OPEN VETERAN'S DAY
...More White Burgundies
small property is the work of Michel Morey, whose wife's family is the
"Coffinet" part of the family tree.
With holdings in Chassagne-Montrachet, we've been delighted with the red
wines made by this domaine.
Unusually good is their entry-level Bourgogne Blanc. Few
winemakers devote much in the way of oak to this level of white Burgundy,
but Morey-Coffinet's shows a whiff of wood. The 2015 has a bright,
stony, minerally edge to it which we like quite a bit. Nice richness, too.
the 2016 vintage we have a stellar Chassagne-Montrachet which is a beautiful
example of Morey-Coffinet's style. It comes from a site called
Les Houillères and this is a small patch of vines at
the northern part of Chassagne not far, actually, from Montrachet.
It's a south, southwest-facing site. Morey-Coffinet's wine is a
classic white Burgundy showing toasty and smoky notes and a minerally, stony
character. It's crisp and bone dry, of course. If you're
interested in tasting what White Burgundy is all about without dropping a
few hundred bucks on a trophy bottle, check out this wine, please.
- Currently in stock:
2015 Bourgogne Blanc $29.99
2016 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les
- Owning something like
7.5 hectares of vines, Michel Niellon is an
exceptional winemaker. We are periodically fortunate enough to receive some bottles of his
glorious white Burgundies.
They have about 2/3s of the domaine in Chardonnay and the rest planted to
Pinot Noir being centered in Chassagne-Montrachet.
Niellon is still active in the winery, assisted by his son-in-law, Michel
Coutoux and grandson Matthieu Bresson.
The vineyards are farmed without weed control and they shun
herbicides. They say they're practicing lutte raisonnée, which
means they'll address mildew and pests only if they need to.
Niellon strives for crisp acidity in the wines, so they pick earlier than
many of their neighbors. If your vineyards have sensible crop levels,
this can work out nicely.
His wines, noted for their intensity and richness, are almost
oily in texture. The real proof is that in so-called "smaller" vintages, this
fellow's wines are terrific.
The musts are fermented in stainless steel tanks and as they're close to
finishing, the wine is racked into barrels where it undergoes its secondary,
malolactic fermentation. They typically use about 25% new wood
for the wines. We find the balance of oak and smoky, leesy notes to be
Niellon is a master winemaker...his wines always have style and we've never
been disappointed, so we routinely try to have some of his wine in the shop.
We currently have their 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet from the Champgains
cru. It's a wine with some of the classic smoky notes we like in
Niellon wines and there's a bit of pear or ripe apple-like fruit.
Medium-bodied and still youthful.
- Currently available:
2013 Bâtard-Montrachet $359.99
2015 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET "LES CHAMPGAINS" $119.99
- The Ramonet family is the "first family" of Chassagne-Montrachet.
They routinely make exceptional wines for which there is great world-wide demand.
With something like 14 hectares of vineyards, brothers Noël and Jean-Claude have
assumed the reins from Papa André. We have been big fans of their red wines, though the
enterprise is known for the Chardonnays.
They make quite a range of wines. In
the Premier cru you'll find Ruchottes, Morgeots, Caillerets,
Clos-de-la-Boudriotte, Clos-Saint-Jean, Chaumées and Vergers.
They own a small parcel of Montrachet (the story or legend goes that the old
man, in 1978, went to Beaune to a lawyer's office and paid for that vineyard
land in cash. une They also have a small parcel in Batard
Montrachet and in Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet.
also have holdings in Puligny Montrachet as well as a bit of vineyard land
in nearby Saint Aubin.
The wines are started in some sort of neutral tank such as stainless-steel before being
transferred into cask. They use about 35% new wood for their
premier cru wines (more for the grand cru level bottlings) and it's from Chatillonais
and Tronçais oak. While many Burgundian winemakers stir the lees, Ramonet does not. They
do, however, leave the wine in contact with the lees for a lengthy period.
Honey and hazelnuts are the typical notes one finds in a Ramonet Chassagne. The wines have
a subtle quality about them, yet there's an underlying power and weight to these wines.
