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Gathering family and friends together for a holiday often demands food and wine to enhance the celebration. Such a memorable repast, prepared with carefully selected courses, deserves the company of carefully selected wines. Ensure each culinary milepost is met with a glass that brings out the best in both cuisine and company by engaging a wine merchant’s enologic expertise. Even if you have extensive wine knowledge, you will likely be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of possibilities stocked here at The Wine Cellarage, your local New York City wine store.
First courses often find shellfish, cheeses, and crisps of various types plated for service. To complement this range of appetizers, pour a Sparkling Wine or a crisp, minerally Chablis to enhance the first bites while refreshing the palate. A Pinot Gris made in the slightly richer style of the Alsace region of France pairs nicely with additions of salmon and Pâté to the plate.
Second courses are intended to prime the palate with savory soups. To complement the course, a Meursault with high-altitude, medium body Chardonnay, hinting of yellow fruit, cloves, and earth, maximizes the spice and character of clear soups. A good Riesling will gather together the flavors of a cream soup for an elegant second course.
Third course salads, whether hot or cold, are refreshed with a medium bodied white that will begin to set the stage for the main course. A good Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, or a Chardonnay, will crisp and cleanse the palate throughout the course, smoothly leading to fourth course entrée.
Fourth courses provide for greatest variation, from light seafood and vegetarian fare, to substantial prime rib and game, allowing for broad interpretation by the hosts in wine selection. Here is where your own personality will shine as you select your favorite vintages for the main event. It is also a fine time to break open the bubbly, further highlighting the most important course of the meal, and supplying the effervescence to lighten the plates. The importance of the choice focuses on matching the weight and flavors of the dish with the wine so that neither is overpowered, and the aromas entwine to compliment and engage each other, elevating the course to more than the sum of its parts.
Port wines deliver just the right spark to dessert courses, especially where chocolate is involved. The sweetness of the wine should match that of the course. Heavy tannins here would work against pleasing the palate in this closing course, so avoid Champagne and edgy reds in favor of sweeter, younger reds, jammy ports, with perhaps a demi sec Champagne for light, fruit-based desserts.
Most important of all is to serve what you love. Introducing friends to your own personal favorites is a joy and a pleasure that will be the stuff of memories for generations to come, creating new traditions with each celebration. For special birthdays and anniversaries, you might opt to purchase a few extra bottles of wines served to store and present at a later date in memory of the occasion. The recipients will be both surprised and grateful.
Cold weather cuisine simply loves going toe to toe with full-bodied wines flaunting festive personalities. With winter’s heartier fare, full of flavor and spice, reds often win starring roles but there are many big-boned whites that provide the perfect warm up for a winter feast.
White burgundies from Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet, sometimes unoaked, make exquisite companions for roast chicken, scallops, and fish dishes, delivering a creamy, savory palate that warms and satisfies hungry winter appetites. Some California labels, with nutty, oak-focused notes, enhance shellfish menus featuring cream sauces or gravies, frequently making additional appearances as ingredients in entrees.
Pinot Grigio wines from the Alsace region present strong profiles with a defined nose, making perfect cold weather companions for fois gras, roasted pork or white meat winter stews. The Trentino-Alto Adige region produces a number of Pinot Grigio labels with strong personalities that up the ante for every other region.
By its very nature, Champagne strikes a celebratory note, especially during the winter holiday season. Round, rich blanc de blancs make strong stand-alone toasts. Champagnes with pure, flinty energy, and a creamy mousse, are a welcome warm up for winter guests, providing an instant, elegant thaw. Pours of any of the Special Club Champagnes give up more than the sum of their parts, enchanting from label to last drop with high quality grower vintage wines.
White may be the color of the season, with snow, ice, and purity of spirit, but reds still find favor during the winter months. Serious beef and game dishes, replete with seasonal spice, welcome a robust, deeply detailed Cabernet Sauvignon to the table. Strong, smooth tannins, particularly those earned by grapes from one of the Beckstoffer Vineyards, or from France’s Beaune region, groom the wines for the most elegant tables, while building a structure that supports the most complicated menus of the season.
Pinot Noir wines bring together dark fruit, exciting spice, and enticing aroma, creating warmth and well-being in every glass. The gorgeous rim and body dance with color, anticipating the complex, concentrated sip of an Anderson Valley or Russian River Valley Californian, or a Loire Valley or Burgundy Francophile. Excellent with winter menus of roast goose, baked ham, light game, or winter vegetable soups, these wines are also good for planning ahead, as in the next five to ten winters, since many are excellent for cellaring.
Barolo wines simply taunt the cold with their bold flavors and exquisite palates. Deeply structured to show a new facet with each maturing sip, these wines open up and change from moment to moment, meal to meal, and year to year, with numerous pleasant surprises. Excellent choices from Italy’s Piedmont region show sumptuous color, flavor, and nose, embracing beef, wild game, aged cheeses, or truffled pasta as delicious dinner partners.
Winter’s chill may bring the party indoors, but these winter wines offer warmth and solace to help weather the season. Discuss the possibilities with one of New York City’s fine wine experts here at The Wine Cellarage to stock your cellar with all the right wines for all the right reasons.
Day six was our last day in Beaune as we headed south to Macon to visit Domaine Sainte Barbe. Sainte Barbe is not well-known here in the United States and it is a shame that it is not. Jean-Marie Chaland makes exquisite wine. The Domaine is farmed bio dynamically and sells grapes to the more famous Brett Brothers.
It is also sad that the wines of Macon do not get their just reward. They are considered inferior to the white wines of the Cotes de Beaune and although they do not deliver the depth that some of the Premier Crus and Grand Crus do from the Cotes de Beaune, they certainly achieve the purity of fruit, freshness, deliver wonderful terroir and overall length. I conclusively know that the wines of Sainte Barbe do.
Domaine Sainte Barbe was founded in 2000 and its name comes from a cross erected on top of the hill overlooking the vineyard. It comprises 8.2 hectares of Chardonnay in the villages of Vire and Montbellet divided into two appellations – Vire Clessé (5.7 ha) and Macon-Villages (2.5 ha). The Domaine consists of more than 20 separate micro-parcels, and produces roughly 3,000 cases a year. There’s a lot to like here: a high proportion of old vines – 3/4 of his estate is over 50 years old, and his prized Thurissey parcel is over 90. He always uses natural yeasts, and there is no chaptalization, nor acidification. His single vineyard bottlings are bottled unfined and unfiltered. The family has farmed organically since those early days, and Jean-Marie’s estate became certified organic in 2006 – the first grower in Viré-Clessé to obtain that certification.
