On the Eve of Tax Day, I got out and tasted a range of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Oregon. Mostly 2011 and 2012 vintages. 2011 is heralded as a great vintage and a long-ager while 2012 was trickier with moisture to deal with at harvest. There was lots of acid back bone prevalent in many of the reds and whites with some producers also producing more fruit forward wines with lower acidity, albeit mostly successfully for those that prefer that style on the palate.
2011 Soter Mineral Springs Ranch White Label. Top flight Oregon Pinot Noir. Sure to please. Excellent purity of fruit approachable now but can be laid down
2012 North Valley Reserve Pinot Noir. Focused black fruit, great mid palate with long finish. A first rate wine perhaps to drink before the Mineral Springs Ranch.
2012 North Valley Reserve Chardonnay. Snappy acid and nuanced fruit deliver a compelling one-two punch. One of the best chardonnays I have had from Oregon, only 6% new oak.
2012 Abbott Claim Pinot Noir. Excellent color, complex fruit and great balance with a lingering finish.
2011 J. K. Carriere Pinot Noir Antoinette. Lovely wine with mouth filling fruit, acid backbone and a long finish. Love the enthusiasm of winemaker, Jim Prosser.
2012 Lemelson Vineyards Pinot Noir Jerome Reserve. Snappy, focused Pinot with complex fruit and pleasing tannins
On Tuesday, I attended the Frederick Wildman & Sons tasting for their 2013 Burgundy portfolio. Overall, the wines showed a truly approachable quality and delightfully refreshing vibrancy. There were more reds than whites to taste at this particular event, and my favorites were the wines of Gevrey-Chambertin, along with the beautiful Morey-St. Denis wines of Lignier-Michelot.
2013 was yet another difficult vintage for Burgundy, with challenges arising from the volume and frequency of rainfall in the Côte de Nuits, and hail in the Côte de Beaune. For the Côte Chalonnaise, 2013 was actually a really good vintage and they did not face the same hardships as their neighbors to the north, so keep your eyes peeled for the under-the-radar appellations: Rully, Mercurey and Givry! These will surely offer some value in a vintage where prices are high.
In 2013, between April and August, some areas of the Côte d’Or had nearly 50% more rainfall than the average for that time period. That’s a lot of rain! And it rained frequently too. Despite the difficulties that were faced, vignerons were mostly successful in managing and preventing disease, and the results of the vintage are some wonderful Burgundies. In his article, “The Côte de Nuits – The 2013 and 2012 Vintages”, Allen Meadows’ quotes one of his favorite Burgundian sayings to describe the 2013 vintage, which translates to “the first glass calls for the second.” This is a great saying, and I have to say that these words rang true with the majority of the wines I tasted on Tuesday…I would have loved to drink a full glass, and a second glass, of many of them!
The highlights for me were the wines of Domaine Burguet (Gevrey), Domaine Lignier-Michelot (Morey-St. Denis), Domaine Humbert Freres (Gevrey) and Domaine Sylvain Cathiard (Vosne-Romanée), with the latter being far too pricey for my pocket book. I loved the Domaine Burguet Gevrey-Chambertins, including ‘Symphonie’, ‘Mes Favorites’, ‘Les Champeaux’ 1er Cru and ‘Les Echezeaux’. The Bourgogne Rouge of Domaine Burguet’s was my favorite of this category at the tasting. Lignier-Michelot’s Borgogne Rouge is also great.
I loved the Lignier-Michelot Morey-St. Denis Vieilles Vignes, which had intriguing sauvage notes, with dark berry fruit and earthy minerality that really sang. The Morey-St. Denis ‘Aux Charmes’ 1er Cru and ‘Faconnieres’ 1er Cru were both distinctive and delightful; the former showing earthy and floral notes of roses, with intensity and minerality through the finish, while the latter was also vibrant with pronounced red fruit and deep minerality. Of course, the Lignier-Michelot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru was stunning with singing flavors of dark berries and cassis.
Domaine Humbert Freres’ line-up was wonderful, from Fixin to Charmes Chambertin, these wines were a pleasure to taste. Don’t miss the Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Petite Chapelle’ 1er Cru and the Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Poissenot’ 1er Cru. Of the two, I have to say that Petite Chapelle was my favorite with its floral aromas, dark fruit, elegance, silky texture and shining minerality.
