Pouilly-Fuissé is getting well-deserved respect in the wine world these days, and beginning with the 2020 vintage some vineyards are entitled to the “premier cru” designation. A growing distaste for excess wood and a reluctance to add more softness to already ripe wines makes it rare to find overoaked Pouilly-Fuissé these days: the days of by-the-glass buttered popcorn are over.
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Perched on the banks of the Gironde River, in the heart of Bordeaux’s Left Bank, the town of Pauillac (poh-yahk) produces some of Bordeaux’s most famous red wines: Lafite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, just to name a few. Its gravel rich soils produce prototypical Bordeaux: intense, ageworthy, regal, and impossibly complex.
Tucked away in the picturesque valley between Meursault and Volnay, the charming village of Auxey-Duresses is home to Michel Prunier and his daughter Estelle. They’re among the brightest names in this humble town, and a favorite of Vinous writer Neal Martin. Martin has visited for over two decades, and characterizes them as an “old-school producer” with “premier crus worth hunting down, as they represent good value.”
With costs rising in nearly every step of the winemaking process – tractors, corks, bottles, labels, boxes, and so on – it’s no wonder the prices from the domaines are rising too. All of this makes the quality of Alsatian wine today even more impressive. Our source here is Charles Frey, an old family winery based in Dambach-la-Ville in central Alsace.
Much of the world’s Merlot is undistinguished. Its default expression is a soft, rounded wine lacking tannin, acidity, and character. “Global” merlot is smooth and easy, but neither distinctive nor particularly interesting. But in Bordeaux, Merlot thrives as an essential component to the region’s most iconic wines.
The soils of Burgundy vary widely based on location, but in general are some blend of argile (clay) and calcaire (limestone). The proportion of these two elements goes a long way in determining the character of wine made in each town. And in Chambolle-Musigny, it’s all about the calcaire.
Bordeaux is home to many of the most famous and expensive wines in the world. But it’s a huge region, and also produces well priced wines that dramatically overperform their pricetag. One of our favorite places to find value in Bordeaux is at the Cru Bourgeois level.
St-Aubin may not be the secret source for white Burgundy it once was, but it’s not because of the quality. Soaring prices for Burgundy from its famous neighboring towns of Puligny, Chassagne, and Meursault mean that the spillover demand has nudged prices for St-Aubin well. But the quality has more than kept pace, and despite the demise of its anonymity, it’s still a source for exceptional value.
If there’s any place left hidden in Burgundy, it might be the appellation Ladoix. In recent decades the demand for Burgundy has skyrocketed, and it sometimes seems like there isn’t much left to discover.
Alcohol levels are on the rise in just about every region in France. More heat means riper grapes, and more sugar means higher levels of alcohol. Growers are experimenting with canopy management to increase shade, adjusting plowing schedules, earlier harvesting, and other techniques to avoid overripeness, but the trend is clearly in one direction.
Most wines are drunk too early. Nearly every wine, in particular reds, will benefit from some time in the bottle. For higher end wines, cellaring is required to realize their potential. But a few extra years of patience can improve even humble wines.
Harvest is in full swing in Burgundy this week, with some domaines in the Côte de Beaune already celebrating their end-of-picking paulée. Harvest dates in August were unthinkable only decades ago, but they’re quickly becoming a regular occurrence. In many locations, early harvests make it far more difficult to produce balanced wines; but in parts of Burgundy, at least, there are silver linings.
There are wines from Bordeaux full of subtlety and finesse — but Chateau Destieux is not one of them. Destieux is the marriage of superb, ancient terroir with sleek, modern winemaking: old-school flavor in a bold, unsubtle package.
Sauvignon blanc is among the world’s most widely planted grapes, but its origin is the Loire Valley. In the Loire, Sauvignon takes on a floral, mineral style, juicy grapefruit notes with a lively minerality, often notes of flint, and pleasant herbal finish.
We used to wonder why the humble Bourgogne rouge from the Domaine des Varoilles was so good. During our visit to Philippe Cheron earlier this year we found the answer. He explained that the grapes for this cuvée come from vines planted in what until recently was village-level Gevrey-Chambertin.