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Makeover at Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet

Cote-de-Beaune Vineyard

Cote-de-Beaune Vineyard

Le Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet first saw mediocre success under the ownership of poet-vigneron Roland Thevenin in the 1950’s and during the 30 or so years that followed.  In 1985, he sold the property to the Chablis firm Laroche, which several years later passed on the estate to Credit Foncier, a subsidiary of Caisse d’Epargne, who produced commercially-popular wines. Then, in 2002, BNP banker Etienne de Montille took over as director of the estate and the makeover ensued. His first major move was to transition to organic and biodynamical viticulture, which he successfully achieved by 2005. Additionally, under Etienne’s reign, the Domaine has grown from 15 to 21 hectares (37 to 51 acres) of healthy, fruitful vineyards. Not only did he work deliberately at transforming this estate, he also began taking a more active role in his family vineyard in Volnay, Domaine Hubert de Montille.

The Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet estate covers 23 appellations in the Burgundy region including some prestigious ones such as Chassagne-Montrachet and Nuits-St.-Georges.  Most of the production consists of Chardonnay wines, although 7 out of the 20 hectares are dominated by the noble Pinot Noir. The 2009 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Bourgogne Blanc Clos du Chateau $24/btl is a product of 4.5 hectares (slightly more than 11 acres) of vineyards in the heart of le village of Puligny-Montrachet, one of the best Chardonnay-producing areas in the world. The “Bourgogne” title, whether rouge or blanc, covers wines that are produced in locations that do not have specific appellations and can be produced from grapes in one or more of 300 communes.

With the first swirl of this lightly golden wine, wafts of lemon verbena, straw and ripe citrus first awaken the nose. On the palate, floral notes and minerality are present with slight acidity and a long finish to bring an overall harmonious presentation in the mouth. Grab a bottle to see for yourself!

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2012 Wine Trends: A New Year of Vino

Looking forward to a new year of wine discoveries.

2012 is here, presenting a fresh new year of wine trends to contemplate.  It’s an exciting time for all of us wine lovers as we stand at the edge of an entire year of wine discovery and imbibing ahead.  What will be hot in the wine world this year?  What will we fill our glasses with in 2012?  Here’s a bit of forecasting for 2012 wine trends, along with some divulgence as to the wines we anticipate buying and drinking the most of and why…

1. Grower Champagne is Vogue

Grower Champagne producers and smaller Champagne houses are becoming more and more popular as bubbly lovers everywhere discover the world beyond Dom Perignon, Krug and Cristal.  Of course we’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many other high quality, great value Champagnes out there.  Grower Champagne producers are grape farmers that make their own Champagne, using the grapes that they grew themselves, as opposed to the bigger houses that buy them in.  While these small, artisanal producers lack the marketing power of the ubiquitous big brands, their Champagnes are gaining recognition and are the new fashion.

We’re looking forward to discovering and drinking more under-the-radar, high value Champagnes in 2012, and will continue to drink and promote our favorite grower Champagnes.  The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, Bubble by Bubble by Lettie Teague, is a great read on the topic of Champagne.  Lettie gives a shout out to some of our favorites, including Pol Roger Brut Réserve, Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut and Pierre Gimonnet Brut Blanc de Blancs Sans Année.  Our New Year’s resolution is to drink more Champagne!  Additional recommendations:

NV Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve ($46) “Fresh, precise lemon and pink grapefruit aromas give way to deeper tangerine and melon with air. Fine-grained and focused citrus flavors stain the palate, gaining richness on the back end while retaining a tight, nervy personality. The citrus notes linger nicely on the long, sappy, mineral-tinged finish.” – 91 pts, International Wine Cellar