I have not mentioned the white Burgundies yet because I didn’t have a chance to focus on them due to time constraints, but I did taste through all of Olivier Leflaive’s wines, and they were excellent.
This was my first taste of the 2013 Burgundy vintage and I’m looking forward to tasting more of these wines! We at The Wine Cellarage are starting to work on our offerings and you will see more on the 2013s as we make progress.
A Perfect White Wine to Chase Away Your Winter Blues…
Château de Lancyre is nestled in the heart of the picturesque Pic Saint Loup region of Southern France’s Languedoc appellation. The estate itself dates back to the 12th century and is a traditional French hamlet that sits atop the hill of Lancyre. Etienne Durand inherited the estate in 1870, making vine growing his livelihood, an initiative that was soon destroyed by phylloxera. This was followed by a renaissance, during which all of the vines were grafted onto American rootstock, and the estate grew throughout the 20th century. The estate has continued to flourish and is now over 75 hectares, with Bernard Durand and winemaker Régis Valentin at the helm.
Pic Saint Loup is located in the northern part of the Languedoc appellation, where the vines relish a cooler climate, contributing to the distinct character of the special wines produced there. Enjoying its close proximity to the Mediterranean, the Pic is influenced by both the Cevennes Mountains and the warm winds of the nearby sea. The vineyard of Lancyre is located in a valley with north-east orientation and planted in limestone-rich soils. The vineyard is surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, including strawberries, thyme, rosemary, bay and juniper, which add to the charm and beauty of Lancyre. The sense of place was instantly evident after I savored my first sip of the 2012 Domaine de Lancyre Roussanne…the elegance and minerality really stand out.
My tasting note: Delicate aromas of peach, orange zest, rose and citrus blossom greet the nose, topped with a drizzle of honey. On the palate, the wine is fresh with delightful stone fruit flavors, racy energy and a satisfying roundness to the mid-palate. The wine finishes long with a vivid torrent of minerality.
This little gem has a lot to offer and I can see pairing it with seafood, shellfish, and especially a meaty white fish like halibut. A refreshing white wine like this is always perfect with a range of salads and appetizers. Having sampled this Roussanne in the middle of February, it is a welcomed reminder of spring and summer! I’ll happily enjoy the 2012 Domaine de Lancyre Roussanne now, and can’t wait to uncork it again once the warmer temperatures are here to stay. You can purchase the 2012 Domaine de Lancyre Roussanne for $21 per bottle ($252 per case) at our online wine shop.
A fun closing note… Part of the larger regional appellation of the Languedoc, Pic Saint Loup has aspirations to become its own designated AOC (Appellation Contrôlée). I’m sure that the only thing stopping it at this point is red tape because the quality of the wines produced from this area is clear.
It’s that time of year again and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Across the nation, those in charge of preparing the big feast have already begun planning their menus. The beauty of Thanksgiving is that it is a celebration of food and family, and what would a celebration be without a steady flow of wine?
Finding the perfect wine pairings for Thanksgiving dinner can be a challenge because there are so many choices out there. The variety on the Thanksgiving table can make choosing the right wines seem daunting, but the assortment of flavors is actually an advantage when it comes to selecting the wines. The key is to select versatile wines that harmonize with the abundant, flavorful side dishes.
Here are our suggestions for 5 great Thanksgiving wine pairings…
The wine that you choose for appetizers on Thanksgiving should have some bubbles! Champagne or sparkling wine makes an excellent pairing for hors d’oeuvres ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates, to soups and salads. Cheese almost always makes its way into the appetizers for a large party and the refreshing acidity and bubbles in sparkling wine cut through the richness of any assortment of cheeses, from Brie to Stilton. We’ve selected our exclusive Champagnes from Robert Desbrosse to pair with Thanksgiving. In fact, we will be serving these to our family and friends straight through to New Year’s!
