, Dhroner Has'chen is a terraced monopole of ungrafted vines planted in 1933, east-facing and slightly cooler, being shaded from the sun from mid-afternoon onward. High-toned, green, fresh scents on the nose with notes of white cherry and pink grapefruit, the palate is a touch more tropical, yet still has a lightness and edge. Cari Bernard
Andreas is working around 30 different plots on this mostly south-facing hill, a small portion of which remains terraced. No ungrafted vines remain, but these are still old vines, being planted in 1953. Andreas spoke about the grapes for the Spätlese as being small in size, but not in compact bunches, with violet skins. 2015 gave grapes with no botrytis, which was perfect for Andreas, who believes Spätlese with botrytis can verge on being 'baroque'. This is a Spätlese with lift: incredibly floral on the nose with a vibrant palate bursting with peach, mango, honey and stone, candied orange peel and grapefruit zest. Cari Bernard
Translating to 'in the garden of the rectory', this is a plot planted in the 1960s on a flat terrain of heavy, alluvial soils mixed with eroded slate from the Hofberg above. As one can guess from the name, the vineyard once belonged to the rector for the parish of the town of Dhron. Fermented with natural yeasts, unfined, and aged in stainless steel, the wine is bright and green on the nose, with notes of flower petals and stems. Fresh, fruity and balanced with a prickle of acidity lifting the slightest sweetness of ripe mango with vibrant orange and lemon oils. Cari Bernard
Rothenpfad hails from the old-vine Riesling grown in red slate parcels of the Marienburg hillside. Deeply golden in color, the nose is a veritable spice box of aromas including cinnamon, cardamom, red peppercorn, juniper, cedar, and mace. The palate is mouth-coating but with an underlying minerality that carries notes of spiced pears and cinnamon through to a beautifully long finish.
Encouraged by the interest shown for the the initial release of his wines, Jochen agreed to send a limited number of magnums stateside. The 2010 Geyersberg in this larger format shows all minerality, one would expect from the vintage and all the added depth of flavor that magnums can offer. It shines a rich, brilliant golden yellow in the glass, while the nose is equally compelling. Aromas of lilacs, ripe red peaches, starfruit, and lemon zest are interlaced with star anise, freshly ground ginger, and smoky tones. The palate is refined, ethereal, and its towering minerality glides effortlessly. Fine floral notes are followed by a crescendo of Meyer lemon, cardamom, and star anise leading to a smoky, perfectly ripe nectarine finish. This is powerful and nuanced, dry Riesling! - David Salinas
The return of Dreissigacker's Kirchspiel has been eagerly awaited and in addition to the standard format 2013; we couldn't be more excited to release this 2012 magnum. A comparative tasting of the two speaks, beautifully, to the stature of this limestone-rich site and the aging potential of this wine could not clearer. The nose offers floral, herbal and petrol aromas with highlights of hyacinth, wisteria, oleander, spearmint, cardamom, and smoky tones. The palate is finely filigreed, balanced, and weighty with touches of tart lemon/lime sorbet, menthol, and star anise before a lilting grapefruit and floral finish. Classically Kirchspiel, this wine also expresses the kaleidoscope nuance and vintage variation that is to be expected from a great vineyard and a masterful grower. - David Salinas
Made with grapes from a section of the Herrenberg, with more than 12 months spent on the lees in bottle, this Sekt is just asking to be popped for any occasion (A birthday! A Tuesday! Apéro!). Crisp and flinty, but also leesy on the nose, the palate is fresh and lively, with stone fruit, young ginger, fennel bulb, and a brisk minerality. Cheers! Cari Bernard
Semi-carbonic, from grapes planted in the 1980s; the wine doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation, so there is still a bright malic, green note. The Webers made a deliberate choice to print ‘Spätlese’ on the label to confirm that there was no chaptalization of the must. The wine is fresh and tart, with notes of red apple skin, pomegranate, red flowers and cherries, balanced by just a touch of umami savoriness. This is your new summer red, with taught acidity and bright flavors. This can also be your fall red, to pair with those transitional dishes that still harken back to summer, but are a touch more warming. Cari Bernard
Eight terraces of old-vine Riesling planted in weathered gray slate, along the steep slope of the Starkenburger hang, provide the fruit for this pale straw yellow single-vineyard wine. Aromas of sultanas, hickory, and hyssop give the Zeppwingert a distinctly memorable nose. The palate is lifted by a zippy minerality that carries notes of cinnamon and coconut water through to a bitter orange pith finish. David Salinas
