Day After Thanksgiving:
...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 2012 has a bright,
stony, minerally edge to it which we like quite a bit. Nice richness, too.
the 2012 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.
recently tasted the 2012 Premier Cru of La Romanee.
Now this is a grand
It is a showpiece of both White Burgundy and Chardonnay.
Morey-Coffinet owns about 2 acres of La Romanee and has made a wonderfully
intense White Burgundy, using about one-third new oak for the wine.
The vintage produced a smaller-than-normal yield and the wine spent a tad
longer in wood than normal, apparently, as the malolactic fermentation took
more time than usual to finish...the resulting wine has great fragrances of
pear and peach-like fruit, with perhaps a touch of apricot. Add in the
spice notes from the oak and lees time and you have an exceptional
wine. Don't miss this.
There are a few bottles of a delightful Bâtard Montrachet from the 2005
harvest. Nice price, too.
- Currently in stock:
2012 Bourgogne Blanc $29.99
2012 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les
Houillères" Sale $49.99
2012 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru LA ROMANEE Sale $74.99
- Owning something like 5 hectares of vines, Michel Niellon is an
exceptional winemaker. We are periodically fortunate enough to receive some bottles of his
glorious white Burgundies. 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.
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.
Though he has two hectares of Pinot Noir, we've never seen a bottle
of his red wine!
The two bottlings of 2009 we have are seriously good, but seriously
young. Maybe you can describe them as slightly backwards at this
stage...they have good structure for aging, though, with plenty of acidity
and should start opening a bit more in 2014 or 2015. We enjoyed a
bottle of each recently (Feb. 2013) and the wines needed a lot of time to
open and shine.
- Currently available:
2000 Batard-Montrachet $299.99 (last bottle)
2009 Chevalier-Montrachet $299.99
2009 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les Champs Gains" $84.99
2009 Chassagne Montrachet "Clos St. Jean" Sale $89.99
- 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 Nol and Jean-Claude have
assumed the reins from Papa Andr. We are big fans of their red wines, though the
enterprise is known for the Chardonnays.
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!
The 2003 "regular" bottling of Chassagne-Montrachet is a
delight. We enjoyed the smoky aspect of the wine along with its stony,
minerally tones. The fruit is of ripe apples or crisp pears.
Very fine and surprisingly developed for such a young wine.
|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."
2003 Chassagne-Montrachet Sold Out
- The Raveneau's are the "first family" of Chablis. They have some 7 hectares of
vines and produce 40,000 bottles annually. They lavish much care and attention on the
vines and the cellar, as the Raveneau "team" is comprised of five people. The
wines have a minerally note, typical of top Chablis, of course, but there's an underlying
honeyed quality to the wines, also. One of our local importers periodically finds some
bottles in Europe and these, for a king's ransom, find their way here.
- Currently available: 2006 Chablis "Monts Main"
ALICE et OLIVIER DE MOOR
- We met
this lovely couple back in 1997 after tasting and buying their first Chablis
wines to be exported to the California market. We were renting a
houseboat and we going to be close to Chablis on some canal after a nice
little wine tour in Italy and France.
The couple had met while each was serving as an intern at another Chablis
estate, Brocard. In 1990 they bought some vineyards and started their own
domaine from scratch. Olivier, quite obviously, is out in the elements
on a regular basis. His skin is weathered from all the time he spends
tending their vineyards. That's where the wine is "made,"
though and he's a bit of an over-achiever. You'll see reviews of their
wines which often say how these wines rival far more prestigious premier and
grand cru bottlings, despite the fact that they're "merely"
They have two little parcels of Chablis
vines, along with a vineyard that's but of the Bourgogne appellation
and an old patch of Aligoté. Vines are now cultivated
organically, which is a bit risky in a northern climate such as Chablis.
Olivier estimates they produce, in most years, but 35 hectoliters per
hectare. There are some Chablis vintners who produce 60hl/ha. And De
Moor currently tends something close to seven hectares, so production is
We really liked their early wines and have been purchasing bottles every
year to drink with the friends with whom we traveled in 1997...those
nostalgic wines bring back pleasant memories.
The 2007 vintage Rosette is in stock...this vineyard is rather complex and
its wine is, too. There are a couple of soil types and the slope is
fairly steep. It is picked by the parcel, as each plot ripens
differently (partly the soil, partly the exposure and altitude). The
wine is somewhat atypical for Chablis, as it's rounder and more supple on
the palate than the lean & mean wines of some big producers...