NV Champagne Laherte Freres Brut Tradition ($36) – “The NV Brut Tradition is a beautifully precise, chiseled wine. Citrus, flowers and minerals are woven together in fabric of unusual elegance. This mid-weight, focused Champagne offers terrific energy all the way through to the finessed finish. It is a lovely effort…” – 90 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Empreinte ($50) “The NV Brut Empreinte offers up licorice, smoke, mint and dried apricots in an exotic, compelling style. There is wonderful richness and clarity to be found in the glass. The weight and sheer presence of the Pinot Noir is clearly felt on the palate, while cool mineral notes provide a wonderful foil to the wine’s silky texture…” – 92 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Henri Goutorbe Brut Rose ($55) “The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is a rather wild, unrestrained wine loaded with baking spices, kirsch, game and sweet red cherries. The wine reveals gorgeous inner perfume and tons of class, with a refined, silky close. Striking aromatics linger on the finish.” – 93 pts, Wine Advocate

2. Bonjour 2010 Burgundy

The 2010 vintage for Burgundy is just beginning to enter the market.  While many of the reds have not even been bottled yet, the white Burgundies are just starting to arrive.  The 2010 vintage was a small one for Burgundy, which means that we can expect the prices to be higher, but these wines will be worth the investment. In general, the 2010 Burgundy vintage has a lighter, more classic style than the lush 2009 vintage, promising many age-worthy wines with great structure and acidity.  Since the quantities will be limited, we suggest grabbing them up while you can.

Anxious to get your hands on a refreshing 2010 white Burg now?  Our 2010 Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis La Forest is in-stock and ready to ship.

Although we’re looking forward to the arrival of our 2010 Burgundies, we are still head over heals for the 2009 vintage.  The 2010 red Burgundies will need some time in the cellar, so while we wait, we’re going to continue to enjoy the approachable, delicious 2009 vintage.  Recommendations for great value 2009 Burgundies to drink now:

2009 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin ($52) “The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin is the best of the village-level wines. It shows tons of Gevrey character in a sweet, perfumed style I find irresistible, with gorgeous length and fine overall balance. The level of quality is admirable, considering there are 200 barrels of this cuvee. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.” – 87-88 pts, Wine Advocate

2009 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Selectionnees ($72) “Bright red. Deeper, richer and more complex on the nose than the basic village offering, showing aromas of red fruits, rose petal and spices. Richer and broader on the palate, offering very good presence and depth for village wine. Spreads out nicely on the impressively long finish.” – 89 pts, International Wine Cellar

2009 Domaine Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune ($35) “This is also aromatically quite pretty with ripe red berry and plum aromas liberally laced with ample amounts of Savigny-style earth that continues onto the round, supple and appealing flavors that culminate in a balanced and naturally sweet finish. Lovely and fashioned in Pavelot’s usual understated style.” – 87-90 pts, Burghound

2009 Domaine Thierry et Pascale Matrot Puligny Montrachet Les Chalumeaux ($64) “A more expressive and airier nose that features high-toned notes of white flower, pear, white peach and mineral hints is followed by rich, naturally sweet and racy medium-bodied flavors that possess ample size, weight and sap on the solidly persistent finish. This will drink well almost immediately and I like the underlying sense of tension here.” – 91 pts, Burghound

3. Locavore Trend Extends to Wine

The farm-to-table trend has taken America by storm and that movement extends beyond potatoes and carrots, encompassing wine consumption as well.  As Americans become more conscientious when it comes to their carbon footprint, we’re sure to see a rise in local wine sales.  We oenophiles on the East Coast are beginning to pay more attention to our local wine regions, especially New York’s Finger Lakes region and the North Fork of Long Island.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Dr Konstantin Frank is an exceptional local producer if you’re living on the East Coast.  We’re big fans of the 2010 Dr. Frank Dry Riesling, 2008 Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc and the delightful, sparkling 2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.

4. Organic and Sustainable Wines

Just as more and more people seek out organic food products, over the past several years, the consumption of organic and sustainable wines has been rising.  Many European wine producers have practiced organic, sustainable and biodynamic winemaking for centuries.  These practices are publicized more frequently now than ever before because they have become selling points for many modern consumers.  Organic wine certification varies from country to country and is a complex issue.  Producers that advertise organic and sustainable practices are not necessarily certified organic.  As the collective consciousness becomes greener by the day, we’ll see more producers adopting sustainable and organic winegrowing and winemaking techniques.  Recommended organic and sustainable producers from our portfolio:

Flora Springs Wine Company, Napa Valley – Practices organic farming.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles – Certified organic.

Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley – Practices sustainable farming.

Podere Salicutti, Tuscany – Certified organic & biodynamic.

Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon – Practices sustainable farming.

Evening Land Vineyards, California, Oregon & France – Practices organic farming.

5. Food Friendly, Low Alcohol Wines

Sommeliers have long been advocates for lower alcohol wines (below 14% ABV) because of their great compatibility with food.  European wines generally have lower alcohol than their New World counterparts and are specifically made to compliment the cuisine of their native lands, which explains the predominance of European producers on many restaurant wine lists.  Ripe, over-extracted, high alcohol wines have the affect of overpowering most foods. New World winemakers (and wine drinkers) are becoming wise to this fact and have begun to abandon the over the top, sometimes out of balance, style that was the longstanding fashion.  In the year ahead, look for lower alcohol wines coming out of regions such as Napa and the Willamette Valley.  Not only will these low alcohol wines enhance your dining experiences, you won’t be bowled over by the first glass!  We’ve already started spotting, and drinking, these food friendly beauties from New World regions:

2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($27, 13.4% ABV)

2010 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir, California ($14, 13.5% ABV)

2008 Mt. Difficulty Riesling Roaring Meg, Central Otago ($20, 11.5% ABV)

2008 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($42, 13.9% ABV)

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Thanksgiving Wines: Pairings for the Big Feast

White wine on the Thanksgiving table

There has been a distinct chill in the air and the east coast has already seen a significant snowstorm.  There’s no denying that winter, and the holidays, are fast approaching.  While I’m not necessarily looking forward to the biting cold days ahead, I’m eagerly awaiting the holiday season!  The next two months promise to be filled with plenty of feasting, celebration and a steady flow of delicious wine…merriment that will stave off winter’s hold for a while, at least.

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, family chefs across the nation have already begun planning their menus and experimenting with new recipes.  The beauty of Thanksgiving, the reason that it tops my list of favorite holidays, is that it is a celebration of food and family.  Not only does the holiday give gourmands more reason than ever to run wild in the kitchen, it is a welcome opportunity for oenophiles to show their stuff too.  The cooks are already ahead of the game.  It’s time for us wine lovers to plan our attack and seek out the very best wine pairings for the grandest of feasts.  So wine lovers, what will you bring to the Thanksgiving table this year?

Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner is easier than one might think.  The meal itself features abundant flavorful side dishes, all with a gorgeous, simply roasted turkey as the centerpiece.  One could argue that just about any wine can work with Thanksgiving, due to the vastness of the meal and diversity of flavors within, but there are certain wines that elevate this feast, bringing it to a whole new level.  Here are our suggestions for some truly knockout Thanksgiving wine pairings

Wine Pairings for Hors d’oeuvres and First Courses

The wine you choose for kicking-off your Thanksgiving feast should have some bubbles!  Champagne or sparkling wine makes an ideal 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 right through the richness and saltiness of any assortment of cheeses, from Brie to Stilton.  This Thanksgiving, we’ve selected several champagnes and domestic sparkling wines for Turkey Day pairings:

NV Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) – Recently awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator, this champagne has long been one of our favorites.  A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres. These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions.  Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection. Its rich, elegant style is lovely as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to variety of dishes from hors d’oeuvres straight through to a fruit-based dessert.

NV Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs ($55) – This vivacious champagne, made from 100% Chardonnay, has satisfying richness while being exquisitely elegant at the same time.  Delamotte has been producing champagne since 1760 and is the sister house to renowned Champagne Salon.   Situated in the grand cru commune Mesnil-Sur-Oger amongst the finest Champagne producing vineyards, Champagne Delamotte is a reflection of this unique, exceptional terroir.  The style of this blanc de blancs is well suited to Thanksgiving festivities.