Undoubtedly, this is a result of old vines, small yields and meticulous vinification. The
Ramonets consider vines of less than 18 years to be "young" vines!
Our first tastes of Ramonet wines back in the 1980s were impressive.
Then there was a time in the late 1990s/early 2000s when the wines did not
seem quite as striking.
More recently, though, they have been quite good. But while in those
"old days," Ramonet was one of the very few domaines making such
remarkable wines, these days there are numerous estates where one finds
seriously good bottlings.
We've been privileged to taste a number of of their recent releases and can
report the wines are in the "very good" to "outstanding"
We've seen this nice lady whom we gather is a family member...
- She poured a handful of Ramonet wines, finishing with the exceptional
2014 Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet. With a twinkle in her eye she
cautioned us to be careful swirling the wine.
"You don't want to spill any of that," she said.
"You'll lose about $50 worth of wine if you do!"
In fact, she may have been underestimating the retail cost of the wine in
|I read an amusing article about this crew. They shun the spotlight and
are not keen to have visitors. One the Ramonets is standing in front of the winery,
having an appointment with a visitor. A woman arrives for her rendezvous,
only to be told the fellow she intends to meet had other business and is not available
after all. The funny part was, of course, the appointment was with the very Ramonet
brother who brushed off this visitor!
A friend told me of arriving for an appointment with a famed vigneron in
another village. The fellow told this trio of American visitors he couldn't see
them, as he had an appointment or business elsewhere. He jumped in his car and drove
off. They were curious, so they jumped into their chariot and followed him.
All the way around the corner and back in front of his winery. He got out and
returned to his work (or whatever), apparently happy that he avoided another
appointment with "foreigners" or "customers."
you're wondering what sort of French name Bzikot is, well, you're
right...it's not French.
At least, such a name doesn't have French roots, but these days, it's
decidedly Burgundian with an Eastern European origin.
Sylvain Bzikot's grandfather made his way from Poland in the 1930s and
arrived in Burgundy with the clothes on his back. Grandpa Bzikot
went to work for some vignerons in the area and was able to acquire
something like 4 hectares of land in and around
Today the family takes care of approximately 16 hectares and they also
have holdings in Volnay, Santenay and Auxey-Duresses.
We don't have a lot of experience with the wines from this domaine, but
the few we've tasted have been seriously good, even down to the
We have Bzikot's 2015 Puligny-Montrachet from the lieu-dit site called
They have less than half of a hectare of that site which is quite close to
the Premier Cru site of Les Perrières.
The grapes are hand-harvested and then they sort through
them. The grapes are pressed in a gentle manner and the juice is allowed
to settle in a tank, as we understand it. It's then racked into barrel
where it ferments in barrel, with 25% of the wood being new. They leave it
in wood until about six months before bottling. Then the wine goes into
stainless steel tanks to further settle.
The 2015 is gorgeous.
The wine shows a beautiful smoky and mildly woodsy bouquet with some stony
notes. The fruit is a bit reminiscent of peach/ripe melon, apple and
pears. You might also detect some toasted nuts. It's dry and
crisp. Very fine. We wish more wines made of Chardonnay resembled
Currently in stock: BZIKOT 2015 PULIGNY
MONTRACHET "La Rousselle" $89.99
DOMAINE PHILIPPE BOUZEREAU
Bouzereau name is associated with the village of Meursault. There
are at least half a dozen wineries with the Bouzereau family name and
maybe a couple of others in nearby towns.
- The branch of the family running the Château de Citeaux was run by
Philippe Senior starting in the 1960s and his son, Junior, took over in
2006 after getting some winemaking experiences in Beaujolais, Australia
and New Zealand. The property presently comprises about 18
hectares of vineyards and these are farmed sustainably, or as the French
say, Lutte Raisonnée.
They make a number of different appellations of white
Burgundy, with holdings in a number of well-known cru sites.
Within the Meursault home base they own vineyards within 4 Premier Cru
Philippe says he wants to showcase the special characteristics of each site,
so while they do employ a bit of new oak for these wines, they don't go
Bouzereau has less than half a hectare in the Premier Cru site of
Genevrières. Some of the vines were planted in 1960 and some in 1980,
so they're all in a good state of maturity.