- Currently available: 2007 Chablis "Rosette" $37.99
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. It's a
lovely estate, with some 20 hectares of vines, 2/3s of which are in
- Management of the firm was recently assumed by Monsieur Etienne de
Montille, a famous name from nearby Volnay. We found the wines here
to be of very fine quality. De Montille credits picking before the
rains with the exceptional quality we found in the 2000 white
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's a medium-bodied Chardonnay showing nice pear and apple fruit with
a bit of toasty oak. Etienne says about 10% of this wine is matured
in brand new wood.
We found a stellar Meursault here, too. The wine comes from premier
cru site of Les Poruzots (Meursault, of course,
is not the focus at the Château de Puligny-Montrachet!). This
wine sees some new oak, but it really shows the toasty elements from being
matured on the spent yeast and stirred periodically..
Puligny-Montrachet comes from a vineyard once owned by a fellow who
"ran it into the ground." The vineyard had been a Premier
Cru-designated site "Les Chalumeaux", but the INAO (government
watchdogs) felt the wine being made from old Andre's vines was not
reaching the quality level of a Premier Cru, so they demoted it! Now
under different management, you can tell this wine is rather
The other wines we've sampled have been uniformly good. Better
than you'd expect was a Saint Aubin, a site quite close to Le
Montrachet. The higher up the "scale" you go, the more new
wood you'll find in the wines. I sensed Etienne wants to reduce the
oak somewhat in coming vintages.
Their 2009 Meursault "Poruzots" is exceptional. It's
everything we like in white Burgundy: dry, toasty, smoky, complex and
continually evolving in the glass over the course of drinking a
bottle...Intense. Don't miss it if you're a fan of Chardonnay.
I asked Etienne's son Louis to pose for the camera in the vast barrel
room. The little fellow was more than happy to oblige!
- Currently in stock: 2010 "Clos du Château" BOURGOGNE BLANC
2009 MEURSAULT Les Poruzots SALE $59.99
- Hubert De Montille had been "the" lawyer everyone needed to know
when conducting business in Burgundy.
He had been making red wines exclusively. The story I heard was about
how he had represented a prominent fellow viticulteur in a divorce
case. This grower owned a prime patch of Puligny-Montrachet in the cru
of "Le Cailleret."
This fellow was going to have to dispose
of his fantastic Chardonnay vines in order to settle the case. Being
no fool, Hubert seized the opportunity, buying this vineyard before it
reached the market. So today De Montille produces a small quantity of
outstanding Puligny-Montrachet, a wine of stellar quality, particularly when
it's had some time in bottle to blossom and develop. We receive a few
The 2006 is already showing its strength and it will continue to develop
over the next 5-10 years.
Currently in stock: 2006 De Montille Puligny-Montrachet "Le
name Ponsot is actually quite well-known amongst Burgundy
They are famous for their slow-to-mature Morey-Saint-Denis and
Well, this Ponsot domaine is not related to the red wine-Ponsots of the Cote
This estate is located in the Cote Chalonnaise, just south of the Cote de
The Rully appellation is about 6 miles from Chassagne-Montrachet
and comprises the towns of Rully and Chagny. The appellation has been the
source of some good sparkling wine, though more recently it's well-regarded for
its white wines. In fact, today about two-thirds of the vineyards are
planted with Chardonnay and one-third devoted to Pinot Noir.
Jean Baptiste Ponsot has been running the domaine since the early 2000s.
They currently farm 7.5 hectares of vineyards and he told us in 2011 he expects
to purchase another hectare nearby. Vineyards are not farmed
biodynamically, but "lutte raisonnée" (leaning towards organic
Jean Baptiste Ponsot
Chardonnay is cultivated on clay soils and Ponsot's white wines
are quite good. We found the wines we tasted in Burgundy to be good and
the wine that's arrived here in the summer of 2011 is even more
showy. Perhaps this is a result of the boat ride to the west
coast or, simply, a bit of time in bottle.
The Rully Blanc is easily identifiable as "white
Burgundy." It's got a nice appley fruit character and a pleasantly
minerally, stony note. Sure. this is not a Montrachet or
Corton-Charlemagne, but it's not priced in those lofty neighborhoods, either.
The 2012 was fermented entirely in oak barrels, with about 25% of the wood being
new. The oak is nicely in the background, so the balance of fruit and wood
strikes us as just right. It's showing magnificently right now and
should be fine for a couple of more years. We find it comparable to wines
from much more famed and expensive appellations in the area of Puligny and
Chassagne Montrachet...yes, it's that good!
Currently in stock: 2012 PONSOT RULLY BLANC
Yes, they make a couple of 1er Cru wines...