Look no further than New York State for some sensational sparkling wines that are wonderful for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The Chateau Frank sparkling wines are the very best in quality and offer enticing value as well.  For a truly American holiday like Thanksgiving, it is only fitting to show off some of our country’s finest wines…

2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs Finger Lakes ($29) – This blanc de blancs is one of our new favorite 100% Chardonnay sparkling wines from Finger Lakes producer Dr. Frank.  This bubbly has a sublime voluptuous froth, great complexity, elegant flavors of honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, all undercut with refreshing, zippy acidity that make it the ideal companion for appetizers and first courses.

NV Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé Finger Lakes ($20) – The festive color of this sparkling rosé will look stunning on your Thanksgiving Day table and in the hands of your dinner guests.  Made from 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes and crafted in the traditional French Crémant style, this sparkling rosé offers rich raspberry and strawberry aromas, lush cherry flavors and beautiful, delicate bubbles.

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner

Zinfandel

As I mentioned before, I’ve always thought it was nice to feature a few American wines at Thanksgiving. Red Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind, especially since it has an interesting immigration story of its own.  Let’s be clear, we are not talking about semi-sweet, pink-colored White Zinfandel, which has managed to disgrace the grape’s name.  In stark contrast, the Zinfandels that I adore are rich, robust, red wines that sing aromas of ripe briar fruit, dark cherries, currants and spice.  They are big, intense wines that pair well with a variety of foods.  These wines are akin to the gravy for your Thanksgiving bird.

The history of America’s Zinfandel can be traced to roots in Croatia, where it is named Crljenak Kaštelanski, then to Italy, where it is Primitivo.  The grape was brought to the Boston area in the early 19th century, by the Austrian Imperial Nursery, and named Zinfandel (a name whose origins are unclear).  By the mid 19th century, the grape had made its way to sunny California, where it was a popular table grape and dried for sweet raisins.  A few years later, California recognized Zin as viable for winemaking, and adopted the grape as a signature American varietal.

Zinfandel has extensive heritage in America, and an immigration story that reaches far beyond our borders.  The lush fruit character and versatility of these wines make them an ideal pairing for your turkey along with all the trimmings.

The Zinfandel to pour this Thanksgiving is the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Geyserville ($35). Wine Advocate critic Antonio Galloni praises this impressive wine, awarding it with an attractive score of 94 points.

“The 2009 Geyserville is a gorgeous wine. It shows expressive inner perfume, sweet black cherries, menthol and minerals. This is an understated, exceptionally elegant red endowed with considerable finesse and fabulous overall balance. A round, sensual finish makes it impossible to resist a second taste…” – Antonio Galloni

Pinot Noir

Pinot’s beautiful cherry fruit aromas and flavors, combined with its characteristic earthy quality, make it just perfect for Thanksgiving menus.  Harvest season ingredients such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, roasted root veggies, nuts and dried berries are all accentuated by the character of Pinot Noir.  Those Pinots from the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington State) tend to be more fruit-forward, which is a great complement for turkey meat.  Pinots from Burgundy are often lighter bodied with an earthy-minerally quality, quite similar to the character of the ingredients that show up on the Thanksgiving table.  Any of the Pinots listed below will work marvelously with your feast…

2009 Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir Widdoes Vineyard Russian River Valley ($35) – A delicious and sweet-fruited single-vineyard Pinot Noir with lush berry flavors, earthy undertones, full juicy body and a smooth, rich texture. Sean Capiaux, owner and winemaker of Capiaux Cellars, is a Pinot Noir expert with an impressive winemaking resume, including Jordan, Pine Ridge and Peter Michael in California and Houghton Winery in Australia.