NV Robert Desbrosse Champagne Brut Rosé ($37 Per Bottle/ $444.00 Per 12-Bottle Case)
60% Pinot Noir & 40% Pinot Meunier
“…There is nothing shy about this Desbrosse Brut Rose, rich with a nose of bing cherries, strawberries and a flavor profile of white raspberries, hints of pink grapefruit, just a touch of sea salt and cherries again-Lovely!” –Harriet Hendler, The Wine Cellarage
2007 Robert Desbrosse Champagne Millesime Brut ($40 Per Bottle/ $480.00 Per 12-Bottle Case)
60% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay & 20% Pinot Meunier
“Feminine and crisp, almost racy while still being light on its feet with just the hint of pepper, fresh ginger and many, many delicate tiny bubbles. Your new go to Champagne that is perfect for cocktail parties, to serve with appetizers, cheering on your favorite football team with a pound or two of Kettle corn.” –Harriet Hendler, The Wine Cellarage
NV Robert Desbrosse Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut ($45 Per Bottle/ $540.00 Per 12-Bottle Case)
“The richest of the three cuvees, with a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir that gives the Cuvee Prestige a softly honeyed richness with just the slightest hint of creaminess while maintaining a balanced energy throughout the long and full bodied finish. Your new Go-To ‘Special Occasion’ Champagne!” –Harriet Hendler, The Wine Cellarage
I’ve always thought it was nice to feature a great domestic wine at Thanksgiving. Red Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind, especially since it has its own immigration story. When we talk about Zinfandel, we are talking robust, yet elegant red wine with flavors of dark cherries, currants and spice. Zinfandels pair well with a variety of foods and can be likened to the gravy for your Thanksgiving bird. The lush fruit character and versatility of Zinfandel makes the varietal a pleasing pairing for your turkey along with all the trimmings. This year, we’ve selected two California Zinfandels with distinctive flavor profiles that will make your feast sing…
2012 Joel Gott Zinfandel ($15 Per Bottle)
Easy drinking for the holiday season! The 2012 Zinfandel has aromas of oven roasted plum and blackberry jam with sweet spice notes. On the palate, the wine offers bright red fruit flavors complemented by a soft, round mouth feel and a long finish.
2011 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Russian River Valley ($32 Per Bottle)
Delicious aromas of briar patch berries are accented by hints of sweet spice and black pepper. On the palate, the wine is rich and full-bodied, yet maintains elegance and finesse.
3. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir, with its cherry fruit flavors and characteristic earthy quality, is a delightful Thanksgiving wine. Harvest season ingredients such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, roasted root vegetables and cranberries are all complimented by Pinot Noir. You can’t go wrong with a fruit-forward domestic Pinot from the West Coast, especially one from California. French Pinots from Burgundy are often more elegant and will highlight the nuances of root vegetable side dishes. Both of the Pinots below will work wonderfully on Thanksgiving …
2009 Wedell Pinot Noir ‘Wavertree’ San Luis Obispo ($15 Per Bottle)
“The explosive bouquet of strawberry, raspberry and black cherry only a hint at what a special wine the 2009 Wavertree San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir is…it is readily enjoyable now and will mature beautifully for years to come.” –The Winery
2012 WHOA Farm Pinot Noir ‘Crane Vineyard’ Sonoma Coast ($55 Per Bottle)
Aromas of sweet black cherry fruit and spices greet the nose. On the palate, the wine has generous fruit and firm structure. The wine is silky on the mid-palate and harmonious through the finish. The proceeds of this wonderful Pinot from the Sonoma Coast will be used to support the charitable works of non-profit Work Horse Organic Agriculture (WHOA) Farm. WHOA produces 50,000 pounds of organic food each year and insures that this fresh produce reaches those most in need in the San Francisco area. Sip delicious wine while giving back this holiday season!
Aromatic white wines, such as Riesling, work especially well with Thanksgiving. Since Riesling can be made in a variety of styles, from bone dry to sweet, it is a brilliant choice for a range of foods and flavor profiles. A Riesling with refreshing acidity and a hint of sweetness, combined with exotic aromatics, is going to knock everyone’s socks off on Thanksgiving Day! The sweet elements of the meal (think sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce) will be complemented by the sweetness of the wine, while the naturally high acidity will refresh everyone’s palate as they enjoy the rich feast.
