Syrah is at its finest in the Northern Rhône. Appellations such as Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, and Cornas produce transcendent expressions of the grape, combining darkly beautiful notes of blackberry and plum with spices, minerals, and savory umami notes.
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To the uninitiated, Riesling is a cheap, insipid wine — rarely interesting, and never noble. But to those in the know, Riesling can be vibrant, dry, and extraordinarily well priced.
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.
The 2017 vintage was an unusual one in the Southern Rhône. Most reds here rely on Grenache for a majority (or at least plurality) of their blend, but in 2017 Grenache vines across the region had a bad Spring flowering, and yields were down dramatically.
Maranges is the Côte d’Or’s forgotten appellation. In the past it was known for its unrefined, tannic wines — Burgundians used to call it “le medecin” (the doctor) because some secretly blended it into thinner Côte d’Or reds to bulk up weak vintages.
White Burgundy is among the best food-pairing wines around. It works at the high end – an ageworthy Meursault, a rich dish of veal in cream, etc. But it answers the call for something uncomplicated and reliable — a hearty bowl of mussels, chicken thighs on the grill.
It’s starting to feel like Fall again — football is back, there’s a chill in the air, and pumpkins are popping up at the market. Chez nous, the change in seasons means a change in our wine habits — a shift towards bottles that are richer, redder, and more robust. But most importantly, autumn means Beaujolais.
The Clos de Tart is one of Burgundy’s iconic vineyards properties. The vineyard has had only four owners since the 12th century, and, unusually for Burgundy, has never been subdivided. Today the wines from this 7.5 hectare monopole start around $500 per bottle.
At a perfect $5/glass, this wine has become hard to keep in stock — we’ve just reupped (again). Garenne’s 2019 Sancerre is easy and delightful. It’s bone-dry with pure sauvignon grapefruit in the nose. In the mouth it’s lively but with no astringency or grassiness — a warm vintage gave added weight but no less freshness. Look for minerals and lime in the mouth alongside the ripe fruit.
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.
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.
Transition to organics/biodynamics may be trendy in winemaking today, but it’s nothing new at the Domaine Pierre André in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Jacqueline André’s grandfather stopped using chemicals in his vines in 1963, and the domaine has been certified organic since 1980 – the first in the appellation.
If we were to sum up Thomas Morey’s wines in one word, it would be “precise.” Much like the man himself — wire rim glasses, serious demeanor, Zalto stemware in his tasting room — Morey’s wines offer crystalline elegance, with not one hair out of place. Each cuvée conveys its terroir with honesty and clarity.
Romain Collet took over his family’s fines in 2008, and has since made great strides. Having introduced organic farming, natural yeasts, and a lighter hand in the cellar, the Domaine Collet has regained its once lofty status among sources for high-end Chablis.
In a Beaune restaurant last spring we stumbled upon that most elusive of wine merchant targets: an unknown Burgundy domaine. Formed in 2002 with just 1.5 hectares of vines, the Domaine Bohrmann has no other importers, zero critical reviews, and a (very) hard-to-reach winemaker.