This wine is sourced from a portion of a 1.1 hectare monopol within the Zeppwingert; created during the winters of 1841-1845 by blasting through the gray slate with gunpowder charges. This area of the slope is extremely dry, with cooler temperatures and lower yields (~25hL/ha). The wine can definitely take a decant; at first sip tart and salty, with a distinct stoniness balanced by the light fruitiness of white peach, underripe pineapple, and a touch of white flowers. Cari Bernard
A quick walk from the estate, Steffensberg is the warmest site, boasting both gray and red slate with deeper soil. Gernot works a total of 1.5 hectares spread between some of the finest plots with mostly ungrafted vines. Portions of the hillside have been partially replanted due to Flurbereinigung (a remodeling/restructuring of the vineyards, adding access roadways and consolidating plots) starting in the 1960s. The warmth of Steffensberg comes through as fragrant, ripe peach and mango on the nose. The palate is structured with some weight, with notes of slightly less-ripe peach and strawberry, lemon zest, and green herbs. Cari Bernard
Although the Zeppwingert surrounds the Batterieberg on three sides, this wine is only made from grapes harvested on the eight terraces jutting out on the right flank of the Batterieberg. Soils are richer here, with dark gray slate and ungrafted vines upwards of 100-years-old and beyond. Tasted after being opened for three days, the wine is highly expressive, with notes of peaches, stone, citrus oil, beeswax, and orange blossom on the nose. The wine is vibrant and balanced, with hints of green herbs, mango, peach, and dark stone--showing great power and length. Cari Bernard
This is a fun one: Library Release Kabinett Trocken from K-R, direct from the estate to our cellar and hopefully to yours. We love Kabinett Trocken from cooler vintages at K-R such as this and 2010. Actually, we love pretty much everything the estate did in 2008, a vintage characterized by bright acidity, freshness and floral tones. All old casks and old-fashioned winemaking from our favorite staunchly traditional estate in the Pfalz. A joy to drink with a little age on it as well. -jfr
Lambertskirch is a parcel, not too far from Schonfels, that during its long history has gone from vines to fruit trees and forest overgrowth. Florian cleared and replanted the 0.2 hectares in 2012. 2015 is the second vintage from this predominately southeast-facing site where large, gray slate stones litter the ground between the vines. Floral with nectarine skin on the nose, the wine is practically vibrating, shimmering with acidity and tension. The palate is a touch more linear and lighter than the Fass 8 Kabinett, with fresh flavors of ripe nectarine, floral stems and petals, salinity and finely-integrated residual sugar. Serve before your Thanksgiving feast to whet the appetite! Cari Bernard
The Domprobst Auslese #11 has richer, more typical Mosel aromas than many of the soft-spoken wines in this year's collection and it's again delicate and poised. Elegant and mineral-laden with just about perfect balance and gentle concentration. This is when Willi says he's looking for "not increased sweetness, increased complexity and sustained balanced." The latter is certainly an understatement here. There was a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of botrytis-affected grapes included in this Auslese, but, in keeping with the house style, its purity and freshness comes from the perfectly ripe, tiny, golden berries they normally reserve for Auslese and that were in abundance this vintage. -jfr
Long considered the finest vineyard in the Pfalz, the sandy-loam, basalt, and limestone soils of the Kirchenstück are known for yielding Rieslings with tremendous verve and tension. Markus' Kirchenstück is no exception with aromas of orange blossom, pine, hazelnuts, lime zest, and petrol tones. Yet, the palate retains a light touch with a lively minerality and aromas of apricots, spiced peaches, and thyme leading to a finely dry finish. A Riesling worthy of the vineyard and the grower.- David Salinas
Beneath a layer of sandy-loam, Pechstein's soils hold basalt or pitched stone, the source of this vineyard's name. Along with the Jesuitengarten this wine was one of the clear stand-outs of Markus' 2014 campaign. It shines a golden honey yellow in the glass and welcomes with aromas of lilacs, chrysanthemums, grilled pistachios, lavender, and cranberries. The palate shows a fine minerality, offering tremendous length with notes of white truffles prior to a linden blossom finish. This is nuanced and impeccably detailed, dry Riesling!- David Salinas