2013 Charles Smith Wines ‘Kung Fu Girl’ Riesling ($15 Per Bottle)
Enticing aromas of white peach, apricot and lime leaf waft from the glass. On the palate, there are complex flavors of Fuji apple, shiro plum and refreshing minerality. The wine has a very long, cool finish.
2008 Karlsmuhle Lorenzhofer Riesling Spatlese Trocken ($25 Per Bottle)
“I can think of no Mosel producer who’s better at lifting Mosel material to a higher level of ripe attributes, including a richer mouthfeel. Outstanding. The extraordinary house of Karlsmühle creates Mosel wines with uncommon extract and concentration. This one, a light yellow-straw to the eye, features an amazingly succulent nose of ripe fruit, an almost buttery tenderness on the palate…This is what German wine is all about.” –David Rosengarten
Rosé is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is the wine’s color cheery and festive, the characteristic red berry flavors make it the ideal choice for Thanksgiving. Incredibly food friendly, Rosé combines the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine with the body and structure of a red wine, making it compatible with a range of dishes. Julia Child hit the mark when she said “Rosés can be served with anything.”
2013 Domaine Saint Aix Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé ($16 Per Bottle)
This refreshing rosé is a blend of four Southern Rhone grape varietals: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah & Counoise. On the nose, aromas of strawberries, cherries and grapefruit abound. The palate is soft and elegant with a structure that is perfect for white meat, such as turkey! The fresh quality of this wine will stimulate everyone’s appetite and keep conversations lively.
2013 Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé ($20 Per Bottle)
A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. Miraval’s 2013 release kept us cool all summer, but should be recognized as more than just a summer wine. Crafted by the Perrin Family (of Chateau Beaucastel), in partnership with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, this is a serious wine with great substance. Serving Brangelina wine on Thanksgiving is sure to please the most discerning palates while providing an interesting conversation starter. To borrow the words of wine reviewer Josh Raynolds (for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar), “This suave wine has the power to work with rich foods and the energy to give pleasure by itself.” You can enjoy the 2013 Chateau Miraval from the first course to the last!
Let’s Get Together: Foolproof Wine and Food Pairing
Wine is made for food! Wine makes every dining experience more wonderful and memorable. The right sip from a great bottle can elevate a good meal to a great one in a single bite. It’s simple if you follow a few guidelines.
1. For lighter reds, i.e. Pinot Noir, Primitivo, or Gamay, look toward a sumptuous lobster entrée, roast chicken, or earthy vegetable dish with mushrooms and root vegetables. Charcuterie plates also pair well, as do big, crusty breads with semisoft cheeses.
2. Medium reds, i.e. Tempranillo, Merlot, or Grenache, add depth to beef and chicken dishes, while also befriending both soft and hard cheeses as well as charcuterie.
3. Big red wines, i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Syrah, go best with the big flavors in beef entrees. Served with bold cheeses, and often a great partner with cured meats, these heavy hitters can stand up to the strongest flavors without missing a beat.
4. Creamy, rich white wines, i.e. Chardonnay, Marsanne, and Viognier, are perfect pairs with fish, shellfish, chicken, and rice dishes, as well as soft cheeses.
5. Dry white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are fabulous for accenting salads with creamy dressings as well as balsamic based drizzles. They are also solid wine choices for seafood, shellfish, and roasted fall vegetables.
6. Sweet white wines, including Sauternes from France, Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany and Moscato from Northern Italy, are not simply for the dessert course. These versatile wines dance well on the palate with both soft and hard cheeses, and work wonderfully with spicy foods, such as Thai or Indian cuisine.
7. Sparkling wines, from ever-elegant Champagnes, to lively Cavas, from pretty Proseccos, to delightful Asti Spumantes; sparkling wines really tend to steal the show just by virtue of their crown of bubbles, but incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairing. Bubbly can be great with anything from a simple cheese plate, to an elegant sushi dinner. Certain vintage Champagnes even have enough body and power to stand up to red meat entrees! Give it a try the next time you are out at your favorite steakhouse.
8. Dessert wines and ice wines made from late harvest grapes, as well as Port and Sherry, are best as a last course complement. Paired either with a sweet treat, or with a more traditional cheese and cured meat tray, these wines will seal the meal with a sweet sip and a pleasant memory.