The Tollot Beaut name is not one which is usually thought of as
a source of White Burgundy, but they make a tiny quantity of nice wine.
The winery is run by the fifth generation and we've long been fans of their
wines. The label was always one of those reliable sources of good red
wines and their prices tend to be realistic, too. The winery was one
of a number of domaines which had been bottling some of their production and
selling the wine directly, rather than selling it in bulk to a negociant.
- Corton Charlemagne is a tiny production for Tollot Beaut, as they own a
few vines less than a quarter of a hectare. If they're lucky, total
production amounts to five barrels' worth of wine! The juice is
fermented in stainless steel and then, as the fermentation is winding down
(or up, depending on your perspective), the wine is transferred into
wood. It's given a nice, slow maturation period in oak, generally
remaining for close to a year-and-a-half in wood.
We have a few bottles of the 2006 Corton-Charlemagne. This is a nicely
smoky, mildly toasty dry white. It's less 'fruity' and vanillin than
Louis Latour's Corton-Charlemagne. Good wine!
- Currently in stock: TOLLOT BEAUT 2006 Corton-Charlemagne SALE $129.99
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.
We have the 2011 in stock presently...really classy White
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. 2012 presently and moving into the similar
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.
2011 in stock at this writing.
Currently in stock: 2011 BEAUNE "CLOS DES
MOUCHES" Blanc SALE $119.99
2012 (Soon to be 2013) CHABLIS Sale $19.99
2011 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET "Morgeot" SALE $99.99
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.
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.
DOMAINE MARC ROY
little winery is located on the outskirts of Gevrey-Chambertin and it's
run, these days, by the energetic youthful Alexandrine Roy.
They have all of 4 hectares of vineyards, mostly Pinot Noir in Gevrey, but
a tiny patch in the southwest corner of Marsannay (near Fixin and Couchey)
that's devoted to Chardonnay. The soil is fairly pebbly on a bed of limestone
and it's fairly high, too, so the fruit retains good acidity.
Alexandrine prefers to ferment the wine in stainless steel and
when it's nearly finish, she transfers the wine into barrel to finish its
fermentation. With just a brief time in oak, the wine retains its zesty,
mildly citrusy/green apple character. There's a stony element, too, so you
might mistake this for a nice, mid-range Chablis.
We have the 2009 Marsannay in the shop presently...and this
beautifully sets up her fantastic Gevrey Chambertin on the dinner table.
Currently in stock: 2009 MARC ROY Marsannay
"Les Champs Perdrix" Sold Out
Alexandrine and her Pop, Marc and Mom, Regine.
Alexandrine spends a lot of time in the "garden" and is very
passionate about her vineyard work.
DOMAINE HERVE AZO
- This little domaine was founded by a fellow who hailed from
Brittany. He'd been living in Paris, working in the world of
advertising. Someone invited him to take a few days off and go pick
grapes, toiling in the vineyards of Chablis.
There he was bitten by the wine bug and ended up buying vineyard
land. And so he started a nice little winemaking enterprise with
most of the domaine situated in premier cru sites near the town of Milly,
west of beautiful downtown Chablis.
Most of the vineyard holdings were in premier cru sites, with a few vines
in a Petit Chablis area.
A few years ago the domaine was purchased by another vintner
in Chablis, Jean Marc Brocard. He admired Azo's wines and bought the
property with the idea of retaining the domaine as a separate entity.
Good move. Brocard's wines have been of classic styling, though I've
usually found them to be almost sterile and a bit superficial. So,
it's a bit surprising to see they're making the Azo wine with its usual
style and depth.
- Azo's parcel of Vau de Vey (also known as "VaVaVaVoom!") is
quite steep and as it's a relatively below-the-radar site, its price
A nice little sign posted in the cellar to commemorate the inaugural vintage.
I was surprised, in searching the internet, to read an article
about the winery on a web site of an Irish wine merchant who stocks Azo Chablis.
I was sad to learn in their article summarizing the history of
the domaine, that the owner of the estate died in 2005 and it was soon purchased
by Marc Brocard.
If you see the photo above that I shot of Hervé in 2002, he was not exactly a
senior citizen and so it was surprising to me, at least, to read he apparently
Well, the local importer, who's more up-to-date on these things than those Irish
blokes, explained that Hervé is alive and well. He and his wife realized
their three daughters had no interest in the world of wine and Kimmeridgian
clay, so they sold the winery split their time between Brittany and their
sailboat which they keep in the Caribbean.