And those vines are worked without weed-killers.
The juice is gently pressed from the grapes and transferred into barrel
for the fermentation. They stir the lees regularly
and the wine stays in wood for about a year. Typically they'll use
30% new barrels. After this aging in oak, the wine then is racked
into stainless steel tanks and left for maybe half a year before it's
We love the minerality and bright pear notes which have a complex, toasty
quality in this 2016 vintage. This is another one of those wines you
have to stop and look at the label to make sure you remember the producer,
cru and vintage. (That's why we often have either a cell phone
camera or a pocket camera to take a snapshot of worthy wines.)
Currently in stock: PHILIPPE BOUZEREAU 2016 MEURSAULT
"Genevrières" SALE $99.99
PAUL PERNOT & FILS
Pernot winery is highly regarded for its Puligny-Montrachet wines, though
the number of bottles of this arriving in the market is but a tiny
percentage of what they actually grow and make.
Since the late 1950s this domaine has been providing wine in bulk to the
negociant firms, principally Joseph Drouhin.
We're privileged to taste their wines every year and these are a bit more
fruit driven than the really minerally, leesy, smoky style we enjoy so
These days the family has about 23 hectares of vineyards, mostly in
We currently have two 2015 vintage wines in the shop.
Their basic Bourgogne Blanc features the typical Pernot fragrances
centering on yellow fruits with an exotic note reminiscent of mango or
papaya. Oak is not a feature here.
Their 2015 Puligny-Montrachet does see a bit of wood, but the oak is well
in the background as Pernot looks for some minerally tones and the yellow
fruit, ripe pear sort of elements we find here.
Currently in stock: PAUL PERNOT 2015
BOURGOGNE BLANC $30.99
2015 PAUL PERNOT PULIGNY-MONTRACHET SALE $64.99
Paul Pernot owns a hefty percentage of the Folatieres cru in Puligny.
BONNEAU DU MARTRAY
Corton-Charlemagne (list $150) SALE $139.99
Corton-Charlemagne (list $150) SALE $129.99
- This famous domaine is run by the Count and Countess Jean le Bault de la Morinire.
The property has been the possession of René Bonneau du Martray, the uncle of the
countess. The property consists of 9 hectares of Corton-Charlemagne and two hectares
The Bonneau du Martray wines are the standard by which other Corton-Charlemagne wines are
judged. However, they take years to blossom, so drinking a three or four year old
wine would be a bit premature.
The Chardonnay starts its fermentation in stainless steel before finishing its
fermentation in wood. One-third new Limousin oak barrels are used, one-third are
second year barrels and the rest are third year cooperage. After nearly a year the
wine returns to stainless steel for another six months to await bottling.
The 2004 is marvelous and has great potential. There's an appley
aspect to the wine presently, with some steely notes. It's dry and
crisp and will only improve over the next five to eight years as it becomes,
The 2007 is a baby...but refined and poised to be a grand bottle.
CHATEAU de PULIGNY-MONTRACHET
property was taken over by a bank, the Caisse d'Espargne back at the turn of
the century, or thereabouts. It's a
lovely estate, with some 20 hectares of vines, 2/3s of which are in
- Management of the firm was then assumed by Monsieur Etienne de
Montille, a famous name from nearby Volnay. We found the wines here
to be of very fine quality.
Etienne brought the domaine back to life and finally in 2012 he and his
sister, Alix de Montille, purchased the estate and have been running it
simple "Bourgogne Blanc" is a really good indicator of the style
and quality of wines you'll find here. It's called "Clos du Château"
and it comes from a single parcel of 5 hectares that's right in front of
the chateau. This is right on the border of Puligny Montrachet, so
it's a terrific entry-level wine to the world of Pulignys.
- The fruit is hand-harvested and the juice is pressed immediately and
they figure out how hard to press dependent upon the vintage. After
a short period of settling the juice, it's transferred to wood. Some
of the cooperage holds 600 liters and some 228 liters. New oak is
scaled according to the vintage as well, ranging, as we understand it from
5 to 20 percent. Light toast. Allier oak.
