This past June we went searching for a new source in the Beaujolais. One morning we lined up two tasting appointments in Juliénas, one of the ten Beaujolais Cru. The first domaine (last week’s Jean-Marc Monnet) was so good that we continued to the second mostly as a matter of courtesy.
“If gold were a flavor,” Matt Kramer once wrote, “it would taste like Meursault.” Though it has no Grand Cru vineyards, the wines of Meursault are some of the most sought after in the world. For most, the name recalls white Burgundies of decadence, opulence, and style.
It’s hard to justify opening a magnum for a small dinner with a friend or two. But if your guest list numbers more than eight -- particularly if they’re the jovial type -- you’ll probably need an extra bottle of everything anyway. With Thanksgiving just over a month away and the holidays close behind, entertaining season is upon us. Today we’ll offer a simple suggestion to dress up your holiday dinner table: large format bottles.
If Burgundy is the heart of the Pinot Noir universe, then Vosne-Romanée is the heart of Burgundy. Celebrated for more than eight centuries and boasting some of the world’s most sought-after wines, Vosne-Romanée is Mecca for Burgundy enthusiasts and Pinotphiles around the world.
The Gamay grape has had a turbulent history. In 1395 Duke Philip the Bold concluded Gamay was “evil and disloyal,” and banished it from the northern half of Burgundy. For the past six centuries it has found refuge in Beaujolais, where it produces mostly simple reds -- fruit-forward and inexpensive.
Winemaking began in the Languedoc around 125 BC, and over two millennia little has changed in the basic chemistry. Though the last century saw new chemicals and measurements, winemaking is still the combination of grapes, yeast, and time. The winemakers at the Mas Foulaquier return to this simple alchemy.
We’ve often written about the value of Gigondas. Located 20 minutes east of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas produces wines of a similar intensity as its more famous neighbor, but usually at far more affordable prices. Our longtime source in Gigondas is the Domaine les Goubert, cited as a reference point in the region by Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker.
Prices in Bordeaux have never been higher, fed by global demand, particularly from China. With this spring’s release of the highly anticipated 2015s, the trend upward will likely continue. With value in mind, we often consider second wines of famous vineyards, or secondary properties from famous winemakers.
Nestled side by side just south the city of Beaune, three neighboring towns represent the crown jewels of White Burgundy: Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, and Meursault. This trio produces the finest whites in Burgundy, which most consider the greatest white wines in the world.
In our search for expressions of terroir, we never tire of sampling local flavors. Oysters from Belon, chèvre from the Loire, butter from Isigny — these foods represent their regions as much as any stony Chablis or rich Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
When we write about minerality, it’s usually in the context of a white wine. The Chardonnay of Chablis and the Rieslings of the Mosel Valley are prized for their stony clarity, drawing minerality from the limestone- and slate-laden soils. But minerality is a quality in red wines as well, and at its best can contribute an ethereal elegance and vibrancy.
It was last year that we first stopped at the unassuming doorstep of Frederic Michot. We had little more to go on than a brief note in a French wine guide promising small scale, excellent Pouilly-Fumé. The rutted tracks in the ridges above the hamlet led to a modest house with a small tasting room.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is rare. Nearly 95% of the appellation’s wines are red, and because of the warm climate and abundant sunshine, it’s difficult to make wines with good balance. But in the hands of a careful winemaker, the unusual white grapes can produce beautiful and astonishing wines.
The Northern Rhône is best known for its all-syrah reds from Côte Rôtie and Hermitage. These spiced, inky wines are precise expressions of a unique marriage of grape and land -- nowhere else does syrah taste quite like this. Most bottles from Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, however, require diligent cellaring, and start north of $50 a bottle.
For about a thousand years between the 5th and 15th centuries, French monasteries were the center of the winemaking world. It was the monks, tasting the products of the rich Burgundian soils (and often the soils themselves), who first developed the idea of terroir.