Mass production Champagne is easy to find in the US. You’re as likely to run into a bottle of Veuve Cliquot at your corner convenience store as on a restaurant wine list. And at around $60 (or $160 in a restaurant), the actual contents of the bottle often disappoint; it’s that orange label you’re paying for more than what’s in the glass.
Burgundy is at the heart of our portfolio. Most domaines in Burgundy are small and family run, just like Ansonia. But we always like to have a few wines around from the other “B.” Bordeaux presents a larger scale of operation -- it’s about 10 times the size of Burgundy -- and also a wealth of grapes, styles, and delicious wines.
The wine regions of France are enormous and diverse. The wide spectrum of vinification styles, climate patterns, and grape varietals provides a staggering range of wines. France offers enough diversity to keep us busy for years, and in some regions we feel as though we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Winemaking began in the Languedoc around 125 BC, and over the last two millennia, little has changed in its basic chemistry. Though the past century has seen the advent of new chemicals and measurements, winemaking is still the combination of grapes, yeast, and time.
Gevrey-Chambertin has long been considered Burgundian royalty. The vineyards surrounding the town, first planted around 640 AD, are known for their clay-rich soils, which produce wines of unusual intensity and muscle. Last summer we discovered a new source in the village, the Domaine Gérard Quivy.
Nicolas Maillet is an unusually passionate winemaker. He discusses the finer points of rootstock selection and fermentation chemistry with the same intensity most reserve for Les Bleus (the national soccer team). Even more impressive is how Maillet manages to breathe this energy into his wines, which shimmer with complexity and life.
Warm weather has arrived on the east coast at last. Baseball is back, the marathon is tomorrow, and we’re dusting off those patio chairs to soak in some sun. And in the glass, it’s finally rosé season again. We’re usually not too beholden to seasonal drinking patterns, but there’s nothing quite like a glass of cool rosé with the warm sun on your back.
If the Loire Valley is the world’s favorite choice for French Sauvignon blanc, Bordeaux is the underdog. Most Loire examples come from the neighboring towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where the grape shows exuberant fruit and steely gunflint. But Sauvignon blanc (known as simply "Sauvignon" in France) also thrives in Bordeaux, a region whose famous reds often overshadow its undervalued whites.
It was perhaps inevitable that breadmaking would join our list of minor obsessions. Bread and wine have far more in common than the ecclesiastical: both are the product of fermentation; both mix art and science; and both reward success with sensory delight.
Perched on a charming Tuscan hillside, the Fattoria Poggerino is certainly one of the most attractive domaines in our portfolio. Lucky for us, the wine is just as beautiful as its source -- Poggerino often appears in the international wine press as a source for classic, affordable Chianti. Their careful organic viticulture results in wines of unusual purity, and they seem to get better each year.
The Côte de Nuits is the northern half of Burgundy’s famous Côte d’Or. This narrow 15-mile strip of land is home to nearly all of Burgundy’s greatest red wine vineyards. Wine has been made on this hallowed slope for over a thousand years, and today it produces the world’s finest expression of Pinot Noir.
The modern era of organic winemaking dates to the 1970s when winemakers began to realize that over-fertilization of vineyards was resulting in excessive crop production and poor quality. The excessive use of herbicides and pesticides contributed to a monoculture, making vines more vulnerable to disease and insect infestation.
“Puligny-Montrachet is where Burgundian Chardonnay is at its most complete,” writes Clive Coates MW. The tiny town, covering over less than one square mile, has made highly sought-after wine for nearly a thousand years. Today most consider it, as Coates puts it, “the greatest white wine commune on earth.”
Chambolle-Musigny is the essence of Burgundian grace. The wines of the town embody the elegant, silky side of Pinot Noir, a continent away from New World, warm climate versions. Though it’s a village of 320 inhabitants on less than 500 acres, this tiny town produces some of the most ethereal and sought-after red wine in the world.
At the start of every tasting, Rhône winemaker Denis Basset gives us small taste of white. “Just to set the palate,” he explains, before continuing on to his rich, syrah-based reds. The white is always lovely -- floral and fresh, beautifully expressive, and a perfect way to start a tasting. And every year, when we ask how much we can buy, he smiles and shakes his head. (Loyal local restaurants are to blame).