- The 2015 doesn't seem to have much in the way of wood...it's a mildly
stony dry white. We might prefer a bit more wood, but that's just
us. The wine sells quite well with many bottles leaving the shop
with people who had one previously and have returned for another.
That's a good sign!
- We can special order their other wines, if you like.
The range is impressive...
I asked Etienne's son Louis to pose for the camera in the vast barrel room
(ages ago!) The little fellow was more than happy to oblige!
- Currently in stock: 2015 "Clos du Château" BOURGOGNE BLANC
Gros is a highly-regarded winemaker and he works in all phases of his
The photo above shows him at a trade tasting event in France in 2016 and,
as you can see, he's pouring red wine. His estate's vineyards tally
to about 26 hectares if we've understood the various vineyard plantings
Only 12% of his vineyards are planted to Chardonnay but when you taste his
"simple" Hautes Côtes de Nuits, you'll think this guy is an old
master at white wine. This is such a fabulous bottle of wine, it
puts to shame so many whites from places you expect to have great White
Burgundy. Chassagne? Puligny? Meursault?
The vineyard for this are about 20+ years of age. The grapes are
hand-harvested and the juice is settled briefly before he starts the
fermentation. If we understand correctly, the fermentation begins in
tank but then, when it's two-thirds completed, this goes into oak
barrels. Twenty percent of the wood is new. They stir the wine
when they top up the barrels, which is fairly often at the
- We currently have the 2014 vintage in stock. Very showy wine and
it beats the hell out of far more prestigious wines that cost serious
Attending a big wine event in Burgundy a few years ago, we hoped to make a
discovery and find a good, serious quality, well-priced white. After
tasting hundreds of wines, we saw our old friend Michel Gros standing
behind his table and pouring a little vin blanc. Mon dieu!
Here was our wine!!
Intensely fruity aromatics were balanced by a bit of toasty oak. The
wine was dry and fairly full on the palate.
We have now had several vintages of this.
The current bottling in stock is the 2014.
If you're searching for a well-priced White Burgundy and you enjoy a bit
of oak, don't miss this!
Script: A local couple hosted a dinner and invited a fellow
whom they consider to be a wine "expert" as he pays more
money for a bottle of wine than they do.
The hostess said she wanted something "affordable," but a
wine that might impress their friend. We suggested this,
knowing it would pair well with the food at the very least and maybe
the expert would find it to be of interest.
A day after the dinner party, the expert called to inquire if we had
any bottles of the Michel Gros white Burgundy. We did and he
stopped by to pick up a case.
Currently in stock: MICHEL GROS 2014 HAUTES CÔTES
DE NUITS BLANC $35.99
A sommelier bringing bottles from "the cellar" to the restaurant.
the past few decades, Burgundy has become a remarkably complicated maze
for most wine drinkers to explore.
It used to be easy: The names of the various villages
or bus stops were well known and all you had to do was find a reliable
"shipper" (the various negociant firms were called 'shippers' by
the old-timers) to buy a decent bottle of wine.
The famous names were those such as Bouchard, Louis Jadot, Faiveley,
Patriarche, Mommessin, Coron Pere et Fils, Pierre Andre, Moillard, Louis
Latour and Joseph Drouhin.
The firms dominated the Burgundy market, buying grapes and sometimes wine
from small growers who were thought to be too small to compete with these
big companies. The big houses could dominate the market, dictating
prices for grapes during the harvest and for wine post-harvest.
But years ago a number of small growers began bottling their own wines and,
over the years, more of these little companies have decided to stop selling
fruit and/or wine to the large houses. This caused some issues for the
Drouhin is still a family-operated company and I'd bet most Burgundian
growers and vintners have the utmost respect for this winery. They've
been good about being a serious ambassador for Burgundy, traveling around
the world to meet & greet trade partners and consumers. And
they helped put Oregon on the world's wine map when they purchased a
property there and set up a thriving winery in the Willamette Valley where
they make some very good Pinot Noir.