After our visit with Jean-Marie we were off to the northern Rhone to visit the ‘King of Viognier’ Domaine Georges Vernay. Christine Vernay, Georges’ daughter took over the winemaking duties in 1996 and has brought the Domaine to even greater heights. She was named Personality of the Year for 2012 by the world-renowned wine experts, Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve. The Domaine also joined the 30 most prestigious French Wine Estates including Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau D’Yquem, Champagne Krug, etc.
Domaine Georges Vernay lies among steep slopes of the northern Rhone Valley. The property has become a major emblem of French winegrowing, from the time when Georges Vernay saved the Condrieu appellation. Since 1997, Christine Vernay, Francis’ granddaughter, has continued the family commitment, anchoring its savoir-faire and imprinting her father Georges’ style on the reds and whites. She created the two Côte-Rôtie “Maison Rouge” and “Blonde du Seigneur”. The vision remains the same: create fine, elegant, harmonious wines that clearly express the character of the exceptional terroir.
Georges Vernay created the family business with 1.5 hectares of AOC Condrieu “Coteau du Vernon” vineyards. Towards the end of the 40′s, Georges Vernay became one of the most ardent defenders and saviors of the Appellation, then about to disappear.
Today, the vinification is assured by his children Luc and Christine Vernay and the estate extends over 16 hectares – 7 hectares in the appellation Condrieu, of which 3 hectares are old vines producing 2 prestigious vintages matured in barrels: the “Coteau de Vernon” and “Les Chaillées de l’Enfer”. Both vintages represent the quintessence of Condrieu’s Viognier vine. These exquisite incomparable white wines with their golden color are of great nobleness, full-bodied, unctuous and persistent. 3 hectares of Côte Rotie, 1.5 hectares of St.-Joseph and 5 hectares of local wine Syrah and Viognier. Whatever the classification, the wines are always delicious and of the highest quality.
We tasted through all of the wines of both estates across many vintages. Listed below are the hightlights of our tastings.
Domaine Sainte Barbe
Mâcon ‘Les Tilles’ 2011
Our Price: $21.00
This is from a parcel of 40-50 year old vines, located on a plateau of clay/limestone soil in the village of Montbellet. It is aged in stainless steel tanks, on its lees and then bottled. This wonderfully expressive, floral, citrusy Mâcon is super fresh, super mineral, and utterly delicious. The wine has apple fruit with a nose of white flowers. There is a touch of terroir with superb length. This is by far the best value in white Burgundy that we offer.
Viré Clessé ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2011
Our Price: $25.00
Viré Clessé is an AOC of the Mâconnais region (similar to Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran), created just over 10 years ago. It’s a relatively small AOC, producing less than half the quantity of Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran. This Vieilles Vignes cuvée is produced from three parcels of 50+ year old vines, with gravelly soils. Deep fruit on the nose the wine is complex and concentrated. There is a wonderful mid-palate that leads to a very long finish. The wine is extremely aromatic of again white flowers and citric apples. The wine is very fleshy with great minerality. Jean-Marie says he likes this best at 3-5 years of age, but it sure tastes good right now.
Viré-Clessé ‘Thurissey’ 2011
Our Price: $35.00
Viré-Clessé ‘Thurissey’ is an exceptional little (1/2 hectare) south-facing parcel is on the northern end of the appellation, away from his other parcels. The vines here are up to 95 years old, and he produces only about 200 cases. Again, no new oak; he uses a regimen of barrels between two and five years old. The wine is kept in barrel for a year on its fine lees, then bottled, without fining or filtration. Thurissey is a wonderful expression of its terroir. The wine is rich, complex and concentrated with great balance. It is a wine that is mineral driven and although it is at this time understated this wine has the most potential for aging (10 years is not out of the question). To say that the wine challengers village level Cotes de Beaune is not a stretch and I would put it up to some Premier Crus as well. This is the real deal in Chardonnay and certainly a wine to buy.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Viognier ‘Pieds de Samson’ 2011
Our Price: $34.00
One of the peculiarities of Condrieu is that despite its big reputation, it is tiny; fewer than 150 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards in Condrieu must not lie above a certain altitude, 300 meters, to be called Condrieu otherwise the wines are classified only as ‘vin de pays’. What is interesting is it was Georges Vernay that pushed for this to be enacted. The Pieds de Samson, which could be someone elses Condrieu is ‘just vin de pays’. This 100% Viognier comes from the climats of La Caille and Mirebaudy, located at 300 metres above the town of Condrieu. Thus, Le Pied De Samson is the Estate’s ‘baby Condrieu’.
The yields for this wine are very low and the wine is fermented in stainless steel and bottled in the spring to keep its freshness. The result is a highly aromatic Viognier with lots of floral and stone fruit character and a lovely supple, layered texture with a mineral freshness. 2011 is a great fit for this wine, which displays the typical Vernay dance between exuberant generosity and mouth-watering freshness. It’s juicy, floral and sleekly stone-fruited but also dry, racy and saline. A very chic Northern Rhône Viognier that showcases the pretty fruit and balance of the vintage.
Condrieu ‘Terrasses L’Empire’ 2010
Our Price: $74.00
A mineral, saline wine with floral richness and great power. The acidity keeps this fresh and balanced and this will likely age well for up to a decade. This wine is clean, focused, with heaps of minerality and stone fruits. A great example of Condrieu. Excellent.
Condrieu ‘Les Chaillees de L’Enfer’ 2010
Our Price: $110.00
The wine complex, concentrated again with stone fruits and minerals. Wonderful length that keeps on going. The wine has butterscotch and rich but not over the top pineapple and other tropical fruits. Aged in 25% new oak. Again excellent.
Condrieu ‘Coteau de Vernon’ 2011
Our Price: $130.00
This is the oldest vineyard in Condrieu. Therer are 7,000 bottles produced.This wine is insane. Everything about its aromatics is exquisite, though still tight and precise. Rich but bright, intensely mineral and unlike any other Condrieu I’ve ever tasted. This is amongst the best white wines made in France and can age up to 20 years. This is excellence personified.
Cote Rotie ‘Maison Rouge’ 2010
Our Price: $130.00
You would think that this wine would hit you over the head with heaps of fruit i.e. California Cabernets , but the first think that hits you is the wine’s elegance. Yes there is big, bold fruit of blueberries and blackberries that sing across your palate, but it was the harmony and finesse that struck me. Rich and complex, concentrated and very long. This wine proves why Maison Rouge is a highly sought after wine for French oenophiles, even while generally unknown in North America. This is 100% Syrah. This is a brilliant wine.