Made from an assortment of Franconian apple varieties, with second fermentation in the bottle, and no sulfur added; the nose is oxidative, with hints of brown butter and apple blossom. The palate is savory and tart, balanced with notes of burnt caramel, yellow apple and a stony minerality: think savory like Asturian sidra but with more bubbles and darker tones. Cari Bernard
Let's be honest here: this is basically a Beerenauslese, with 140 g/L of residual sugar and 12.5 grams of acidity! 100% botrytis-affected grapes, this wine can (and should) age for quite some time. The nose hints at peach candy, cinnamon, and button mushroom, on the palate the wine shows both intensity and density, rich with honeyed peaches, orange oil, and apricot preserves. A fantastic bottle for those who wait! Cari Bernard
More herbal and savory in contrast to the floral nose of the Goldgrube Kabinett, the palate boasts a ripeness level alongside a level of acidity that Daniel says is like nothing he's had before. I found the Goldgrube to have a nice balance in contrast to the Steffensberg Spätlese; again the acidity is high, but the wine is rich and textured without being weighty, flavors of dried apricots, citron, orange blossom and green herbs make for a complex, cellar-worthy Spätlese! Cari Bernard
While I love dry German Riesling and am constantly evangelizing about its virtues, I still love wines with some sweetness more than most Germans and perhaps more than the proprietors of Von Racknitz themselves. That's most likely why this was the first wine I tasted at the estate that got three stars in my notebook (out of a max of three -- it's not a particularly precise system, I admit). As excited as I was by it, the note is somewhat brusque: "Very ripe aromas; concentrated peach and herbs. A lot of depth. Like the sun exploding in my mouth. So succulent. Exceptional!" The vines are over 60 years old, the wines are fermented spontaneously in stainless steel, the yields are absurdly low (30 hl/ha) and it's just an outright delicious, lip-smacking Spätlese. (Picture: Von Racknitz' parcels in the Klamm are on the right. On the left? Not so much....)-jfr
Riesling from the Zeppwingert vineyard, old vines on steep slopes of weathered blue and gray slate. Made in the Méthode Champenoise with very low dosage. This Sekt is balanced and bright with notes of brioche and lime blossom, apricot, peaches, with a crisp acidity and lingering finish of lemon oil and yellow flowers. Cari Bernard
Significantly more depth than the very fine Barolo classico, with herbs and meaty notes along with notable chalk tang – very fine grained tannins; a bit richer and rounder than the 2010, but lacking none of the finesse that Rocche (and the Brovias) can produce. Jamie Wolff
You could certainly cellar this wine for some years to come, but I like the way it’s drinking now. The nose is warm with baking spice, rose, and savory aromas; there’s a dark core to the wine but it’s actually quite elegant, with velvety tannin, and it even becomes delicate on the long finish. Miles ahead of the competition! Jamie Wolff
I think the 2010 Barolo is a special wine, showing transparent Bussia dark fruit, elegant and austere stoniness, and the harmonious character of the vintage's best wines. The equilibrium and finesse that are part of those best wines is very evident; although the 2010 will age (and improve) for a very long time, it’s quite delicious now. Regarding Bussia, in Barolo MGA, the great cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti writes: “The first cru, along with Rocche di Castiglione, to be officially declared on a Barolo label in the “modern era”, Bussia is not only the best vineyard site in all of Monforte d’Alba, but one of the super-stars of the entire appellation, capable of stimulating the dreams and desires of wine lovers all over the world.” Don't be put off by the low price! We set prices based on what we pay – if we get a good buy, then you do too. The Clerico wines are imported for Chambers Street; with more beaks dipping, the Barolo would normally be 50-60% more expensive in this market, as is the case for many of Clerico’s peers. The favorable exchange rate with the Euro has also helped make this an incredible buy for the quality of the wine. Jamie Wolff
From the ripe 2009 vintage, Giacomo Conterno's Barolo Cascina Francia avoids the overly rich character of some of the wines of their neighbors. Perfumes of orange oil, earth, grilled meat arise from the glass. The palate while dense and structured shows fine counterpoise between power and elegance, with sweet fruit, soil notes, and savory notes framed by ripe tannins and buoyed by good acidity for the vintage. This is quite pretty and while drinking nicely with decanting, this will benefit from another 10-20 years in the cellar when the fruit and structure should integrate. John McIlwain