Well, no matter. The winery is, apparently, in good
hands. At least we can say that judging by the 2010 Chablis Premier Cru of
their Vau de Vay site. The wine is classically-styled and you'll find it
to be a textbook example of Chablis: minerally, stony, bone dry,
flinty...shall I go on? It's delicious presently and ought to continue to
develop nicely over the next few years.
Currently in stock: HERVE AZO 2012 CHABLIS Premier
Cru Vau de Vay $32.99
Faiveley name is that of a well-known negociant company which is still
owned and operated by the Faiveley family.
Years ago, when the internet was just being hatched, I responded to
someone who was working as a member of the wait staff in a fancy
restaurant. She noted a customer had brought in a rather old bottle
of Faiveley Burgundy and she was privileged to taste it and disappointed
that she didn't find the wine to be terribly exciting or, more to the
point, to her expectations. I noted that my experience with this
firm has been similar...despite their extensive vineyard holdings around
Burgundy, they simply didn't bottle wines with style and charm.
We'd taste the Faiveley wines with each release and pretty much confirm
our long-held opinion. Then, a few years ago, a young fellow named
Faiveley stopped by the shop and we tasted a few wines. I still
wasn't much of a fan and I asked why he didn't make wines of greater
The kid, Erwan Faiveley, must have heard this before, as he was quick to
say he'd been working on changing some of the winemaking at the winery and
that we ought to be seeing these changes in the not-too-distant future.
I recall that year finding a nice white Burgundy. Strange, since
they are probably more noted for their tannic, somewhat old-fashioned red
Well, he's instituted some changes, that's for sure! The red wines
seem a bit more elegant and refined, showing more fruit and less coarse
tannin. And some of the white wines are a total surprise, being
quite a bit more stylish than the simple wines they had in the past.
I was pleasantly surprised to taste through the line-up and find wines for
which I'd actually pay money and which I'd serve to dinner guests.
That's saying something.
We have a really nice example of 2009 vintage Meursault from the Premier
cru site of Blagny. This is situated on the hill, at the southern
part of Meursault, rather close to Puligny-Montrachet. We like
the toasted hazelnut and mild peach notes on the nose and palate.
The wine is dry and has a modest amount of oak (2/3s new wood). It's
medium-full on the palate and a delight.
Currently in stock: 2009 FAIVELEY Meursault 1er Cru
"Blagny" SALE $59.99
Leflaive name is the most prestigious, perhaps, with respect to
Puligny-Montrachet, but it's not Olivier Leflaive, it's Domaine Leflaive.
Olivier was working at Domaine Leflaive once upon a time and in 1984 he
decided to go out on his own. His uncle Vincent helped him start up
his own business, while his cousin Anne-Claude took complete control over
the Domaine Leflaive.
Over the years, the wines of Domaine Leflaive have grown to acquire
superstar status amongst wine connoisseurs. Surely this firm got
some measure of benefit being associated as "family." But
the wines of Olivier Leflaive, if you're expecting "Domaine
Leflaive," are not quite as flashy.
I've found the wines of this brand to generally be well-made and fairly
reliable. Often times, though, they may lack a certain level of
excitement. Still, I can say the overall quality has been improving
over the past decade and I think they're moving in the right direction.
We found a nice bottling of Meursault which I thought over-achieved,
especially for it's relatively modest price.
The 2009 Meursault shows a mildly toasty note from the oak and it's got a
fragrance somewhat along the lines of ripe pear, apple, white flowers,
etc. It's one of the most showy wines we've tasted of this vintner,
especially in light of the price. You can pair this with
shrimp dishes, lobster, mildly seasoned crab, chicken in a cream
sauce...lots of good options.
Currently in stock: 2009 OLIVIER LEFLAIVE
Meursault SALE $44.99
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.
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 2010 Bourgogne comes from a single parcel that's not quite one acre in
dimension. The vines are 30 years old and are located on the plain below
Puligny-Montrachet. 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.
Currently in stock: 2010 DOMAINE TERRES DE VELLE
BOURGOGNE BLANC $23.99
2011 DOMAINE TERRES DE VELLE MONTHELIE BLANC $36.99
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 tasted some very fine samples here, but Pouilly-Fuissé is not an easy
"sell" when the wines are close to $35 or more.
We recently tasted through the current roster of wines...all good, in
fact. The most compelling, though, was the most costly bottling, a wine
called Birbettes. This comes from the oldest patch of vines within their
Clos Varambon vineyard. They claim these vines are 80 years old. Whatever
they are, 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.
Currently in stock: CHÂTEAU des RONTETS 2010
POUILLY-FUISSÉ "Birbettes" List $45 SALE
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