Our sixth day in France brought us farther south within the Côte d’Or, to Givry in the southern end of the Côte Chalonnaise. There we visited Clos Salomon, a Premier Cru vineyard tracing its history back to the 1300s, and in our opinion, the preeminent domaine in the Côte Chalonnaise. From Givry, we traveled to the Santenay appellation in the Côte de Beaune and tasted the wines of Domaine David Moreau. We were hosted by young and talented winemaker David Moreau himself. In between appointments, we stopped for lunch in Givry. We encountered several driving obstacles on our sixth day in France, one such incident can be viewed in the photo to the left.
The last visit of the day brought us to the often undervalued appellation of Saint Aubin, west of Chassagne-Montrachet, where we had a wonderful visit at Domaine Hubert Lamy. Day six was an exploration and discovery of some of Burgundy’s true hidden treasures! We feel very strongly about each of the wines below and hope that you find them as valuable as we do.
Domaine Clos Salomon
Clos Salomon is a beautiful Premier Cru monopole vineyard tucked into the pastoral landscape of the southern Côte Chalonnaise. The vineyard has over 700 years of history reaching back to the 1300s. We were hosted by Ludovic du Gardin and Fabrice Perrotto, the Domaine’s young proprietors-cum-winemakers. Ludovic and Fabrice are the epitome of down to earth and their wines couldn’t be more true to the limestone and clay soils from which they come. Each wine that we tasted there had resounding purity and polish. The 2009 Givry is the current release.
Givry 1er Cru Monopole 2009, $36 – Generous aromas of sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit leap from the glass. The wine is lush with palate-coating fruit, velvety tannins and harmonious structure. The flavor of sweet kirsch is embedded at the core which expands into savory minerality and a finish that goes on for miles.
Domaine David Moreau
One of Burgundy’s rising star winemakers, David Moreau oversees 5 hectares of Village and Premier Cru appellations that comprise this family-owned domaine. Moreau practices environmentally conscientious growing and winemaking techniques, taking great care in both the vineyard and the cellar to produce wines of excellent quality that loyally reflect each terroir in his portfolio. We believe that Moreau’s Côtes de Beaune Villages is one of the best values to be had from all of Burgundy.
Côtes de Beaune Villages 2010, $25 – Aromas of bright, pure cherry fruit and exotic spice delight the nose. The wine is lush and ample on the palate, with a refined, firm structure. Sweet red fruit gives way to velvety textured tannins. Deep stony minerality drives the lengthy finish. Tremendous value!
Domaine Hubert & Olivier Lamy
Situated in the hills between Chassagne and Puligny Montrachet, the appellation of Saint Aubin is considered by many white Burgundy lovers to be one of the region’s hidden gems and greatest values. At Domaine Hubert & Olivier Lamy, we tasted with Olivier Lamy in his cellar after taking a jaunt up to his aptly named Derrière Chez Edouard vineyard, which is located behind the house of Edouard. This is also the location for Olivier’s high density planting experiment, where he has 30,000 vines planted per hectare. Higher density means more competition amongst the vines and smaller sized grapes that have great concentration and complexity of flavor. The young high density vines were planted in 2000 and the first vintage that he produced was 2006. This wine is extremely limited production – Olivier makes only one barrel of the wine per year. Consider yourself very lucky if you manage to get your hands on some!
Olivier Lamy took over the Domaine’s winemaking in 1992, when the position was passed down from his father, Hubert. Since that time, the winery has gone from success to another. Olivier began experimenting with larger 600-liter tonneaux casks, rather than small 225-litre barriques, a change that preserves the pure fruit character of the wine. Currently, the majority of his wine production is raised in these larger casks. The resultant wines are both refined and racy, showing off St. Aubin’s mineral-rich style.
We feel that the wines of Domaine Lamy are a benchmark of quality and precision in white Burgundy, and some of the most sensational white wines that we have ever tasted, period.
Bourgogne Blanc ‘Les Chataigners’ 2011, $32 – On the palate, the wine is lush with sweet, ripe citrus, tropical fruit and subtle spice flavors. The wine has racy minerality through its core. There is complexity and depth with a long lasting finish.
Saint Aubin Paradis Rouge 2011, $39 – Ever so elegant with bright cranberry and citrus notes, along with subtle spicy character. The wine is pure, fresh and well-structured with great energy and minerality.
Saint Aubin ‘Derriere Chez Edouard’ 1er Cru 2011, $52 – The nose is dominated by stony mineral aromas and complimented by elegant floral notes. The wine is precise and deep with a core of sweet citrus fruit. There is extraordinary mineral density and length to this wine. Brilliant!
Saint Aubin ‘En Remilly’ 1er Cru 2011, $65 – High octave aromatics of orchard fruit, florals, minerals and fennel seed. On the palate, there is luscious mouth-coating fruit with a silken texture. The wine is intense with immense personality, power and complexity. Albeit rich and concentrated, there is notable purity and reverberating minerality.
Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Tremblots’ 2011, $69 – Charming aromas of pineapple, floral notes and citrus zest. Bright, pure and vivacious on the palate with dense, intense stony minerality that carries the finish for miles.
Also Available –
A nice cold glass of white wine is perfect for these hot summer days. There are so many different white wines out there and so many different styles that it can get a little overwhelming and confusing. We hope that this will serve as your summer white wine guide and will help you to choose a varietal and style that perfectly suits your taste.
In each region where Sauvignon Blanc is grown, the grape and resulting wine expresses a unique set of flavors and styles. Sauvignon Blanc thrives throughout France, and especially within Bordeaux, where it is the prominent grape varietal in Bordeaux Blanc blends and the coveted dessert wines of Sauternes . The climate of Bordeaux allows the Sauvignon Blanc grapes to ripen more slowly than in other areas, giving a wonderful balance between acidity and fruit. The climate is also an important factor in the development of the wine’s aromas. The flavors in these wines are fruitier than those from other regions in France. These wines can also age a bit more than the Sauvignon Blancs that are produced elsewhere.
The Loire Valley is the home of Sancerre, producing some of the most celebrated Sauvignon Blancs in the world. Sancerre is considered an elegant wine that is vibrant and crisp. Sancerre has good fruit and minerals, which combine to make a deep and complex Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit flavors that are typically present in Sancerre are from the citrus family, including lemon, lime and grapefruit. However, when the grapes are really ripe you can taste pear, quince, and apple. The wines that are produced in Sancerre have a good acidity, making them among the most refreshing wines out there.
California Sauvignon Blanc is made in a variety of styles, some of which were inspired by the regions of France. Fume-Blanc is a “French look a-like” that came into being when Robert Mondavi began using oak aging to remove some of the grassy flavors that were showing up in his California Sauvignon Blanc.
