In Burgundy as in real estate, location is everything. Today’s wine comes from a vineyard classified as a Premier Cru, but surrounded by five Grand Crus. It sits along the famous stretch of Grand Crus between Morey-St-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin, and today many believe its classification has as much to do with centuries-ago politics as any geography.
Good Muscadet should be three things -- refreshing, inexpensive, and served next to something from the sea. At its best Muscadet is a dry, precise white wine that’s the pinnacle of freshness. Grown near the mouth of the Loire River, Muscadet is at once brisk and hearty -- the essence of the windswept Atlantic coast.
As this weekend’s April showers spill into the month of May, we’re reminded that the arrival of warm weather is rarely dry or smooth. If the sweltering days of July and August require a well-chilled rosé, this transition time between spring and summer calls for a refreshing, mid-weight red. For this we usually direct readers to the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy and Alsace, but today we’re suggesting something a bit different.
Known as the “Garden of France,” the Loire Valley winds leisurely across nearly two thirds of the country. Though dozens of grape varietals grace its gently rolling hills, none is more famous than Sauvignon blanc. Planted as far afield as California and New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc finds its purest expression is the Loire Valley, particularly in the neighboring towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
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.