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...More White Burgundies

 

MOREY-COFFINET
This 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.  

 
 

Thibault Morey.
 

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.

Also from 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.
 
 
 
 
 
We recently tasted the 2012 Premier Cru of La Romanee.  
Now this is a grand vin!
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 $46.99
2012 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru LA ROMANEE  Sale $74.99


MICHEL NIELLON

niellon.gif (14636 bytes)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

 
 
 
 


RAMONET
ramonet.gif (16553 bytes)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."
 

Currently available:
2003 Chassagne-Montrachet Sold Out




RAVENEAU
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"  119.99  (last bottle or two)





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" Chablis.    

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 fairly limited.

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
bonneau_du_martray.gif (6777 bytes)2004 Corton-Charlemagne (list $150) SALE $139.99
2007 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 of Corton.
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, truly, "grand."

The 2007 is a baby...but refined and poised to be a grand bottle.





CHATEAU de PULIGNY-MONTRACHET
This 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 Chardonnay grapes.  

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 wines.  



The 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..  

Their 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 special.  


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 $29.99
2009 MEURSAULT Les Poruzots  SALE $59.99




DE MONTILLE

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 bottles annually.  

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 Cailleret"  $149.99

 

DOMAINE JEAN-BAPTISTE PONSOT
The name Ponsot is actually quite well-known amongst Burgundy aficionados.  

They are famous for their slow-to-mature Morey-Saint-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin wines.

Well, this Ponsot domaine is not related to the red wine-Ponsots of the Cote de Nuits.  
This estate is located in the Cote Chalonnaise, just south of the Cote de Beaune.  

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 farming).




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  $27.99


Yes, they make a couple of 1er Cru wines...





TOLLOT BEAUT


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





 

JOSEPH DROUHIN

Over 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 big guys.

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.  



 

 

 

 

 

 



MAISON LOUIS JADOT
I 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 Spatlese Zinfandel.

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

This 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.


The cellar...

 

 

 


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 remains attractive.
 
 


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 died.

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 2010 CHABLIS Premier Cru Vau de Vay $28.99








FAIVELEY

 
The 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 interest.

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 Burgundies.

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

 

 

 

OLIVIER LEFLAIVE

The 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

So 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 Mercurey.  

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 all.  

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 $39.99 


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