Most 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.
Last Spring winemaker Eric Chauvin took us out into his vines for our tasting. He believes fervently in organic winemaking, and wanted us to taste his wine en plein air, amid the rich earth from which they spring.
The best kept secret in a Burgundy collector’s cellar is his stash of St-Aubin. From a once forgotten valley wedged between the superstar towns of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, the wines of St-Aubin are some of the most overperforming wines we know. Jancis Robinson calls it now “virtually the equal” of its famous neighbors.
French wines have long been the focus of the Ansonia portfolio. Of the 45 winemakers we work with, about half are from Burgundy, and all but a few are French. Our longtime exception to this rule is the Fattoria Poggerino.
We’ve imported Chablis from the Domaine Gautheron for nearly a decade. Cyril Gautheron’s precise, elegant, well-priced white Burgundies have become a staple at our warehouse tastings, our kitchen table, and the cellars of many of our readers.
The seven Grand Crus of Chablis sit side by side on a hillside facing the town. Just off their eastern border lies the premier cru “Montée de Tonnerre,” a vineyard known for overperforming its classification. As Rajat Parr writes, Montée de Tonnerre “produces at Grand Cru status, but still goes for Premier Cru prices.”
The concept of terroir underlies nearly everything in French winemaking. French winemakers prize a wine’s expression of “somewhereness,” above all else. Plant Pinot Noir in Provence, and you’ll get a generic, uninteresting red wine; plant it on a hillside north of Beaune, and the result can be other-worldly.
If you know anything about Margaux, it’s probably about the iconic Chateau Margaux. But there’s lots to the appellation besides the famous First-Growth chateau. Margaux’s sandy, gravel-filled soils produce some of the Left Bank’s most elegant red wines; Jancis Robinson cites their “haunting perfume,” and “silky texture.”
We’re often apprehensive when a new generation takes over a domaine. Young winemakers often implement needed modernization, but sometimes get caught chasing trendiness. No winemaker in our portfolio has more expertly balanced these impulses than this line than Gautier Desvignes.
People sometimes ask why we’re so drawn to Burgundy. Partly it’s nostalgia — we lived here for a year two decades ago, and have a fondness for the place and its people. But our goal at Ansonia is to find wines that reflect their origin, and no region does this better than Burgundy.
Organic viticulture is the future of winemaking — the majority of our winemakers are organic or in conversion. But at some domaines, it’s also the past. The Domaine du Joncuas in Gigondas turns 100 years old next year, and they’ve practiced organic winemaking, as they put it, “depuis toujours” (“since forever”).
Cornas is a tiny appellation. It covers 145 hectares (compared with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s 3,000+), and is home to fewer than 50 vignerons. The name comes from the Celtic word for “burnt earth,” and it’s an appropriate moniker: Cornas is pure Syrah like the rest of the Northern Rhône, but the feel is of something sunnier from further South.
Ask a group of sommeliers to name their favorite wine region and most will say Burgundy. But ask them to pick a single favorite grape varietal, and we’d put some money on Riesling. Aside from its excellent food friendliness, Riesling communicates terroir with as much honesty and precision as any other grape.
Pommard and Volnay are the red Burgundy royalty of the Côte de Beaune. Pommard, the king, produces wines that are sturdy and masculine, drawn from clay and iron rich soils. Volnay, the queen, produces wines of unparalleled elegance, a study in subtlety and grace.