The flavors that are present in Sauvignon Blanc/Fume-Blanc, grown in California, tend to be minerally, grassy, and tropical. The wines that show more tropical fruits tend to be mixed with Semillon, which helps add ripe and aromatic fruit flavors. In addition, there are wines produced in California that offer citrus fruit aromas, showing notes of passion fruit, grapefruit, and lemon. On the other hand, the Fume-Blanc style shows melon flavors, as well as some other tropical fruits.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very tropical and refreshing when the weather is really hot. There is also something about New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that I really enjoy in general, but especially in the summer. Just like all Sauvignon Blancs that I have covered here, they are bright, refreshing, and crisp. Marlborough is the most well-known area in New Zealand where this grape variety is grown and produced.
A typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic with tropical notes of pineapple, passion fruit, grapefruit, melon, gooseberry, and other citrus flavors. Some of these wines can have grassy and floral notes too. The cool climate that the grapes are grown in allows for these flavors to be quite intense, but also gives a good balance between sugars and acidity. Moderate to high acidity is typical for these wines.
Chardonnay is the chameleon of the white wine grapes, having a variety of expressions depending on the region and the winemaker’s influence. Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world. Chardonnay is a native grape varietal to France’s Burgundy region. Consumers always get confused when it comes to Burgundy – red or white. It seems confusing with the different appellations within a village, the many different growers within the same vineyard, and then of course you sprinkle in the negociant. When it comes to White Burgundy, the first thing you need to know is that 95% percent of the time, the white wines produced there are made from Chardonnay! And Burgundy produces some of the finest and most age worthy Chardonnays in the world. Depending on the area of Burgundy, the flavors that can arise range from citrus fruit to licorice and spice notes, and can be rich and creamy in style or very racy and brisk. Chablis is perhaps the most distinctive expression of Chardonnay within Burgundy. View all White Burgundy available on our website.
Chablis will always be 100% Chardonnay, no blending of any kind. Because of the cool climate that the grapes are grown in, Chablis is always refreshing and very crisp, but don’t let that fool you, Chablis can be aged. Expressing a deep mineral character in its youth, the wine tends to softens with age and develop floral and honeyed notes. Another typical characteristic of young Chablis is a green apple-like acidity, as well as a flinty-mineral flavor.
California is another popular Chardonnay producing region. California Chardonnay tends to be fuller-bodied in style, filling the palate with rich flavors and textures. Chardonnay is wonderfully versatile, which is why it works so well for all seasons!
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a mutant form of the Pinot Noir grape. The grapes can actually have a purplish hue, although the wine produced is light in color. This is a wonderful warm weather wine and is sure to cool you off on a hot summer afternoon. It tends to be light to medium-bodied in style and is usually very pale in color. It is extremely bright, crisp, and refreshing. Pinot Gris thrives in Alsace, California and Oregon, while Italy is known for Pinot Grigio. View all Pinot Grigio available on our website.
Italian Pinot Grigio is very bright and clean. It is very light in color and in body. Sometimes there is an effervescent feel to an Italian Pinot Grigio. This makes the wine elegant and delicate, which means you want to drink it in its youth.
Pinot Gris is a major grape varietal in Alsace, and is very different from the Pinot Gris/Grigio that is found everywhere else. These wines have very intense flavors, because of the long autumn season, which allows for the grapes to ripen very slowly. The Alsatian Pinot Gris is medium-bodied and can be aged for longer than those of Italy and the United States. Alsatian Pinot Gris can have a nice spice flavor to it, which is unique to this variety. In general, Pinot Grigio makes a great cooler for the hot weather!
Our fifth day in France brought us to Nicolas Rossignol’s winery in Beaune. We spent the morning tasting a stunning line-up of Rossignol’s premier cru Volnays. From there, we enjoyed lunch in the charming village of Meursault and then traveled on to meet with Jean-Yves Devevey at his domaine, just northeast of Rully, in Demigny. Our day was capped off by a delightful tasting in the home of Benoit Ente, who makes utterly sublime Puligny Montrachets.
Domaine Nicolas Rossignol
In addition to being one of Burgundy’s finest young winemakers, Nicolas Rossignol is an energetic and charismatic host! A 5th generation vigneron in the vineyards of Volnay, Nicolas has an impressive résumé, including Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay and Domaine du Vieux Telegraph in Châteauneuf du Pape. Establishing his own estate in 1997, Rossignol’s vineyard holdings include Volnay, Pommard, Beaune, Corton and Savigny les Beaune. Rossignol is dedicated to sustainable farming and focuses on balance and respect for the land, combined with careful winemaking techniques. These dedicated practices result in premium quality, lending to great power and complexity in the finished wines. His passion for the various terroirs of Volnay shows through in the style and intensity that his wines possess.
NOTE: The Domaine Nicolas Rossignol wines will arrive in June of 2013.
Bourgogne Rouge 2011, $26 – (100% de-stemmed fruit) Offering a pretty aromatic profile, the wine is vibrant on the palate with fresh acidity and well-balanced structure. The elements of deep fruit, minerality, tannins and acidity come together harmoniously and give a complete package. A great value!
Volnay ‘Caillerets’ 1er Cru 2011, $102 – (Caillerets means small stones) Delicate aromas of red fruit and violets waft from the glass. The fruit is definitely more subtle. On the palate, stony minerality takes center stage giving the wine depth and a lofty, elegant character. The wine has impressive verve and freshness, leading to miles of length on the finish.
Volnay ‘Santenots’ 1er Cru 2011, $60 – (100% de-stemmed fruit) Beautiful aromas of red cherry fruit, bramble berries and sweet spices. On the palate, there is great power and intensity with muscular gripping tannins, deep complexity and bright freshness that shines through the wine’s density. There is wonderful earthiness and minerality at the heart of this wine, which then dissolves into the serious force of the finish. Amazing!
Fun Fact learned in the cellar: The Premier Cru vineyard of Santenots overlaps both Meursault and Volnay. Santenots is actually on the Meursault side, but produces both red and white wines. The reds are labeled Volnay Santenots and the whites are labeled Meursault Santenots.
Volnay ‘Ronceret’ 1er Cru 2011, $73 – (Ronceret means blackberry bush) Aromas of sweet cherry and raspberry fruit are layered with mountain florals and exotic spice notes. Opulent sweet black cherry fruit coats the palate upfront. The wine is structured with depth, complexity and sinewy tannins that have power and finesse. The mid-palate and finish are driven by the wine’s cool, fresh, stony minerality. This is an absolute favorite of mine. Magnificent!