Barbaresco: “Notu” was Fabio’s grandfather, and the name of the wine means “Notu followed the drops of water.” Although it may not be intended, the reference to water makes sense when you taste the wine, which has a kind of crystalline freshness and clarity that reminds one of spring water. Fabio writes: “48 months fining barrel (the wood Fabio use are not really “toasted,” but vaporized with specific volcanic hot rocks (no any creation of toxic elements after this treatment) and after unique mass for 6 months in porcelain jars (Fabio is the designer and the ceramist of his own porcelain jars; very probably the first one winemaker in the world that uses “no breathing ceramics” for winemaking). 1175 bottles made.”The 2011 is an edgy, dynamic wine, showing ripe fruit balanced by great lift and transparency. It stands out in the vintage, and it’s exciting to drink. Jamie Wolff
A note about hand-written labels, and other variables in wine packaging: My parents traveled a lot in Europe in the 1950s and ‘60s, and I remember that even in the 1960s they would remark on how signs of the war lingered – bomb damage and other un-reconstructed traces, of course, but also shortages of some basic consumer goods, like soap and toilet paper. Not surprisingly the difficulty in finding supplies extended to wine making; for example you couldn’t count on getting all of the same type of bottle every year. Add to this a farmer-wine maker’s natural and sensible frugality and you get further explanation about why some wines are not always packaged the same way. I’m not talking about First Growth Bordeaux, but in a place like Barolo, that was actually poor, and where selling wine was by no means a certainty, you made due with the materials on hand, including recycling last year’s bottles and labels when you could. For the most part wine was bottled on demand, and so the same vintage might be bottled over several years and might incorporate a variety of materials, including different bottles, corks and capsules, a variety of labels, handwritten details, or perhaps one vintage crossed-out and another written in its place – thus not wasting a perfectly good label. As related to us by Maria-Theresa Mascarello, this practice was certainly true for her grandfather and father, who until the 1980s sold almost all of their wine from the cellar to people they knew well, who were buying for their homes or restaurants, and who no issue with some mix of packaging. Even now this kind of thing happens: at another cellar my wife and I were given a bottle of the new vintage, but the vintage tags hadn’t arrived, so the wine maker wrote the year on a label from the previous year. In a sweet way that bottle is now an extra-special souvenir, and of course we have no intention of ever selling it. We just need to wait about 20 years… Jamie Wolff
This Rosso is 90% Barbera and 10% Dolcetto. We will drink some on Thanksgiving – we have a miscellaneous crowd of fellow-orphans, and they represent a wide range of taste and interest in wine, or lack thereof. I am not normally a fan of blends from Piedmont, so it’s surprising to me that I love this wine. There is still plenty of old vine Barbera character, but extra vivacity and complexity from the Dolcetto makes it really delicious and interesting. I anticipate it to be a crowd-pleaser, with enough intrigue for wine lovers, easy drinkability for the drinkers, and a very good pick to play well with the crazy range of Thanksgiving flavors. Jamie Wolff
Mint, balsam, on top of full Nebbiolo aromatics and a lot of minerality; very ripe and firm tannins. This shows that it’s not all about 2010! It’s made from younger vines in Boscareto (see below), usually harvested rather later than the neighbors. Principiano thinks that his organic viticulture has made a huge difference in the health of the vines, even in difficult growing seasons. The wine gets about a month of maceration and then is aged in 20,000 and 40,000 liter barrels. It’s a harmonious and deep wine with a long future. Jamie Wolff
Lovely nose of caramel, wet earth, tar, roses, rainwater and old barrel spice. The color is an octave lighter than the Produttori. Elegant and juicy with vivid cherry fruit and a speherical sense on the palate. Great concentration and gritty tannins. Lovely acidity. Long finish. Totally mature wine. LF
For Christmas this year I would like to be given the Giuseppe Rinaldi 2002 Barolo, in magnum. Please. In Piedmont the summer of ’02 saw unprecedented quantities of rain, cool temps, landslides, hail, and downpours of frogs – just about every bad wet weather thing that can happen, and many producers didn’t even make wine. By way of contrast, Giacomo Conterno bottled only Monfortino; I haven’t tasted it for a while but it was pretty spectacular then (it would be very interesting to taste the 2002 Monfortino blind… does anyone with a bottle want to join the experiment?). And G Rinaldi made really good Barolo, which I was first wowed by in 2007, and then again last May. So I’d like that mag, please. Jamie Wolff