9. Try choosing your wine first, and then plan the menu around it. If you are familiar with the wine, you’ll be much more comfortable selecting dishes that complement its best features.
10. Pair using flavor profiles. Wines with a big, bold palate will bowl over the flavors of a delicate menu. Similarly, wines with a light profile will disappear next to a menu full of rich flavors. For a truly harmonious dining experience, match the richness (strength and body) of the wine with the richness of the menu. Full bodied wines make the best companions for full-flavored dishes. Light bodied wines make the perfect pairing for lighter fare.
To find your favorites and to better learn about your own tastes, try experimenting with different wine and food pairings! Experimentation is the best way to discover new and exciting wine and food combos. Cheers & enjoy the journey!
I grew up in New England spending a week or two of my summer vacation on the Atlantic coast each year. Whether we traveled to Maine or to Cape Cod, each summer there were multiple occasions when a load of fresh lobsters were boiled with sweet corn-on-the-cob and heartily enjoyed by family and friends. I pride myself on getting every morsel of sweet-salty meat out of those glorious crustaceans, a skill that was well honed in childhood.
Summer isn’t summer without at least one big lobster feast. And now that I’m all grown up, I’ve learned the art of pairing wine with my lobster! What could be better than a summer wine party starring lobster as the main course! If you know someone who lives near the coast in Maine, perhaps you can bribe them to procure a sufficient quantity of these delicious creatures for you…then, you need only supply some summer corn-on-the-cob, and of course, the wine.
Now that I live in New York City, lobster isn’t quite as easy to come by and not nearly as inexpensive as it is on the coast in Northern New England, but lucky for me, I happen to have two Maine residents in my family. Both my aunt and my brother-in-law live in Maine and have helped to quell my cravings for fresh lobster in recent years. My brother-in-law has even been known to drive all the way down to my in-laws’ in New Jersey surprising the whole family with a cooler packed to the gills with 50 or more live lobsters! If you don’t have a personal connection to bring lobster to you, you can have live lobsters sent to your door. The Graffam Brothers Seafood Market, based in Rockport Maine, will ship live 1.25 lb lobsters to your door via overnight shipping for about $13 each (not including shipping). You can view their online market here.
Before your lobsters arrive, you’ll want to have a plan for boiling a large quantity. My family has devised a driveway set up with large boiling pots and small propane tanks for fuel. Having an outdoor dining table set up will help to keep the mess out of your home once the lobsters are done cooking and you are ready to eat. Keep the side dishes simple: corn-on-the-cob, potato salad and a green salad are perfect accompaniments. For dessert, strawberry shortcake or fresh berries with whipped cream finishes the experience on a lovely note.
To make this event a real summer wine party, choose four summer wines that will pair beautifully with lobster. First and foremost, well-chilled, refreshing rosé wine is a must. One of my favorite rosés of the moment is Chateau Miraval from Provence. The Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie & Perrin Family endeavor is well worth the $20 price point. Impressive not only for its movie star owners but also for the winemaking Perrin family, from one of the Southern Rhone’s most prestigious estates…Chateau de Beaucastel of Chateauneauf du Pape fame! Chateau Miraval has more than celebrity cache; it is a delicious, high quality wine that has the weight to stand up to meaty lobster.
Over the July 4th holiday, we tried the 2013 Foucher-Lebrun Sancerre Le Mont with our lobster and found that the wine’s freshness, salinity and minerality provided a nice compliment for the lobster’s sweet-salt flavor.
Chardonnay is the classic pairing for lobster and for good reason. Both old world and new world styles offer more richness and body than other white wines; the creamy flavors and sweet fruit of a good Chardonnay are delicious with lobster meat. If you select a Chardonnay from California, choose one with some restraint so that it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the shellfish.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with some bubbly. You can serve this toward the end of the meal and it will refresh your guest’s palates and pair with everything on their plates. Champagne is incredibly food friendly and works well with just about everything you can think of, so why not lobster?