Domaine Jean-Yves Devevey
Devevey crafts gorgeous white and red Burgundy from Rully and Beaune, as well as from Volnay and the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. Devevey’s white Burgundies are some of our favorites and offer exceptional quality and value. Jean-Yves got his start with small holdings of basic Bourgogne Rouge and Aligoté from modest locations and through hard work and considerable skill, he has built up a successful business, part vigneron and part merchant, with a properly equipped cuverie and cellar. Jean-Yves has a warm and genuine personality, not to mention his great talent as a winemaker! His wines consistently showcase their terroir and as we tasted through the line-up, I was impressed by the distinct sense of place present in each of the wines. There is such purity and deep minerality in all of Jean-Yves wines.
NOTE: The Domaine Jean-Yves Devevey wines will arrive in Fall of 2013.
Bourgogne Blanc 2011, $25 – (a blend of fruit from Chassagne and Hautes Côtes de Beaune) Very pretty on the nose with elegant citrus blossom aromas, chamomile and tropical pineapple fruit notes. On the palate, the wine is fresh and vibrant with great energy and expressive character. The minerality drives the lengthy finish.
Also available – Bourgogne Blanc 2010, $22
Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Les Champs Perdrix’ 2011, $28 – (Les Champs Perdrix = The Partridge Fields) Ethereal aromas of honeysuckle, elderflower and violet, along with wet stone which alludes to the wine’s deep minerality on the palate. On the palate, there is a core of candied stone fruit deeply imbedded in the dense and resounding minerality that leads through to the finish.
Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Les Champs Perdrix’ 2010, $25 – (no sulphur used) Initially, the nose is heady with animal/sauvage aromas. These aromas blow-off to reveal lovely fruit and floral notes. The wine’s character is vibrant with racy acidity and clean minerality through the finish.
Rully ‘Les Chaumes’ 2011, $29 – Zesty aromas of lime, lemon and citrus blossoms. In the mouth, the wine is rich with luscious, palate-coating fruit and wonderful stony minerality that carries through the long finish.
Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Les Chagnots – XVIII Lunes’ 2011, $31 – (XVIII Lunes = 18 moons) There is opulent and luscious fruit on the palate with a delightful, subtle butter scotch flavor. The wine has great verve and intensity, energetic acidity, minerality and miles of length. This is serious stuff! An incredible value.
Domaine Benoit Ente
Our final stop for the day was the home and winery of Benoit Ente in Puligny Montrachet. Benoit is a noteworthy young white Burgundy producer and each of his Puligny Montrachet’s is nothing short of fabulous. Benoit produces one red, a Bourgogne Rouge, and we fell in love with that too! Benoit Ente became a winemaker in 1989 and by 1997 he started his own domaine. The vineyards were all planted by his grandfather in the 1950s, which has enabled Benoit to benefit from old vine grapes. Every year, Ente’s target is to get the best harvest by mastering the yield: sound grapes with a good balance between sugar and acidity; mastering the production of the harvest to get the right expression of terroir. Green harvesting is an important part of Benoit’s philosophy and the picking of the grapes is done by hand.
Benoit likes to age his wines in oak barrels for 12 months, even the Aligoté. Nothing is added to the wine. A light filtration is done just before bottling, which is done at the estate by Benoit himself.
NOTE: The Domaine Benoit Ente wines will arrive in July of 2013.
Bourgogne Aligoté 2011, $23 – (bottled 3 weeks prior) Intense, exotic aromas of kumquat and citrus blossoms leap from the glass. On the palate, there is sappy, sweet fruit and a zesty quality. The intensity and concentration of the nose follows through on the palate. There is great precision and fresh minerality that carries the finish.
Bourgogne Rouge 2011, $32 – Vibrant aromas of macerated strawberries and violets greet the nose. On the palate, the fresh, ripe strawberry fruit follows through; along with wonderful spice flavors that give added complexity. This is a delightful Bourgogne. Once you’ve tasted this wine, you won’t want to put down your glass!
Bourgogne Blanc 2011, $33 – (from 30 year old vines) – Elegant floral and mineral aromatics waft from the glass. On the palate, the wine has generosity, opulence and intensity with clarity and precision. There is bracing acidity that dissolves into a wonderfully round and silky mid-palate. The roundness then leads to a focused, precise finish. Excellent!
Puligny Montrachet 2011, $66 – There is a sensational zippy-zesty quality to the wine upfront, then a core of sappy, sweet fruit with plenty of exciting tension and grip. Again, like the others already tasted, the wine shows great precision, purity and length.
Puligny Montrachet ‘Champ Gain’ 1er Cru 2011, $106 – Aromas of sappy, candied fruit with notes of anise and citrus blossom. On the palate, the fruit is rich and dense with lush, fresh acidity and elegant style. The finish is long and well-honed.
Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Referts’ 1er Cru 2011, $106 – A sweet perfume of citrus and floral notes introduces this Premier Cru Puligny. The wine is voluminous, intense and soaring on the tongue with flavors of pineapple. Ethereal minerality on the mid-palate gives a lofty character and the wine finishes with richness and intensity. Sublime.
Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Folatieres – En La Richarde’ 1er Cru 2011, $155 – Elegant, layered aromas of white blossoms, citrus and subtle spice breathe from the glass. On the palate, the wine has stunning power and complexity with a core of ethereal sweet white peach and nectarine fruit. There is incredible energy and length to the En La Richarde. Enchanting!
Day four again brought wonderful weather for us to visit and taste. The sun was shining and the temperature reached the low 70s. We could not ask for better conditions for tasting. The day started off with Blair Pethel of Domaine Dublere. Blair, a transplanted American who caught the Burgundy bug, is making pure, complete, complex wines that are understated but wines where the terroir shines through. Domaine Pavelot is what I consider the ‘King of Savigny’. Pavelot’s wines should be in everyone’s cellars, collector and everyday drinker. Lastly Dominique Mugneret of Vosne-Romanee was visited and again we have a domaine that should be in more people’s cellars. He makes wines of medium-body, but ones that show power, complexity and concentration. His Malconsorts is one that should not be overlooked.
I have been to these domaines three years running now and to see the evolution of their winemaking, the contrasts of vintages and the growth of each of the domaines is remarkable. We tasted through all of their wines for the 2011 vintage, but I am highlighting the wines that we thought were the wines to buy.
NOTE: The Domaine Dublere wines are future arrivals and will arrive in July of 2013.
Beaune ‘Blanches Fleurs’ 1er Cru 2011, $44.00
A little rusticity on the nose and on the palate. Typical Beaune, more power than finesse. There is complexity and length but what amazed me about the wine was its wonderful minerality. This is going to be a excellent wine.