Formerly labeled Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera, this is close to same blend / same wine. Early on (from barrel in 2014) the Tre Tine seemed closer in style to Brunate than usual, sharing a dark core of ripe fruit, and very ripe tannin. A year later there was more obvious difference, with the elegance of Cannubi beginning to shine. Out of about 120 Barolos, this is one of the very best 2011s we've tasted. Jamie Wolff
The Nebbiolo is from vines that are just over the border of the Barolo zone. From a terroir point of view it might as well be Barolo, and as wine, Roddolo’s Nebbiolo far surpasses most Barolo. The 2009 is a bit more forward than more austere vintages, aromatic, medium-bodied but rich on the palate with very ripe tannins and none of the heat found in so many wines of the vintage. Jamie Wolff
Nowadays, Grignolino is often made in a fairly heavy, extracted style that mimics something of the structure of Nebbiolo, but this one is old-school: light, fresh, juicy. It’s dry and savory with lovely bright cherry fruit and a foundation of chalky earth. The wine sings! It’s perfect for fall appetizers — salume, crostini, rich soups — or as red-wine-with-fish. This wine is an absolute delight. Jamie Wolff
In addition to the beautiful, classic Chianti Classicos from Lecci e Brocchi, we will taste older Brunello from Biondi-Santi, Barbi, Il Poggione, Poggio di Sotto, and older Chianti from Felsina, Fonterutoli, Verrazzano, and some other Sangiovese treasures.
This single-vineyard wine is from a small vineyard (2.5 hectares, Biodynamic viticulture) tucked into the hills south of Panzano, in Tuscany — prime Chianti Classico terroir. The wine is medium-bodied, with rich and lush/concentrated notes of red and black currants that intermingle with violets, clay and earth with a long finish.
This is a fantastic straw hued Soave (Garganega) from the mother-daughter team at Adalia in the Veneto. Crisp and dry with a hint of grassy texture and a long mineral finish. Eben Lillie
After working in Franciacorta as consultants for a few years, Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi started their own label in 2006. They now have 12 hectares just outside of Coccaglio (limestone and clay) and Capriolo (silt and clay), averaging between 150-330m above sea level. The Dossagio Zero is 100% Chardonnay from vines planted between 1985 and 2008. Even though it says NV on the bottle, the base wine is from the 2012 harvest. The first fermentation takes place in stainless steel using only native yeasts. The second fermentation takes place in bottle, using native yeasts and grape must (not sugar), spending 31 months on the lees. The result is a bright and beautiful fruit-driven sparkling wine. Straw yellow in color, with an intense nose of apples, lemons and refreshing acidity, perfect with grilled pork and fennel or even a mushroom risotto. Or just keep it simple and grab some prosciutto with parmigiano and melon. Jamie thinks it goes with everything. Christine Manula
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
I’ve been trying to figure out Arneis for years now. I know I like Brovia’s version, but I like all things Brovia. My impression is that Arneis is a fairly subtle and undramatic grape, and it’s therefore easy to skew its profile – almost all Arneis is produced with selected yeasts, which produce uniformly adequate but dull wine. On top of that it’s very easy to overdo it with wood, an common thing when it comes to the ‘riservas’ or top of the line bottlings, whatever they call it. It must help the Chiesa Arneis that it is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts; there’s some light batonnage until malo. It’s lively and bright, quite savory and chalky/mineral; it’s very vinous and clean with rich underlying texture, and has compelling dry honey and pear flavors that are a bit reminiscent of Chenin. By far the most interesting Roero Arneis I’ve tasted. Jamie Wolff The vines for the Roero Arneis were planted in 1960 on sandy soils with a southeast exposure. Aged in stainless steel for 6 months, the wine is bright straw yellow and has persistent flavors of green apples, stone fruit, and white flowers, with just a touch of honey. Would pair well with light pastas, fish / shellfish, antipasti, or even a mild curry. Christine Manula
