Francis Muré lives in a charming Alsatian hill town. His small farmhouse nestles on vine-covered slopes near stone streets lined with colorful flower boxes. It’s charming, quaint, and picturesque, like something from a fairy tale.
When vines grow old, vignerons are faced with a choice. Older vines mean lower yields, which can squeeze a domaine’s bottom line. But old vines also produce more concentrated and better quality juice, leading to wines of depth and intensity. Though we understand both sides, we’re always pleased to find vignerons who sacrifice quantity for quality, and allow their vines to continue into old age.
The finest wines of Burgundy are expensive, scarce, and require cellaring. We’re always on the hunt for more affordable options from our favorite region -- pinot noirs that show Burgundy’s elegance and earthiness without the lofty price tag. Bourgognes from Michel Gros and Pierre Amiot are delicious and affordable, but our allocations for these wines evaporate quickly each year, and there’s rarely any left over after Futures.
It may be spring for another month, but here in Boston it’s starting to feel more like summer. Warm weather can make wine pairing tricky -- heat and alcohol rarely go well together, and a cold beer is sometimes the best fit. But when the moment or the meal calls for wine, we look for bottles with low alcohol, good freshness, and wines that are tasty chilled.
This weekend we’ve been pouring wines at the Nantucket Wine Festival. Besides some favorite Burgundies from the Domaine Michel Gros, our table featured two reds and a rosé from the Domaine les Goubert in Gigondas. If the clear Provençal sun didn’t quite last the weekend on the island, the Nantucket breezes did their best impression of the blustery mistral.
The perfect wine isn’t always the most expensive choice. Put a plate of just opened oysters in front of us, and we might rather pick a Muscadet over a Montrachet. Or consider a choucroute garnie (Alsatian sausage and sauerkraut) -- so perfect is the marriage with an fine Alsatian Riesling, that Hermitage or Haut-Brion would seem out of place.
There is no more underappreciated wine than Riesling. Many US consumers have sworn off the grape, having been burned by syrupy Rieslings with no life and too much sugar. But for lovers of dry wine, there’s enough bone-dry Riesling out there to make Riesling avoidance foolhardy. Tall skinny bottle + “Riesling” ≠ sweet.
The Loire Valley boasts France’s widest diversity of styles. The rosés are mostly crisp and bright, the sparkling wines dry and floral, and the whites range from dry to sweet and brisk to rich. The Loire’s main red grape is Cabernet Franc, better known for its important part in the wines of Bordeaux. In the Loire Valley it is most often unoaked and unblended, taking on a juicier starring role.
Pasta with Goat Cheese, Tomato, and Zucchini -- a simple, delicious pasta that's great for a crowd; we serve this regularly all summer long. Remember to reserve some cooking liquid to help distribute the goat cheese. High quality canned tomatoes can be substituted if ripe fresh ones are not available.
Sometimes we wonder why Michel Gros makes any white wine at all. The Gros family has lived for generations in Vosne-Romanée, a town that produces some of the finest red wines in the world. His red Burgundies garner high prices and have won him acclaim for decades.
Saint Emilion is an old place. Founded by Romans in the 4th century, the town is named for a monk who lived there until 787, and who began construction on the cathedral that stands today. Because of its location on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Saint-Emilion has been a cultural and commercial hub in southwestern France for over a thousand years.
For most wine drinkers, Chardonnay’s finest expression comes from the golden hillsides of Burgundy. Burgundy’s climate is uniquely suited to producing Chardonnay with perfect balance – enough ripeness to turn into mouthfilling wine, and enough acidity to keep it fresh.
Alsace is beautiful any time of year, but it's particularly charming in spring. Colorful flowers spill from window boxes on half-timbered houses, water spouts from weathered stone fountains in the quaint village square. No wines better capture this springtime spirit than those of Francis Muré.
Chardonnay grows in nearly every corner of the winemaking world. With a large spectrum of styles hailing from a wide range of origins, it’s hard to pin down what the grape itself tastes like. But our best suggestion is Chablis, or what wine writer Jon Bonné calls “the world's great, BS-free expression of chardonnay.”