2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee Willamette Valley ($37) – With its dark fruit, black cherry, lively spice notes and impeccable structure, your bird is calling for the Yamhill Cuvee this Thanksgiving. Domaine Serene Winery and Vineyard was founded in 1989 by husband and wife team, Ken and Grace Evenstad.  The Evenstad’s are advocates for sustainable farming, practicing dry farming techniques on their vineyards, meaning that they never use artificial irrigation or tap into local rivers to water their vines.  Domaine Serene specializes in world class Pinot Noirs, while also producing excellent Chardonnay and Syrah.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we can get enough of 2009 Burgundy.  They are simply irresistible.  Don’t feel guilty about uncorking them this Thanksgiving…even if their projected prime is still a few years away!

2009 Domaine Michel Magnien Bourgogne Rouge ($25) – Rich black cherry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors are dressed up with baking spices and subtle floral aromas.  You’ll hear, “Please pass the Burgundy” more than anything else with this stellar Pinot on the table.

2008 Domaine Bernard Moreau Bourgogne Rouge ($20) – This is exceptional red Burgundy for the price.  Lovely red cherry aromas give way to an earthy accent of briar patch.  The vibrant acidity and lengthy satisfying finish make this a superb choice for the Thanksgiving feast.

White Wine Options

Aromatic white wines work especially well with Thanksgiving dinner for several reasons.  Grapes such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling can be vinified into dry wines that have slight amounts of residual sugar.  This hint of sweetness, combined with the fragrant and sometimes tropical aromas and flavors in the wine, pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving Day spreads, which often incorporate sweet elements as well (think sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce).  Meanwhile, the naturally high acidity of these types of wine is the perfect foil for rich, hearty dishes.

Chardonnay is another excellent option for Thanksgiving and a classic pairing for roasted turkey.  You can go with either a white Burgundy or a new world Chardonnay with subtle oak influence.

2009 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley ($27) Located in Northern California’s rustic, pastoral Anderson Valley, Breggo Cellars specializes in stunning wines from Alsatian varietals – Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling.  Breggo means “sheep” in the local dialect, homage to the area’s native population of sheep. The winery property, a 203-acre farm, was one of the first sheep ranches in Anderson Valley. This small production (only 350 cases produced), single-vineyard Pinot Gris offers delightful notes of pear, baked apple and honey, with a touch of candied lemon peel. Rich and medium-bodied, flavors of apricot preserves, melon and Meyer lemon dance on the palate.

2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) – This exotic and enticing wine shows opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose, enhanced by notes of sweet lemon and apricot. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish. Only 398 cases made.

2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) – Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, François Chidaine’s Chenin Blancs share an ethereal quality and great complexity. A brilliant wine with aromas of lemon rind, honey suckle, citrus blossom and white pepper; on the palate, the tangy character is accompanied by honeyed citrus flavors, with hints of bitter almond skin. The finish lingers gracefully.  A truly exceptional wine with the resounding acidity and brightness needed to emphasize the elements of Thanksgiving’s banquet.

2008 Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($28) – “Bright yellow. Precise, mineral-driven aromas of pear, spicecake, iodine and wet concrete, along with a sexy floral aspect. At once tactile and fine-grained, with subtle smokiness giving depth to the flavors of Meyer lemon, minerals and candied ginger. Tightens up toward the back, finishing quite suave, with strong lift and cut to its ginger-laced orchard fruit flavors.” – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, 91 pts

2008 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Genevrières ($85) “As it almost always is, here the nose is spicier still and more refined as well with striking complexity adding compelling interest to the floral, citrus and white fruit aromas. The rich, concentrated and classy flavors possess plenty of extract that confers a seductive texture that carries over to the impressively long and harmonious finish. This is unmistakably at another level, at least at this early juncture.” – Burghound, 92 pts

Rosé

Rosé is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.  Not only is the wine’s color cheerful and festive, the characteristic red berry flavors make it the ideal choice for Thanksgiving.  Incredibly food friendly, Rosé provides the best of both worlds, combining 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.  To quote Julia Child, “Rosés can be served with anything.”  The versatility of the wines below make them perfect pairings for Thanksgiving’s bounty, complimenting everything from the mashed yams to the stuffing.