Volnay ‘Taillepieds’ 1er Cru 2011, $55.00
The Taillepieds, is a step up in class to that of the Pitures. The wine has deeper fruits of black cherry, blueberry, more structure and concentration, well integrated tannins and harmony that lead to a very satisfying finish.
Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Busselots’ 1er Cru 2011, $76.00
After tasting the Morey-Saint-Denis ‘Blanchards’ the Nuits-Saint-Georges is so much more complete. The wine has purity, a touch of complexity, wonderful harmony and a sense of what it wants to be. The wine has richness, deep fruit of dark cherries and well-integrated tannins. There are no holes in this wine. Again, this wine will develop nicely over the next five years.
Bourgogne Blanc ‘Les Millerandes’ 2011, $27.00
I have always liked Blair’s Bourgogne but haven’t been able to get any due to its high demand. Sourced from Meursault (on the Puligny side) the vines are 60 years old. The wine has richness, complexity and the minerality that I love in white Burgundy. This is a treat for someone that is looking for everyday white wine for the summer.
Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Chenevottes’ 1er Cru 2011, $72.00
We tasted both the Chaumees and Chenevottes and to me the Chenevottes is much better. More minerals, more complexity, leaner in style but a wine that will last longer. The fruit of apples, a touch of honey just make this a wonderful white Burgundy.
Meursault ‘Charmes’ 1er Cru 2011, $80.00
As good as the Chassagne is the Meursault steps it up a few notches. The wine is very structured, has that typical creamy texture of Meursault, ripe apple flavor, white pear and a touch of spice. Well-integrated wood, complexity and concentration with wonderful finesse. This is a wine that will need some time but will reward the patient.
Nuits-Saints-Georges ‘Terres Blanches’ 1er Cru 2011, $76.00
15% Pinot Blanc which was co-fermented with the balance of Chardonnay. This is a rounder, richer style (more broader shoulder) wine for Domaine Dublere. More typical of Cote de Nuits whites. More pear fruit, with a good mouthfeel which allows the minerals to show through. The Pinot Blanc gives the wine a touch of sweetness on the mid-palate which makes this wine very seductive. Very rare and extremely interesting.
Domaine Jean-Marc & Hughes Pavelot
NOTE: The Domaine Pavelot wines are future arrivals and will arrive in early Fall of 2013.
Bourgogne Rouge 2011, $25.00
Pretty fruit of cherry on the nose, very expressive for a Bourgogne. Generous, with a touch of complexity, richness and concentration. This is a wonderful Bourgogne!
Savigny-les-Beaune Rouge 2011, $32.00
Deeper in flavor, heaps of darker fruits leads to a very lengthy wine. This is very typical of what I have found for the 2011s; the pure fruit is the king with structure playing a secondary role. The 2011s are wines that you should not overlook as they bring the purity of the grape, a good sense of place, minerality that adds dimension and enough concentration and complexity and structure that reward you near-term as well as 5-10 years down the road.
Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Guettes’ 1er Cru 2011, $48.00
Blacker fruits dominate this wine. Great structure and concentration, good mid-palate leads to a wonderful finish. I was taken aback on how well the wine was balanced. Harmony and finesse!
Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Gravains’ 1er Cru 2011, $48.00
Elegance is what dominates this wine. There is structure and concentration but in a very understated way. A silky Savigny.
Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Lavieres’ 1er Cru 2011, $47.00
The nose was a little muted but there is wonderful mouth feel. Black fruits dominate this well-balanced, complex and concentrated wine.
Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Dominode’ 1er Cru 2011 (375mls), $28.00
This is by far their ‘flagship’ wine. The only thing I can tell you is – fantastic! The wine jumps out of the glass with dark cherry and blueberry fruit. There is energy with mid-palate complexity and concentration that leads to an outstanding finish. I almost forgot, the elegance on this wine is second to none.
Aloxe-Corton 2011, $41.00
A more structured wine that at this time is not as giving and generous. Good tannin structure and length. There is plenty here but the wine needs to flesh out. Give it 3 years.
Domaine Dominique Mugneret
NOTE: The Domaine Dominique Mugneret wines are future arrivals and will arrive in early Fall of 2013.
Haut Cotes de Nuits 2011, $27.00
Black cherry fruit, a touch of spice on the nose and the palate. Vibrant acidity with a firm backbone. Sweet fruit and fresh mineral finish. One of the value wines of our trip.
Vosne-Romanee 2011, $59.00
Again black fruit, rich with a velvety texture and spice on the palate. Luxurious with great intensity and length . There is wonderful tension here. A top village wine.
Vosne-Romanee ‘Au Dessus des Malconsorts’ 1er Cru 2011, $105.00
Rich, mocha character with sweet spice. Luxuriant and opulent. Powerful, concentrated and complex. There is wonderful energy that makes me believe that this wine is one to drink over the next ten years.
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2011, $138.00
Intense, complex, concentrated with minerality that adds another dimension. There is a core of sweet fruit with plenty of life and vibrancy.
Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2011, $375.00
There was a bit of reduction here that in time blew off. Coffee aroma with intensity of black fruits and a strong minerality. The wine is complex, concentrated and very long in the finish.
As Alan noted previously, in the coming weeks we will continue to highlight our trip throughout Burgundy. This was my first visit to Burgundy and it was a life changing experience. I can hardly wait to return! I have traveled to vineyards and wineries in California and in Bordeaux, but Burgundy is distinct from those places. One of the most fascinating aspects of the journey was to see the small scale and close proximity of the vineyards in each area of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, and then to taste the nuances of the wines made from neighboring vineyards.
The winemakers that hosted us for tasting appointments were unpretentious and in most cases, were on their way to, or from, their vineyard plots where they would spend the day tilling the soil and caring for their vines. The energy and excitement of the winemakers was palpable. The weather had just recently turned for the better and it was apparent that the long-awaited spring season had finally arrived!
The focus of our tasting appointments was on the 2011 vintage, which we found to be showing wonderfully across the board. The 2011 vintage was the sixth vintage in recorded history when harvesting began in August…the only others in the past 118 years were 2003 and 2007. The vintage was marked by early high temperatures, drought, then summer rain and subsequent vineyard diseases. The vintage culminated in a hurried and short harvest. Despite these hardships, the wines that we tasted were beautiful. In general, both the reds and the whites that we tasted were showing deep minerality with a distinct core of sweet fruit, firm structure and precise focus.
Our first tasting appointments brought us to the northern area of the Côte de Nuits, first to Domaine Rossignol-Trapet in the heart of Gevrey-Chambertin, then to the extreme north of the region where we visited Domaine Sylvain Pataille in Marsannay. Later that day we traveled south in the Côte de Nuits to Vosne-Romanée where Domaine Gérard et Pascal Mugneret’s winery is located.
Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Gevrey-Chambertin
At Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, we met with David Rossignol-Trapet and tasted through a selection of stunning wines that he produces with his brother Nicolas. Although we tasted mostly 2011s, David happened to have availability on two wines from the 2010 vintage, the Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes” and the Beaune Premier Cru “Les Teurons”. (We loved the “Vieilles Vignes” from both 2010 and 2011, so much so that we decided to scoop up the 2010 and offer both vintages together).
The Rossignol branch of the family has owned vineyards in Volnay since the 1500s, while the Trapet branch has owned vineyards in Gevrey since the 1700s. The Domaine was established through the marriage of Jacques Rossignol to Mado Trapet and today, their children David and Nicolas oversee the family estate. In 2007, Rossignol-Trapet was certified as bio-dynamic.
NOTE: The Domaine Rossignol-Trapet wines will arrive in the Fall of 2013.
Bourgogne Rouge 2011, $22 – (from Gevrey vineyards; in bottle for 4 months) Elegant perfumed nose with bright fruit complimented by floral and herbal aromas. Structured and harmonious with pure fruit, sweet tannins and fresh minerality on the finish.
Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes” 2011, $50 – Aromas of sweet ripe fruit with floral and exotic spice notes. Gamey and svory on the palate with firm tannins, great backbone and deep iron minerality.
Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes” 2010, $50 – Aromas of blackberries with elegant spice and floral notes. On the palate, there is incredible intensity and purity. The wine is opulent and expressive with deep minerality and length.
Beaune “Les Teurons” 1er Cru 2010, $50 – Elegant berry fruit aromas with delicate notes of fine herbs and florals. Lush and opulent on the palate with silky texture, great grip and brilliant acidity. The wine’s deep mineral character leads the soaring length. Wonderful!
Gevrey-Chambertin “Petite-Chapelle” 1er Cru 2011, $97 – Aromas of red cherry fruit and elegant floral notes. On the palate the mouth-feel is velvety with a core of sweet fruit; the wine is opulent and refined with deep stony minerality.
Petite-Chapelle is situated just below Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. The slope is moderate giving good drainage; the soil is deep with clay deposits which imparts depth to the wine.
Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011, $170 -(just bottled) Dark fruit character. Rich, muscular tannins, deep, complex and concentrated; harmonious, elegant and stylish with incredible depth and length. Uplifting minerality carries the finish.
Latricières-Chambertin has extremely shallow topsoil. The vineyard is a continuation of Chambertin, only separated by a small path. Latricières translates to “little marvel” and this was the word used to describe the vineyard during the middle ages. The vines in Latricières thrive on a narrow band of earth that is bordered by the woods, creating a cool micro-climate in the upper section of the vineyard.
Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011, $170 -Bright cherry, lavender, rose and orange zest aromas. Rich dense minerality with a core of pure sweet red fruit; vibrancy & verve!
Situated just below Chambertin, the soil of La Chapelle is brown, pebbly and shallow, predominately made up of clay and limestone. The vineyard is perfectly exposed to the rising sun. A very slight slope assures excellent natural drainage, which is further enhanced by the limestone pebbles that cover this remarkable vineyard.
Chambertin Grand Cru 2011, $240 – Powerful with dense flavors of black cherry and exotic spice. The wine is complex with miles of depth and intensity. Amazing!
Chambertin is located on the upper slopes of Gevrey-Chambertin, bordering the woods, and has a slightly cooler micro-climate than that of Clos de Bèze. The etymology of Chambertin goes back to the 5th century, when a Germanic settler named Bertin observed the neighboring monks from the Abbey of Bèze planting their vineyard. Bertin decided to follow suit and plant his field with Pinot grapes as well. The resultant wines were of impressive quality and soon after, the vineyard was named “Champs de Bertin” (meaning field of Bertin), which later became “Chambertin”.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay
Our next destination in the Côte de Nuits was Domaine Sylvain Pataille, farther north in Marsannay. Sylvain Pataille is a young, enthusiastic grower and winemaker with an aura of genius. Sylvain makes wines solely from the vineyards of Marsannay and is passionate about the various terroirs within the region. His love for the terroir is apparent in his wines, which are sensational, stylish and beautiful. Sylvain’s wines have a strong presence on restaurant wine lists in Europe and the US. Here in Manhattan, you’ll find his Marsannay “Fleur de Pinot” Rosé 2008 on wd-50’s wine list. We fell in love with his Marsannay Rosé.
NOTE: The Marsannay Rosé will arrive at the end of June 2013.
Marsannay Rosé 2012, $24 (300 bottles made) – Delicate floral and wild berry fragrances on the nose. On the palate, the wine is clean and pure with bright refreshing acidity and deep minerality. Floral and berry flavors carry through on the palate and persist through the long finish.
I have been traveling to Burgundy for twenty years and to me it never gets old and tiresome. In fact, I look forward to going again once I step foot on American soil. This year Gretchen and I traveled with an importer, Michael Feuerstein, of Selection Pas Mal, and we visited his properties throughout Burgundy. To say we had a great trip would be an understatement, as each Domaine we visited brought new light as to what is going on in Burgundy, its trends, gossips, innovations and traditions.
Over the next several weeks, Gretchen and I will be highlighting our trip up and down the Cote D’Or (as well as Macon) along with some side trips to Champagne, Condrieu and Bordeaux.
Domaine Jean-Pierre and Stephanie Colinot
What a way to start off our trip! We got off the plane in Paris and immediately hustled off to our first destination, Domaine Jean-Pierre and Stephanie Colinot. The weather was beautiful and although we were tired, we were eager to get going. Domaine Colinot is located in the small village of Irancy. Irancy, a gem of an area, is tucked away in the northern part of Burgundy, approximately 18 kilometers from Chablis. Unlike Chablis, Irancy produces red wines from Pinot Noir and two little known grapes, Cesar and Tressot. There is a small amount of Rose made as well.
More importantly, Domaine Colinot is reputed to be the finest producer in Irancy. Stephanie has taken over the winemaking and the Domaine has not lost a beat. In fact, she has taken the wines to new heights. The Domaine is made up of approximately 12 hectares and produces around 5,000 cases per year. We tasted through the whole lineup of wines. It is a shame that these wines are not more well-known, as they are pure expressions of Pinot Noir (with a touch of Cesar for color and body).