According to history, the Camaldolese monks started making wine in the area of San Michele back in 1186. Today La Marca carry on that tradition of making Verdicchio in Le Marche, the eastern Italian region that sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Their vineyards are located on hills of clay and limestone soil 350-400 meters above sea level. The wine stays on the lees for a minimum of six months and is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The result is a medium-bodied full-flavored white, ripe with stone fruit, citrus, herbs and a touch of honey. Try it with roasted flounder, scallops, mushroom risotto or roasted chicken. And if you are looking for a white to age, this would be a perfect candidate. We just opened the 2012 which was still extremely fresh and lively, but rich with dried apricots and honey. Christine Manula
This is rare mountain wine. Heinrich Mayr, along with his wife and daughter, farm almost all of the 3 hectares left in the entire world of this variety. Blatterle (“little leaf” in German), is indigenous to the Sudtirol and the Mayrs grow it on their tiny biodynamic oasis in the heart of the industrialized city of Bolzano. Although only 3 producers still farm this endangered grape, when vinified with the care and attention of the Mayrs it is capable of producing a truly delicious and unique wine: medium—bodied yet fresh, with bright lemon and mineral notes. A characteristic snap of mint on the finish cuts perfectly through salty charcuterie, rich cheeses, or the thick heat of a summer afternoon. Karina Mackow
Famoso di Cesena, a native grape of Romagna, was first documented in 1437 but had all but disappeared by the early 1900s. In 2000 two old rows of vines were spotted in Mercato Saraceno (Forlì) and the owner knew it was Famoso. Today the grape is being revived by a group of winemakers who are convinced that the unique features of this grape variety should not be lost. Davide and Mauro at Villa Venti are growing Famoso on red clay and Messinian-age sand. Serenaro is fermented in stainless steel and aged six months on the lees then matured four months in bottle. No added yeasts and minimal sulfur is added. The result is a very aromatic wine with floral/lavender notes and hints of dried fruit. On the palate, it’s refreshing with citrus peel and nice minerality. Perfect with fish, fresh cheese and all'ascolana (fried stuffed olives). Christine Manula
Albenga, lying along the western stretch of Liguria’s coastline, is thought to be the best subzone within the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC for growing Pigato. Vio’s example of the native variety certainly does nothing to disprove that assertion! From vines averaging 35 years of age and fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel, Giobatta, or Aimone as his friends call him, certainly has his vineyard practices right – the small estate has been certified organic since 1999. Stone fruits and a distinctive almond note dominate the fresh aromatics, along with a hallmark saltiness on the palate that pairs deliciously with bolder seafood preparations and, most traditionally in the region, pasta with pesto. Karina Mackow
From young and old vines in a superb south-facing hillside vineyard of thin clay over limestone soils in Cravant. 24 months of aging in 2 to 4 year-old barriques. The difficult vintage of 2013 gave very low yields and less alcohol than usual, but the 2013 Croix Boissée is a superb, elegant Chinon that will age well and resembles a light, old fashioned Burgundy. The aromas are lovely and very floral with raspberry and red currant fruit. The palate is extremely mineral, not fat but with pretty red fruit, spice and earthy flavors over firm acidity. Given the vintage, this is an astonishingly good Chinon, but not exactly a fruit-bomb, that should be superb when mature, perhaps 2025 to 2035, and delicious young for those who appreciate more terroir than fruit in their Chinon.
(Tasted in January 2016) From 50 to 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2014 is certainly one of the greatest "les Grézeaux" from this wonderful estate! Beautiful deep red/black color, lush, complex palate of ripe dark fruit with perfect balance and fabulous length, with cool acidity lifting the fruit. As always the "les Grézeaux" is enjoyable young as the gravel soil gives a wine with a silky texture, but it ages beautifully as well, as anyone with the 1989 can tell you. This is a must for any lover of Chinon!
From a tiny parcel in La Croix Boissée, with 15 to 25 year-old Chenin vines on thin sandy clay soils over limestone. Slow fermentation in 500 liter tonneaux until "sec" - under 2 grams per liter of residual sugar. With lovely ripeness in the 2015 vintage, the wine shows aromas of lime-flower, stone, dried pear and apple, with a hint of hazelnut and spice. The palate opens with aeration to show intense dried pear, anise, beeswax and strong mineral flavors in a quite ripe and round frame with firm acidity. The intense citrus oil and dried herbs in the finish are typical of white Chinon. This is a beautiful and really unique expression of Chenin Blanc. Decant or open 1-2 hours before serving. Highly recommended!
The 2010 Le Clos from Vincent Careme is a superb off-dry Vouvray (20 grams/liter of RS) that is a bit softer than the wonderful 2008, showing brilliant aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really lovely! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with fish or chicken in sauce, foie gras and mild cheeses, or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience...
This year we're featuring Chenin Blanc in our Thanksgiving email with two great choices from the Loire Valley. These beautiful wines are great food pairings due to their unique combination of ripe fruit, firm acidity and saline minerals that complement the full-flavored dishes of the holiday table. The 2014 La Jalousie is a particularly great choice as the vintage gave the wine luscious ripeness while retaining the bright acidity so important for balance and freshness. Evelyn de Pontebriand took over her parents’ estate in 2001 after a long career teaching French literature all over the world. As a lover of all things botanical, it did not take long for her to convert the estate to strictly organic farming and she continues to experiment with different vineyard management techniques in her quest to highlight Savennière's austere terroir. Her work in the cellar is very traditional with fermentations occurring naturally with indigenous yeasts and SO2 is used in miniscule doses only if needed. The Chenin Blanc vines from the La Jalousie parcel are 15-20 years old and are planted in sandstone and decomposed quartz schist soils. On the nose it shows classic Savennières aromas of stone fruits, papaya, mango, and waxy citrus fruits. The palate is quite full-bodied and offers luscious tropical fruit anchored by minerals and more juicy citrus. The 2014 is the finest La Jalousie in many years - beautifully balanced and delicious now, but would be interesting to taste in 5-10 years! Tim Gagnon
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Happily, Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in semi-retirement, with his new associate Fred Niger Van Herck. 2012 and 2013 were problematic in one way or another for growers in Muscadet, but the wines from 2012, a very low-yielding year, are by far the best with great density, lovely fruit and superb mineral expression. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2012 "Granite" is particularly outstanding. As usual with this cuvée it's a bit musty and closed when first opened — decanting is advised — followed by aromas of dusty stone, lemon flower and pear. The palate is dense and vibrant with flint, saline minerals, bitter almond and sharp herbal/citrus flavors with firm acidity in the long stony finish. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2019 to 2029. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
A delicious demi-sec Chenin Blanc from Alain and Christine Bore! Honey-tinged and luscious on the nose with baked peaches, mango, pineapple, lime zest, heather, red delicious apple skin, and tangerine. Mellow and round on the palate, but balanced with exotic tropical fruits, lemon meringue, salty pineapple, honey, and Marcona almond. Tropical fruit and grapefruit endure on the finish, along with a sweetness that is never cloying. Pair with all kinds of dessert, but a summery fruit tart would be best! Tim Gagnon
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2015 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, dried pear, stone and honeyed citrus and minerals that continue in the long finish. A simply delicious dry Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc... DL
The 2012 Varenne de Combre is the more meditative and linear of the two Anjou whites from Grandes Vignes. Totally dry and crystalline, with great precision and a long mineral finish. This wine should age beautifully, but is also a treat with a little air. Textbook dry Chenin on schist soil... what more could you want? Eben Lillie
A beautiful Chenin Blanc, from a great vintage for Loire whites. There's a nice amount of weight and roundness in the mid-palate, so don't expect enamel-stripping acidity, but don't worry either... it's still totally dry. Vines are around 20 years old on average, from soils of schist and sandstone in the valley of Arcison, a small tributary of the Layon river. Pressed at low pressure, light racking of 12 hours with light lees recovery. 400L new wood for alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Kept in old wood for 10 months. Golden yellow, with a touch of quince, and white peach. Just plain delicious Chenin Blanc. Eben Lillie
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 45 gr/l RS. A very graceful wine. Ripe mango, pineapple stalk, candied grapefruit peel, lychee, and a hint of wool rise from the glass. The palate perfectly balances opulent fruit and sweetness with bright acidity and a scintillating texture. Although approachable now, it'd be great in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux 1er Trie: 11.5% alc, 90 gr/l RS. Gorgeous tropical melon, Meyer lemon, and orange blossom at firston the nose with undertones of baked pear, walnut, and wildflower honey. You do get a sense for the botrytis, with more luscious orange marmalade and very ripe pineapple as well. On the palate it is honeyed, tropical, and almost salty, with an invigorating acidity balancing out the residual sugar. Long and very pretty; this is no doubt a beautiful wine, it will need quite a long time in the cellar to really open up. Tim Gagnon