Steal! 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch ($12) – This is a dark cranberry-colored, robust and refreshing rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.

2010 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rosé ($21) – Enticing style and finesse, showcasing raspberry and subtle peach aromas.  On the palate, red berry flavors mingle with Provencal herbs and spices, resounding in the full-body, freshness and length of this gorgeous wine.

2010 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rose Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) – Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry shine, along with racy minerality and bright, food friendly acidity. Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé, Bieler Père et Fils Sabine, for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business. This rosé continues the Bieler family reputation that was built over 13 years at Chateau Routas and the last three years with Three Thieves.

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Bouchard Père & Fils Wine Dinner at Aureole

Tuesday, September 13th 2011

Bottles of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault.

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending an exquisite wine dinner at New York City’s Aureole, hosted by Luc Bouchard of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, representing the ninth generation of the family.  The dinner was held in Aureole’s elegant private Halo Room, a lustrous dinning space designed with custom backlit sconces that surround its guests and imbue a soft, warm glow.  Rich fabric panels and silver leaf detailing add to the Halo Room’s modish adornment.

Founded in 1988 by Charlie Palmer, Aureole was originally located in a historic townhouse off Madison Avenue.  In 2009, Aureole reopened in the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the most environmentally progressive skyscraper in the world, making it a fitting home for Palmer’s flagship restaurant and his signature Progressive American cuisine.  When creating Aureole, Palmer was inspired by Manhattan’s famous French restaurant, Lutèce, a NYC landmark for over 40 years.  Palmer’s Progressive American cuisine was founded in his early dedication to “farm over factory food”.  Today, the Michelin-starred Aureole continues to thrive at its new location, under the kitchen leadership of Executive Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware.

The Wine Cellarage has been a long time devotee of the Bouchard family’s wines.  When Henriot Inc, the exclusive importers of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, presented us with the opportunity to co-host this wine dinner, we were thrilled.  Established in 1731, Bouchard Père & Fils is one of the Côte d’Or’s most legendary producers. The team behind this great winemaking house is fully committed to producing fine wines that are pure expressions Burgundy’s many terroirs.

Maison Bouchard Père & Fils is located on the site of the ancient Château de Beaune, the underground fortress built by King Luis XI.  The Bouchard family has used the underground stronghold as an ideal place for the slow maturation of their wines.  Millions of fine and rare bottles are nestled in the cellars of this historic site, in optimal well-protected storage conditions.

Over the past three centuries, the Maison has been devoted to acquiring the very best parcels, in order to build a prestigious domaine and has obtained many vineyard holdings, largely composed of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines in the heart of the Côte.  Champagne Henriot, one of the oldest family-owned Champagne houses, purchased the Maison in 1995.  Champagne Henriot’s ownership, together with the Bouchard family’s continued involvement, has carried the Maison’s longstanding tradition of excellence into the 21st Century.

Luc Bouchard was a genial host and visited each table in the dining room, spending time talking with the guests in between courses.

Guests were welcomed into the Halo Room with a glass of NV Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) and a delicious selection of passed hors d’oeuvres, including irresistible Gougères (classic French cheese puffs) and a delightful tuna tartare. The Champagne was a huge hit.  A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres.  These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions.  Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection.  Its elegance and richness made it the perfect aperitif and accompaniment to the hors d’oeuvres.

Once the guests were seated, each was graciously poured a glass of 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) and our first course appeared, a delectably flavorful Peekytoe Crab salad, with cucumber, watermelon, tomato and summer squash.  This combination was ethereal.  The refreshing quality of the Chardonnay, its light citrus notes, melon and peach aromas and crisp, integrated acidity and silky smoothness, made it a gorgeous pairing for the flavors in the crab dish.

For the next course, we were presented with a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut with English Peas, Girolles (Golden Chanterelles), Pearl Barley, Sea Beans and a soft, poached egg.  This stunning dish was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru ($85), a truly magnificent wine.  This Meursault’s enduring stonefruit aromas mingle enticingly with exotic floral and spice notes, following through with peach and apricot flavors, refined richness and silken texture.  This was a lively, playful companion for the halibut, accenting the elegant richness of the dish with complementary texture and supple acidity.  A favorite among the dinner guests, the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru has a long lasting, memorable finish that beckons you to come back for more.