We've long been friendly with the Drouhin family, having first visited their
Burgundy cellar in Beaune decades ago. The wines have routinely been
elegant and classy. And the wines continue to improve.
BEAUNE CLOS DES MOUCHES BLANC
The word "mouches" refers to flies, but this vineyard
parcel is not really named after those little insects, but after honey bees,
"mouches à miel."
The vineyard is located south of the city of Beaune and just near the border
of the appellation of Pommard. The Chardonnay vines in this
Premier Cru site average about 45 years of age and Drouhin routinely
short-crops the vines to well under the legal maximum production.
The grapes are pressed after being sorted and the juice is then settled
before the cleaner, clearer juice goes into small French oak before the
start of fermentation. Drouhin insists on proper weathering or
seasoning of its oak barrels, another detail adding to the quality.
Chablis is a major part of Drouhin's portfolio. Robert Drouhin
realized several decades ago that Chablis was, in fact, a wine of special
characteristics. With many growers abandoning vineyards (in the 1950s
there was a major frost which killed a lot of vineyards and into the 1960s,
demand for Chablis was not great.
He purchased a lot of vineyards and today Joseph Drouhin is a bit of a Chablis
specialist. (And unlike some of the Chablis specialists which are actually
headquartered in Chablis, you won't find Drouhin's wine in anything resembling a
They usually keep the pricing on the basic Chablis at a reasonable level, so
we've had a most attractive wine at a most attractive price.
The Chablis sees a brief pass in oak, but not a single barrel is new. The
wood is used to mature the wine, not give it oak flavors. As a result,
you'll find this to be snappy and bone dry, with hints of green apple and a
slightly chalky, flinty note.
We enjoy this wine from time to time as a white to set up a more important
red. So in our world, this is typically paired with seafood, though we
enjoyed a pour at a place in The City paired with Fried Okra and Crayfish Hush
Puppies and it was delicious. 2015 presently...
MONTRACHET Premier Cru "MORGEOT"
This parcel of Morgeot is owned by the Laguiche family, who also own a
prime parcel in Le Montrachet.
Drouhin has long been buying the fruit from those two vineyard sites and making
truly wonderful wines.
For this Chassagne Montrachet, the wine is barrel fermented and Drouhin says
they use about 20% new oak. Whatever they're doing, they're doing it
The wine exudes class.
It's beautifully balanced, showing magnificent fruit and just the right amount
of toasty oak. It's dry, of course, and complex...there's just something
about this site and it sings here.
Currently in stock: 2011 BEAUNE "CLOS DES
MOUCHES" Blanc Sold Out
2015 CHABLIS Sale $19.99
2011 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET "Morgeot" Sold Out
MAISON LOUIS JADOT
know this firm gets some nice reviews from various journals. I buy
bottles of their wines, from time to time, in hopes of tasting something
that's extraordinary. I simply haven't found much in their line-up of
reasonably-priced wines that excites my taste-buds. I suppose when you
produce 150 wines annually, you're not going to excel at all of them
We did taste through a handful of new releases in early 2012 and had to
admit the wines are better than the dreary plonk we'd been accustomed to
tasting some years ago.
I made a point of sampling a handful of Jadot offerings at a big event in
Burgundy in 2016 and can't say I found anything compelling.
I was surprised by their use of oak in a Premier Cru Chablis...now I like
wood in a wine, but this tasted like a brandy that had been in the barrel
for too long! It was oaked to a fare-thee-well and then some. So
I wondered why there's not someone in charge of actually monitoring their
wines and having a somewhat consistent house style.
The winery enjoyed a nice bit of popularity some years ago when Louis
Jadot's Pouilly-Fuisse was all the rage and a sign of a
"sophisticated" wine drinker. Society folks from
Hillsborough would amble in and request a bottle of "Lew-ie Jar-dot's
Poo-wee Foo-see" back in those days, knowing a bottle of this on
tonight's dinner table signified they knew their shit when it came to wine.
These days those people buy Rombauer wines, either in Feinherb Chardonnay or
Jadot must make a couple of dozen different white Burgundy wines and while
things are competently made, we're not privileged to taste those wines which
might, in fact, be somewhat exciting.