We came away with one particular wine that both Gretchen and I loved, Irancy ‘Les Cailles’ 2010. The ‘Les Cailles’, 100% Pinot Noir, is elegant, with wonderful minerality to round the wine out. Heaps of dark red fruits, cherries, blueberries and blackberries dance across the palate. The wine has richness, complexity and concentration. The tannins are well-integrated with the fruit which leads to wonderful length that lasts a good minute. They say that Irancy is best drunk within the first 3 to 4 years of the vintage, but this wine has enough going for it that it will last ten years.
On Tuesday the 23rd, my colleague Alan and I had the pleasure of attending a special lunch at Rouge Tomate, hosted by co-founder of Maison Lucien Le Moine, Mounir Saouma. Lucien Le Moine is a boutique winemaking house in Beaune owned and operated by Mounir and his wife, Rotem Brakin. Relatively new to Burgundy (their first vintage was released in 1999) the couple’s reputation for exceptional wines has grown fast. The winery is focused exclusively on producing grands and premiers crus from the very best growers in the region using traditional winemaking methods.
Le Moine is the epitome of artisanal craftsmanship in wine. The couple does everything in the winemaking process by hand, from carefully timed battonage (hand-stirring of the lees) all the way through to bottling, which is also meticulously timed and always takes place after a full moon for the benefits of ideal atmospheric pressure. From the beginning, Mounir and Rotem have selected grapes from only the best vineyards and growers, crafting their wine in precious small batches. They produce only between one and three barrels per Cru (that’s a very limited 25 to 75 cases). Keeping production this low means that the wines must be crafted with the utmost care throughout the entire winemaking process.
The small group attending the lunch had the pleasure and good fortune of tasting ten selections from Le Moine’s 2006 vintage while listening to Mounir’s passionate discourse. The red and white Burgundies that we tasted displayed the greatness of Maison Lucien Le Moine, giving the category of négociant wine a whole new connotation.
We tasted the wines listed below in order of appearance, all of which hail from Burgundy’s challenging 2006 vintage. The wines were opened at 9am, three hours prior to the lunch, and double decanted. Mounir emphatically recommended double decanting all Lucien Le Moine wines. Le Moine’s wines undergo a lengthy malolactic fermentation, the byproduct of which is carbon dioxide (CO2); the naturally occurring CO2 gives Mounir the option to use little sulphur dioxide (SO2), but the wines can end up with residual CO2 after bottling, hence the importance of double decanting. Mounir compared SO2 to a veil of make-up, dressing the wine up to make it attractive early on, but altering the wine’s true character. Mounir fervently opposes the popular credo in winemaking that SO2 is essential to making age-worthy wines and disagrees with its use for preventing oxidation.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees
Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres*
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Gain*
Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens*
Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots
Corton Bressandes Grand Cru
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combe Aux Moines*
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Estournelles-St-Jacques
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru*
Before establishing Maison Lucien Le Moine, Mounir studied viticulture and oenology, and then went on to work in wineries in both Burgundy and California. Rotem comes from a family of cheese makers and studied Agriculture extensively, with a focus on wine. She had worked in both Burgundy and California before establishing Maison Lucien Le Moine with Mounir. Mounir and Rotem were initially drawn to Burgundy by their infatuation with the native varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but the couple soon fell in love with the unique and distinctive terroirs within the Côte d’Or. Mounir expounded on the terroirs of each wine that we tasted and the character that is imparted by various soil types, such as the clay soils of Charmes and the resultant tannic concentration and minerality.
All of Maison Lucien Le Moine’s wines are aged in custom-made barrels, sourcing the fine oak from the Jupilles forest. The barrels are customized for each vineyard, and even for the different vintages. All of their wines, both reds and whites, are aged on 100% of their lees and are gently stirred three or four times per month. The ageing on lees and stirring imparts the wines with impeccable balance and great complexity. The wines are bottled without being fined or filtered, which preserves the extraordinary character and unique quality of these wines.
Mounir’s candor and insights surrounding the region of Burgundy, the winemaking process and the industry as a whole, were captivating. As I mentioned earlier, Mounir was insistent on the importance of decanting Le Moine’s wines and recommended opening a bottle and enjoying that one bottle over the course of eight hours for the full tasting experience. He excitedly explained how the wine changes and evolves as it is exposed to oxygen over longer periods and how fascinating this whole experience is for a wine lover. Mounir emphasized the ultimate goal for wine consumers, which is the enjoyment of what is in your glass. Finally, this memorable event was concluded with Mounir’s recommendation against trying to dig too deep and to look for an explanation for everything that is happening in the wine. Just keep it simple and enjoy the wine! An excellent piece of advice, albeit easier said than done for many of us.
The Name Lucien Le Moine stems from two references: “Mounir” means light in Lebanese and “Lucien” is the equivalent in French. Mounir’s winemaking career began at a Trappist Monastery, where he learned about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. “Le Moine” translates to “the monk”, and is a reference to Mounir’s experience at the monastery.
Steven Tanzer Reviews:
2006 Lucien Le Moine Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Reticent but very ripe, spicy nose. Rich, fat and exotic, with honey and spice flavors and a distinctly glyceral texture that called to mind a late-harvest wine featuring some noble rot. Finishes plump and long. 89-90 points
2006 Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots Good deep red. Restrained, complex nose combines dark fruits, licorice, botanical herbs and subtle woodsmoke. Supple and broad but light on its feet, offering considerable early sex appeal to its flavors of dark cherry, minerals and oak spices. Has plenty of mid-palate fat to support its dusty tannins. Finishes with good grip and structure, and subtle lingering perfume. 90 points
2006 Lucien Le Moine Corton Bressandes Medium red. Musky, wild aromas of red fruits and smoked ham. Sweet, supple and meaty, with a slightly medicinal cast to its fruit but also a sensual texture given shape and lift by ripe acids. A classy Corton, not at all a brutal style. Finishes with slightly dry but fine tannins. 89-91 points
2006 Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru Good full red. Brooding aromas of dark berries, licorice and violet. Big, rich and sweet but a bit youthfully simple, with a wild aspect to the black raspberry and floral flavors. The saline, savory finish communicates a strong impression of soil. This needs a few years of aging to express its full personality. 91(+?) points
David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate:
2006 Maison Lucien le Moine Pommard les Rugiens The Le Moine 2006 Pommard Rugiens is scented with lightly-cooked cherry and strawberry; comes to the palate quite broad, rich, and caressing in texture, with smoky pungency typically associated with this site and the ferrous soil for which it is named; and finishes with sweet, smoke-tinged fruit, though in a soft, slightly diffuse, low key manner. I would expect it to be at its best already within 3-4 years. 89 points
Lunch Venue Rouge Tomate, 10 East 60th Street, New York, NY
Emmanuel Verstraeten’s Michelin starred restaurant
Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman