Europe has been unusually hot this summer. Though the south of France is no stranger to summer heat, the country’s continental climate is important in helping its wines achieve balance. Overripe grapes contain too much sugar and too little acid, which boosts alcohol levels and flattens the palate.
We do lots of grilling in the summer. For nice cuts of meat we suggest fancier red Burgundies or Bordeaux -- something complex to sit with and enjoy slowly. But for simpler fare -- burgers, shish kabob, vegetables, chicken, steak tips, etc -- we like reds that aren’t too complicated.
There has been no shortage of ink spilled about the 2015 red Burgundies, and indeed the praise is warranted. But it might mean that 2014, a truly excellent vintage, won’t receive nearly enough hype. We are stocking up on 2014s, and we encourage fellow Burgundy enthusiasts to do the same.
Nicolas Maillet is our new source for chardonnay from southern Burgundy. His wines are classic examples of the best Maconnais — cool, round chardonnay with excellent balance and little or no oak. If the Côte d’Or is home to Burgundies of pedigree and refinement, then the Maconnais is home to Burgundies full of vibrancy and joy.
Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest appellation in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. Because of its clay rich soils, its wines are similarly grand. Known for power and longevity, Gevrey-Chambertin shows dark, intense fruit and a sturdy tannic structure.
The Loire Valley is known as the Garden of France. Its lush rolling hillsides produce nearly every type of wine, from dry to sweet, light to dark, and white to red to sparkling to rosé. One of region’s most distinct styles is an unoaked, juicy Cabernet Franc from the central Loire Valley.
Most wine buyers think Pinot Noir produces only red wine, whether light and elegant or rich and fruity. But in fact the juice of Pinot Noir grapes is clear. The color of red Pinot Noir comes from soaking the grape skins in the juice -- press the juice off the skins and ferment it on its own, and you get a wine that’s much closer to a white.
Morey-St-Denis exemplifies the small scale of Burgundian winemaking. Wedged between two more famous neighbors, this village of 680 people has a vineyard surface of under 4 tenths of a square mile. It’s dark, delicious, classic red Burgundy — there just isn’t much of it to go around.
Patience is uncommon in our fast-paced world. Today’s wine consumers tend to drink wines too early, or to avoid age-worthy bottles all together. So whenever we can, we look for opportunities to import wines that are near their optimal drinking window.
The wine world loves the word “minerality,” but no one can quite define it. Wine writer Lettie Teague calls it “a helpful word to describe wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, or herbal.” We think of it as refreshing element in a wine that doesn’t come from acidity, but we too struggle to offer an exact meaning.
There’s a lot of rosé around these days. We’ve been fans for years, and we’re thrilled to see it enjoying some time in the spotlight. Rosé is proof that simpler wines have their time and place -- sometimes the best wine for the moment isn’t the best wine in your cellar.
The hillside of Montrachet produces the world’s finest dry white wine. In production for nearly two thousand years, the vineyard straddles the border between the towns of Puligny and Chassagne. Each produces wine of a different character, and though their terroirs meet in the famous plot, there are genuine differences in the extraordinary wines from both villages.
Jacqueline André is unusually passionate about her vines. She refers to one plot of grenache planted in 1877 as her grandes dames; they were a gift from her grandfather, and today she treats them with extreme care and affection. The ancient rows are hardly straight, but the fruit they produce is of the highest quality.
Sauvignon Blanc has seen a recent surge in popularity. It’s hard to find a wine list these days without examples from New Zealand, California and Washington. But the original source for Sauvignon Blanc is France’s Loire Valley, where the grape (known there simply as “Sauvignon”) has been grown since the 1700s.
The monks of the Burgundy countryside play a crucial role in the story of French winemaking. For about a thousand years between the 5th and 15th centuries, French monks tended vines and made wine on the now famous slopes. Through tasting the products of the rich Burgundian soils (and often the soils themselves), they first developed the idea of terroir.