Keeping your wines at optimum serving temperature can be a challenge in the summer. Make sure that you put your Champagne, rosé, and white wines in the refrigerator to chill the night before. White and rosé wines are best served at around 52 degrees F, keeping reds at about 65 degrees F. Champagne and other bubbly wines deliver their optimum sparkle at 45 degrees F.
Ensure there will be enough wine on hand by calculating the number of bottles ahead of time, depending on your crowd, you’ll want at least a half bottle per person. If you will have under-age or teetotaling guests in attendance, consider a carafe of equal parts club soda and lemonade, as a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative.
Now you are ready to throw a summer wine party with lobster!
Here at our wine shop, we were lucky enough to enjoy a visit and tasting with Luca Martini di Cigala of the prestigious San Giusto a Rentennano, a family owned wine estate that lies in the southern most area of the Chianti Classico region. San Giusto a Rentennano is a certified organic wine producer and practices careful hand harvesting. The estate has been in the Martini di Cigala family since 1914, passed to Enrico Martini di Cigala in 1957 and then inherited by Enrico’s nine children in 1992. Today, six of the nine children are partners in the estate, including Luca.
Luca Martini di Cigala was a wonderful guest and brought us the estate’s 2010 vintage ‘Percarlo’ to taste! Among Tuscany’s most prominent red wines, Percarlo sits within the top tier and has consistently surpassed expectations since its inaugural release in 1983. Pure, 100% Sangiovese has perhaps never tasted so good. Percarlo is crafted from the estate’s very best Sangiovese grapes, which are hand selected bunch by bunch from the best areas of the family’s vineyards.
The precious grapes that make Percarlo are chosen from low-yielding vines, then pressed and macerated for a lengthy 18 days before an additional 20 months in barrique plus 6 months in bottle. The resulting nectar is bottled unfiltered for a truly pure expression. In the best years, only 1,600 cases of Percarlo are produced…The 2010 vintage for Italy is considered one of the best vintages ever.
My tasting note for 2010 Percarlo: A beautiful bouquet of rich red fruits, roses, exotic spices and herbal notes. On the palate, the texture is velvety with fine grained tannins. There is a mineral presence in the wine that gives great depth and energy. Approachable now, the classic structure makes this one for the ages!
Not only did we taste with Luca Martini di Cigala, he was kind enough to sign some of the large format bottles that we have for sale in our New York based wine store. In addition to signing our bottles, he also signed the original wood cases for our magnum bottles. These photo taken here in our temperature-controlled wine warehouse, where our entire retail wine shop inventory is stored in perfect conditions. More photos from the signing below…
After a long, cold winter in the Northeast, I know that I am not alone in my thirst for a change from the go-to red wines that I’ve been drinking for months now. My taste buds and palate are ready for wines of a lighter hue (specifically in the range of brilliant yellows flecked with golden highlights, or those with sublime chartreuse-inflections). I’m ready for bright, racy acidity and minerality that you can smell and taste. Springtime is a harbinger of the fine white wines that we will enjoy throughout the warm season, all the way until the late autumn when our tastes will change with the season once again. Some of the very best choices for our warm weather palate preference are those hailing from eastern France, specifically from the Burgundy region.
There is a popular misconception that white wines offer less complexity than reds. That establishes a palate without the privilege of sampling the fascinating vintages of east central France. White Burgundy wine, also known as French Chardonnay, is recognized by its strong, yet intricate profile, universally acclaimed to be the best expression of Chardonnay grapes in the world. The styles of White Burgundy range from those that are rich and creamy, exuding a honeyed nuttiness, to more restrained expressions that exhibit dazzling, flinty minerality. White Burgundies benefit greatly from an additional 10 to 15 years of proper cellaring and regularly outshine their peers, even without the added time in the bottle.
There are five growing regions in Burgundy: Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, Côte de Nuits, Mâconnais, and Chablis. The vineyards throughout Burgundy began preparing for their noble commission 200 million years ago, when a vast tropical sea deposited limestone-rich soils throughout the region. Today’s soils are laden with pieces of limestone, marl, and sea creature fossils, elements which, paired with harsh winters and hot summers, come together to deliver pure, crisp white wines with incredible depth.