Currently in stock: Special orders are possible
if you're hell-bent on their wines.
have fond memories of the early vintages we had tasted of Chablis from
this modest-sized domaine in Chablis.
It was so long ago, we've forgotten the name of the importer back in the
One day a fellow comes in to the shop and he and the Mrs. are here in
California on vacation. The couple is poking around the shop and
it's slightly disorganized wine displays when there's a loud "Oh my
God!" eruption (in French...probably Mon dieu!).
It was Monsieur et Madame Geoffroy and they had just seen their wine
displayed in our little corner of the store devoted to Burgundy.
There, right in front of them, about 10,000 kilometers from home, were
bottles of wine he had made himself!
He introduced himself and though he didn't speak much English and we were
not capable of much French, we both spoke a common language: wine!
It was around midday so we ran off to get a baguette, some salami and
locally-made cheeses. Some bottles of wine were opened and we had a
nice little in-store "picnic."
Geoffroy's wines disappeared from the market a few years later and it was
a delight when a good, local importer started working with
For the past few years we have had access to the Geoffroy family's wines.
I've seen family members (as noted above with the photo of Nathalie
Geoffroy) at a wine fair in Europe every year and the wines are always
well-made and typical of Chablis. they're not terribly well-known
here in the U.S. as they don't advertise with wine publications and they
don't come visit the market to publicize their wines.
Their only advertising is word-of-mouth and we've seen this at work.
Customers buy a bottle for a dinner and then friends come in to buy a
second bottle, having liked the one they were served. They seem to
be especially happy with the quality/price ratio. $19.99 for a
bottle of good Chablis.
The domaine now covers approximately 50 hectares and they
produce about ten different bottlings annually.
We currently have their basic Chablis in the shop.
It comes from typical Kimmeridgian limestone soils and it's a crisp, dry, fresh,
youthful white wine.
You won't find any evidence of the wine having been in an oak barrel as Geoffroy
believes basic Chablis should be all about the grape and the vineyard,
highlighting the mildly minerally notes which are typical.
We currently have his 2016 in the shop.
The winery is a bit of a tourist destination, as Geoffroy has a huge collection
of corkscrews. It's said to be the second largest such collection in
And yet the 2016 Chablis is in a screw-capped bottle!
No corkscrew needed.
Currently in stock: ALAIN GEOFFROY 2016
If you have any experience with wines from the Chablis region in the
northern reaches of Burgundy, you probably know the name of the Fèvre
They can trace their family tree back to the 1700s, well before the days
of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The famous William Fèvre was born in 1929 and established the Domaine de
la Maladière winery in 1959. That winery was purchased in 1998 by
the Champagne house of Henriot, who also owned the Bouchard Pères et
The William Fèvre winery is not related to the Fèvre-Fèvre cellar as an
economic entity, though Gilles Fèvre is a distant cousin to William.
It's a complicated family tree, but it seems anyone named Fèvre in
Chablis is somehow related.
Gilles studied winemaking at the university in Dijon and not only did he
obtain an education there, he also married a fellow student, Nathalie.
Their daughter Julie has also graduated from the same school as her
parents and she's now involved in this little winemaking enterprise, hence
the name Fèvre-Fèvre.
The grapes from this domaine had been sold to the famous "La
Chablisienne" co-op winery. Gilles grandfather and his dad had
both held the job of President at the co-op. Grandpa was a founding
member of the co-op.
If my calculations are correct, they cultivate about 48 hectares of
vineyards and Gilles is out looking after these various parcels of vines.
He's been farming "sustainably" for many years and a significant
portion of their vines are farmed organically. We have seen some
environmental organization certifying the Fèvres are doing the
We appreciate that wineries seek to farm organically or biodynamically but
we don't make that the first priority in searching for wine. We
prize quality and if a winemakers farms properly, all the better.
- (Parenthetically, we taste many wines where the first priority is
naturalness and frequently these wines miss the mark.)