The Alaskan Halibut and Meursault Genevrières were a tough act to follow, but the third course pulled it off magnificently.  A perfectly prepared Veal Ribeye with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, Brown Butter Pomme Puree and Perigord Truffle Jus, was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Rouge ($42). This wine is showing red berry aromas and flavors, with notes of leather and sweet spices.  On the palate, the gamey, savory quality and bright red fruit flavors made it a perfect accompaniment to the veal.  The combination was utterly sublime.

The dessert was a pleasant departure from the typically sweet course.  Guests were presented with a lovely cheese plate of Murray’s Artisanal Cheeses.  The cheese selections were paired with the 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin ($54).  The Gevrey’s charming wild berry flavors, earthiness and fresh, medium fullness made a superb escort for the cheeses.  The Gevrey’s lingering finish was the perfect way to cap off this delightful, delicious evening!

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2009 Burgundy – A Red & White-hot Vintage

One of Domaine Faiveley's vineyard sites in Burgundy

The buzz surrounding 2009 Burgundy began long before its release and now that these wines are available for purchase, the excitement over this truly spectacular vintage continues.  While rumors that 2009 was going to be the next 2005 have been laid to rest for the most part, it is clear that both vintages share a superior quality and success that spans the entire region, from Chablis to Beaujolais.   It is true that the praiseworthy 2009 vintage is the most widely successful since 2005, yet the two vintages are different and 2009 has something very enticing to offer, the drink me now element!

At this point, it would be remiss to not mention the profundity of the 2008 vintage.  The difference between ’08 and ’09 is that the former will require patience and needs more time in the cellar, whereas the latter is already showing marvelously – instant gratification.

Back to ’05 versus ’09.  Dry conditions in 2005 caused vine stress and led to high tannin levels.  These strong tannins plus the vintage’s higher acidity are the recipe for serious structure and great aging potential.  Burgundy’s 2009 growing season was marked by a hot, sun-filled August with below average rainfall.  However, there had already been enough rain in May, June and July to prevent drought, giving the fruit softer tannins and lower acidity than the conditions in 2005.  The resulting ’09 Burgundies are delicious, fruity and showing beautifully now.  Intensely fragrant with concentrated flavors, these wines are approachable in their youth, but will no doubt age as well as their great predecessors, such as those from the 1999 vintage.

2009 has proven to be terrific vintage for both red and white wines.  The reds offer rich aromatics and fruit flavors, with soft tannins and pleasant textures.  These Pinot Noirs may not age quite as long as their 2005 counterparts, yet they possess the allure that draws us to red Burgundy again and again, that elusive elegance and grace.  The delicate fruit aromas, floral fragrances and whisperings of exotic spices sing in this superb vintage.

The 2009 white Burgundies are equally as seductive.  These rich, soft Chardonnays are nothing short of being delightful to drink now.   Excellent balance, plentiful fruit and pure, persistent minerality give these wines poise and magnetism.

The youthful charm of the 2009 vintage makes these wines extremely difficult to resist.  Those who have patience will surely be rewarded, but one could argue, why not start drinking the 2009s while I’m waiting for my 2005s to become more approachable?

Buying Guide: Top Producers and Wines

Christophe Cordier is a hot name in Burgundy’s winemaking scene.  Located in the Maconnais region, in Fuissé, Domaine Cordier is known for premium wines made from the very best vineyard sites. Pure, focused aromatics and opulent, intense well-balanced flavors are hallmarks of Cordier’s style.  His wines offer both extraordinary quality and value.  Christophe is a proponent of crafting wines from hand-harvested, low yielding vines and minimal intervention in the vineyard.  Fermentation is carried out in wood, giving the wines integrated flavors and incredible texture.