Classification of whites with Burgundian pedigree measure production as 1 percent Grand Cru, 10 percent Premier Cru, 37 percent village wines, and 52 percent regional wines. All have a most respectable profile, with increasing complexity as one climbs the ladder of classifications to the 1 percent Grand Cru, but even many of the village and regional wines produced in Burgundy are superior, high value wines. Each of the individual growing regions, however, pay their own complements to cuisine as the seasons move from hearty winter fare to the fresh, new vegetables and lighter dishes of spring.
The northernmost region of Chablis delivers wines known for crisp, pure qualities imparted from the cold winters, hot summers, and chalky Kimmeridgian soils. All wines from Chablis are white wines produced from Chardonnay grapes. Chablis has its own ranking system, from the light citrus of a young Petit Chablis, to the distinctive Grand Cru Chablis wines like the zesty Côte de Léchet and the fruity Fourchaume.
The Côte de Beaune region produces richer styled Chardonnays earning complex profiles that are excellent wines. The vineyards of Beaune represent some of the world’s most intriguing, sought after and long-lived Chardonnays. Village and Premier Cru wines from Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault and Beaune will be money well spent, especially for those vintages produced under the winemaking expertise of Louis Jadot and Bouchard Père et Fils. The wines of Domaine Joseph Drouhin, whose white wines command a higher price than even their red Burgundies, also produce distinctive, high quality Chardonnays.
Mâconnais, Burgundy’s most southerly growing area, harvests about two weeks earlier than Chablis, producing fresh wines with solid structure, and perfectly balanced acidity from their limestone and granite soils. The bowl of Mâconnais vineyards, with villages peppering the bottom, is guarded by the rock plateaus of Solutré and Vergisson. Here the climate and landscape both become more Mediterranean. Out of favor during the depression and the following resurgence, this area has made a comeback with a style that is highly valued by contemporary palates, imparting ripe stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, and pineapple flavors. Pouilly-Fuissé is one of our favorites from Mâcon, bestowing the consumer with a satisfying and complex sip that is a great accompaniment for salads, shellfish, and light meats. Overall, the wines of the Mâconnais offer some of the best values in the wine world.
Many white Burgundy wines are eminently drinkable now, but true connoisseurs will know to buy enough to taste through a range of years for a most satisfying view of the aging profiles. Vertical tastings are lovely, but for many, tasting a single vintage as it ages proves equally fascinating. Search our online wine shop’s wide assortment of White Burgundy to find your perfect springtime wines, or call our wine retail store at (718) 991-5700(718) 991-5700 to speak with one of our fine wine experts.
A challenging growing season to say the least, the 2012 vintage for Bordeaux will be a story of survival of the fittest. A cold and wet spring poured a deluge twice the norm on the budding vines, affecting flowering and setting. July brought moody rains, encouraging disease and causing spotty ripening. Two weeks into July, the sun came out with no relief until August had almost passed by, at which time nature again turned a cold shoulder to the vines, weeping on the struggling fruit during a late, chilly harvest.
A difficult year? Absolutely. Pass on En Primeur? That depends. While market trends have shifted some buyers away from Bordeaux, and is still showing definitive weakness, there are some highlights worth considering. Good terroir can produce good wine, even in bad years, if handled properly and tended intelligently. This year, then, will be one in which expertise will be rewarded, and those resting on laurels, or simply hoping for the best, will fall and fail.
Nature smiled on certain grape varietals in the 2012 vintage, including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Thus, dry whites basically did well in 2012, and Merlots seem to be performing favorably, especially Pomerol and St.-Emilion wines. Rather difficult challenges were set up for some of the reds, especially those predominantly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauternes was especially hard-hit in 2012, and larger, renowned Châteaux, including d’Yquem, announced that they would not produce any grand vin from the tenuous vintage. This news did not bode well for the other Châteaux in the region. There are always exceptional cases, so we must ask, did 2012 bring anything really special to the table?
The 2012 Château Margaux found the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon ever in the mix at 87 percent. With moderate term potential, the popular dense structure, dark fruit, and high tannins may end up building a lovely glass.
The 2012 Château Palmer Margaux is put together nicely, with another densely structured sip built of 48 percent Merlot, 46 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 6 percent Petit Verdot. This wine is looking to be a true gem of the vintage and worthy of investment for the right reasons.