Gilles' wife Nathalie had been the winemaker at La Chablisienne but in
2004 they decided to launch their own brand amd so she's been busy with
making her own Chablis wines.
They confuse the hell out of people with their labels. Some say
"Marcel and Blanche," while others are "Gilles &
Such is the nature of the wine industry. We must remind ourselves
that alcohol is involved and this can contribute to the chaos.
We tasted a really good Premier Cru wine from Marcel & Blanche, though
it's really made by Gilles & Nathalie.
The 2016 Fourchaume comes from parcels planted between 1942 and
1989. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and this bottling never sees
an oak barrel. Nathalie leaves the wine on the spent yeast for about a
year. Filtration depends on the condition of the wine in tank, but we
gather she likes to "polish" the wine before putting it in bottle.
They suggest serving this with Ham cooked in Chablis or dishes incorporating a
bit of curry.
We like local Dungeness Crab, Monterey Calamari, Oysters and Rex Sole (our late
colleague Bob was a master of Rex Sole!).
Currently in stock: FÈVRE-FÈVRE 2016 CHABLIS 1er
Cru FOURCHAUME $39.99
Gilles & Nathalie
is a small father & son domaine that's located about a ten minute
drive north of the town of Chablis.
They own about 13 hectares of vineyards in four towns near the
We have a nice bottling of Petit Chablis from them. It arrives here
through a little importer who's keeping her day job as a defense attorney
here in Northern California. She's a wine geek, speaks French an
took a plunge into importing some wines as a sort of hobby enterprise,
though she's got the idea to make this a viable side gig.
The wine comes from vineyards that are approximately 25 years of
age. Despite its diminutive appellation of "Petit
Chablis," the wine is a pleasant surprise and has solidly stony,
flinty Chablis charracter.
It's fermented in stainless steel tanks and then transferred to what must
be rather neutral French oak barrels where they let is blossom for about
We like the classic Chablis notes of Chardonnay. It's, as mentioned,
showing a mildly minerally character and we like the faintly lemony and
Granny Smith apple elements. The wine is, of course, bone dry and
youthful. ((But don't plan on aging it...this should be consumed
over the next two or three years.))
Currently in Stock: DOMAINE ALEXANDRE 2016
PETIT CHABLIS $21.99
DOMAINE DES TERRES DE VELLE
many of our favorite Burgundy domaines are family-operated enterprises,
handed down from generation to generation and tracing the family tree back
hundreds of years. This isn't one of those stories, however.
It's a story of three young people, two from Burgundy, pooling their resources
and starting a brand new winery. Fabrice Laronze and his wife Sophie
are from the region. He studied winemaking in Beaune (and
Montpellier), while Madame Laronze did some school work in Germany and
Champagne before returning back to Burgundy and the wine business.
Fabrice worked producing sparkling wine, then at a little winery in
Pommard before becoming the cellar guy at the Alex Gambal wine facility (a
negociant firm which also makes a bit of wine...owned by an American
fellow, in fact). Sophie worked for the big negociant firm of Albert
Bichot before working for a barrel building company in
They are joined by a Japanese friend, Junji Hashimoto. This fellow
left his home country to follow his dream in France and met Fabrice
working at a domaine in Pommard, Lejeune. He studied French and can
now order sushi in several languages when dining out in Beaune and
environs. Hashimoto-san also worked at the domaine of Hubert Lignier
in Morey-Saint-Denis, so he's no stranger to good Burgundy.
The cellar under construction in 2011.
These days the place is fully-constructed.
The cellar is in an old mill resembling a small garage on the outskirts of
Auxey-Duresses when we visited in 2011. They were building a new
cellar at that time and we understand the place is now functional.
Fabrice had a nice line-up of all their wines for us...
We tasted a nice range of wines on our visit...all showing good
quality, good rocks, good fruit and good cellar practices.
Now back home, it's always interesting to re-taste wines you made notes about
"on the road" and compare the findings from here to back there.
You know, for many people, wine simply tastes better at the source.
Whether you're visiting a tasting room in California, Washington or in Europe
(or elsewhere), the fact that you're a bit in tourist "mode" makes for
a better reception than tasting the same wine at home with the phone ringing,
the kids screaming and the door-bell ringing...
