Winston Churchill once said of Champagne, “in victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it.” Whichever reaction this morning’s news brings you, we can assure you Champagne is a helpful accessory. We're excited to introduce a brand new cuvée from our popular Grower Champagne vigneron Pascal Bardoux: his Brut Rosé.
Stretching a mere thirty-two miles, Burgundy’s Côte d’Or is responsible for finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the world. From only two grape varietals, the winemakers of Burgundy produce an astounding range of expression. Every town has its own identity and style; each is part of a tradition of winemaking that stretches back nearly a thousand years.
In France, vineyard location is paramount. Syrah grown at different latitudes tastes vastly different; in Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s character changes within the distance of a few feet. Viognier is aromatic and floral wherever it’s grown, but the complexity and elegance depends entirely on its origin. And nowhere else in the world does Viognier reach such expression as in Condrieu.
For winemakers in Burgundy, finding enough sun is a perennial concern. An unusually rainy year like 2016 can make ripening difficult. In the Languedoc, France’s southernmost region, the concern is just the opposite: how to harvest grapes with enough acidity to preserve freshness.
Beaujolais is the source of plenty of uninteresting wines. Fully a third of the region’s production is the Beaujolais Nouveau, a cheap insipid red rushed to market a month after harvest. But the rest of the region contains many highly undervalued wines, some in the same class of top wines from the north of Burgundy.
We find some of our favorite values in towns just off the beaten path. The neighbor villages of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet are the world’s best known sources for fine white wine. But just two miles to the west lies the often-overlooked town of Saint-Aubin, which turns out to be an exceptional source for value in white Burgundy.
Fall is a great time of the year to be a wine lover. The air gets brisk. The fireplace resumes its cheerful duties. It is dark by dinnertime, and the food from the kitchen is richer and heartier. These changes are all conducive to the enjoyment of wine, and for us the falling leaves usher in a time of closer attention to what is on our plates and in our glasses.
Perched where the Loire river meets the windswept Atlantic coast, Muscadet has long been a source for a classic, dry white wine. Served by the carafe in the oyster bars of Paris and London for decades, it’s refreshing, abundant, and inexpensive -- a perfect glass to wash down a plate of crustaceans.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the perfect wine for cooler weather. Made famous by French popes in the 14th century, and then again by Robert Parker in the 1980s, the area is rich with winemaking history. Today the appellation, which covers only about 12 square miles, produces some of the most sought after wine in the world.
We first met Pascal Bardoux only 15 months ago, but he has already become a favorite among our readers. His small-batch Champagnes are distinctive, delicious, complex, and comparative bargains. With much of the mass-market Champagne distributed in the US between $75 and $100 a bottle, Bardoux’s $45 Brut Traditionnel is twice the wine at half the price.
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.