Nowhere is the possibility of a good wine from a bad year more likely than from Château Mouton-Rothschild, where the legendary terroir yielded a rich, extravagant wine boasting big fruit and sweet tannins at this stage. The 2012 Mouton appears poised to deliver an extraordinary result that is built for the long haul. Château Lafite-Rothschild produced a more elegant, classic style in 2012 with a precious 38% of the harvest making it into the blend. While production of the 2012 Lafite is much lower, the wine is being offered at an attainable price for the first time in years. Wines from St. Julien, such as the 2012 Château Saint Pierre, and the Château Talbot, have shown rounded, lushly endowed wines with promise.
Why risk the money in such a difficult year? As with any investment, being both smart and lucky are in the mix, but the obvious answer is to apply known factors to access wines produced in limited quantities that may emerge as stellar sips. The added impetus comes from purchasing such wines at the best price, two years before bottling.
As the wines continue to build character in the barrel, and each additional tranch firms up the price, they await the final test. No matter what the experts, negociants, retailers, and journalists say, the real deal comes from the smiles on the faces of investors tasting the results of a good decision.
Making great wine requires land, expertise, and patience in abundance. Making great Kosher wine requires all that and more. Kosher wines must be produced by hands that understand and practice the Jewish faith, abiding by the regulations set forth in the Kashrut, or Jewish dietary law.
Traditionally, Kosher wine has a reputation as heavy, sweet, and generally a different drink entirely from the fine wine produced by the best vintners in France, Spain, Italy, and the United States. It doesn’t have to be that way.
As an increasing number of Jewish palates learn that Kosher wines can rival the best vintages from Champagne, Burgundy, and Napa Valley, Kosher winemaking is trending toward fabulous. For many, the sweet, syrupy sip of the past century has become tradition. For a growing number of Jewish households, however, the option to choose a fine wine built with the characteristics sought by more modern palates, while keeping Kosher, is a welcome change.
In addition to being processed and produced by observant Jews, Kosher wine must be made using Kosher equipment, with continual supervision by a Kosher agency, organization, or authoritative rabbi, in order to receive the hechsher, the Kosher seal of approval. When sealed, Kosher wine can be handled by anyone. Once opened, however, things change. Kosher wine must also be opened, as well as poured, by an observant Jew. Otherwise, it loses its Kosher status.
That can pose a challenge to fine restaurants employing non-Jewish waitstaff, but there is a fix for that. Any wine having undergone the flash-pasteurization process known as mevushal can be served by non-Jewish staff, retaining Kosher status regardless of who opens and pours the wine. While securing the Kosher designation, there are issues with bringing the wine to the boiling point. Would you willingly heat up a cherished vintage wine like a 1957 Lafite Rothschild? Debate has failed to resolve the question swirling around mevushal and its possible effects on a sumptuous sip.
Additional requirements of Kosher wine dictate that fining agents, those ingredients added to wine to assist in removal of suspended solids, observe the Kashrut. Some winemakers use dairy products such as casein, or non-kosher animal products such as gelatin made from swine, as fining agents, which would prohibit those wines from bearing the hechsher seal. The bottom line? At no time in the processing and production can a Kosher wine come in contact with a non-Kosher animal or ingredient.
Some excellent Kosher wine houses have gained notoriety in the last 10 to 20 years, especially those located in Israel’s Judean Hills and Samson regions. The soils and climates are conducive to growing a variety of quality wine grapes such as Carignon, Grenache, Muscat, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay. Additionally, Napa Valley, Clarksburg, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, and the Russian River Valley AVAs have begun producing some very good to excellent Kosher wines.
Even Champagne houses have begun to produce dry Kosher bubbly that is light, refreshing, and vibrant. From Kosher producers of Champagne in France, Prosecco in Italy, and Cava in Spain, to sparkling wine producers in Napa Valley, CA, the expansion of choice for keeping a celebration Kosher is a most welcome one. By all means, continue the sweet syrup tradition if you must, but know that some fine Kosher wines await your discovery…to browse The Wine Cellarage’s Kosher selections, click here. L’chaim!