I've been pleasantly surprised to re-taste some wines I'd tasted across the pond
and find them better than I did at the cellar door!
The Terres de Velle (did I mentioned the "Velle" is a little stream
running near the winery?) Bourgogne Blanc showed nicely when we visited, but I
think it's showing better now (maybe some time in bottle has allowed it to grow
and blossom a bit).
The 2012 Bourgogne comes from two parcels. There's a patch of vines which
are 30 years old and are located on the plain below Puligny-Montrachet and
two-thirds comes from a parcel in Meursault. It sees about 10% new oak, not enough to be
particularly noticeable as a wood-aged wine. It's showing a faint note of
pineapple (we detect a light spice note) and some pear-like tones. There's
some minerality in there, as well and the wine tastes like "Bourgogne"
from the Cote de Beaune which is what it should taste like, after
Their 2011 Monthelie comes from a tiny parcel (less than a
quarter of a hectare!) situated on a steep hill with an eastern exposure.
The vines are now mature and produce a classic white Burgundy. And, since
the town of Monthelie is not on most consumer's shopping list, the wine sells
for a price which should attract those who have taste for classy Burgundy, but
not the deepest of pockets. We like the stony notes of this beautiful dry
white and its mildly toasty elements, probably a combination of oak (30% new
barrels) and some lees-stirring. Young at this stage, but still quite
drinkable...we expect it will really blossom in 2014, or so.
The 2013 Meursault is an old vines bottling from a parcel called Les Luchets.
These vines were planted in 1936 and they have about 1/3 of a hectare of
it. The grapes are gently pressed and the juice is settled overnight in a
stainless steel tank before being transferred to barrel for its
fermentation. Perhaps 25% new oak is employed and the wine shows more the
grape than the barrel. It's bone dry and nicely acidic. Medium
bodied. Very fine and elegant, so we suggest serving it just lightly
chilled to maybe 50-degrees.
Currently in stock: 2012 DOMAINE TERRES DE VELLE
BOURGOGNE BLANC $26.99
2011 DOMAINE TERRES DE VELLE MONTHELIE BLANC $36.99
2013 DOMAINE TERRES DE VELLE MEURSAULT Sale $54.99
CHÂTEAU DES RONTETS
- A couple of
architects didn't have any designs on making wine, but when an elderly
relative died and left them this estate, they soon found themselves up to
their eyeballs in grapes.
Claire Gazeau and her Italian-born husband Fabio Montrasi run this small
domaine just a short drive south of the town of Fuissé.
- There are about 6 hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé and a half a hectare of
Gamay in Saint Amour. The couple took over the estate in 1994 and
their first vintage was 1999.
The property is nice and the couple farms in an organic fashion.
"We don't like chemical farming." explained Fabio.
"We do a lot of plowing and work responsibly in the vineyards."
They do not acidify their wines and they avoid chaptalization,
too. Fabio says he did more battonage with the wines (stirring the yeast
in barrel) when they started. Now he prefers to do a bit of battonage when
the fermentation is slowing down and finishing.
We have now had quite a few vintages of Rontets Pouilly-Fuisse in the
shop. These have been consistently fine and they've even gotten bette over
the past decade. Routinely, though, our favorite is a wine
called Birbettes. This comes from the oldest patch of vines within their
Clos Varambon vineyard. This part of the vineyard has four patches.
Two of them were planted around 1920 and the other two went into the ground
shortly after World War II. They produce some fruit which makes a wine rivaling Chassagne and
Meursault wines for which you'd pay a bit more. Only 10% of
the cooperage used to mature this wine is new...so there's a hint of wood, lots
of stony Chardonnay on display and a faintly smoky tone in the background.
The importer for this lovely winery has had some ups and downs and we're waiting
for a shipment of a new vintage. We tasted the range of wines in March of
2018 over in Burgundy and they were quite good.
Currently in stock: CHÂTEAU des RONTETS 2013
POUILLY-FUISSÉ "Birbettes" List $50 Sold
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