Both the 2009 Domaine Cordier Pouilly-Fuisse Vielles Vignes ($24) and the 2009 Domaine Cordier Vire Clesse Vieilles Vignes ($37) are excellent white Burgundies to try.  At these prices, you could open these wines and enjoy them any night of the week!

Domaine Marc Morey is one of the Côte d’Or’s most renowned and sought after producers.  In the 1950s, Marc Morey began making wine in the cellar of his family’s 100 year-old home, establishing his domaine in the heart of the Chassagne-Montrachet village.  Today, Morey’s daughter Marie-Jo and her husband Bernard Mollard carry on the legacy that he began, making focused, terroir-driven wines.  The domaine’s ownership spans nearly 25 acres of Villages, Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. The couple’s daughter, who works with them at the estate, will continue the family’s tradition of winemaking.

We are excited about everything that Domaine Marc Morey has to offer, from their 2009 Domaine Marc Morey Rully 1er Cru Rabource to their 2009 Domaine Marc Morey Chevalier Montrachet.  These are white Burgundies that you won’t want to miss out on.

Domaine Joblot, located in the tiny village of Givry, in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise, is a small producer crafting some very serious red Burgundies.  Here, brothers Jean-Marc and Vincent Joblot work together to create powerful, fragrant wines that are truly sublime.  The brothers take meticulous care in their winemaking, carefully selecting grapes from low yielding vines, destemming 100% of their fruit and using the finest oak barrels.  The resulting wines are limited production and superior quality with a style resembling the best of Chambolle-Musigny.  It is no wonder that Domaine Joblot has developed a cult following!

Domaine Joblot wines are superior quality at incredible price points.  Available quantities of the 2009 Domaine Joblot Givry Celliers aux Moines and the 2009 Domaine Joblot Givry Clos de la Servoisine will not last long.

Domaine Joseph Drouhin is one of Burgundy’s finest and most important domains, showcasing the very best of each area within the region.  From the beginning, Drouhin’s style has been elegant, balanced and harmonious, always striving for perfection in its wines.  Domaine Joseph Drouhin wines possess a distinctive purity of taste.  In their youth, they have fruity and alluring aromas, and as they age, these wines develop extravagant complexity.  Crafted to age gracefully for up to forty years or more, the Drouhin portfolio is filled with gems from the very best Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards.

Some of Domaine Drouhin white Burgundies to try now, or to add to your cellar, include the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet. For Drouhin red Burgundy, the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Volnay and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Vosne-Romanée are superb choices!

Henri Boillot is a 5th generation winemaker in Burgundy and has established Maison Henri Boillot as an exemplary Burgundian producer.  Boillot family has been growing vines in the region since 1855, founding Domaine Jean Boillot in 1885.  Henri took over the family estate in 2005, after making a name for himself with his own négociant business and his rich, powerfully styled Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  Henri’s stunning wines convey his meticulous technique and passion for natural, sustainable farming practices that maintain the soil’s authentic character.

Henri Boillot’s wines are produced from only the finest sites in the Cote d’Or.  Whether a Bourgogne Blanc or Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Boillot uses the very best grapes, resulting in wines of sublime purity and distinction.

If you’re interested in trying these extraordinary red and white Burgundies, we recommend the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Volnay Les Chevrets, the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Meursault Les Genevrieres and the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere.

Domaine Faiveley is located at the heart of both Burgundy and the Côtes de Nuits, in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Founded by Pierre Faiveley in 1825, Domaine Faiveley has been passed down through seven generations.  The family owns vineyards in some of Burgundy’s very best regions, including Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Volnay, Puligny-Montrachet, Mercurey and more.

Domaine Faiveley is known for its fine, age worthy wines, the result of exceptional vineyard sites and a particularly lengthy fermentation period.  Faiveley’s wines are transferred to oak barrels for maturation and stored in their vaulted cellars, which date back to the 19th century.

The 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Chablis Les Clos, the 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin Clos des Issarts and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers are just a few of this legendary producer’s highly-rated wines.

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